Wolves, Aliens, and Mooses

A quick little drive from Jackson out to GTNP yields some great surprises!

Aliens visiting the Grand Tetons! We caught this image on the way back to Jackson from the Grand Tetons. A couple more below…

And in Grand Teton, near the Grand Teton Lodge, we caught a rare glimps of a wolf pack on patrol. Not bad images for a cell phone from (almost) the side of the road. BTW, pixel 6 pro cell phone zoom is pretty amazing.

Lastly, a few Moose hangin out with the tourists in Gros Ventre

Some lucky tourists get a close look!

Things to do on the Emerald Coast of Florida

View from our balcony!!

The little area communities along 30a all offer a host of free entertainment, especially during the summer months. Thesee things include free outdoor repertory theater (sort of a not-to-miss thing there) at least once or twice a week as well as live bands/musicians. There are also usually some additional events going on like farmer’s markets or art showings. Check the events tabs of these websites for details of what is going on when you are there:

  • watercolorresort.com
  • Seasidefl.com
  • alysbeach.com
  • rosemarybeach.com
  • There is also an app called 30A with current event and restaurant info.

Sunsets on the Beach are the absolute best! (though morning coffee, morning walks, and even storms all are special here)

Other things that are a little off the grid include a 1/2 day canoe expedition of a spring fed little river. It’s a good hour(ish) drive away. Very cool but not something I would do if I was only there for the weekend. It’s called Econfina.

If you get tired of walking the gorgeous beaches and want to hike something completely different, try Conservation Park. Its only 25 minutes from our condo and offers views of flooded woodland swamps with plenty of elevated sidwalks. Bikes are welcome as well.

In Seaside, a little beach side restaurant called the Shrimp Shack offers oysters, shrimp, and drinks right on the beach…hard to beat!

Renting Beach Gear:

Dillon’s Beach services – We love Dillon’s Beach services for beach chairs, they are the only company that is permitted to place rented chairs on the beach in front of the building. Our building has an exclusive contract with Dillons’s. If you choose to rent beach chairs, umbrellas & tables please call them at 850-259-5849. They will also set up a bonfire on the beach for you and your friends!

Babies-n-Town – Crib, stroller, high chair & bike rentals. P.O. Box 1790, Santa Rosa Beach, 850-267-2346

Big Daddy’s Bike and Beach Sports – Bike, kayak, boat, and beach rentals and sales. 2217 W. Co. Hwy. 30-A, Blue Mountain Beach, 850-622-1165

Big Fish Bike Rentals – Bike rentals. 4042 E. Co. Hwy. 30-A, Seagrove Beach, 850-231-1343

Butterfly Bike and Beach Sports – Bike, kayak, boat, and beach rentals and sales. 3657 E. Co. Hwy. 30-A, Seagrove Beach, 850-231-2826

Dining — Lots of options!!

Watercolor Restaurants:

Honestly, I’ve only eaten at one place in Watercolor because I love it so and can’t go elsewhere. It is called the Wine Room. Has a small but mostly healthy, clean interesting menu and a fabulous flourless chocolate cake. They also have a wine shop right next door. There is also the upscale Fish Out of Water restaurant which is water front.

Seaside Restaurants:

In the main U driveway of Seaside there is a wine & sushi bar I like and a little gourmet type grocery called Modica Market. It should be noted that Modica Market serves rather large & delicious mimosas with fresh squeezed OJ.

Also at Seaside are about 4 airstream trailers right in the front – all with great eats.

Across the street on the oceanside of Seaside there is a little open air burger joint and an open air taco/mexican place. BUT my favorite little open air/oceanfront place is the Shrimp Shack. You walk through and order your oysters (I like the shack special) and then remove your shoes, walk across the sand to the gazebo overlooking the sea oats and the ocean right behind the place – they’ll bring your oysters right out to you. Can’t be beat.

Next to the Shrimp Shack is Bud and Alleys – a famous place there – the second restaurant opened on 30A. They have a nice restaurant downstairs and an open-air bar with appetizers upstairs.

While perusing the shops at Seaside (kind of a must on your first visit) do not walk past SunDog books. They are right on the main U of the Seaside driveway thing and have the most fabulous books and funny cards. There is a staircase in the back that leads to an old and unique record shop. I LOVE that store.

If you are with younger ones (or for those young at heart) there is a nifty little toy store called Duckies – has a lovely and inventive, imaginative selection of toys, sundries and such that are always interesting. I stop in pretty much every time I am there.

Finally – back behind all the shops and eateries in the U driveway are a bunch of little artist and gift shops (everything from ice cream to fancy soaps to unique gifts to actual art can be found back there). They are quite lovely to stroll through.

Alys Beach Restaurants:

There is an excellent airstream-type donut shop that people love.

There is also a fancier restaurant called Caliza that I have not been to but is supposed to be fabulous.

Then there is George’s which has excellent grouper sandwiches at lunch.

Rosemary Beach Restaurants:

Rosemary Beach has a fancier restaurant called Paradis . There is also the Summer Café.

Additionally if you head down the little street near Paradis (which will be on the ocean side) there is a little tapas place on the right called La Crema (tapas and chocolate). They have inventive little meals (last time I was there I had red grapes rolled in some soft white cheese and then wrapped in crushed almonds) and deelish chocolate desserts.

Next to La Crema is Cowgirl Kitchen – a sorta standard little tex mex place for a quick meal.

Down the street just a bit is a nice swanky bar with bites as well.

Across the street is brand new hotel with an excellent bar and restaurant.

Finally, right in that same area is the Sugar Shack. We like to ride our bikes down there in the evening – it has pretty much every candy that has been produced since 1950 to today

Restaurants of note that are not in one of the 4 main resorts:

Borago in Grayton Beach is about 1/2 mile west of Watercolor and is very, very good. Mostly Italian.

Cafe Tango is about 3 or 4 miles ish west of Watercolor and is likely the very best restaurant on 30A. It’s situated in a little old house and has very little seating so a reservation is recommended. This and Caliza are probably the two best/fancy (or as fancy as one gets at the beach – meaning no need to dress up but they are quite serious about their food) restaurants on 30A.

Picalo Red Bar – what to say about Red Bar. It’s Red, the band is loud, is NOT fancy, the menu is only about 6 entrees depending on what they pulled up onto their boats that day, it’s a locals type place and it’s packed to the gills on weekends and such. Anyone who knows 30A knows and loves Red Bar. (Update: Sadly, in 2019, Red Bar burned down. No one was hurt thankfully. They are working on the rebuild now!)

The Hub:

They have opened up a new conglomeration of little open air restaurants surrounding a big seating area which all face a stage and huge screen about 1 mile from Seamist. It is called The Hub. Great place to catch a game and get a variety of yummy options.

As always, we would love to have you stay at one of our two Jackson Hole Condos. You can book on Airbnb, VRBO, or on our site, sunnybear.com, for the best rates.

Frisco, Colorado – such a cute town !!!

Downtown Frisco is just two blocks from our condo.

Biking is a favorite in Summit county. There is nearly 70 miles of biking trails (map on the left). Bikes can be rented from a number of area outfitters. Mountain biking trails are everywhere. A favorite for newbies is riding a gondola up in Breckenridge and riding a rented bike down…straight into Frisco. (Talk to Rebel sports in Frisco to arrange the trip)

Restaurant Recommendations

  1. Tavern West (just a block from the condo on main street) – This is a cozy little restaurant which spills onto an outdoor area in summer. It has a nice bar, fireplace, and a menu that fits many tastes (reservations recommended).
  2. Frisco Prime – about 3 blocks from the condo, on main street. Great food, great atmosphere. A bit pricier, but worth it (reservations recommended).
  3. 5th Ave Grill – It sits right in the middle of downtown. It’s a great neighborhood place that everyone seems to visit at least once per trip. Full menu.
  4. Greco’s – has great pizza and again just a few blocks away.
  5. Ein Prosit and Highside are great pub atmospheres. The former has some-hard-to-find imported beers.
  6. Carlos Mexican grill and car wash (okay, technically the car wash isn’t part of the restaurant, but it seems like it.) The place offers good Tex-Mex (we have lived in TX for 20 years, so we have some expertise in this area). They have excellent mole. Sadly, it would be a very long walk, but just a short car trip from the condo.

Winter is spectacular in Summit County. Copper Mountain, Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, and Breckenridge are all within 16 miles of Frisco. All are reachable by the Summit Stage bus.

Frisco Adventure Park is pretty cool for kids. It offers a tubing hill, skate park, bike park, and frisbee golf.

Live music is staged near the museum every Thursday evening in the summer. Performances draw a nice crowd….take some folding chairs or just sit on the grass of the museum. It’s a short walk and well worth the trip. Moose Jaw also does outdoor performances in the summer. They may have a schedule, but it feels more like they simply do it when they feel like it.

Of course there are too many hiking trails to even count. Available trails range from short walks across (mostly) level ground to feats of endurance. For those trying to get used to the altitude, drive to the top of Swan mountain and take the short loop around the mountain. You will get spectacular views of the lake and surrounding mountain in this short loop trail that is very accessible.

As always, we would love to have you stay at one of our two Jackson Hole Condos. You can book on Airbnb, VRBO, or on our site, sunnybear.com, for the best rates.

Things to do in Jackson, WY

Arches in Jackson square are composed of Elk antlers collected from the nearby Elk Refuge

The downtown square has lots of great little gift shops and simply beautiful galleries.  Often in the summer the galleries sponsor a wine-and-art nights.  You can walk through the galleries and enjoy some complimentary food and wine.

Also in the summer, the town puts on a staged shoot-out on town square many evenings.  I think Western towns have to do this, but it is cool, particularly for kids.  They play it up pretty well.  There are signs for the performance around the town square.

Gotta take a photo under the Elk arches, of course. (see above)

Very nice selection of restaurants — unfortunately the past couple of years have been turbulent and some of my favorites have disappeared. However, I’ll mention Calico, which is just a mile or so from the condos and offers a great italian restaurant in a beautifully large outdoor space.

Teton Village

  • Mountain Biking!!  It is really fun.  You can rent bikes there.  Go up in the gondola, down on the trails! The outfitters and gondolas make it easy.
  • Paraglide off the mountain!  You may want some help with that: https://www.jacksonhole.com/summer-paragliding.html
  • There are lots of hiking trails in the area.  Hike up and gondola down (or reverse that if you are a bit smarter!)
  • Dine on the Top of Rendezvous Mountain.  (“Piste”)  Reservations required.
  • Watch for Music Festivals both in Teton Village and Jackson — the place is obsessively driven to entertain and there is constantly something going on.  We stumbled on an Iditarod race last time right in downtown Jackson.
  • I hear that there is a ski resort there also.


The national elk refuge is just outside of town. Elk stream into the refuge from Yellowstone Park during the winter when snow gets too deep in the park. The timing of their arrival and the number depends on the weather. You will see hundreds and normally thousands in the depth of winter.

A horse drawn sleigh will take you through the refuge in the winter. The elk are used to the sleigh so you get almost close enough to touch these wild elk. Caution though, wind sweeping through the valley can make this a cold ride.

Look really closely in the winter and you may spot wolves in the refuge. Afterall, if you were a wolf, wouldn’t you?

Where is the best place to see a moose (Meese??). Well, mom and calf are often found in our backyard as pictured here. The Aspens is a favorite haunt of Moose.

If you don’t want to pay a guide, then hit these two roads:  Moose-Wilson between Moose and Wilson.  From the condo you would head towards Teton VIllage, then just keep going.  The road twists and turns a lot here.  Moose and bear are pretty common sites, but you have to look carefully and drive slowly.  You will know there is something to see when cars start lining up on the side of the road stopped.

The other road is Antelope Flats which is an area just on the other side of the freeway from the Airport.  This is more open space and may yield moose or bears.

For big horn sheep, head down Broadway towards the hospital in Jackson. Once you reach the hospital, just keep driving — you will enter the backside of the Elk refuge. Just ahead, you will see some hills on either side of the road…just a mile or two from the hospital.

Go slow, there will be sheep on the slopes (and possibly on the road). At certain times of the year, the sheep will walk over to your car and begin licking. They are looking for salt. For their health, don’t let them lick as the behavior tends to spred disease in the herd.

Eco Tour Adventures offers wildlife safaris.  The guides are pretty great and will really educate you about life and conditions in the area.  They offer lots of different types of excursions.  On the low side, they will put your group in a 4×4 and take you on the back roads of GTNP to watch for Elk, Moose, Bear, Eagles, Wolves, etc.  This is Jackson — you will see something!  In fact, you may well see something as you drive to Jackson from the airport — its that kind of place.  The guides communicate all day with each other and know where to go and what to look for.  By the way, I don’t get paid for this endorsement 😉  I’ve been out with these guys a few times.  There are lots of guides in Jackson that do the same thing, and they may be great, but I have no experience with them.

Grizzlies – yep, they are here.   You may well see one in Yellowstone or GTNP.  Unlike black bears, Grizzlies are not overly fearful of humans (they see a lot of them), though their preference is to avoid us.

  • Hike in groups of 3 or more people if possible.
  • Stay alert.
  • Make noise — whistle, talk, anything — especially when approaching a blind turn or densely forested area or hiking into the wind.
  • Carry bear spray. Bear spray is not like mosquito spray. Bear spray goes on a charging bear, NOT on a human trying to avoid bears.
  • Don’t run, stand your ground (more easily said than done — though I am thankfully only guessing about that).
  • There are tons of online resources about bear safety, check into a few and keep in mind that grizzly bears and black bears are treated differently.

As always, we would love to have you stay at one of our two Jackson Hole Condos. You can book on Airbnb, VRBO, or on our site, sunnybear.com, for the best rates.

Visiting Yellowstone from Jackson

Prismatic — you can hike to the top of that mountain overlook.

Yellowstone is big (duh) — really big — and things you want to see are scattered in distant parts of the park. For example, the best animal viewing area is in the northwest (Lamar Valley), but the geysers are in the center/south portion (Norris Basin/Old Faithful), and Mammoth springs (ultra cool) are in the west. That’s a lot of driving and we haven’t yet seen the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (seems like we need a better name for that one), Old Faithful or even had lunch 😉 You can see a lot in one day, but two days (by spending a night in the north and one in the south) will be a more relaxing and comprehensive trip. I have a few other notes.

Buy GyPsy Guide for iphone/android and download the Yellowstone guide.  It has to be downloaded by wifi and costs roughly $5.  I’d easily pay 10 times for the app.  It watches your progress on the roads of Yellowstone and provides extremely helpful information and suggestions exactly when you need it. Its like having a ranger in your car, but without the awkwardness of having to make small talk when there isn’t something to see.

If you love watching the back of the car in front of you, sleep late and get a lazy start – otherwise, go early.  The drive from Jackson to the grand loop in Yellowstone is simply beautiful, but you will see more animals and fewer car bumpers by starting early. 

If you leave from Jackson, Old Faithful is the first “attraction” at which you will arrive. If you get there early enough Old Faithful will be crowded, a bit later it will be ridiculously crowded. Sit upwind from the geyser so you can see the geyser — not just a cloud of mist;)  (some geyser also smell, btw) If you are hungry, don’t wait in line for the restaurant at the Old Faithful inn as it is usually a very long wait.  Instead, head to the general store which has packaged sandwiches and snack bar stuff.  There are other snack bars in the area, but the general store is overlooked and often less crowded. Culinary selections are not inspired, but rather appropriate for a placed called “General Store”. But the point is Old Faithful, not fine dining and you have lots to see. However, you really should look inside the Yellowstone lodge, its uniquely beautiful inside and has great ice cream downstairs. Even better, skip the entire thing and return to Yellowstone in the winter and take a snowmobile tour to old Faithful! No crowd, no traffic jams (no cars allowed).

After Old Faithful, If you are up for a hike, take the Angel falls trail to a lookout point above Grand Prismatic springs – great views (scratch that — unparalleled world class views! — assuming good weather of course).  GyPsy guides will show you where. Remember that you are at 8,000 feet elevation so the altitude will be an issue.  Take it slow, drink water often, etc.  (In fact, drink water the day before you head to Yellowstone as well.)

Roughly in the order of your drive Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic springs, Porcelain Basin, Dragon’s Mouth, Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (Artist’s Point) are great stops.  There are thousands of geothermal features and you can’t stop at all of them, but the ones mentioned above are pretty special.

If it is animals you want, head to Lamar valley. Its hard to drive through the area without being awed by the herds of Bison. If you are lucky and patient (mostly patient), you may see the Lamar valley wolf pack. Lamar valley is more open and always offers lots of animals. There are a number of enthusiasts that station themselves on the road side to point out wolves when they are around. More productively, early (really early) morning guides will lead you to the wolves.

You can see moose (shouldn’t this be meese – I mean, goose/geese right?) in Yellowstone, but honestly, don’t spend much time searching — just head back to our condo in Jackson and look out the windows, especially with a cup of coffee in the mornings. The area around the condo is the most productive area for moose sightings in the entire valley. If you don’t see any in the backyard, try driving to Rendevous Park at the corner of Moose-Wilson road and Hwy 22.

Obviously you can’t go wrong here. I’ve mentioned just a few of my favorites, but there are tons of fascinating places and stories. I could spend all day in the Norris basin alone. You can ignore everything I’ve written here and have a great, great trip — but starting early and buying GyPsy (I don’t own the stock, btw;)) will make a much smoother day.

Pro tip — Yellowstone via snowmobile in the winter!!!

As always, we would love to have you stay at one of our two Jackson Hole Condos. You can book on Airbnb, VRBO, or on our site, sunnybear.com, for the best rates.

Volcano Eruption!!

So, one day my husband walks in the kitchen to casually mention two things 1) a volcano is erupting in Iceland and 2) vaccinated American’s are welcome to visit. I love experiences and he…well…he gets alerts on his phone when volcanoes erupt anywhere in the world. He is such a geek. Five days later….

Five days later...

Five Days Later!!!

Flying all night, we arrived in Reykjavik at 6:30 am and started driving towards the volcano. Finding the volcano wasn’t easy — we naively thought a mountain exploding would be an easy find. But, no signs, no people, no cars…just vast 5,000 year old lava fields that form a surreal, but typical Icelandic landscape. Some subtle clearings for cars and a barely detectable walking path was all we had to go on. Two miles of hiking through the deserted barren landscape yielded !

How close were we? My intrepid husband (“MT”) was a bit more daring.

With eruptions every 10 minutes, I was too nervous to get that close. He later told me that he found a big rock to hide behind in case the heat from the eruptions were too much.

No worries though, I made him give me the car keys before he went ahead — you know, just in case.

This trip was a few months ago and the volcano is constantly changing. You can’t get this close anymore as the lava flows have cut off the hiking paths and surrounding the mountain MT is standing on.