The Travelogue series recounts a seventeen-day-long cross-country road trip I took at age 21 with two college friends. We started in Charlotte, NC, and ended up two weeks and 8,000 miles later in Los Angeles, CA. The following is taken verbatim from a handwritten journal I laboriously kept on the trip. Names have been changed, but the rest is absolute, 100%, unedited truth.
Writing from Star Valley Ranch again.
This morning, got up at 7. Daniel made us breakfast which was so kind. I was still in a mood. Left here at 7:30 and drove through Jackson Hole to Grand Tetons National Park. Apparently Samantha and Jessica had made new plans last night.
We bought the year-long national park pass for $80. Went to a hike called Amphitheater Lake. The scenery on the drive was incredible. I didn’t realize how Dirty Dancing camp-esque it was going to feel.
Anyways, start on the hike. I’m obvi not loving it. It’s so hot even though Samantha told me repeatedly I was going to be too cold for shorts. They pretty quickly got ahead of me. I threw a pity party the whole way up, thought about turning around multiple times but didn’t just went painfully slow. The hike was from 8000ft to 11000 according to Samantha. They also somehow thought it was a round trip 5 mile hike but was def 10. The views were incredible. The trail looked in at the park so you could see the whole valley and the lakes and the crisscrossing roads.
The trees were outstanding. We saw some massive birds. Daniel said they were ravens. And some marmots, which stare you down.
But no other real wildlife. Some chipmunks.
Decided to stop and wait for them [later edit: to come back down] about a mile from the top but got so hungry and knew Samantha had a granola bar for me in her bag. So I trudged on.
Pretty quickly the trail became a snowed out mountain side. Literally several feet of snow on a black diamond slope that we’re supposed to hike up… Caught up with them pretty quickly which shocked me. It was painfully slow going. Samantha had “altitude sickness” and was stopping every few feet, so I was actually faster than her.
It was absurd, but we finally crested and found the lake, Lake Surprise. We never made it the extra .2 miles to Amphitheater Lake. The lake was frozen over and rested in a valley between two peaks. It was fairly large. We were all beyond exhausted so we didn’t do much. But it was really cold so we didn’t stay long.
To get back down, we basically crouched down on our haunches and skied on our tennies. It was actually a lot of fun and we were all feeling a lot better now that we were going downhill. I had been eating the snow to stay hydrated for a while so was actually pretty bummed when we got out of the snow. Found a real pretty clearing along the way to film in. The hike down felt forever long so I won’t recount it.
Made it to the car I think around 3:30, ate our PBJs in the parking lot and drove over to Jenny Lake. Wrong, first went somewhere and bought postcards. Then to Jenny for pizza at a place called Leek’s.
Then they wanted to go into the town of Jackson Hole so we did. Went to a brewery of course. Sam got a flight of 8 beers. I didn’t get anything but she came nowhere near finishing so I had a bunch of hers. A hefewei something that tasted like banana bread. A sweet, dark Scotch Ale that I loved, and a lager called Jenny Lake. Walked to an ice cream place called Moo’s or something, got pistachio. Took pictures under the antler arches.
Drove home around 9. Let Sam navigate, so ended up on a road that was A) private B) rocky dirt C) something my car totally couldn’t handle. Had to get out and push her over a crest at one point. Daniel says we need to check for damage. I’m pissed. But I had fallen asleep and only woke up because we were literally driving on rocks.
Got back and Sam went straight to bed without showering so Jess and I did laundry and wrote a thank you card and made our own lunches but in a moment of spite didn’t make one for Samantha. To be fair, Jessica made hers yesterday too. She’s driving us both mad. It’s mostly all petty, but it builds over time.