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.

image

Old Faithful ^

image

Morning Glory Pool ^

image

Chromatic Pool ^

image

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.

image

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.

image

Now we are on our way to Glacier National Park!

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.

image

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

image

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.

image

image

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.

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.

image

image

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.

image

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!

image

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

image

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.

image

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.

image

image

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.

image

image

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.

image

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.

image

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.

image

image

The Trump Tower ^^

image

image

image

And of course we got some deep-dish pizza!

image

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.

The generosity of Tennessee

We took this ambitious road trip because we know our young lives allow for it now but most likely will not in the future. Our hopes for the trip were to gain experience in handling practical situations, gain perspective about the cultures and lifestyles within America, and to see places that we may never see otherwise. Each of those expectations has already been met, and frankly the proceedings of this trip have gone much smoother than we expected them to. A major factor in that smoothness has been the way we’ve been provided for in random ways. Most of the sweet provision has come from Drew’s relatives or family friends, all of which have been mentioned in earlier posts. Those have been sweet times and such blessings along the way. But it is the four guys from Tennessee that not only hiked but also forded a river with us, and then were willing to be fellow comrades in the hitch hiking process and go so far as to pray for us and then offer monetary provision that I want to extend even greater thanks to in this post.
It is always a great opportunity when we get to interact with locals. The conversations are memorable and always insightful. Our friends from Tennessee however were more than just fellow hikers and nice people. They were used by The Lord to be a source of provision and light. These men were bold enough to pray for three strangers, and then they did what is often the missing link in the Christian witness, they showed us love and genuine care by surprising us with a free meal. I want to thank Caleb and Nathan and the guys from Tennessee for truly living their lives for Jesus and in the process living for three random strangers.
I love seeing The Lord at work.

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.

image

The view on top was not disappointing.

image

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.

image

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.

image

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!

image

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.

image

image

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.

image

image

image