Sunday, October 16, 2011

Day 114-Day 120

October 9- October 15

This is our last update, because we are finally home! 

    We left Tucson and drove 10 hours to Guadalupe National Park in Texas. The park was beautiful. The mountains were huge! We explored the park, and walked the Butterfield Station trail, and explored the Frijoles Ranch. The Butterfield station was a coach drawn by horses that used to deliver mail from St. Louis all the way to San Francisco. The Frijoles ranch was a family owned ranch that had such an interesting history. 

    Next, we drove about a half hour to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, in New Mexico. We did a self guided tour of the Big Room, and of some of the Natural Entrance Trail. The big room was so amazing! It was so huge! It was the size of 14 foot ball fields. The cave was so ornate, there were so many stalagmites, stalactites, soda straws, columns, draperies and cave popcorn. We were in awe walking around the cave, there is so much to look at and take in, it's hard to wrap your head around all of it. We bought an audio guide, and we learned a lot of the caves history and geology. The lighting in the cave was designed by a broadway lighting designer, which I found to be so cool! 

   We left Carlsbad, and started our journey toward Memphis, Tennessee. We made it 6 across Texas, and stopped at a KOA in Abilene Texas, to sleep. We woke up and started our journey again. We drove 12 hours in a day, and finally made it to Memphis around 11 pm. We met my friend Sarah at her theater, and she took us to a restaurant for some food. She couldn't believe we were actually in Memphis. It was great to see her! Then we went out to her friends house and hung out for awhile. Then we went back to her house, and went to bed. 

    Woke up the next morning, and Sarah showed us the theater that she works at. The stages and the facilities were beautiful. Then she took us out to Central BBQ, she said we couldn't leave Memphis without eating BBQ. Neil got a pulled pork sandwich, and Sarah got pulled pork nachos, I got a portobello sandwich, everything was so good! Then she took us to the park, and we relaxed in the sun at the park. The park was beautiful and everything was so green! At around 3 pm, we said our goodbyes, and had a 6 hour drive to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.

    Mammoth Cave National Park was very pretty, all the leaves were changing and it smelled like fall. We signed up for a historic tour of the cave. It was a two and a half mile tour, which lasted two hours. Mammoth cave is the longest cave system in the world, at   392 miles long. They have been giving tours of the cave for 195 years. The cave wasn't ornate or decorated like the other caves we've seen. This is because water doesn't seep into the cave. The history of the cave and the cave itself were both so interesting! We really enjoyed our tour. 

   Next we made the 6 hour drive to Great Smoky Mountain National. Half of the park is in Tennessee and half is in North Carolina. The park was gorgeous, with rolling mountains and bright foliage. We stopped and took a lot of pictures at different overlooks. We also walked a little bit of the Appalachian trail. We saw 2 huge elk on the way out of the park! Neil got me a stuffed animal bear at the park, to remember our trip. We drove some of the Blue Ridge Parkway on our way out of the park, which was a beautiful drive. 

    We drove for awhile, and made it to Virginia, where we stopped to sleep for the night. Then we headed to Shenandoah National Park the next day. We only spent a few hours in the park, but it was very pretty. Again, the mountains and the foliage were amazing. We had some great views looking over the Shenandoah Valley. We left the park around 5 pm, and started the trek home. We drove through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and then we finally made it back to Massachusetts. It was a 12 hour drive, and we made it home at 2:45 am! We had a safe ride home, and we are very happy to be back. 

Our trip:

-We traveled for exactly 4 months, leaving on June 15 and arriving back on October 15.
-We traveled through 33 states, and saw 32 National Parks. 
-We traveled a total of 15,946 miles. 

We had an amazing journey, but we are glad to be home. 


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 95- Day 113

September 19- October 8

Left Bakersfield and drove into Los Angeles. We met my friend Biron at his apartment and he showed us around the area. We went out for some great Indian food and then we went to Venice beach boardwalk. There were many interesting shops and people on the boardwalk. We saw muscle beach, which was pretty funny. It was a nice visit, but we were ready to get out of the city, and back into nature. 

Next stop was Joshua Tree National Park. The park was very hot! It was in the high 90s the two days we were there. The Joshua trees, which the park is named after, are these funny looking trees that look like they belong in a Dr. Seuss book. We did a short hike one of the days, and we were dying every step. We aren't used to the heat in the desert. We saw so much life in the desert which was very neat. There are so many different plants, and trees and shrubs, and a lot of wildlife. We drove to this beautiful overlook where we could see for hundreds of miles. We saw the Salton sea and even Mexico off in the distance. We stayed at an awesome campground called Jumbo Rocks. There were these huge boulders pilled on top of each other, and we slept right next to them. Night time in the desert is beautiful. The sky is so open and clear, and the temperature is so comfortable. 

When we left Joshua Tree, we headed toward Vegas, and stopped and stayed in the Mojave National Preserve. We stayed at a campground off a 15 mile dirt road, in the middle of no where! There was only one other person at the campground, it was a little eerie. 

We were happy to leave the Mojave desert and head to Vegas!! We had a great 4 days in Vegas! We were excited to see Neil's parents, and Dustin and Laura! The first day we were there we all spent time relaxing at the pool and drinking mimosas! We all soaked up some sun! Then we walked the stripped and saw some flamingos and huge koi fish at the Flamingo hotel. Then we explored the Venetian and saw the gondolas and beautiful painted ceilings. We spotted a Ghirardellis and we all got ice cream! We headed back to Bally's got ready, and then headed to the MGM for a nice dinner and Cirque de Soleil, KA. The show was amazing! The strength of the performers was incredible. The music, the acrobatics, and the stage were all breathtaking. Everyone loved the show. Then we headed back to Bally's and did some gambling. We stayed up until 3 am gambling, and eating a ginormous plate of Nachos. 

Next day, we went to the Rio Grand hotel for the buffet! We all stuffed our faces! Everything was so good! Then we headed back to the hotel, and did some gambling in Paris. Dustin and Laura went to check out the pawn shop, the one from the tv show! When we were in Paris, everyone was winning. I even won 100 bucks on a penny machine! It was pretty exciting. Then we all took naps for awhile, then we got some sushi for dinner! Then we did some more gambling. We stayed up until 4 am! 

The next day, everyone was flying back home, but Neil and I stayed another night. We were sad to see everyone go. We had a relaxing day and night. We walked the strip, saw some street performers and watched the Bellagio water show! We did a little gambling, but we called it an early night. 

The next day we left, and headed for the Grand Canyon. On our way we stopped at the Hoover Dam. The dam was amazing. It was so big! We walked across the Hoover dam bridge which gave us a great view of the dam. We also walked across the dam itself. The dam is right on the boarder of Arizona and Nevada, and it was cool to be in two places at once. Then we made our way to the Grand Canyon!

The Grand Canyon was amazing! It was my first time there, but Neil had been there a few times. We walked a bunch of the rim trail, which walks right next to the edge of the canyon. We took some awesome pictures! We also explored some of the shops and the art gallery. We got a site at a campground, and then we watched the sunset over the canyon! It was so pretty. The depths and colors of the canyon are so breathtaking, it's hard to even describe. The next day we hiked the Bright Angel Trail into the canyon. We did a  2 hour hike. It was such a cool perspective hiking down into the canyon. The mules that hike down into the canyon and back passed us a few times on our hike. They were so big and muscular. After our hike we got ice cream and sat on the lawn. We explored the gift stores and then we were on our way. Next stop was Tucson to visit Neil 's dad. 

We've been in Tucson for over a week and we've been doing a lot of relaxing. We went out to eat with Neil's dad a few times, and relaxed by the pool. We played 9 holes of golf two days in a row, which was great! We haven't played all summer, which we've missed. We've been watching a bunch of movies and enjoying being indoors. We are hoping to make it a quick ride back to Massachusetts. We are ready to get home and we miss everyone. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Day 83-94

September 7-September 18

    The day before we left Lake Tahoe, we were sitting in the living room watching a movie, when we heard a noise at the back door. We thought maybe the neighbor was trying to get in the house. Neil went to go check, and it was not the neighbor, it was a BEAR! He was standing on his back legs, with one hand on the handle, and the other on the screen, pulling the door open. When Neil realized what he was looking at, he slammed the door in the bears face. We watched the bear make his way to the front of the house, and then leave down the driveway. It was quite the night! 

   After we left Lake Tahoe, which was beautiful, and very relaxing, we headed to Napa Valley, wine country! Driving to and through Napa Valley was beautiful. It was so neat to see all the vineyards! We stayed in Calistoga and we went to 3 wineries/vineyards. First stop wad V. Sattui, where we loved the Port which had flavors of brandy and chocolate. Then we went to Rutherford Grove which was a smaller family run winery. And lastly was Grgich Hills Estate. At Grgich Hills we met the man who started the winery in 1976! Napa Valley was really fun and we enjoyed all the very good wine. 

    Next we headed to Berkeley to stay with our friend Jim, who we met in Colorado. He was gracious enough to let us stay with him and tour us around San Francisco, he was a great tour guide! We rented bikes in San Fran, and spent about 6 hours biking and walking around the city. We road next to the water for awhile, and had a great view of the bay bridge, and Alcatraz in the distance. The Golden Gate bridge was a little foggy in the distance but we could still see it. We road our bikes to the Golden Gate, parked the bikes, and then walked half the bridge. Then we headed to Lombard street. Neil and Jim rode their bikes down the street, I chose to walk. Then we went to  Ghirardelli, and got chocolate milk shakes, they were to die for! Then we returned our bikes. We had a full day of exploring the city, which was amazing. On our way back to Berkeley we stopped at a viewpoint that overlooked all of Oakland and San Francisco. We watched all the lights turn on, and the sky turn pink, and then dark. It was a great view! 

   Then, we headed to Yosemite. We were hoping we had beat all the summer crowds because it wax after Labor Day, but the park was still packed, and the campgrounds were still reserved and very full!  The first day we got to Yosemite, the weather was a little unexpected, it snowed!  Only a little snow accumulated on the ground, but it continued to rain, and it was very cold! Despite the weather, we saw beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and valleys almost everywhere we looked. Yosemite valley was amazing, with great views of El Capitan and Half Dome. We hiked to lower Yosemite Falls, and the Vernal Falls. We saw upper Yosemite falls in the distance, which is the largest water fall in North America. We also saw the Ansel Adams Gallery which was pretty cool. One of our favorite parts of the part was Glacier Point. We almost skipped it but we were glad we didn't. Glacier point looks over the entire valley, and the surrounding mountain ranges. We were there in the pouring rain, but the views were still spectacular.

   We've now been on the road for 3 months! We've seen 25 National Parks, and traveled over 12,000 miles! I think we are seeing more, and traveling longer than we ever expected. 

    Next we headed to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park, they are two separate parks, but they are connected. Kings Canyon was the first stop. We did a short hike through the General Grant Grove, which was filled with huge sequoias. Then we drove down into the Canyon. The views driving down were spectacular! We kept stopping and just looking around. Then we headed to Sequoia. In Sequoia, we hiked the General Sherman Trail where we saw, literally, the biggest tree on earth. This tree is the heaviest, and has the most cubic feet of any other tree on earth, pretty amazing! They say that the trunk of the tree still continues to grow and expand outward! We also explored the Giant Forest museum, where we learned a lot about the sequoias. Then we headed to Moro rock. Moro rock is the 2nd largest piece of granite in the US. We climbed the 400 stairs, 300 vertical feet, to the top of the rock. The views, again, were amazing. We could see so far in every direction. On a clear day, they say you can see 100 miles all the way to the coast. The mountain ranges were all around us, and we just stood there trying to soak it all in. Then we stopped by Tunnel log, which is a downed tree that has been carved out, so you can drive through it.

    After we were done exploring the parks, we drove for a few hours, and we are now in Bakersfield. Next we are going to hit the coast and go see LA. 

More photos: 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 66-82

August 21- September 6

 Spent 3 days at Redwood National Forest! We loved it! We were so amazed by how HUGE the trees were. We did a bunch of small hikes through the old growth forests, and we saw the tree that you can drive through. We drove the 3 scenic drives through the park, which were all amazing! We stayed right on the beach one night as well. We did a hike through the tall tree grove and saw some gigantic trees right before we left. 

Next, we headed to Lassen Volcanic National Park and explored for a day. Lassen was filled with snow, we were very surprised because it was so hot! The views from Lassen were amazing because we were at such a high elevation. Lassen peak is huge, and you can hike it, but it was closed, we think because of snow. Then it was off to Lake Tahoe!!

Lake Tahoe has been amazing!! We are staying in a house, which is very different than what we have been used to. We finally have a kitchen to cook in, a real bed to sleep in, real toilets, and hot, free showers whenever we please! It's been glorious. We stocked up on fresh food, and we didn't leave the house for a few days, it was very relaxing. We went to the beach a few days. Lake Tahoe is beautiful. The mountains surround the whole lake, and the lake is huge. The water was very warm, about 70 degrees. 

Over labor day weekend my mom and dad came to visit! We were both really excited for them to come! It's been almost three months since I've seen them. We rented a boat the first day they were here! We all had a lot of fun, we cruised around the lake for 4 hours. We went swimming and soaked up a lot of sun! Then we went out to eat at a restaurant right behind the house. We didn't even have to drive, we walked right up the hill behind the house. 

The next day we went up a gondola with amazing views of Lake Tahoe! We stopped at the observation deck, half way up, which overlooked the whole lake and the surrounding area. It was so pretty! Then we headed up to the top of the mountain, which was 9,000 feet. We did a small hike up the mountain, and then we had lunch at the lodge. 

The next day we headed to the beach, and relaxed. We spent a few hours at the beach. Then we went to the Harrahs Casino. Mom was our lucky charm and won some money! We all had fun! Then we came back, cooked a nice dinner, and watched fireworks from the deck. 

The next morning we brought my mom and dad to the airport. We had a great few days with them, but their trip was too short!

Now we are off to explore California some more. 


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Day 30-65

July 15- August 20

It has been over a month since I last updates, sorry! I've been busy writing in my own journal and we haven't had Internet too frequently. 

We've been on the road for over 2 months now! We can't even believe it! So far We have been to 2 countries, 20 states, and 19 national parks. We have driven 9,580 miles. 

Here is a quick play by play of the places we have been since Bryce. 

-After Bryce we headed toward Zion and slept at a state park right on the beach, it was beautiful. 

-Then we explored Zion, a beautiful park, and probably one of our favorites so far, we didn't want to leave. A highlight was hiking the narrows, which is a river that runs for miles, that many people hike. The water is up to your ankles at some points, up to your knees at others, and at one point it was all the way up to our chests!

-After Zion we headed to Salt Lake City to celebrate Neil's 22nd birthday! We got a hotel room with a pool and continental breakfast, and we went and saw Harry Potter in IMAX 3D, and then we went out for sushi! We went to the gas station and bought candy, instead of birthday cake.  

-After Salt Lake slept at Antelope Island state park. It really was an island! We relaxed on the beach, saw buffalo, and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. 

- Next we headed for the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. The Tetons are absolutely breath taking. We kayoed on Lake Jenny, floated on our inner tubes in Jackson Lake, and did a hike around Colter Bay. We loved the Tetons, everyone should go see them! 

- Next was Yellowstone, only a half hour drive from the Tetons. Yellowstone is so diverse with its green forests, flowing rivers, (smelly) geysers and hot springs, and wildlife. We saw a bunch of buffalo, they liked to walk slowly in front of our car. We saw some beautiful falls, and we saw old faithful! We also saw a baby coyote and a bunch of elk. Yellowstone is beautiful but it is always packed with tourists. 

- Next we headed to Montana. We camped a few nights at different parks before we reached Glacier National park. Glacier was beautiful and the mountains were so huge! They were very snow covered. We drove a road called Going To The Sun Road, which drove up the mountains, on a very windy road! We had great views of waterfalls, the weeping rock, and all the mountains surrounding us. 

- Then it was off to British Columbia. We arrived in BC on a holiday weekend, BC day apparently, we had no idea. We went to Kootenay, Banff, and Jasper National Parks. We spent the most time in Banff, which was absolutely beautiful. We were dumbfounded by Lake Louise, which is an awesome light blue color. We hiked, explored, and gauged at the huge snowy mountains. We spent about a week in BC, and we were a little happy to leave. We discovered that BC is really expensive, really buggy, and everyone drives really fast. We were glad to be back on American Soil.

-We crossed the boarder in Washington. We stayed at a few campgrounds and got to see the coast! We have been looking forward to the west coast and the ocean! Then we took a ferry toward Olympic National Park. The ferry took off about 3 hours  of what we would otherwise have to drive.  We reached Olympic and spent about 5 days there. Olympic is so diverse. We saw beautiful glaciers, hiked to the Sol Duc falls, soaked in hot springs, hiked in the Hoh rainforest, and sat at the beach and swam in the ocean. We loved Olympic! 

-Next we headed toward Mt.Ranier. On our way we spotted a Cabelas and we had to go in! We spent about an hour looking through the store! We both walked out with something. We did a nice hike in Mt Ranier and we got to see the top of the mountain for about 10 minutes, then the clouds rolled over. We spent 2 days exploring the park, and we sOne beautiful views. 

- Next we stopped and saw Mt St Helens, the volcano that erupted only 30 years ago. It was covered in snow! It looked huge, even from far away! 

-Next we drove toward Oregon, and we drive all along the coast! It was beautiful. There are a ton of beaches, but also some rugged coast with huge rocks. We saw sone huge houses right on the ocean! We stayed at a state park right on the water! We walked the beach and dipped our feet in the water, it was pretty chilly. 

-Then we continued onto Crater Lake National Park. Crater lake was amazing! The Lake used to be a volcano, Mt. Mazama, and now it is a lake! It is the deepest lake in the US, and the 7th deepest lake in the world! The color is a beautiful royal blue, we couldn't believe how blue it was! We drove all around the lake, and did a small hike. We got some beautiful pictures! 

- Now we are at the bottom of Oregon, right near California, and the Redwoods are the next on the list! We are very excited! 

We miss everyone, and can't believe we have been gone for so long! Time flies! Hope everyone is enjoying their summer! 

We've been updating pictures more frequently than the blog, so you can check there for updates.

Here is the link again:

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 24-29

July 8- 14

We've been on the road for over a month now! The time has flown by, we can't even believe it.  

After the Great Sand Dunes we headed to Messa Verde national park. It is the only man made national park. We took two days to explore the park and did 3 different tours of the cliff dwellings of the ancient Puebloans. They were amazing, and their houses were literally built into the side of cliffs. We took one tour called Balcony House, and this cliff dwelling was set high in the cliffs, and the whole house was a balcony overlooking the canyon below.  We made a friend while we were at a campground in Messa Verde, Jim ( Hi, Jim!).  We talked to Jim for awhile,  he was also originally from the east coast. He is traveling cross country on his motorcycle! He told us all about his cross country journeys, which have been plentiful! 

Next we headed to Arches National Park in Utah. Arches was awesome! We hiked a bunch different trails, and climbed some of the rocks. Neil even climbed on top of one of the arches. The arches are all natural, not man made, and it is amazing how huge some are! 

Next stop was Canyonlands National Park, The canyons were crazy! We could not believe how huge they were, Neil even said they reminded him of the Grand Canyon. Again, we did some hikes and got some awesome pictures!  Utah is really hot we have found,  even being outside for a few minutes makes you sweat. 

Next destination  was Bryce, but we drove through and stayed at Capitol Reef National Park on the way. We did some research and Capital Reef didn't really interest us, so we weren't going to do too much exploring. When we got to Capital Reef campground it was pretty late, we were tired, and the gas light had turned on in the car. When we got out of the car we heard the tire hissing and discovered that a rock went right through the tire. We decided to change the tire, and put on the spare, but that was flat as well, just our luck. We decided we'd deal with it in the morning. The park rangers took us to their maintenance shed and pumped up the spare, and we drove into down and got the tire patched, we were ready for action again. 

Bryce National Park was next, and it was amazing. The rock formations which they call the hoodoos were beautiful, they are all different shapes, and such a vibrant orange! We hiked down into the Bryce amphitheater which was awesome. It had just rained so the clay path was very sticky, and we had a build up of a ton of clay on our shoes. The wet clay was also slippery, it was an adventure hiking town. The hoodoos looked awesome, and it was very neat to see them from different angles. Then we headed to the starting location of our overnight backpacking trip. It took us awhile to get all of our supplies packed in our bags, but we eventually got everything packed and headed on or way. The hike to our site was very pretty, very forested but we did see sone hoodoos. The designated sight was very nice with a stream running right behind it. We made some dinner but far away from our site because of bears. We had to tie all of our cooking supplies and food up in a tree after we were done. We had a lot of fun just relaxing and having peace and quiet. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Day 14-23

June 28-July 7

We've now been on the road for 3 weeks! A lot has happened since the last update. After the Badlands we headed towards Rapid City. When we were there we met up with Neil's friends from home, Robbie and Tim, who were on there way to LA. We all went and saw Mt. Rushmore! Then Neil and I went to a park called Bear Country USA. We drove through the park, with our windows and doors shut like they told us, and we saw rocky mountain elk, reindeer, arctic wolves, big horned sheep, mountain lions, and about 50 bears! It was amazing! The animals would walk right in front of our car. There was another section  of the park that we walked around which was called "baby land." Our favorite part of baby land was the 30 baby bear cubs running around!

The next day we went to the Rushmore Tramway. We took a chairlift ride up,
and then an alpine slide down the mountain. We had a good view of Mt Rushmore from the top. Then we headed to the Crazy Horse Monument. Neil and I loved it! We spent about 3 hours looking at the Indian artifacts and the hand made jewelry. Then we finally got to the monument! What amazed us the most was the time line, and background of the monument. We read about what has been worked on over the years, and how it is a family effort with no state or federal funding for the project. 

Next we headed to Wind Cave National park. We toured one of the caves, which is the 5th longest cave in the world, consisting of 136 miles. We took an hour and a half tour. The cave was amazing and very intricate. Before our tour we started talking to the people parked next to us, because they were from Massachusetts as well! It's a small world! They were road tripping as well and have been on the road for over two months. They gave us a lot of helpful pointers for our journey! 

We spent about 5 days in South Dakota, and decided to head towards Colorado. First we wanted to hit Devils Towers in Wyoming. Devils towers was amazing. It just juts up from the earth, and everything around it is pretty flat. We saw a lot of people rock climbing the tower when we were there. The columns on the tower are the largest and widest in the world. 

Then it was off to Colorado. Our first destination  was Rocky Mountain National Park. We tried to find a campground when we got close to the park, but they were all full because it was July 4th weekend. We finally found a site that had overflow spots, which was basically a spot to park and sleep. The view from the site was beautiful. We were surrounded by snow covered mountains. The next day we used the pool and hot tub at the campground and then drove 1 mile down the road to the National Park. We went on a beautiful hike, and passed 4 lakes on our way. We hiked through the snow in a lot of spots. The mountains were all around us, and the views of the mountains over the lakes was awesome! We finally got to the top, and the we had an am amazing view of the mountains right in front of us, covered in snow! We took a lot of pictures! 

Next we headed to Denver to visit Neil's friend Andrew. The views of the city were so crazy because there are mountains surrounding the city. It was fun hanging out in Denver with Andrew, but it was definitely a change of pace for us. When we were leaving Denver we drive about 20 minutes to the Red Rocks concert venue! It was beautiful! Inside they had a hall of fame for artists who have performed there, and lists of artists that have played there over the years.

Next we headed toward The Great Sand Dunes National Park. On our way we stopped in a town called Bueno Vista. We found a beautiful campground, and we watched fire works there for the 4th of July. The next morning we asked about a white water rafting flyer that they had in the office. The lady said it was awesome, so Neil and I decided to do it! We ratted in the Arkansas River through the Black Canyon. It was so much fun! We went through one class 4 rapids which covered the whole raft in water! The views were amazing and the rapids were so thrilling!! We had a blast! 

The next day, we headed to the Great Sand Dunes. We decided to hike High Dune which was a 650 foot tall dune! The start of our hike was a 9 thousand elevation and we were continuing to head up! The dunes were very steep and the air was very thin! It was quite a hike. When we finally got to the top the dunes looked like they continued on forever. On the way down, we ran down the dunes! It was so much fun! We had so much momentum and the sand would slide! Down was a lot easier than up! 

More picture:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Day 13

Haven't had internet for awhile, but here's an overview of the past few days: we traveled a little further through Wisconsin and stayed at a pretty campground on a lake, rained all night and day so we got a little wet. We signed up for camp club USA which offers us a 50% discount at a lot of campgrounds! We continued our journey to Pine City Minnesota and stayed at an RV park in the van, I had to sweet talk the lady a little but she said it was ok. We swam in the pool at the campground and played 9 holes at the par 3 golf course. We traveled further in Minnesota to a campground in Rice. It was right on the water and had everything! Nice pavilions, a baseball diamond, showers. The view of the water was very pretty! Next, South Dakota! Thats where we are now! Yesterday we stopped at the Corn Palace which was advertised all along the highway, it was a funny little place, the corn murals were cool though! Then we stopped at Cabelas! Its a store that has everything! We looked at their hunting, fishing, camping, and cabin supplies! We ended up buying chairs to sit in around the fire! They are very nice! It was gross out again yesterday and the forecast was for severe thunderstorms again, so we made our journey to the only 24 hour Walmart in South Dakota in Pierre. It was a long drive on highway 34, and we saw a lot of cows and farms! We kept wondering how people live out in the middle of no where with no grocery stores or gas stations. We finally made it to Walmart, and were glad to be safe inside, while the van shook from the rain and wind.

Now we are in the Badlands! Badlands National park is breath taking. There aren't really words to describe it. The orange earth and blue skies are such a contrast and look so beautiful.

More pictures on the link:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Day 7

Drove around the city for awhile just to check it out! Chicago is very pretty, modern, artsy and clean! Now we are off to Wisconsin! 
We got to Harrington Beach state park and drove around and checked out the sites. When we got back to the main office they told us there were severe thunderstorm warnings for the night and a tornado watch for the state. We decided we didn't want to sleep in the tent in a severe thunderstorm. So we headed to the nearest Walmart and camped out in the parking lot. We bought some chocolate milk and watched a movie. We were glad to be in the car because the rain was coming down really hard and there was a lot of thunder and lighting. 

Link for pictures:

Day 6

We packed up and went up to the house to pay and we ended up talking with the owner and her daughter for about an hour. We also played with the kittens and we were tempted to take one home with us. They also had ducks, chickens, a dog, three full grown cats and a horse. We talked to them about our trip and she gave us some books for campgrounds which was very nice! We finally headed out, and are heading to Chicago!  Our friends Sam and Curtis are both in Chicago we got to their place around 7. The area where they live and their apartment is so nice! They took us to a restaurant and we sat outside! They had a huge beer menu, it was a whole separate menu! After we finished we went back to their apartment and sat on their deck and talked for awhile! Neil and I both had a lot of fun talking with Sam and Curtis and  it was nice to catch up. 

Day 5

We got up and went to the beach in the morning. It was  right in the park. We laid around for awhile and then Neil went swimming, the water was a little cold. The waves were pretty big at the beach which is strange because it is a lake. After the beach we rented bikes from the main camp office. They were beach cruises. We rode the bike path to the beach and continued on a pretty trail in the woods. After our bike ride it started raining and we decided we would head towards Michigan.
 We found a campground called SugarBush campground and called to see if they had any available tent sites. The women said she could give us a cabin for the same price as a tent site! We got to the campground and it was empty. We were directed down to our cabin and it was so nice! There was a little screened in porch, and then inside there was a couch, table and chairs, two bunk beds, and a little later to a loft with a bed up there as well. We made a fire and then walked around the campground. The people who own the campground live right at the entrance and we walked by the house and saw 6 little white kittens outside. The woman who owns the campground said could take one back to the cabin with me. I brought the little runt back with me and  2 of the other kittens followed me. They were so cute and so little, they were only 6 weeks old. 
It rained the night we were in the cabin and we were glad to be inside!

Day 4

We relaxed for awhile on the beach in the morning and packed up and headed out by 1:30. Our next destination was Ohio. We got to East Harbor State Park campground in Ohio and picked our tent site.The park is huge! We explored a little bit and saw that Lake Erie was right behind our camp site. We made a fire and relaxed until dark!

Day 3

Off to Niagara falls today! Niagara falls was beautiful and so powerful. We looked at the falls from the upper viewing deck, on the New York side and we took the elevator down and got misted on from the lower deck. We also walked to the other side and saw the falls from Goat Island. 
After Niagara we headed Pennsylvania. Our destination was Sara's campground which is located on the beach of Lake Erie. We got to the camp ground pretty late and set up our tent right on the beach! Everyone was outside relaxing and sitting by their fires! It was so nice to fall asleep to the sounds of the waves. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 2

 Woke up early and we all got ready to go to Alexandria Bay for the day. I sat in the back seat with Josie and Jack, it was cozy! We got tickets for a boat to bring us over to an island where Boldt Castle is located. The castle was huge! It was a beautiful day and we explored the inside and the outside of the castle. Once we were done on the island we took the boat back to the bay. We headed back to the house and all had some dinner. After dinner we took a walk along the water. The views of the water were so pretty and we saw the sunset, which was so pink! We all had some ice cream and sat by the water.  Neil and I had a very entertaining day with the two kids! Ogdensburg was a fun first destination. 

Day 1

And we're off! Packed up the car with the last of our things and got ready to go! The car's only a little full.... Our first destination is Ogdensburg New York, where Neil's cousin Leeann lives. We are heading so far north it's almost Canada. 
On our way we saw signs for Hanover so we decided to stop and visit Dustin. We wandered around the hospital for a good half  hour trying to find him! We finally found him when he called Neil back. He showed us his lab and his apartment! Hanover is very pretty.
Then we headed out for another 5 hours in the car. The drive was beautiful, we were driving next to lake Champlain for a lot of the way.  We drove by a lot of farms as well!  We finally got to Ogdensburg around 9:30 pm. We hung out with Tim, Leeann, and Josie and Jack for awhile, then we all headed to bed.