S: Going West...Our cross-country road trip 2009
FC: Going est... Our cross-country road trip 2009
1: With two weeks of adventure ahead of us, we took off to the west coast experiencing everything we could along the way. We went down into a cave, up into the Rocky Mountains, deep into the redwoods, acted like Ansel Adams, touched the Pacific Ocean, stood in two time zones at once and marveled at the Grand Canyon. And so the Journey Begins...
2: Leaving West Virginia, we drove through Ohio and Indiana landing in Chicago for our first night where we visited with Karen, Mohsen, Michelle and Alex
3: We continue through Wisconsin, crossing the Mississippi River,..
4: Through Minnesota and into South Dakota....
5: We stopped to take in the scenery and goof off a little... | Brad loves dinosaurs!
6: The Badlands | These geologic deposits contain one of the world's richest fossil beds. Ancient mammals such as the rhino, horse, and saber-toothed cat once roamed here...
7: The park's 244,000 acres protect an expanse of mixed-grass prairie where bison, bighorn sheep, deer, pronghorn, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets live today. | Brad couldn't wait to play, he took off and started climbing, look how high he went...
8: After dinner in the park restaurant, it was time to set up camp, which did not include a tent. Brad, being the handyman he is, built a platform for a futon mattress. We borrowed his mom's Honda Element and slept in the back on the mattress. It was much more comfortable than the ground and worked great. | Camping out...
9: Play time
12: The Badlands
13: WALL DRUG
14: After seeing signs advertising it for hundreds of miles we had to make a stop at Wall Drug, a big tourist trap. It was several stores in one taking up an entire block with dinosaurs, tee-pees, and so much more...
15: What drive across the country would be complete without a stop at Mount Rushmore? Each state was represented by its flag and an inscription in stone. We walked around on the trails and through the museum... | Mount Rushmore
16: It's hard to see but there's a mountain goat in there. | George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln each carved their own mark in history. | We stayed in Rapid City, which was a nice town and one we decided if we were to ever move to that region Rapid City would be OK.
17: Helping Jefferson out | Seeing Mount Rushmore was pretty cool, and so was the drive to get there. Watching the changes as you drive across the country, from mountains to flatlands and more mountains; with wind farms and the black hills.
18: Wind Cave | The cave is well known for its outstanding display of boxwork, an unusual cave formation composed of thin calcite fins resembling honeycombs. The park's mixed-grass prairie is one of the few remaining and is home to native wildlife such as bison, elk, pronghorn, mule deer, coyotes, and prairie dogs. | We entered the cave near the cave's only known natural entrance (top left) and climbed down about 300 steps. Luckily there is an elevator and we didn't have to climb back up all those stairs. | Exploring the underworld
19: If it weren't for the lights along the way and the flash of the camera, it would be pitch black. When we got to one of the bigger rooms, the tour guide turned all the lights off so we could 'see' how dark it really is.
20: Wyoming There wasn't much exciting there... even the rest stop was self sufficient and deserted.
22: Rocky Mountain National Park There was a lot of fog when we arrived so we couldn't see much but we still drove up until the road was closed. Brad wanted to go above 10,000 feet so we did it, we peaked at 10,546. Laura was still a little woozy from the elevation so she didn't get out of the car. but we drove around and saw what there was to see. The next day the fog lifted...
24: Through Denver... | Welcome to Utah!
25: H D | Hoover Dam | After leaving Colorado and driving through Utah we landed in Las Vegas at The Orleans (which may not have been on the strip but it was right next to an IN-N-OUT burger giving it bonus points). From Las Vegas we took a day trip to go see the Hoover Dam. Laura wasn't as impressed as she has been with the natural wonders, but Brad thought it was pretty cool.
26: The Hoover Dam, in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, has a new bypass. They were still building it while we were there. | All right, so it may be somewhat impressive, but it's still no Badlands or Yosemite (keep flipping). It was pretty cool to stand in two states and two time zones at once.
27: Vegas | Las | While The Orleans offered everything we needed, we ventured to the Las Vegas Strip, but not before indulging in some IN-N-OUT burgers and yummy french fries.
28: It was surprisingly cool in the desert. We enjoyed seeing joshua trees, or Yucca brevifolia, as we crossed the Mojave desert, and the many fruit farms in California. | We passed several wind farms on our journey | Welcome to California...
29: After arriving at Sequoia National Park we checked out our campsite, which included securely locking our food in the bear proof container at our site.
30: Time to visit some really tall trees...
31: Brad didn't know what the world's biggest tree looked like, until we got there...
32: Visiting the General
35: Yosemite National Park | Yosemite was Laura's favorite, not only was it a wonder to see, but it was where Ansel Adams did some of his most amazing work.
37: San Francisco | The sites of | from the cable car!
38: The Golden Gate Bridge
40: We visited Pier 39, shopped at Ghiradelli chocolate, rode the cable cars, drove past Lombard Street, and touched the Pacific Ocean... and in reaching the furthest point on our journey we fell in love with San Francisco...
41: Cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway
42: Big Sur State Park | On our drive down the Pacific Coast Highway we camped at Big Sur State Park. | "I am Brad, I break tree"
44: Driving down | As we drove down the Pacific Coast Highway we stopped at all the pull-offs to take in the amazing views.
45: the PCH
46: After arriving in Los Angeles we decided to go to Venice Beach where Brad proposed to Laura in 2007. Unfortunately Laura dropped her camera and the lense got messed up so here's how L.A. went... | L.A. | After walking around the shops at Venice Beach, we ventured inland where we met Lauren and Meishel for dinner. After visiting with them we headed to see more family, Susie and Alexandra. We had fun chatting with them and telling stories. The next day we were off for Las Vegas and the beginning of our return journey home. We stayed at the Mirage this time and again walked the strip and had fun at the casino's. | Las Vegas
47: The Grand Canyon
49: It made Laura a bit nervous, but Brad ventured out pretty far to get a different view. The Grand Canyon is so massive and beautiful, quite the site to see...
50: And now the journey home...
51: After leaving The Grand Canyon, we drove the historic Route 66 through New Mexico, where we stopped at a Route 66 shop, then through Texas and into Oklahoma where we had to call it a night. Brad started getting sick at The Grand Canyon so we didn't do as much sight seeing on the return trip. We kept moving and continued through hard storms out of Oklahoma and into Missouri where the weather finally cleared. We didn't take the time to stop but we drove past the arch in St. Louis then into Illinois. Moving on through Indiana and Kentucky where we stopped our final night in Flatwoods at Jessi's parents house. The next morning it was home to Wild Wonderful West Virginia where we could finally treat the flu with the proper rest it needed. Our journey took us a lot of amazing places and some wonderful experiences but it's always good to come home.