I’ve spent four days in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with my family and I can honestly say they were some of the most exciting and beautiful days of my summer, maybe even my life. I could see myself living in a place like this when I’m older. The town has a serenity about it. The land feels untouched and unexplored, even though plenty of tourism comes through this part of Wyoming. I find it difficult to imagine feeling stressed here. Life moves at a much slower pace than the east coast rush.

There is an abundance of natural beauty everywhere you turn. The towns are spread out and uncrowded, so different from what I am used to in Connecticut. Driving through Wyoming is all flat land, scrubs, misty Teton mountains on the horizon, long stretches of road, scattered small towns, grazing horses, and wooden fencing. I’ve found myself cycling through John Mayer’s Born and Raised album on our car trips because the songs seems to fit the mood of the place.

On the first full day we were in Wyoming, we rose early around 6:50 a.m. because we had scheduled a paragliding trip first thing. We went to Jackson Hole Paragliding at the recommendation of a friend and requested a few highly-rated instructors (Cade, Becca, Scott). After filling out waivers, we took a ski lift to the summit of the Grand Teton mountains. Being someone who is scared of heights, I was apprehensive about the trip and wasn’t sure how I would react. On the tram ride up, I felt extremely anxious and the feeling persisted until I was asked to walk off the edge of the mountain with my instructor and parachute behind me. I was the first of the group to launch. However, the second I entered the air, the nerves subsided. All I could think about was how beautiful the scenery below looked from my 10,000 foot vantage point.

The air was cold since we were at such a high altitude, but I was bundled and there wasn’t much wind, so drifting above the mountains felt peaceful. A giddy sort of calm settled over me. I chatted with my instructor about how long he had worked with the company and his interests while remarking about the beauty of the landscape. We must have been in the air for 15 minutes or so. At points, he allowed me to steer, teaching me how to pull and lean to turn left and right. Closer to our landing field, he began doing some acrobatics like barrel rolls that felt like being on a roller coaster. I loved looping and going upside down. It filled my stomach with butterflies. The landing went smoothly, we neared the ground and simply ran and stood up as we approached the earth. My whole family enjoyed the experience immensely. We were full of adrenaline in the aftermath, my mom especially.

We grabbed breakfast at The Mangy Moose in the nearby town afterwards since we hadn’t eaten yet. I had an açaí bowl that was delicious, my parents had steel-cut oatmeal and omelettes, my sister had an avocado toast, and my brother had eggs, bacon, hash browns, and toast. We then went back to our condo a bit outside of Jackson Hole to relax for a few hours before more activities.

We departed again at around 1 pm to take my brother and dad to a nearby golf course for there 2 pm tee time. My mom, sister, and I opted to do an hour long trail ride on horses in the village. We had lunch at the Mangy Moose again (we all got delicious avocado and sprouts sandwiches) and set out on the trail ride at 3 pm. My horse was a golden color and his name was Brave Heart; He moved at a slow and steady pace. Katie pestered me to go faster the entire ride since she was directly behind me, but try as I might, I couldn’t get my horse to speed up.

The trails up into the mountains were narrow, but lovely. As soon as we finished, we went into the village to check out some free music in the main square, but were cut short by Dad and Mac calling to ask us to pick them up. Once we arrived back at the condo, the rest of the day was spent unwinding.

The following day in Jackson, we woke up early to see the sunrise over the Tetons at Schwabacher’s Landing along the river. My dad had gone the day before and gotten beautiful photos and even seen a moose!

We all got up at 5 am except Mac who opted to sleep instead. The early morning was totally worth it because the sight of the mountains glowing with a pink light as the sun came up was one of the most beautiful sights I’d ever seen. I took loads of pictures and shivered, since the early morning air was chilled.

After Schwabacher’s, we went into the town of Jackson Hole and got coffee to warm and wake us up. We also stopped at a great T-shirt shop called Shirt off My Back to get some Wyoming apparel. Katie and I each bought two long sleeve Jackson Hole T-shirt’s with cool graphics like a sunset over trees and the Grateful Dead logo with a cowboy inside.

When we got back to the house around 8 a.m., Mac was awake and we were ready for breakfast. We chose to eat at The Bunnery in the town of Jackson. The food was very tasty and the wait was short. I got two scrambled eggs with toast and sausage and coffee. The rest of the day consisted of driving around to various picture-taking locations in the national park. My favorite was probably the top of Signal Mountain, since the vantage from above was unbelievable and the peak was filled with butterflies and beautiful flowers. I also really enjoyed the view at Jenny Lake; If you go early enough, few people are there, so it’s a great quiet place to appreciate nature.

We ate at the Lotus Cafe when we got back to Jackson Hole. They had an amazing menu filled with fresh dishes. Katie, Mom, and I all got pad Thai, Mac selected a burger, and my dad opted for a teriyaki bowl; none of us were disappointed. Once we got back to the condo, we napped in our beds, relaxing until dinner in Wilson, Wyoming near where my aunt and uncle used to live. The restaurant was called The Stagecouch Street Food. The prices were incredibly cheap and the quality of the meals were high. They offered tacos, gyros, po-boys, salads and the atmosphere was casual, like a backyard barbecue.

I almost didn’t want to leave when I woke up this morning. I can’t remember being this content and relaxed in a long time. But I am excited to go back to Park City Utah to stay with our family friends and meet their kids. This trip with my family has been a great reconnecting time since it’s been awhile since all of us went on a trip together, since I’ve been away at college. Stay tuned for Utah blogs in the near future .

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