Rocky Mountain National Park

I remember the first time I saw the Rocky Mountains, rising up dramatically in the west as I approached from the plains in the back seat of my Aunt Pam’s old sedan. I was only 18 years old at the time, and while I had seen the Appalachian Range, and part of the Ozarks, these grand mountains were something else entirely; majestic, aspirational, and far … Continue reading Rocky Mountain National Park

Reflections on my 4 Month Road Trip

  “You do not travel if you are afraid of the unknown, you travel for the unknown, that reveals you within yourself.”  Ella Maillart Dear Readers, This quote landed in my inbox this morning, and boy is it ever true! First, I want to say thank you to everyone who has been traveling along with me through my blog, which I started not only because … Continue reading Reflections on my 4 Month Road Trip

Badlands National Park

I arrived in the Badlands expecting a harsh landscape. It was the Badlands after all, and that name conjured up images of movie star cowboys heading into rock canyons with no water or food to hide out from lesser known movie star cowboys (you know, the kind who specialized in evil dastardly deeds.) I even whistled the classic “do-wee-oo-wee-oo” sound to myself as I reached … Continue reading Badlands National Park

Our National Park Service Employees: True American Superheros

For today’s post, I want to pause and acknowledge my deep admiration for all of the National Park Service employees who helped to make my four month trip so special. Whenever I visited one of our parks or monuments or battlefields, the information desk at the Visitor’s Center was always my first stop. I quickly learned that the three key things to let them know … Continue reading Our National Park Service Employees: True American Superheros

South Dakota Air & Space Museum

The most important advice I have for anyone traveling anywhere can be boiled down to two words:  be flexible.  It sounds simple, but for a person who leans towards control freak tendencies (that would be me), it can often be a challenge.  It means that I have to let go of the mental pull towards detailed itineraries and goal directed behavior and instead listen to … Continue reading South Dakota Air & Space Museum

Crazy Horse Monument

I think it’s fair to say that this project would not have started were it not for Mount Rushmore.  If you are a member of the Sioux Nation, watching Rushmore construction on land that has been unlawfully taken from you (the Supreme Court of the U.S. confirmed this already, so that’s not a debatable point), and also watching the emergence in stone of faces that … Continue reading Crazy Horse Monument

Mount Rushmore National Monument

The most fascinating thing about Mount Rushmore (to me) is that it’s preposterous. It’s in the middle of nowhere, carved from a mountain with  controversial ownership, and features four men with no obvious connection to the region. My longstanding fascination with monuments however, meant there was no way I could do a road trip through this part of the U.S. without stopping to see it, and it … Continue reading Mount Rushmore National Monument

Devils Tower National Monument

For my fellow nerds, the first thing we need to talk about is what we’re actually looking at, because despite widespread agreement on the basics, geologists still aren’t exactly sure about the specifics when it comes to how this tower formed (and no, it’s not hollow.) There is agreement that the tower is composed of an igneous rock (meaning it was once lava or magma) … Continue reading Devils Tower National Monument

Cody, Wyoming

Cody is a small town, but big enough to offer all of the services you’d expect in a medium sized city, with lots of entertainment, dining and lodging options. Just 50 miles from the East entrance to Yellowstone (a stunningly beautiful drive), with an altitude below 5,000 feet, it’s a perfect place to stop for a few days to rest and regroup if you are … Continue reading Cody, Wyoming

Plains Indian Museum

The story of the native people of the American plains is epic, and still unfolding today. This museum does a great job of providing a basic overview of the complex network of tribes, with exhibits that highlight their cultures, their traditions, their spiritual perspectives and values, and provides some context of their lives today. The label of “Plains Indian” is a rather broad brush to paint … Continue reading Plains Indian Museum