Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Last Day of the Road Trip

Arizona
On July 14th, I woke up in St. George, Utah, to drive the last two hours to Las Vegas. As I mentioned in another post, I'll have to go back to St. George to visit the sights.  

My drive took me through Utah and into Arizona before arriving in Nevada.

For those who went to Syracuse, there is a certain feeling that you get when you turn the corner on I81 North and see the Dome. It's a feeling that doesn't change, no matter how many times you've done that drive. When I turned the corner out of a canyon and saw the Strip for the first time, it felt like I had arrived home. 

From a small town to Syracuse University to summers in Boston and DC to London for a combined two and a half years, I've finally arrived in my new home. It's been almost three weeks since I strolled into town, and I am so excited to now make Las Vegas my home! 

My Apartment

Road Trip Day #5

On day five of the road trip, Nicola departed back to Cleveland for other plans. I got to drive the 11 hours to St. George, Utah on my own. Before we get to my solo driving day...

We first had breakfast in downtown Denver with some friends. I got to see my friend, Nicole, who if you are a regular reader, will recall our trips to Italy and Amsterdam .  She did a one year masters in London during my first year at LSE. Nicola and I also got to be reunited by a fellow former intern friend from London.  We all had brunch at a place that was themed around the disco. 

Nothing like a disco ball going on a Sunday morning at 9am!

Anyone surprised?

Nicole and me

London Reunion 

Best Road Trip Co-Pilot! 
After breakfast and goodbyes, I snapped a few photos of downtown Denver before heading off into the Rockies! 


Leaving Denver around 10am, I hit Utah a bit before 2pm. There was quite  a few zones of construction in the Rocky Mountains. Plus, I was not used to the windy roads and the elevation! My ears popped enough for an entire year!

Perfect Music

Such amusement

Rockies

Rockies

For lunch, I stopped in Grand Junction to check out the Colorado National Monument. I had 30 minutes to spare, so I went in through an entrance and drove around for literally 30 minutes. The roads were nerve wracking, but the views were well worth that brush with death!

Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument

Colorado National Monument
The longest stretch of my solo drive was in Utah.

Everyone had told me to fill up my gas tank as much as possible once I got into the state until I hit the larger cities. They weren't kidding. The state doesn't kid either. I passed a sign that said, "No Service Area for 100 Miles." I stopped and filled up my tank even with 3/4 left.

To make my trip more enjoyable getting through Utah, I took time to get off at the scenic outlook spots as I was coming through the canyons and desert.

Utah

Utah

Utah

Ghost Rock, Utah
I was puttering out as I got out of the canyons. Thank goodness for coffee! And, when Las Vegas started to show up on the signs, I got a lot more energy!


I stayed in St. George, Utah, that night. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to spend exploring the city. Thankfully, it's only two hours away from Las Vegas! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Road Trip Day #4

Apologies for the delay in posting these recaps!

On day four, we had rested up from our big drive into South Dakota, we headed downtown Rapid City. 

Rapid City has statues of 43 presidents on each of the street corners that covers the main part of downtown. It is a fairly cool to turn a corner and come across a president. We grabbed a map, so that we could spot some of our favorites. 

FDR

JFK and John Jr. 

Jackson

LBJ

Downtown Rapid City
Grabbing Starbucks, we soon headed up into the Black Hills to see Mount Rushmore. When we finally turned the corner, and it came into view, it was real sight to see!

We parked and then walked around for about an hour. You can't get super close, but there are plenty of viewing opportunities to stare up at the four presidents. There is also a small exhibit about how they carved each of the presidents.

Mount Rushmore 
As we left Mount Rushmore and ultimately South Dakota, we took the drive through the Black Hills rather than immediately jumping back on the Interstate. I highly recommend this to anyone. Sure, you go slower, drive through villages, and get stuck behind a logging truck (true story), but how many times do you get to hang out in the Black Hills?

Once we entered Wyoming, we headed to Devil's Tower.

Viewpoint from Devil's Tower 

Devil's Tower

Devil's Tower
I first heard of Devil's Tower when I was a little kid playing the Oregon Trail game. From there, being a history lover, I read numerous accounts of those traveling West coming across the rock structure.

It was truly an incredible sight to view. We walked around the base of it via the trail. Each side has a different appearance due to nature's elements.

As Mount Rushmore and Devil's Tower took up quite some time, we didn't stop again until Cheyenne except for gas and Lost Springs. Lost Springs is considered a city in Wyoming. It is one of the smallest in the USA, had a population of one in 2000, and has one bar! What a true obscene roadside attraction.  We had other stops planned, but it was better that we pushed on to make it to Denver this day.

Population of 4

Wyoming

Wyoming State Capitol 
We got into Denver around 10pm this day.  We were staying at a Doubletree, so we were very excited about those cookies waiting for us after another long day of driving! 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Road Trip Day #3

Continuing to re-cap the road trip, day three was a very long day of driving.

In the morning, we toured around Omaha. 

Doing some scheming the night before, we were able to find Warren Buffet's home!

Warren Buffet's Home
Down the street from Mr. Buffet's home, we found the birthplace of President Ford. While the home was torn down many years ago, they have put in a garden and small exhibit about what the house looked like. 

Birthplace of Ford
Finally, before we left Omaha, we wandered down to where Lewis and Clark surveyed the Missouri River and stood on the state line on the pedestrian bridge. The pedestrian bridge runs over the Missouri River.

Lewis and Clark Landing
Omaha
State Line
Our second major stop of the day was in Lincoln. It was supposed to be a quick stop to see the state capitol. I, of course, got us lost in the city for a good 40 minutes. Nevertheless, we did get to see more before finding the capitol!

Nebraska State Capitol 
One of the highlights of the trip was getting to see a lot of sites that were part of the Oregon Trail. After a few wrong turns, we found Fort Kearney on our way into South Dakota following Lincoln. 

Fort Kearney

GO WEST! 
We wanted to stop and see the actual markings in Ash Hollow which was a short drive away from Kearney, but we were battling some weather. We did get to drive through parts of the area on our way to Chimney Rock. 

Phew! Nebraska Rain Showers...

Chimney Rock Cemetery
Chimney Rock 
My Car thought it was in a Chevy Commercial
Before turning North to get to South Dakota, we found one of the most amusing things on the side of the road.

What, you may ask?

CARHENGE.

Based off the one I've seen several times in England, Carhenge is well...Stonehenge but made out of American cars. It was a bit weird, but it served as a good break.


Unfortunately, the drive into South Dakota was not a pleasant one. We stopped for gas right outside the border, and we were both considering giving up driving for the evening and grabbing a different hotel. But, I started to drive into the rain, the Black Hills, a highway that while runs into Texas has no light all while we avoided deer...somehow we made it through it.

Nicola and I clearly were stressed when we got in, but we survived!

Stay tuned for day four!