USA to Canada back to USA trip: 13 Apr 2007 - 19 Jun 2007
TRIP JOURNAL Day 1 - Day 43: USA Part 1
Day 1- 13 Apr 2007 : Adelaide to Hollywood
We left home in Adelaide at 7.30am and flew to Auckland (NZ). Spent some time in the Transit lounge then took off again at 11.30 am. We arrived safely in Los Angeles on the same day as we left at 12.45pm. The immigration and customs took about 40 minutes and then the Blue shuttle bus another 50 minutes to get to the hotel. But that was good as we got a scenic tour of LA since the shuttle stopped at 3 other hotels first.
We booked into the Hollywood Celebrity Hotel and were just 2 minutes from the corner of Hollywood Blvd and Highland Blvd so we went to the shopping centre and then walked Hollywood Boulevard for about 2 hours. Saw all the golden stars in the footpath and the other famous landmarks. Then a quick dinner and walked some more into the evening.
Day 2: Hollywood
Yesterday afternoon saw Hollywood Blvd. Today more of the same. It is a fascinating place with street performers and the history of Hollywood everywhere. We took a doubledecker bus tour of Hollywood in the morning, in the afternoon a walking tour of Movie history. Both excellent. Had lunch at Johnny Rockets the burger bar. I had jet lag tonight night and couldn't sleep.
Day 3: Downtown LA
Sunday we took the Metro underground to Downtown LA, to 10 am Mass at the huge modern Cathedral of the Angels. The Archbishop said Mass and there were 11 confirmations. About 2000 people there and a team of ushers.
Then walked downtown to Pershing square and the Central Market (open on Sunday), had lunch there. Then walked further and it was like little Mexico. Then went to little Tokyo. Also and did some shopping. After that back to hotel and 15 mins sleep.
Took the Metro again to see basketball at Staples Centre, LA defeated Seattle 109-98. A huge production with videos, Laker girls, huge screen to see the action although the view from our seat was ok. And the food!! Huge trays of burgers and fries, onion rings and hotdogs, and the guy near us had 4 beers of about a litre each. Game finished at 9 pm then back home by the underground.
Day 4: Universal Studios
Both of us felt better with a good night's sleep. Monday today and we took underground to Universal Studios. An excellent day! Great rides such as the Mummy's curse, Back to the Future and Jurassic Park. Also the studio tour in the afternoon was great with special effects. Got home about 7 pm to pack for tomorrow. The traffic here looked ok as long as you know your way. So far the weather was great with 20 – 22C each day.
Day 5: Route 66 to Anaheim
We left Hollywood at 9am by taxi to get the rental car from Alamo near the airport. It is a Pontiac G6 - real
cool car. Drove to Venice pier and Venice beach and Muscle Beach. Then saw the excellent Venice canals and drove to Santa Monica to see 3rd Street Mall and Santa Monica pier. Went to the start of Route 66 at Santa Monica. Then drove Route 66 (Santa Monica Blvd and Sunset Blvd) to Pasadena, from there to Anaheim and booked into our hotel. Great room with 2 Queen beds and coffee maker. Then walked to Disneyland to check out the entering process for the morning.
Day 6: Disneyland
Disneyland was awesome! Left the hotel at 8.15 am and lined up for the opening at 9am. Then went to the Matterhorn bobsleds, Indiana Jones, Jungle cruise, Space mountain and 6 other rides Some are real roller coasters and some are simulation. Then back to motel for a sleep at 3 pm. Returned for the Grand Parade at 7pm. Then back home ready for tomorrow’s drive.
Day 7: Anaheim to Las Vegas
We left our Anaheim motel at 8.30 am and drove to San Bernadino then set off on Route 66 again going to Topock and Oatman. Oatman is a wierd deserted town and a tourist trap. Wild donkeys walk in the main street being fed carrots by elderly tourists - what a laugh.
Then drove to Hoover dam and to Las Vegas to the Imperial Hotel in the centre of the Strip. Great location and 2 queen beds again with coffeemaker. We had "all you can eat buffet" at Harrah’s Casino. Then walked the strip and saw Venetian casino - unbelievable.
Day 8: Las Vegas
We had our first sleep in of the trip - got up at 9 am and left to see the Strip at 11 am.
Breakfast at Flamingo casino and then saw Bellagio, Caesar's Tropicana, Paris casino, Luxor,
New York, New York etc Walked about 10 km and went back at 5.30 pm for a rest. In the
evening saw the Fremont Street Experience. This is a huge TV screen in the roof of a mall
about 1 mile long on which videos are projected in the evening. What a show! Then we had dinner at another buffet at Fitzgerald’s casino. Took the bus back at 11 pm.
Day 9: Las Vegas to Zion Park to Tropic
We left Las Vegas at 9 am going north into Utah and to Zion Park, huge cliff walls 1000 feet high. Huge traffic jams (being Saturday). Left there about 4pm and drove to Tropic to our motel. Another buffet for dinner! Went back to our room at 9pm. Drove 271 miles today.
Day 10: Bryce Canyon
We went to Bryce Canyon Park at 8.45 am. Cold weather 4C, then in the park went to -1C and it started to snow. Difficult to take good pictures in the snow. It eased for a while so took a 45 mins walk to the Canyon floor. There are huge hoodoos (rocks) in this park of red rock, amazing sight!
At 12 noon drove to Kanab in the rain and then to Vermillion cliffs but didn't take any photo, weather too bad. Drove back to motel through snow falling for 20 miles and wonderful hills and trees covered in snow. Then went to a greasy diner for steak sandwich and to do some emailing.
(Note that our mobiles have not worked for a few days as we seem to have no coverage).
Day 11: Snow
This was our most extraordinary day yet. We woke at 8.15 am to 15 cms of snow on the town. The road was ploughed so no problem. 9 am we revisited Bryce to see the hoodoos with snow
on them. 0C with cloudy sky. Then to Kodachrome basin and Escalante Staircase in nice
However coming over the pass at Boulder, Utah, lots of snow everywhere, then on the down side of the mountain 15 cms of fresh unploughed snow. So we drove carefully over that with not too much sliding off the road. Then went to Capital Reef and then trying to get home we hit a snowstorm at Torrey. Couldn't see 5 metres in front of the car. Pulled over and went to Information bureau where the guy said the pass home would be blocked and to overnight in Torrey and see what happens in the morning.
So we booked into Econolodge at Torrey and sat watching TV. However the snow cleared and
Denise said let’s go. So webooked out and took to the road which was ploughed ok. However after 20 miles we hit lots of slush on the road and negotiated that. Finally getting over the mountain we had 120 miles of rain to go before reacjhing the motel. We stopped for a nice dinner at a restaurant along the way and got home safely at 9pm.
Day 12: Tropic to Grand Canyon
We got up early and left Tropic at 8 am. No snow here but a lot at Bryce Canyon so went there for the 3rd time! To see the hoodoos with fresh snow. Half the park was closed due to snow.
Then drove to Page, Arizona and the Glen Canyon dam, similar to the Hoover dam. Then to Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado river. Followed route 89 and 64 to East Entrance of Grand Canyon and rushed to see it, the only place you can actually see the river.
Then drove to our motel Thunderbird Lodge, great room with 2 Queen beds again. Our room overlooks the canyon and is 20 metres from the rim. Walked the rim of the Canyon and then had dinner at Bright Angel Restaurant. So we went from 0C at Bryce to 20C at Grand Canyon.
Day 13: Grand Canyon
We got up at 5.30am to see the sunrise at the Grand Canyon, then back to bed for a few hours. Walked the Bright Angel Trail down into the Canyon at 9.30 am for about 40 minutes which was about 1 mile. That was enough as it was getting warm. We took 80 minutes to get back up to the rim, stopping frequently and drinking water.
Then more rest in our room and took the free Shuttle bus around to the Market and had lunch at the cafeteria, then to Yarapai point where the Grand Canyon webcam is which Denise has been watching for months. Quiet dinner in our room tonight with Danish and croissants bought yesterday and fresh dripfilter coffee which is in every room.
Day 14 : Grand Canyon to Kayenta
We left Grand Canyon in the morning and drove to Flagstaff , then part of the way on Route 66, then south to Oak Creek Canyon. Blue skies, and 25C in the afternoon. Saw Sunset Crater in the afternoon. After that saw the pueblos at Wupatki National Monument. We drove through Tuba City and got mobile phone reception! Amazing a small Navajo town.
We then looked at the Betatakin pueblo.
At 6.30 pm we booked in the Hampton inn at Kayenta with 2 Queen beds. Ate dinner at Burger King. In the evening rushed to Monument Valley to get a feel for what we would see tomorrow.
Day 15: Monument Valley to Monticello
We left at 9am to see Monument valley and did the 13 mile red dirt road tour, amazing sights of the huge red rocks which you see in western movies. Blue skies 22C.
Then drove to see the Moki Dugway but turned back. It was too hard to drive up a dirt road with numerous S bends and switchbacks and going up 2000 feet. So we took the highway to Blanding then went the normal road to Natural Bridges.
We got to Monticello at 4pm and booked into the motel, then drove to Needles to see the rocks - yes more rocks. Great dinner at local restaurant at 7.30 pm.
Day 16: Mesa Verde and San Juan Skyway
We got up early to go to Cortez and then to Mesa Verde which is a site of ancient Pueblos. We looked at one pueblo which is in a huge cave. Then booked a 1pm tour for another. These are amazing structures 4 storeys high where the ancient people lived in about 1200AD.
Then drove to Durango at 2pm and drove the San Juan skyway a incredible scenic route over
high mountain passes with old snow alongside but no snow on the road.
We passed through a nice town Silverton along the way and had a look around. After that had to get home through more S bends for 100 miles. Drove 390 miles today but really worth it.
Day 17: Canyonlands and Arches National Park
We decided not to go to Canyon de Chelly today and save 350 miles of driving.
We went Dead Horse Point, then Canyonlands to see the Needles. All incredible rock canyons and mesas and needles. Then drove to Arches National Park and saw lots of arches. Probably was the hottest day in the area for years, 32C.
We now have seen enough rock for a lifetime. Great dinner at town of Moab (Italian) and then back to the motel at 7.30pm. Drove 260 miles.
Day 18: Monticello to Gunnison
(Yesterday we had decided not to go to Canyon de Chelly so we were now one day ahead of the planned itinerary.)
Today we took off for Black Canyon of the Gunnison. First to Moab for coffee and internet, then the scenic road along the Colorado river, then Interstate 70 to Grand Junction. Finally we got to the Black Canyon of Gunnisons. This was just awesome, terrific, even scary. I nearly got vertigo. This is a great sight 2000 feet down canyon with sheer walls and the river (Gunnison) below. A good scenic drive with outlooks as well. We are glad we went to it after nearly omitting it.
Then at 6pm drove to Gunnison town and went to the Super 8 motel - this is the first time
we had not prebooked a motel. But we got a good room, 1 queen bed, coffee maker, 60
channel TV and free internet and breakfast. Then had Dominos pizza for dinner nearby. Drove about 300 miles today. It was 28C max today.
Day 19: Gunnison to Pike's Peak to Taos
We drove 477 miles today only saw one sight! We left Gunnison 9 am and took Interstate 50 East past Salida to Royal Gorge Bridge near Canon City. Drove to the gate and it turned out to be an Amusement park and cost $60 to get in. The bridge is the highest in the world but is
privately owned. So we didn't go in.
We continued on to Colorado Springs and drove up Pike's Peak, 14000 feet high. We had a great drive into the snow zone where the road was closed at 12000 ft due to snow. So didn't get to the top. Then took Interstate 25 south to Raton NM, then Route 64 to Taos.
We arrived at 7.30pm, booked into the Taos Super8 motel. Then had quick dinner at Wendy’s. A lot of miles and a long day!
Day 20: Taos, Santa Fe to Albuquerque
We left 8.30am to visit the Taos Pueblo, a working Indian village. Took the 9am guided tour- really good tour and village. Then drove to Rio Grande Gorge Bridge - 2nd biggest in USA. From there to Santa Fe and looked at Old Town for a while.
Then to Albuquerque on I25. There we found a Howard Johnson motel from coupon in a book. We booked in and had great room. Dinner at the Indian Reservation Casino nearby - another buffet. Very cloudy day with lightning at Albuquerque. Only a short 165 miles today.
Day 21: Albuquerque, Route 66 to Amarillo
There were blue skies as we went to Albuquerque Old town. Lots if art and plazas of pueblos and stuff for sale. Nice to look around. Then to the Botanic Garden, small but good. We then continued on Route 66 through the city, busiest traffic we have struck so far. We continued on mixing Route 66 with Interstate 44 to Amarillo.
Then booked into Fifth season motel. We dined at a nearby place called Outback Steakhouse. This is an Australian themed diner and they were pleased we were Aussies and gave good service.
Day 22: Route 66 to Clinton to Oklahoma City
We got a badly overcooked breakfast at the motel, bacon, eggs, not nice at all. Drove to Cadillac Ranch where 8 caddies are buried nose first in the ground. Then to Amarillo city centre where statues of horses were decorated. Nothing else to see in town.
So we again took Route 66 past many deserted towns in this area.
We then drove to Clinton OK to the famous Route 66 museum, which is very good and fun to see. Then took the Interstate to Oklahoma City. There we found cheap Super 8 motel which was nice. We had dinner at McDonalds. On TV was tornado warning for where we had been today but we hadn't see any tornados.
Day 23 : Oklahoma City, Route 66 to Tulsa
Today was warm, windy, humid and 26C, just right for tornadoes- there were 86 of them today
according to the TV but we didn't see them. At 9.30 am we left to go Oklahoma Botanical Garden. Not bad gardens. Then to Oklahoma City bombing memorial (1995 bombing). This was very, very impressive with audio/visual displays and a huge memorial garden.
Then walked to Bricktown district, where an old part of town has been revitalised. We took a boat trip through a canal which has been constructed. The traffic in the city here on Sat morning was minimal. I could drive half mile without seeing another car. Then we went to see the buffalo corral with dozens of painted statues of buffalo.
We left town at 2pm and drove Route 66 the whole way to Tulsa. This is the best preserved part of the historic road. We went to a motel but was too dear, then booked into Super 8. Dinner at Cici's Pizzas, a well known all you can eat pizza buffet. (127 miles today).
Day 24: Tulsa, Route 66 to Springfield (MO)
We travelled through 3 States today: OK, KS and MO. Hot humid windy 35C.
Left motel at 9am and went to Oral Roberts University to see the famous Prayer tower and Praying hands (biggest in the world). Then to downtown Tulsa, no traffic at all, many blocks torn down and flattened. Looked sad.
Then took Route 66 out of town to Catoosa, Chelsea and Vinita. Nice towns and looked prosperous, and quite heavy traffic. Route 66 becomes 69 and goes into Kansas for only 13 miles, then crosses into Missouri as Route 96. We then got onto Interstate 44 for the last 15 miles and booked into Springfield Inn with wifi and king bed. Dinner at Buckingham’s Smokehouse BBQ, a different sort of fast food, ok but not great. (242 miles).
Day 25: Springfield to St Louis
We left Springfield MO at 9.30am, drove Route 66 to Lebanon MO, then at St Robert got lost in
the entrance to the Fort Leonard Wood Army base. Luckily they let us out and we went for
lunch at Arby's a new fast food chain we've discovered. The road to Rolla was quite bad at
About 100 miles from St Louis we took the Interstate 55 which was busy with lots of trucks.
We booked in at Holiday Inn, St Louis at 3.30pm. At 7pm we drove to downtown using my GPS,
however we missed an exit on the highway and ended up across the Mississippi river in Illinois. This was bad part of town but we found our way back and ended up in a traffic jam for the St Louis Cardinals baseball game.
We were actually going to the Gateway Arch but this was only half mile from the Busch stadium. So we managed to get out of the queue of cars going to the baseball and we parked near the Arch. Other than the baseball fans there is no traffic in
these towns, the roads are empty. This is hard to understand.
Now the Gateway Arch was the best thing I've seen on the trip. It was just awesome, 630 feet high and it just goes up and up into the sky. I took lots of photos of it. We drove 262 miles today.
Day 26: St Louis to Bloomington
At 9.30am we went to Missouri Botanic garden, quite good and very large. Then back to the Gateway Arch and looked at the Museum of Westward Expansion under the Arch. We took a ride to the top of the Arch, 630 feet up. This was a bit unusual as the tram car you sat in was a round cubicle about 5 feet high with 5 plastic seats. So everyone sat with knees touching and head against the roof. There were 8 cars in the tram. The trip takes 4 minutes but the view from the top is great.
Humid 30C blue skies. We left St Louis at 2.30 pm, and went to Cahokia Mounds which are huge mounds of a civilisation 1000 years ago. Took the I55 to Bloomington and didn't do Route 66 as we spent so long in St Louis. Mistake! About 10 miles from Bloomington a State Trooper turns on his flashing red and blue lights and I have to pull over. Speeding he said, however he only gave me a caution, lucky!
We then booked into Econolodge at Bloomington at 6pm, had some dinner and shopping.
Day 27: Bloomington, Route 66 to Chicago
We left Bloomington at 9 am and followed Route 66 again and got some good photos. There are many Route 66 attractions on the way and even the 'old route 66' (from 1936) was visible for a lot of the time.
Then at Joliet went on Interstate 55 and with GPS guidance we drove straight to the Best Western hotel on Michigan Ave right in Chicago with no problems. However parking was difficult so I circled the block while Denise got instructions. The parking station was 50 yards down the road. So we booked the car in and then took our cases to the hotel. Nice room on 9th floor with 2 double beds, coffee machine and free wi-fi.
At 2 pm we bought 3-day train pass and took Metro to the city centre. We looked at Millennium Park and the Bean steel sculpture and had lunch at Macy's. Then walked a 2 mile walk from our guidebook to look at various buildings. After a rest at hotel went out at 7.45pm for more exploring.
Day 28: Chicago
We took the underground at 8.30am to buy tickets for a 2 hour bus tour of Chicago- this was very good tour along the northern part of Chicago. Then we took a cruise of the Chicago river. Took Metro back and had lunch at Eleven City Diner, a top Jewish restaurant and had Pastrami on Rye: 6 cm thick with coleslaw and pickle on the side – wow!
After that we went to see the Shedd Aquarium with dolphins, sharks etc. In the evening we went for a walk again to Millennium Park. Back to hotel at 10pm.
Day 29: Chicago
Chicago - the final day- cold morning about 14C but we thought it would warm up later. So we went out without jumpers. Wrong! It got colder instead and we were freezing cold all day.
We left the hotel at 9 am and caught the EL (Elevated railway) to Sears tower the 2nd biggest in the world. Took the lift to the top and had a great view over all of Chicago. The EL works
in conjunction with the underground and runs only in the city centre. However it is noisy and the steel posts on which it is set are a traffic hazard.
After that in a cold wind we took a free shuttle bus to Field Museum to look at the exhibits.
It had lots of great exhibits and a McDonalds inside. We had lunch there, then caught the shuttle sitting on the open top deck in a howling gale with us only in shirtsleeves. We went to Navy pier for another boat ride up the Chicago river. However we sat on the lower deck protected from the wind but I am still shivering. After that we took the underground to the hotel for a hot shower.
At 7 pm - this time in jumpers and jackets - we went to see the Magnificent Mile of expensive shops and also an historic pumping station and water tower. Took the EL back and had dinner at the Eleven city dinner.
Day 30: Chicago to Minneapolis
We were up at 7.15am, about 11C, and got ready to drive to Minnesota. I got the car from the parking garage (cost $45 plus $10 tip), put in the suitcases and drove out through the centre of Chicago, traffic very light in the city. Took the Interstate 94 North full of trucks and
heavy traffic until the Milwaukee turnoff.
We then took minor roads to Madison, and Prairie du Chien on the Mississippi river. Followed
the scenic route along the river for 60 miles to La Crosse, then on to Rochester. From there cross country to Le Centre where we meet my son Tim and his wife Emily. They then take us to her father's farm at Le Sueur about 10 minutes further.
It was now 6.30pm and there they had arranged a BBQ for us with about 50 family and neighbours to greet us. So we had dinner and talk to people and look at the house and barn and yard. We covered 3 States today IL, WI and MN.
Emily's brother has a steam engine (a cross between a tractor and steam locomotive) and
fires it up until there is enough steam for a ride around the yard. We are given the first ride as guests and then he does about 5 more rides for others before running out of steam.
At 9pm we said farewell as we have to drive another 60 miles to South Minneapolis where Tim
and Emily live and we bunk down in their basement for a good night's sleep. We drove 536
miles today and 6168 miles since we left LA four weeks ago.
Day 31 : Le Sueur and St Peter
We got up in Tim's basement at 9 am and at 11 am went back to Le Sueur to Emily's father's farm. There a large Sunday lunch had been prepared with close family present. It was a great spread with a variety of food, from water melons to mushrooms to egg and ham bake, delicious.
After lunch we went to see the 'corpse flower' which happened to be in the neighbouring town of St Peter at the University. This is a flower from Indonesia which they have grown from seed for 14 years and was flowering this very week. It is a huge flower 6 feet tall and smells like a rotting corpse.
We then went to visit an historic house but it was closed to visitors. We drove back towards Le Sueur and looked at the damage a tornado had done 6 months earlier: trees torn down, silos knocked over, houses destroyed. The day was 35C but not humid. Then dinner at the farm and back to Minneapolis to sleep.
Day 32: Minneapolis - St Paul
Hot again and at 11 we went to visit Historic Fort Snelling at the junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. The guides were in costume and the tour was interactive in that the guides played characters from the fort. Very entertaining. This fort was built about 1820 to open up the west of America to hunters and traders and settlers.
Then we went to Como Conservatory to look at tropical plants in various hothouses. Lunch at KFC and we drove to the Minnehaha water falls which feature in the Hiawatha poem by Longfellow who came from this town. Back home to dinner at 6.30 pm and an evening of talk and TV.
Day 33: Mall of America
We were having a great time with Tim and Emily, every morning when we got up we went to watch the squirrels on the front lawn and street. Today we left home at 10.30am to go to the Mall of America in Bloomington. This is the huge 4 storey mall with an Amusement park in the
middle. Around the outside are about 500 shops and several roller coasters and other
amusements are in the middle. We wandered about for nearly 3 hours looking and buying
Then had lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co (remember the film Forrest Gump). Lots of food with shrimps in them. Then took the only light rail (tram) in Minneapolis to go to the city, fast service to downtown - and it also services the Airport which is useful for travellers.
In town we saw a Mall but it was not very nice. The best thing here are the skyways, which are walkways throughout the whole city at 1st floor level and connecting all the shops. It goes for about 12 miles. This is so that people can shop without going out into the cold and snow when the temperature could be -20C. It is open until 10pm at night.
Day 34: St Paul
Left at 9.30am for another big day. First we went to a Conservatory, then St Paul Cathedral, After that to the Minnesota historic center which was good with excellent hands-on displays. We had lunch there and drove to Harriett Island (which is not an island) but a park adjoining the mighty Mississippi. From there to St Anthony falls which are also in the river but has an
historic Stone Arch bridge. Going back home we saw a traffic jam on the Interstate 35 so we
went another way. After dinner went to do some shopping.
Day 35: Minneapolis to Mankato to Worthington
This is the halfway point of the trip.
It was also a day of discoveries. Because we had done over 6000 miles, the car needed an oil change. So Tim also checked out the boot (trunk) of the car for me. And there he found the car manual and spare key in the spare wheel housing! In LA we were told by Alamo there was no manual or 2nd key! Tim also showed us cruise control which we didn't know was there. This will be useful on the way to South Dakota.
We departed Tim and Emily's house at 10 am with all our luggage because tonight we will take off to South Dakota instead if the following day. We went to Emily's Grandma's house in Mankato for lunch. She had put on a huge spread, she's a great cook. Her house is beautiful too. We check out the basement where Tim and Emily lived for 6 months. We had imagined a dark cellar underground, but there is a complete house in the basement! Living room, bedroom, ensuite, laundry and workroom. It is just as big underground as the house above. This seems very common in Minnesota.
After lunch Denise goes with Grandma to visit plant nurseries. The men go to get the oil change and car wash. We then meet up and go to a display of African Safari where this hunter has about 50 stuffed animals which he has 'harvested' in Africa and elsewhere. We were speechless at this display.
We then visited a local park and in the evening to Grandma's for a huge dinner. At 7 pm we said goodbye to Tim and Emily and Mankato and took the road to Worthington. This would save us 2 hours tomorrow not having to start from Minneapolis. We reached Worthington at 8.30 pm and fund a cheap motel for $36, cheapest of the trip. Not very good but ok for one night.
Day 36: Worthington to Rapid City
Blue sky and 12C when we left Worthington. We got onto Interstate 90 West and set the
cruise control. We have 350 miles to go on a straight road with very little traffic. We set it
for 75 mph and watch the miles roll by. The countryside in MN, WI and SD is very flat and is
corn country. Huge fields everywhere and the corn is about 5 cms at the moment since it is just springtime.
We crossed into South Dakota and then visited the Mitchell Corn Palace, which is a large entertainment centre and the outside walls are decorated with corn cobs, about 250,000 of them, made into pictures, signs etc. Quite marvelous.
We crossed the Missouri river and we gained one hour of time due to going West. We then get to the Badlands of South Dakota, and take the scenic route. It is very impressive with the huge mounds of wild coloured rock everywhere. It covered a huge area and it was worth seeing.
We travelled on to the town of Wall where there is Wall Drug store a highlight of the area. It is a huge shop full of western items such as model cowboys, Indians, bison etc. A big tourist attraction. Then 50 miles to get to Rapid City and we rolled into town at 4.30 pm and went
to Thunderbird Lodge with a coupon and get a great room for $43, 2 queen beds, wifi, coffee maker. Then to WalMart across the road to buy some dinner and back to the motel with our provisions. Big day today, drove about 400 miles and it was very hot in the Badlands.
Day 37:Rapid City to Sheridan
We left Rapid City at 8.30 am for Mount Rushmore which was only 30 mins away. The place was already packed with people. Yes it is a magnificent sight to see the 4 Presidents. There was also a Graduation ceremony going on, certainly a memorable place for a graduation. We then traveled to nearby Crazy Horse monument which is a similar rock carving of an Indian and horse. Just before we got there we met in a huge lightning storm with hailstones but it soon passed but stayed with a rainy mist for the morning.
We traveled to Deadwood to see the old town full of casinos down the main street. Also visited the Deadwood cemetery where Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane are buried. We took I90 again to Sundance WY and then to the Devil's Tower a 700 feet monolithic rock which was a very unusual sight. In Wyoming the weather was very warm 23C.
Then we do some more driving to Sheridan and since it is 6 pm we quickly find a motel for $55
which is ok but not great, only a double bed. Dinner at a new place: Country Kitchen.
Day 38: Sheridan to Moran (Grand Tetons)
We left Sheridan 8am and drove through Big Sky country, the prairies of Wyoming and Montana. We went to the Little Bighorn Battlefield with headstones for Custer and soldiers and Indians who were killed there. Then past Billings to Laurel where we planned to travel the great Beartooth Pass. However it was closed until next Friday due to snow! So we had to detour and drove to Cody where Buffalo Bill was famous.
Then we drove to Yellowstone Park and over an 8000 feet pass on a dirt road. Another 60 miles past Yellowstone we get to Moran WY and to the Signal Mountain Lodge at Moran WY. We have booked our room which is a wooden log cabin with 2 beds and ensuite and heated. It is very nice and we can see the lake and magnificent Grand Teton mountains. This is the highlight of the trip so far. Dinner at the Trapper Grill which is part of the resort. Drove 440 miles today.
Day 39: Signal Mountain Lookout and Jackson WY
We are at the Lodge for 3 days which is relaxing as we do not have to rush to find a motel each night. So we did sightseeing of the Grand Teton area all day. These mountains were magnificent, the no 1 sight if the trip! When the sun shines on them they look 3-D in the sky.
We went to Signal Mountain lookout, Jenny Lake, the Church of the Transfiguration, the town of Jackson, Snake River overlook, and Colter bay. The mountains are huge and the lake in front sets them off. We got back home and had dinner at the Grill again. 8pm walked to the lake in 0C temp for another look at the mountains.
Day 40:Yellowstone Park
"It's all in the timing!" we say this a lot. We were right there when a herd of bison crossed
the road, but were 5 minutes late when a bear and her cubs where walking in the meadow. The
same goes for weather. We have been just in front of severe weather many times. However this just changed.
We woke at our lodge with 5 cms snow covering the trees and our car and -2C degrees. It didn't get any warmer all day. We left at 9.15 amto go to Yellowstone National Park which is 35 miles away. There was light snow falling. At Yellowstone we looked at some geysers and bubbling sulphur springs. Then to see the famous Old Faithful Geyser. We stood in driving snow with 1000 people waiting for the eruption. It was 10 minutes late and not very high. About 10 metres instead of 30 we were expecting. It was very cold. Disappointing.
We then drove to some other geysers but the walks were spoiled by the snow falling. We drove the Southern loop and then went home hoping to get better weather tomorrow. We did see a herd of bison but no elk or bears. There are lots of hot springs everywhere along the road so you can see a lot from the car. We got back to the lodge about 5 pm for a quiet night.
Day 41:Moran to Helena
We packed up and left the lodge at 9 am and it's a beautiful clear day with 2C. We were leaving to go to Montana by way of Yellowstone Park, so we could see the sights we missed
yesterday. We drove to Yellowstone and Old Faithful hoping for a better show but we had
to wait one hour and we didn't have time for that, so we left. Drove to some other boiling sulphur springs where there were nice boardwalks to see the springs. It was cold but not snowing.
We headed for the Northern entrance of Yellowstone and stopped at Mammoth Hot Springs. We left Wyoming and entered Montana again. We take I90 West again through Bozeman
and halfway towards Butte. Then we take route 69 to Boulder MT then Interstate 15 North to Helena MT.
We got there at 6 pm and booked into Guesthouse Inn and Suites with 2 queen beds, wifi internet, cable TV and coffee maker. Dinner in the motel at the Smokin' Inn at 7pm then shopping for provisions down the street.
Day 42:Helena to West Glacier
We left Helena at 9.15am and traveled to Garrison and Missoula. We drove through the snow-
covered mountains of Montana and then we are surprised by the vast housing development at
Polson and Flathead Lake. Drive through Kalispell to West Glacier and booked into the Vista Motel at 2pm. Not very good with queen bed, no wifi, no coffeemaker and one TV channel. We are the only guests there.
We then went to see the Going-to-the-Sun road 5 minutes away. We suspect it would be closed and we were right, opening 1 July (it was only May now). Only 16 miles of the road was driveable so we did that, but a lightning storm and rain hits right then and the view of the lake and mountains is spoiled. We drove to closed end of the road and even put on raincoats and went for a short hike. Then we drove back to West Glacier and a restaurant was actually open and we had lunch/dinner at 4.30pm. Back to the motel and we found the power point is not suitable for our power converted so we can't even make tea or coffee. So we watched the one TV channel and read a book.
Day 43 Morning: West Glacier to Canada
In the morning we left West Glacier in 5C and nice weather except there was lots of low cloud on the mountains. We took Route 2 to East Glacier and St Mary. There the Going-to-the-Sun road was open for only 12 miles which we drove. The view here was excellent and sunny and we took great photos. Then we drove to Two Medicine Lake and St Mary Lake. These were both magnificent to see. Then we left the USA and drove into Canada.
To see the Canada part of the trip click on the Navigation bar at the top.
Day 1: Hollywood Boulevard
Day 2: Hollywood Boulevard
In the evening
Day 4: Universal Studios
Water World show
Day 5: Venice Beach
Santa Monica: 3rd Street Mall
Day 6: Disneyland
It's a Small World
Day 7: Route 66
Route 66: Oatman
Day 8: Las Vegas
Inside Venice Casino
New York Casino
Day 9: Zion Park
Day 10: Bryce Canyon
Walk in Bryce Canyon
Day 11: Bryce Canyon in snow
Day 12: Goodbye to Bryce Canyon
Day 13: Grand Canyon
Day 14: Route 66: Flagstaff
Wupatki National Monument
Day 15: Monument Valley
Monument Valley: John Ford point
Day 16: Mesa Verde
Tour of Mesa Verde
Day 17: Dead Horse Point Park
Arches National Park
Day 18: Black Canyon of the Gunnison
Day 20: Taos Pueblo
Rio Grande Gorge Bridge
Day 21: Albuquerque
Day 22: Amarillo: Cadillac Ranch
Clinton OK: Route 66 Museum
Day 23: Oklahoma City bombing memorial
Oklahoma City: Bricktown
Day 24: Tulsa:Praying hands
Day 25: St Louis
St Louis Gateway Arch
Day 26: Missouri Botanic Garden
At the top of Gateway Arch
Day 27: Route 66
Chicago Best Western
Day 28: Navy Pier
Cruise of Chicago river
Day 29: View from Sears Tower
Historic Water Tower
Day 30: Mississippi river
Family Barbecue at Le Sueur
Steam engine ride
Day 31: St Peter: Corpse flower
Day 32: Minneapolis: Fort Snelling
Day 33: Mall of America
Mall of America
Day 34: St Paul: Sculpture Garden
St Paul Cathedral
Minneapolis: Home of Charlie Brown
Day 36: Mitchell Corn Palace
Badlands of South Dakota
Badlands of South Dakota
Wall: Wall Drug shop
Day 37: Mount Rushmore
Crazy Horse Monument
Our car and giant Mobile home
Deadwood: Wild Bill Hickock grave
Day 38: Little Bighorn Battlefield
Little Bighorn Battlefield
Scenic route to Cody
Moran: Signal Mountain Lodge cabin
Day 39: Signal Mountain Lookout
The Grand Tetons
Snake River and Grand Tetons
Day 40: Yellowstone
Yellowstone: crowd waiting for Old Faithful
Day 41: Goodbye to Grand Tetons
Boardwalk along hot springs
Day 42: Montana Ranch
West Glacier: River
Day 43: Two Medicine Lake
Two Medicine Lake
St Mary Lake and Goose Island