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Road Trip
Well here I am sitting in a hotel in Cleveland, Ohio and I can finally say that we’re almost “home”. It still feels a bit surreal to be moving back to the East Coast, wondering what my new place will look like and how I’ll get through the following months without a job. Tomorrow we get to Pennsylvania where we’ll spend a couple days with my dad’s side of the family. For now, though, I thought I’d share how our road trip across America has gone so far.

Washington to South Dakota

Our original schedule was to drive through Oregon and Idaho to Salt Lake City to visit Brandon’s family and then drive across I-80 to Pennsylvania. At the last minute we decided to skip driving across I-80 (and thus miss the boring part of the journey) and go a little north to I-90 so we could see Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. It only added 4 hours to the trip plus however much time we would spend at the stops.

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Beautiful hills of Utah

Much to my dismay it was extremely cloudy and rainy when we arrived in South Dakota so we couldn’t see a thing.  Literally.  We stopped by the Crazy Horse Memorial Visitor Center and could not even see the memorial.  After talking with another visitor who had just been to Mount Rushmore with the same experience we decided to skip going there altogether.

We decided to salvage the day by visiting other touristy things in the area. We first stopped by Bear Country, a drive-thru wildlife park.  It was actually pretty neat.  We saw all kinds of animals like reindeer, mountain goats, and wolves. Some of the animals came within a few feet of our car. Oso was freaking out the whole time and we couldn’t walk around the baby animal area (due to the rain) but we still had fun. We were supposed to keep the windows rolled up but we rolled them down for a quick second to take pictures.

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Wildlife at Bear Country
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We also stopped by a place called Reptile Gardens.  When we arrived at the entrance we noticed a sign that said “Leashed dogs welcome”. Seriously?! Who would want to bring a dog in a place to see large reptiles?

We would.

Oso did quite well though, even during the live demonstration. The snakes kept checking him out which made me a little nervous.  I’m sure that it wouldn’t take much to overpower a 17 pound dog. While Reptile Gardens had a few too many creepy crawlies for my taste and we were only visiting there to kill time, I did enjoy seeing their group of 100 year-old Galapagos tortoises. Oso enjoyed seeing them too. I bought a cute little hedgehog puppet in the souvenir store and then it was back on the road for a few more hours.

Next we stopped by a place called Wall Drug in southern South Dakota. They have a ton of neat little souvenir shops. Retail therapy can cure any disappointment and helped make the day a little better. And seeing Brandon ride a huge jackalope was definitely worth the stop.

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Inside Wall Drug in South Dakota
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When visiting Wall Drug you MUST ride the giant jackalope

 South Dakota to Ohio

Minnesota and Wisconsin were fairly boring, though the drive was much more scenic than I expected. Today we traveled through Illinois, Indiana and most of Ohio. My biggest complaint about today was the toll roads.  We must have paid about $30 for each car in toll fees today and the roads were still crappy to drive on, particularly in Illinois.

But I digress. While we were in Indiana we stopped a quaint little town called Shipshewana. It’s in Amish country and they have all kinds of shops and an enormous flea market. We were only able to spend a few hours there but I’m a very fast shopper and I was able to find some cool stuff, including a beautiful silver pendant.  Unfortunately I was so busy shopping that I failed to take any decent pictures from this part of our journey.  At least that will ensure that I’ll make my way back through this part of the country to see all the sites again!

Stayed tuned for Part Two of our Trip Across America, from Ohio to Connecticut.