29.9.05

Trip Log

So. We went to Denver. We drove there, and we drove back. If you want to know a little more about the trip, read on:

We left Sarnia Corunna on the morning of the fourth, crossing at the Bluewater Bridge (where else?) and began our trip heading west.


After quite a while we reached Indiana, where we stopped for a break, gas, and lunch. Gas prices weren't too bad along most of the trip. I think the worst we saw was bout $3.08/Gal (which is about $.98/L). Indiana:


Indiana took about half an hour to drive through, as we just skirted the top, and we drove straight north through Chicago. We took a break part way through Chicago to stop at one of the rest areas on the toll highway. They're built directly over the highway, so you get a rather unique view from there. The rest area we stopped at just so happened to be near O'Hare Airport... big surprise! Traffic was pretty light in Chicago and through northern Illinois, but the police presence was pretty immense. I think we saw about 20 police cars with people pulled over in a 2 hour span. Most everyone was following the speed limit pretty closely in Illinois. I don't blame them!

Coming out of Illinois we entered the great state of Cheesetopia:

err... Wisconsin:


Wisconsin. Not that thrilling of a state. It reminded me of Northern Ontario with lots of trees, and lots of hills. Lots of fields full of cows. Through Minnesota we drove, finally crossing the great Mississippi River at La Crosse and entering Minnesota.
This is a dam on the Mississippi:


That night we stayed at Great River Bluffs State Park, which is near Winona, MN. We ate dinner at a wonderful place I like to call "Steak and Cake". Why do I call it that? Well... that's what the sign says. Inventive, I know... they're having a contest to rename the place!




The next day, we headed onwards to Minneapolis / St. Paul, and the Mall of America. This was quite the place. It wasn't quite as big as I expected, but, amazingly, even I was entertained by how many stores were there that interested me. My favourite was, of course, the flight simulator place. I flew a Spitfire for half an hour against three other fellows. Pretty cool.

Meg's favourite:
The next night we stayed at Minneopa State Park, near Mankato, MN. The Ranger here recommended a great campsite and was very friendly! There's also a waterfall here, and a large grassland that was never touched by glaciers, unlike much of the surrounding area. We took a look at the waterfall, but, unfortunately didn't have time to check out the grassland and its many bird species.



Onwards we drove, finally reaching South Dakota. A few miles into the state, we caught a glimpse of just how immense the views here can be. These pictures don't quite do it justice...




A little further along, we reached the park we'd be staying at that night: Badlands National Park. I think this was my favourite spot along the trip... the scenery is unearthly. I couldn't stop remarking on the strange beauty of it all...



The next day, on our way out of the park, we took the scenic route, as I'd heard about a prairie dog town that I thought Meg would want to see.

And so we met Wally:

and Bernie
Wally is a Prairie Dog, as you may have guessed. Bernie is a Bison, also known as a Buffalo. Bernie seemed friendly enough, but we stayed in the car just in case he decided he didn't like us.
(Note: Meg was not using any zoom when she took this picture.)

After we left Badlands, we headed to the town of Wall to visit the famed "Wall Drug". I honestly don't get this attraction. It was a drug store with all sorts of tacky tourist stuff. The advertisements stretched for about 300 miles in either direction on the interstate, so we were a little curious by the time we reached it. Fortunately I needed to get a light bulb for my turn signal, and there was also an auto parts store in Wall which served that purpose neatly.
Westward we continued, through Rapid City, then south to Keystone, home of the famous Mount Rushmore. We took a picture, but didn't see what all the fuss was about.


The driving in the Black Hills was great, and the views were stupendous.
We continued past Mount Rushmore to the Crazy Horse Memorial. This site was really impressive, and I look forward to seeing the completed monument. The monument is really only part of the plan for this site. They plan on creating an entire Native North American museum, as well as a medical training centre for Natives. Very impressive... especially since they're building the whole thing without any help from the government, using only admission fees to pay for it all. It was very not-tacky, unlike the areas around Mount Rushmore. I was very impressed.

Next, we visited Jewel Cave National Park. This cave system was pretty cool, unfortunately we were too late to take an in-depth tour, so we got the 20 minute introduction to the cave, 200 feet below ground-level. It's too bad the pictures didn't really turn out.

After we left Jewel Cave, we headed into Wyoming, another favourite. This is where Meg saw her very first mountain.

This is also where I was struck dumb because of the vastness of the land. I got out of the car while Meg took this picture just to listen to the area... all I heard was silence. Amazing. This highway also took us through a hamlet which had a population sign that read "1". I'm disappointed we didn't go back to take a picture of it! On our way down to Glendo, WY, we spotted this thundercap off to the east over the plains:

Our next stop was Glendo State Park. Let me tell you something... don't go there. We never saw a ranger, in fact, we only saw two other people in the park. The bathrooms were also pretty nasty.

Action shot:

Finally we made it to "Colorful [sic] Colorado!"
We checked into our hotel,
had some much needed showers, then decided to go check out Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

From a distance:

The one thing between Meg and starting her singing career at RR...

The view from our seats:

Meg and I:

Meg and a rock:

View of Denver from RR:

Getting things ready:

Afterwards, we decided to drive up a mountain. Not just any road, though. The highest paved road in North America.


Unfortunately, we weren't able to make it to the top, due to clouds and rain... but we made it to 11,000' above sea level... which is pretty damned impressive!

The next day we went to the Denver Aquarium and stood amongst the fishes. I'd recommend this as a stop for anyone in Denver. The pictures don't do it justice, but we had a great time there.


The obligatory "Finding Nemo" pics:


Jellyfish:


That evening came the show we'd come for! The Dave Matthews Band... and boy did they rock! The sound was great... the crowd was into it... and the band played amazingly... they even got some of the new songs to grow on me! Here're the shots I grabbed... apologies for the quality.

I can't really describe how much I enjoyed the show. Suffice it to say, the drive home the next day was worth it.

We left Denver around 8:45 Denver time, travelling into Nebraska, (the most boring State to drive in...)

onwards through Iowa, where we stopped for gas in Iowa City around 9 PM (Central). From there we kept on going, through Illinois, Indiana, and into Michigan. We reached the Canadian border about 7:30 AM (Eastern), and were in Corunna by about 8AM, where we unloaded Meg's stuff. I went home to catch some sleep before we headed to Kingston to drop Meg off at school. We were supposed to leave about 3:00... I slept until 3:30 when Meg called me... anyways, we left Corunna around 4:30, made it to Kingston about 10. I spent a couple of days with Meg, her roommate, Joelle, and Joelle's brother, Brent. Fun was had by all! Then back to Sarnia, and back to the same ol', same ol'.

And thus was my vacation to Denver with Meg! I hope you enjoyed reading (or at least looking at the pictures! I'll update on the goings on in my life since I got back in a the next little while. But for now, it's time for this guy to go to bed! I hope everyone is well!

2 comments:

Krista said...

Gord... your trip sounds/looks fabulous! You DEFINITELY hit some of the more boring states (especially Nebraska!). You drove right through my birth ciy! Hey.. did you see any parts of Sioux Falls, South Dakota? I'm thinking about interning there.

Guido said...

Hmm... I had to look up Sioux Falls, but we didn't get off the highway through there. The one thing I do remember was that the airport was a lot bigger than I expected for the size of the city. Maybe that's a good thing?