Oh, it's not over yet! (But I'm thinking blogger can only handle so much.)
Our last stop on the bike ride was at a visitor's center where the girls took solemn oaths as new Junior Rangers. (This is a great program hosted by the National Park Service that both educates and entertains. And there are badges!)
Since we hadn't had enough lake after our two trips to Jenny, we took a cruise out onto Jackson Lake and had dinner on Elk Island.
(The number one cause of premature deaths for the bald eagle? Drowning she said. Apparently, bald eagles cannot release prey from their talons once they have grabbed it without some external anchor to pry their claws open. If they take hold of a fish that weighs more than they can lift, the fish will pull them under to their deaths. You can find lots of pictures of this on the internet she said... We couldn't find any. Nor could we find any scientific data to back this story up. It still sounded cool though. And she was a fun guide.)
When Naiya was able to answer lots of her questions about the natural world, the guide asked our dear one how she knew so much. "My Opa is a Master Gardener," our daughter replied. We must have heard this phrase at least a dozen times on our trip as Naiya spewed all kinds of facts about natural phenomenon, bugs, trees and animals. (It is, in fact, true that her Opa is a Master Gardener, but I'm guessing her knowledge comes not so much from Opa's "Master" title as from the many books he likes to read her while she sits with him for hours in the library in my mum and dad's home.)
After several days enjoying various corners of the park and all the wonders it has to offer, we went to stay with our friend Lisa's sister in Jackson. (Thanks again KK and G! You're such accommodating and gracious hosts. We love you!)
We found another letterbox at the Greater Yellowstone Visitor's Center and took in yet another gorgeous vista at the Elk Refuge.
Just down the road, we could count on the presence of bison in the same meadow every day.
Over at Snow King Resort, we found out that Naiya is keen on speed. She couldn't get enough of the 2,500 foot Alpine Slide.
For our last vacation day, we headed over to Teton Village just 12 miles NW of Jackson. I think it's more a winter ski destination, but they had some fun summer stuff and Naiya had her first go at bungee trampolining here as well as a quick 15 minute, 4,139 foot vertical rise ride up to the top of Rendezvous Mountain on the tram.
The view at nearly 11,000 feet, oddly, wasn't nearly so grand as that from the valley floor but I think you can see a couple of states from up there and, in the distance, a forest fire.
Naiya most loved all the animals and I know that's the part she would most want us to share. For posterity then, these were all the animals we saw in the Tetons: beaver, osprey, bald eagle, moose, elk, bison, grizzly, marmot, wolf spider, ground squirrel, coyote, grouse, stone fly, garter snake, deer, chipmunk, blue heron, pronghorn, all kinds of raptors, magpie and a pair of sandhill cranes.
Lastly, I should mention that on this trip, Naiya finally learned how to blow a bubble with her gum.
So many firsts. So many more to come.