America

All American Road Trip {Part 12: Heading Home}

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” -Lin Yutang

Leaving Yellowstone, Ashley and I headed back up to Canada, making our way through Helena, Montana. Montana had the most amazing garage sales, and Ashley and I  agreed that we should travel there again - but with an empty truck to take full advantage of the amazing deals.

When I think back, it was amazing that Ashley and I managed to see as much as we did - an itinerary like we had is not for the faint of heart. The schedule was pretty intense and I think we would have benefited from using a GPS. So, if you're planning a similar road trip, that's something you may want to consider. As well, we had not planned on having to pay so many tolls. When I got home, I found some sites that help you estimate your toll costs state by state, such as this one for Illinois. I was unable to find one that covers all states, but while it may be tedious to go through a separate website for each state, it will be worth your effort to have that information.

And now, with those new insights into road tripping, it's time to start planning the next one...   the original Route 66. Next summer, perhaps?

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All American Road Trip {Part 11: Yellowstone}

After Mount Rushmore Ashley and I drove to Yellowstone National Park. I'd never been to the park before and it surpassed all my expectations. It is the most amazing, beautiful national park I have ever been to. In certain places, it's almost like being on another planet. Yellowstone became the world's first national park when it was established in 1872 under President Ulysses S. Grant, and remains the America's largest national park to this day. The park sits atop a dormant volcano that last erupted a half million years ago. While the volcano has been showing activity, it is not expected to erupt any time soon. The park also contains the world's largest concentration of gysers and hot springs. I have to admit I don't understand all the science behind the natural wonders - science was never my strong suit - but they sure are amazing to see!

Yellowstone is also important for wildlife conservation. The park is home to America's oldest and biggest bison herd and grey wolves were reintroduced to the park in 1995. You can also find elk, moose, mule deer, bighorn sheep, grizzly and black  bears, coyotes, mountain lions, beavers, and more!

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Source: http://www.lilyandlane.ca/wp-content/uploa...

All American Road Trip {Part 10: Mt. Rushmore}

America loves the representation of its heroes to be not just larger than life, but stupendously, awesomely bigger than anything else. If blue whales built statues to each other they'd be smaller than these. -Simon Hoggart

From Washington we headed west for South Dakota... what a variety of scenery that drive offered! We were starting the final leg of our road trip - Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone - and though we had a blast on the east coast, I think Ashley and I were both excited to spend some time surrounded by nature. Before entering Yellowstone, we stopped at one of the most recognizable American landmarks: Mount Rushmore. It is and unlike anything we have in Canada... Indeed, nothing says "America" quite like Mount Rushmore.

Mount Rushmore was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum and his son, from 1927 until 1941 when funding dried up and construction was halted (the initial design of the monument showed each president from the waist up). The carvings are impressive, especially when you consider the size. Each president's head is about 60 feet tall! I can't imagine being able to sculpt (or paint etc) something at that scale. That kind of talent is quite amazing.

Mount Rushmore is not without controversy. While some see it as a sort of monument to democracy, others see it as a monument to racism and manifest destiny. Mount Rushmore resides on land seized from the Lakota in 1876, and control of the area is still disputed, and the presidents' whose faces are permanently etched into the landscape were all involved in the physical and cultural genocide of Native Americans. In addition, Gutzon Borglum was himself a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

One thing cannot be denied: that the monument achieved its creators' goals. Mount Rushmore was intended to bring tourism to South Dakota, and in that it has not failed. Approximately 3 million people visit the Mount Rushmore annually.

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Source: http://www.lilyandlane.ca/wp-content/uploa...