S: Our Great American Road Trip 2012
FC: Our Great American Road Trip June 21 - July 14, 2012
1: On June 21, 2012 all our luggage and camping gear had to be packed in the car and surprisingly it all fit! Mileage for the trip started at 0 and Steve started the adventure by driving to our first stop.
2: Our first stop was in Richfield, Ohio where we had dinner and beers at the Winking Lizard Tavern. We actually try to stop here on our way to Michigan, so this was very familiar to us!
3: Cuyahoga Valley National Park June 22, 2012
4: In our first National Park of the trip, we hiked a couple trails to some waterfalls. | Along the way, we posed for pictures.
5: Brandywine Falls is the second tallest waterfall in Ohio.
6: Deer and bulldozer tracks on the trail | The next hike we did was to see Blue Hen Falls.
7: More scenes from Cuyahoga Valley National Park. We saw a heron on our way out that Steve named Harry.
8: We headed to University of Notre Dame after watching Rudy on the way!
9: The Grotto, Science Building, and the Admin building | The Basilica, and Steve in a Garden
10: We saw the Stadium where the Irish play. We also saw Touchdown Jesus on the building for the Library.
11: More views around campus - A Garden Archway, Steve being a wise-guy in the garden, an Herb Garden, and the Band Uniforms.
12: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore June 22, 2012
13: At Indiana Dunes, there was a trail that led to the beach or to Mt. Baldy - a very tall, moving sand dune. | On the trail, we were surprised to see there was a soil layer on top of a huge layer of sand. Steve went up Mt. Baldy while I walked to the beach.
14: Chicago in the distance | The sand from Steve's shoes
15: Field of Dreams Movie Site Dyersville, IA June 23, 2012
17: Pipestone National Monument June 23, 2012
19: The scenery from Pipestone
22: Winniwassa Falls | Quartzite Cliffs | The Oracle
23: Corn Palace | Mitchell, South Dakota
24: Becky & Cornelius
25: Our first night of camping was in Mitchell, SD. We got to use our "mobile home" for the first time. Steven cooked us a delicious lasagna for dinner!
26: 1880 Town in Murdo, SD June 24, 2012
27: Props and such from the set of Dances with wolves
29: Longhorn Saloon Steve and I tried the Sasparilla and Cream Soda
30: The animals of 1880 Town
32: Ranch Store had a 6-ton prairie dog on display. We bought some peanuts in the store to feed to the many prairie dogs outside of the store.
33: Badlands National Park June 24, 2012
39: Ancient Jungle in Badlands
40: At Wall Drug in Wall, SD, we saw singing raccoons, a dinosaur, General Custer, and our first bear sighting! We enjoyed lunch at Wall Drug including our burgers, a homemade donut, and homemade ice cream. Steve indulged in the 5-cent coffee too.
41: Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
42: Wind Cave National Park June 24, 2012
43: The actual entrance to Wind Cave is about 14" wide. It is still sacred ground to Native Americans. | In the Visitor's Center, we saw a floor-to-ceiling map of Wind Cave. This map shows all that has been discovered, which is only 5% of the entire cave.
45: The cave is full of boxite, which looks a lot like little cartons or boxes on the ceiling.
46: Steve and I in Wind Cave | These pictures were taken right before the Ranger turned off all the lights. It was DARK!
47: On our way to Custer State Park to camp, we encountered quite a bit of wildlife, including baby pronghorn and baby turkeys!
48: Jewel Cave's elevators were broken, so they were not doing any cave tours! | Jewel Cave National Monument June 25, 2012 | The closest we got to stalagtites and stalagmites. | Steven tried to see if he could fit to do the spelunking tour.
49: Crazy Horse Memorial June 25, 2012
50: We got into the museum half-price because it was so foggy that we could not see the mountain! | The memorial is being built as funds come in from the museum, gift shop sales, and donations. They do not know when it will be completed, but it will look like the picture on the right when complete. That is a 1/34th model of the memorial.
51: Mt. Rushmore National Memorial June 25, 2012
52: Steven got to blow up Mt. Rushmore!
53: Devil's Tower National Monument June 25, 2012
54: Devil's Tower is visible from the road for about 20 miles!
55: Sunset at our campground in Garryowen, MT
57: Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument June 26, 2012
58: Yellowstone National Park June 26 - 28, 2012
59: We got to Yellowstone using the North Entrance to see the Roosevelt Arch. This entrance leads to Mammoth Hot Springs first, where we were greeted by a few elk.
60: Views of Mammoth Hot Springs. It was so windy that day!
62: Scenes while driving through Yellowstone
63: Obsidian Cliff
65: Some of the many geysers and springs in Yellowstone
66: We ended our first day in Yellowstone by driving around an area of the park where we should have seen wildlife (bears). Even though we saw no animals, we did have a pretty drive through the mountains.
71: This one is called Dragon's Breath. It sounded like it was growling!
72: Hey look...more geysers!
74: The ravens had quite the personality this whole trip! These ravens in particular opened a bag of tortilla chips in the back of a pick-up truck and were having a field day eating them!
75: More Paint Pots
77: While driving through Yellowstone, we encountered a "bison jam." This one included baby bison!
81: The Grand Prismatic Spring
83: While at our campsite, we had a nice view of some mountains and we saw a coyote come through the area. It was so chilly at night in Yellowstone, we had all our windows closed in the tent. Once we took the poles out, it still stayed up!
84: We saw more wildlife in the morning - elk and bison
86: The Continental Divide at Isa Lake
88: Yellowstone Lake
89: Grand Teton National Park June 28, 2012
90: We drove down the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway to get to Grand Teton National Park.
93: Fossil ButteNational Monument June 28, 2012
94: Fossil Butte was once an ancient sea and they are still finding fossils there. To the left are some of the fossils they have found.
95: We had lunch in Jackson Hole and loved that there were three Ellies parked in a row! | The rest of the pictures are scenes while driving through Utah. The lake is Bear Lake and was very big. We had a view of Bear Lake for at least 25 minutes of our drive. We also drove through Cache National Forest.
96: Golden SpikeNational Historic Site June 29, 2012
99: Antelope Island State Park June 29, 2012
100: We drove onto Antelope Island State Park in order to get a good view of Great Salt Lake.
101: Antelope Island State Park is home to a 600-head bison herd. We found it while driving through the park. Oh, and for a park named Antelope Island, we only saw one pronghorn!
102: We had lunch in Salt Lake City, at Crown Burger (featured on the Man vs. Food TV show). We walked a few blocks over to Mormon Tabernacle and saw where the choir practices.
103: Canyonlands National Park June 30, 2012
105: Green River Overlook | Mesa Arch
106: Mesa Arch was not only neat to see, but had a gorgeous scenic overlook. I wanted to stand on the top middle of the arch, but when I saw how big of a drop off was on the other side, I told Steve to take the picture! We also found a lizard that was trying to stowaway in another hiker's backpack!
107: Arches National Park June 30, 2012
108: Unfortunately we did not have a lot of time to spend at Arches National Park. We made sure to see Balanced Rock and Delicate Arch.
111: Zion National Park July 1, 2012
113: Emerald Falls
114: Weeping Rock
118: Las Vegas, NV July 1, 2012
119: Where the History Channel show, Pawn Stars is filmed!
120: The Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
122: Death Valley National Park July 2, 2012
123: Death Valley signs like to warn you about how hot it gets there! Driving through the park, we hit sea level and then the Furnace Creek visitor's center was at 190 feet below sea level! While we were in Death Valley, it was 106 degrees at 10:00 in the morning!
124: I really liked the Joshua Trees that we saw on our way to Death Valley. The Park itself was actually very pretty!
125: The views from Zabriskie's Point. The dunes reminded me of soft serve ice cream.
126: Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America - there was even a little bit of water! Steven tried the salt flats!
127: Stephanie & Mark's Rehearsal Dinner Malibu, CA July 2, 2012
128: Stephanie & Mark's Wedding July 3, 2012
129: Joshua Tree National Park July 4, 2012
130: The scenery at Joshua Tree wasn't too pretty, but the plants and wildlife were cool!
132: The Sonoran Desert Museum is a living desert with many exhibits of local plant and animal life.
135: Saguaro National Park July 5, 2012
137: Wildlife in Saguaro National Park. If you look closely in the two pictures of the trees, there is a roadrunner. They were so hard to get a picture of because they were fast!
138: Gila Monster
140: On our way to Grand Canyon, we passed Davis Monthan Air Force Base
141: Grand Canyon National Park July 5, 2012
144: The wildlife at Grand Canyon included a California condor (supposedly), elk and baby elk, and another coyote!
145: We camped at Grand Canyon, where we saw evidence that the Ravens liked our site! Steve made a yummy dinner that night - tacos in a bag!
146: Walnut Canyon National Monument July 6, 2012
147: At Walnut Canyon we were able to see some pueblo ruins. There were a lot of them in the canyon itself too.
149: On our way for lunch at Flagstaff Brewing Company (surprised?), we found ourselves driving on Route 66 for the first time! | 66
150: Sunset Crater National Monument July 6, 2012
152: Wupatki National Monument July 6, 2012
154: Camping in the desert was pretty barren and hot; however our site did have "shade" with a tiny tree! Even with all the windows in the tent open, it was quite warm until the sun went down. We did get to see a gorgeous sunset.
155: Petrified Forest National Park July 7, 2012
156: At Petrified Forest we saw Old Faithful, which is the biggest piece of petrified wood there and we saw a petrified... balloon? And again, the Ravens were entertaining!
157: Painted Desert July 7, 2012
158: Painted Desert was full of pretty shades of red. It was also interesting to see the petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock.
159: In Painted Desert, roughly where the power lines are in the picture above, is where historic Route 66 originally ran through (and this is the only National Park it ran through).
160: We stopped at Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site and walked around the grounds a bit. They do still sell items at the trading post.
161: While walking around the grounds we found the garden and the bread oven.
162: Canyon de Chelly National Monument July 7, 2012
165: Four Corners Steve is in Arizona & Utah. Becky is in New Mexico & Colorado. | Steve balanced on all four states at once while Becky had arms in 2 states and legs in the other 2 states!
167: Scenes of gorgeous Colorado! I've tried growing Columbine (CO State Flower) in our garden, but it never works. I was very happy to see so much of it in Colorado and in so many colors!
168: Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve July 8, 2012
169: After checking out Great Sand Dunes, we went to San Luis Valley Brewing Company for lunch. Their beers were pretty good, but the most interesting one was Caliente which is a Mexican Lager brewed with peppers.
170: Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument July 8, 2012 | Sadly, we didn't get to spend a whole lot of time here because we had to run away from a very fast-moving storm. The Park Ranger was even on her way to get us off the trail!
171: Our cozy cabin in Manitou Springs. This was how we spent our last couple "camping" nights and by this point in the trip, it was the best decision we made to upgrade from a tent site! Plus, all the rain in CO while we were there helped make that decision for us!
173: Scenes from the way up and down the cog railway on Pike's Peak.
175: It was so foggy, so we missed out on the gorgeous scenery. Instead we enjoyed our high-altitude donuts!
176: While on the Cog Railroad, we learned about Matt Carpenter who ran the half-marathon up Pike's Peak and set the record, then the next day ran the marathon and set the record! We found out he owns the Colorado Custard Company in Manitou Springs. Steve tried some of the spring water and he tried Rocky Mountain oysters for lunch. We went to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo after lunch.
179: Garden of the Gods July 9, 2012
181: Garden of the Gods
182: Coors Tour Take note of the time below for our first sample on the tour! They gave three 10 oz. samples at the end of the tour too!
184: Rocky Mountain National Park July 10, 2012
185: At Rocky Mountain National Park, we were greeted by gorgeous mountains and mule deer!
186: Rocky Mountain National Park was one of our favorite places. We drove all of Trail Ridge Road, which is the tallest highway, at about 12,000 feet. It was quite the interesting drive with the sleet and altitude sickness we encountered!
187: This is the cloud we drove through at the tallest point of the drive. | On top of the mountain, I could not stop singing, "The hills are alive!!!" | Looking down the mountain from above the tree line.
188: We saw some elk right on the side of the road and then saw a Daddy, Mommy, and Baby Moose!
189: Brown vs. Board of Education National Historic Site July 11, 2012 The site is in an old school. All the classrooms were exhibits of the events leading up to and during the Civil Rights Movement. Steve and I liked that the Ranger's office was the Principal's office.
190: Ribs in St. Louis at Arthur Bryant's BBQ
191: Jefferson National Expansion Memorial July 12, 2012
193: Steven's birthday dinner was at Chappy's - a place with a very nice beer selection!
194: Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park July 13, 2012 | We saw the actual 1905 Wright Flyer III (lower left corner). Also, one of the Wright brothers flew around the Statue of Liberty, but was terrified of water. To help with that, he added a canoe to the bottom of the plane - the first person to have the concept of a seaplane (top right corner).
195: William Howard Taft National Historic Site July 13, 2012 | The William Howard Taft home was very pretty. It was interesting to learn that Taft was in trouble for always being late to his college classes!
196: Hopewell Culture National Historical Park July 13, 2012
197: Friendship Hill National Historic Site July 14, 2012
198: Fort Necessity National Battlefield July 14, 2012
199: We came home on July 14, 2012 after visiting 36 National Parks, putting 9,055 miles on our car, spending $1,185 in gas, and buying 56 magnets!