Yellowstone

Our first day in Yellowstone we secured a camping spot at Lewis Lake. Yellowstone has two loops in the park, upper and lower. We spent the first day doing the west side of the lower loop. The west lower loop contains Old Faithful, Lower Geyser Basin and the Grand Prismatic Spring.

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Old Faithful ^

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Morning Glory Pool ^

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Chromatic Pool ^

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The second day we drove around the easter half of the lower loop. On this half we saw the upper and lower Yellowstone Falls. The picture below is of the lower falls.

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After seeing the falls we drove to Yellowstone Lake where we ran into a couple of guys from home! Dylan and Dillon are on a similar trip but going the opposite direction and our paths crossed in Yellowstone! We all hung out at the lake for a while and then the CruzeAmerica crew left for the Old Faithful Inn. My father bought us all a buffet dinner there. We were eating so much food that one guy asked us if we were bicyclists. After dinner we drove to West Yellowstone and slept in the car because we failed to get a campsite for the night.

Today we woke up around 7 and drove back into the park. This time we explored the northern loop. We went to Lamar Valley and Mammoth Hot Springs. Both were slightly a bust. The hot springs barely had any water flowing and Lamar Valley had way to many flies.

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Now we are on our way to Glacier National Park!

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Wisconsin/Minnesota/South Dakota

The morning we left Chicago we drove to Wheaton College where J.R.R. Tolkein’s and C.S. Lewis’s desks are housed. We saw the original wardrobe that inspired The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. We also saw some of the letters they wrote to each other and the pen that Tolkein used.

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In Chicago, the brother of Collin’s friend gave us each a Frisbee golf disc with the promise that we would all play. And we have. We stopped in La Crosse, Wisconsin and played a round of Frisbee golf. The course was right on the Mississippi River.

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We then stayed the night in Whitewater State Park in Minnesota. The next day we drove to Pipestone National Monument in Minnesota. Here the Native Americans would mine out pipestone for their pipes. It was a very religious place for them. We then found another disc golf course!

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That night we drove to Fort Pierre National Grasslands and on our way there we ran into a very peculiar building.

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I still don’t quite understand what it is for. But once we got to Fort Pierre National Grasslands it was literally us and miles of grass.

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After leaving Fort Pierre we made it about 10 minutes down the freeway until someone came up beside and and was frantically pointing at our roof. We quickly realized that our cargo box must not have been shut! We pulled over and sure enough it was wide open but nothing was lost! We continued on to Badlands National Park. A extra terrestrial landscape in the middle of rolling hills.

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After the Badlands we drove to Wall Drug and had some ice cream.

We then finished our goal and made it to Deadwood where my Uncle Shawn’s mother lives and very graciously got us a hotel room and has been an amazing guide for the city. Yesterday she took us to dinner and gave us the history low down of Deadwood, Wild Bill Hikock and Calamity Jane’s old hangout.

Today we are going to Mount Rushmore and more pictures will be coming soon!

Scranton/Cuyahoga National Park/Syracuse/Chicago

After the Fenway game in Boston we headed towards Scranton, Pennsylvania. The town The Office was based off of. We met the owner or Pennsylvania Paper. The company that owns the tower from the opening scene in The Office.

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We also went to Poor Richards. The bar from the show which is also connected to a bowling alley. We spent most of the night there and the owner let us sleep in the car because it was raining with warnings of flash flooding.

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After Scranton we furthered our trek west to Cuyahoga National Park where we were again caught in a thunderstorm. We didn’t do much here except climb some vines and play Settlers of Catan.

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Our next stop after Cuyahoga was Syracuse, Indiana where Collin’s friend from school, Whitney, lives. We had a amazing time going to the local bar, The Frog. Thank you so much Whitney for the hospitality!

The next day we drove to another of Collin’s friends from school, Will. Whitney came with us and we met up with more of Collin’s friends and walked around the city for the day.

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The Trump Tower ^^

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And of course we got some deep-dish pizza!

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Chicago stood out to us a lot in its diverse architecture, mellow speed and culture. The weather was perfect today which only added to our great experience.

Jersey/NYC/Boston

We arrived in New Jersey at my Aunt Teddi’s house. The hospitality they showed us was far beyond our expectations. We all felt as if we were part of the family. The first day there we went to the beach and relaxed. Now on this trip we will have touched the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean!

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That night we went to an amazing Habachi grill where the food seemed endless! Thank you Aunt Teddi for that!

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The next day we set out for the Big Apple.

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We spent some time walking around and using the subway. We then went and honored those lost in the 9/11 tragedy. The new World Trade Center. It is a beautiful building.

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That evening we met up with Aunt Teddi, Uncle Dan and my cousin Mikki-Jean for a Yankees game in the city! The Yankees won 4-3 with a walk off home run by Ichiro Suzuki!

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Then to start the day off today we went to another MLB game at Fenway thanks to my father!

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Washington DC

On Friday we arrived in DC and spent the day walking around the Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial.

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That night we drove over to my friend Ellie’s house.

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That evening we happened to lock ourselves out of the house and while playing Settlers of Catan on the back patio the landlord showed and up trusted us enough to let us in! The next morning we got up and set out to see all of the museums and the White House.

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The security at the National Archives reminded me that I still had my camping hatchet in my backpack. I thought for sure I was going to be pulled aside but they kind of just laughed and told me to take it home. We saw the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, along with the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights. Really powerful sights to see. We then walked around the Smithsonian museums.

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The Wright Brother’s original plane.

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Natural History museum.

On Sunday we left DC and headed over to Arlington National Cemetery and watched the changing of the guard and viewed John F Kennedy’s gravesite.

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Nothing puts America’s wars into a more real perspective than Arlington. But equally eye opening was Gettysburg which we then drove to next.

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The Great Smoky Mountains

After Bourbon Street the three of us were itching to get back out into the wilderness. From New Orleans we drove 10 hours or so up to Tennessee to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We arrived at night and just slept in our car. The next morning we started our day with a hike to Chimney Tops. It was a 2.4 mile hike down and then a small 1.1 mile incline.

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The view on top was not disappointing.

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On this trail we met a group of amazing people. There were 4 guys from Tennessee who quickly became or friends. Instead of hiking the 2.4 miles back up we all decided to try the trail that was closed due to a bridge being washed away. We all managed to ford the river and hitch a ride on the other side. As all 7 of us rode up in the back of a pickup truck, Collin’s water bottle slipped out of his backpack into the road. Once back at our cars we all exchanged thanks and our friends from Tennessee said a prayer for us. We left towards Gatlinsburg and as we pulled over to retrieve Collin’s water bottle our friends had beat us there. Caleb ran over and handed it to Collin and ran back to his car. I noticed when he handed it to Collin there was something inside. 19 dollars! They gave us 19 dollars for no reason! We all were blown away at their generosity. I don’t think any of us could stop smiling until we got to Best Italian in Gatlinsburg. If you guys are reading this, thank you so much. You are all amazing people and we won’t forget you.

The next day we drove over to Shenandoah National Park for just a quick hike. The park didn’t seem like anything special to us. We took a small home down to a waterfall.

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On the way up we came across a mama black bear and two cubs. Only 50 feet away we watched the cubs play and climb trees.

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Last we all slept in the George Washington National Forest and today we head towards Washington DC!

Louisiana

From San Antonio we headed for Youngsville, Louisiana. The home of my Aunt Donna and her family. She graciously allowed us to stay at her home and cooked two amazing meals! I got to meet my 4 year old cousin, Delaney, for the first time also!

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Also, courtesy of Aunt Donna and Shawn was a swamp tour. We saw about 5 alligators and learned more about the swamp ecosystem then I even thought there was to learn.

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We departed Youngsville and began our drive towards New Orleans where we unfortunately had to drop off our friend and fellow traveler, Robert. Because of his broken tooth he had to fly home much earlier than expected but a good time was had nonetheless!

After the airport we entered the city and spent the rest of the night exploring the culture of New Orleans. From Cafe du Monde to the French Quarters and finally to Bourbon Street.

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