This day is mostly a haze because I’m writing this the day after and I was extremely tired so we’ll see how this goes.
We checked out of the hotel and were out of Wall by 4am. After a dark and uneventful hour drive we found ourselves the 3rd and 4th people at Mount Rushmore. The gates were unstaffed and open, and it was still dark as we walked the Hall of Presidents (?). We watched in near solitude and silence as the sun rose behind us onto the faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln. It was perfect.
After departing just after the sun was up, we made the miserably boring and traffic-filled drive to Casper, Wyoming, doubly so because of how little sleep I got. We stopped along the way for breakfast, where I got a massive and delicious caramel pecan roll that I regretted immediately afterward.
We arrived in Casper about a half hour before the totality, so we drove from and to parking lots looking for some free wifi, because apparently neither T-Mobile nor Sprint get any service in the entire West. We weren’t able to procure any of the ISO glasses, so we only caught a few brief glances of the partial eclipse. But we were able to safely stare at the total eclipse for the full two minutes. It’s about what you expect, only much more exciting in person. A twice-in-a-lifetime experience.
A few hours of driving through nothing and dutifully holding our position in a motionless chain of automobiles, we arrived at Grand Teton National Park. We directionlessly drove around, hiking a small part of a trail near Two Oceans lake and snapping photos at beautiful pull-offs, until the sun was setting and it was time to drive to Jackson for dinner.
Jackson is a very interesting town. Since it’s by far the biggest city around until Cody it’s extremely hip and filled with tourist attractions, expensive restaurants, and gift shops mostly featuring souvenirs for Jackson Hole and not any of the national parks that are an hour away. Wild.
We ate at one of the restaurants for rich people, Local, where we ate appetizers (because we wanted to, not because we’re poor), and got looked at like we’re poor. I had the pork belly salad, which was just a quarter of a head of iceburg lettuce with a piece of pork belly on the side. Pretty tasty though.
After we finished we made the 20-minute drive to our room at The Hostel, which offers bunks in hostel-like rooms, but also regular rooms. It was also very trendy, but it was nice and interesting.
Tomorrow: More Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park.