Rushmore/Devil’s Tower/Grand Tetons

CruzeAmerica wants to give a big thanks to my great aunt Sandy for being an awesome host in Deadwood. She was a great tour guide and an awesome lady!

I can’t think of a better place to be on the Fourth of July than Mount Rushmore. The mountain that idolizes the pioneers of freedom. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. These four men fought valiantly to preserve the great country they helped shape.

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After Mount Rushmore we spent one more night in Deadwood and then continued on to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.

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From Devil’s Tower we continued our drive straight to Grand Teton National Park. We arrived around midnight and unsuccessfully searched for an open campsite. We drove to Jackson and slept in the car. In the morning we drove back to Jenny Lake and we discovered there was an open site! We claimed it and continued driving around the park.

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The rest of the day has been filled with rain and a massive amount of thunder and lightning. It even ruined our disc golf game in Jackson Hole!

Tomorrow we will hike around the Grand Tetons some more and then on Monday we move to Yellowstone 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.

Carlsbad Caverns

Our journey from Flagstaff to Carlsbad began with a great amount of driving. Our plan was to drive to Three Rivers Petroglyph National Monument and sleep there but on our way we realized that it wasn’t a realistic goal. So we pulled off in Albuquerque, NM when we saw a $40 room at a Motel 6. Before we pulled off we checked out the downtown and found a bar that had free pool and ping pong with only $2.75 drinks!

The next morning we began our drive to Carlsbad Caverns. Upon arrival we were all very anxious to see what lied below us and we were not disappointed.

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The cave system is massive and we spent a good few hours hundreds of feet below the earth.

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Unfortunately the pictures from down there rarely turned out to be good. After the cave we drove to our campsite which was down the highway a bit on a service road.

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We drove back to Carlsbad Caverns that night to watch the bats fly out of the cave. We saw one. Huge bummer. We also saw a massive thunderstorm moving in and had no choice but to abandon our current camping plans and keep driving to Texas.

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Here at this super new and fancy we rest stop we slept on a bench.

Grand Canyon and Flagstaff

Our drive from Bryce Canyon to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon was long but well worth it. We were rewarded with a great view of the canyon. The North Rim is 1000 feet higher than the South Rim giving it much more vegetation and a cooler temperature.

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We found a nice rock ledge to go sit and soak up the amazing view.

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After the North Rim we began our drive down to Flagstaff to stay with a family friend of mines. Lucinda treated us so well we can’t thank her enough. She fed us twice and let us use her shower and washing machine. CruzeAmerica thanks you Lucinda!

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Destination 2: Zion National Park

After we have soaked up the beauty of Yosemite we will be moving on to Zion National Park. Zion’s terrain is something I [we] have all been looking forward to. The high peaks and narrow trails bring us all thrill and we cannot wait to see these amazing views. Our plan is to wake up early on the first morning and set out to Angel’s Landing.

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From Angel’s Landing we will then set out for either The Subway (see earlier post) or The Narrows. Both offer trails that will satiate our need for adventure. I didn’t even know places like this existed in the US until we started researching the parks. I hope that with this blog other people will also realize what is in our own backyard.

A trail in Zion National Park where the trail is a river.

A trail in Zion National Park where the trail is a river.

We also have less than three weeks until departure!

 

Going Away Party

Yesterday was my last day at my job. I had worked there for 4 years from the opening of the restaurant until now. They have all been hugely supportive of this trip and my leaving which was amazing. They even made a cake with all of our stops on it!

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They also gave me (us) an ice chest full of snacks and Blue Moon, rad.

The real countdown has started now and I can’t believe it has become a reality!

I also picked up a National Geographic atlas today. I want to make a goal to use a real map as much as possible to navigate instead of our phones.