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. 


JFK and John Jr. 



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 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
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

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?


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! 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

I graduated!

Yesterday, LSE held a graduation ceremony for the MPA program! 

While I wasn't there to attend in person, I'm now officially an LSE alumna! Earlier this week, we got our grades including the mysterious capstone grade that I'm sure all my friends were waiting for me to stop talking about. For those wondering, we did better than we anticipated. But, the release of the grades confirmed my graduation!

So, while I would have loved to celebrate in-person with my class and have a great night out in London, I'm getting ready to start my job on Monday!

But, don't worry...this was my version of a graduation ceremony!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Road Trip: Day #2

On the second day of the road trip across the USA, Nicola and I started our day taking a slight detour. 

As most of my readers know, I'm a member of Pi Phi. The location of where Pi Phi was founded is in Monmouth, Illinois.  So, rather than continue to drive straight into Iowa, we headed down to Monmouth.

From the moment, we turned onto the street, I felt at "home." I met with Denise, a fellow Pi Phi, for a tour of Holt House. Two of the founders had rented a room in the boarding house at the time of the founding. After a quick tour, Nicola and I drove to the cemetery nearby where I was able to find the graves of five of the founders. 

Holt House
To get to Iowa, we did manage to take some single lane highways for a bit. But, soon, we were crossing the Mississippi River!  We stopped in Burlington, Iowa for a few brief moments to see the flooding that had occurred only the week prior. 

Mississippi River


Downtown Burlington, Iowa 
The real gem of this day was finding the American Gothic House. One of the best things we did throughout the entire road trip was to take the roads that ran parallel to the Interstates. The speed limits are the same, there is less traffic, and we found some true gems.  We were so surprised to see the American Gothic House advertised that we immediately turned around at the next exit to come back!

American Gothic House
If you get a chance to visit, make sure to try on the costumes and put your own take on the famous painting! 

Cruising down the road, we passed a lot of corn and soybeans before we got to Des Moines. We did a quick detour to stretch our legs and see the State Capitol! 

Iowa State Capitol 

Des Moines
Our final stop before reaching Omaha, Nebraska that evening was in Council Bluffs to see the Golden Spike Monument.

Golden Spike Monument
Stay tuned for more recaps!