Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On the Road again..Part 2

Road trips are always exciting keeping us on toes especially with no fixed plans and least expectations. Further continuing the journey…
 Day 4: Wyoming, South Dakota – A day of Surprises
We started the day early from Rawlins, WY to make it comfortably to the many places planned for the day. By afternoon, we were at Jewel Cave National Monument, ready to take the “Scenic tour”. We were very disappointed to learn the tours were all booked for the day and without which there’s no entry to the cave. (For all the people traveling in summer, beware of school holidays despite weekdays!) We proceeded to Wind Cave National Park and took a tour of Wind cave. It was quite different from laurel caverns in Virginia, not as pretty but sure was scary. 
Our next destination was the famous Mount Rushmore National Memorial, a masterpiece of Gutzon Borglum. Standing high in the Black Hills, this granite sculpture definitely succeeded in its purpose of attracting millions of visitors every year and making them feel proud and inspired from the four outstanding presidents of the United States:  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt.
We stayed the night at Wall, a place closest to Badlands and that proved a great decision next day.
Day 5: South Dakota – A day of Luxury
It was about 5am when we somehow woke up despite a long day before. Making the most out of it, we decided to catch Sunrise in Badlands National park. In just 10min, we were at the park enjoying the cool breeze in “blue light” along with a mountain goat and its kid. The sun rose from between the hills, the peaks shone red in sunlight and within an hour, the sunrays drenched almost the entire park. We saw herds of mountain goat by the Sage Creek Rim Road and hundreds of birds singing to the glory of the sunrise. 
We went back to the hotel, took a short nap and returned to the park. We drove the Highway 240 Loop Road, stopping by the overlooks. It looked quite different from what we saw in the morning, still spectacular with wild pinnacles and buttes rise starkly out of the seemingly endless mixed grass prairie. There were prairie dogs, dear and also signs of Rattle snakes everywhere. 
The east end of the park was better especially the Fossil exhibit trail where the badlands had dominant patterns and shining white tall spires. The Ben Reifel Visitor Center had more exhibits and the Tipi Village located across from it was good to experience the Oglala Lakota Sioux culture. 
By noon, it was so hot and we were glad to finish the loop and get onto I90. We stopped by Lewis and Clark Interpretive center and Memorial Bridge at Chamberlain, dedicated for the two great explorers on one of the pioneer expeditions in American history.
We made an early halt for the day to spend the night at Sioux falls. We walked to the Falls Park and saw the illuminated waterfall in the night. The dinner at Minervas Restaurant in the downtown and Jacuzzi were such a treat after another tiring day and we slept like babies.
Day 6: Minnesota, Wisconsin – A day of Drive
The drive through Minnesota was beautiful - green farms  with white windmills and lakes! Had an awesome lunch at a cute Chinese restaurant in Albert Lea, which I consider as one of our best finds till date. We couldn’t visit the twin cities with time constraint and continued on I90 to Madison.
As we approached Wisconsin, the sight of great plains faded and contrary to our expectations, Madison was a big city. We went to Olbrich Botanical gardens, Lake Monona, roamed in downtown around Wisconsin state capitol and drove to Chicago. The city was dazzling and still bustling that late in the night and looked more beautiful from our hotel downtown.
Day 7: Illinois, Michigan – A day back home
Next morning, we started off at the Magnificent Mile along with the pouring tourists. The shopping was fun and John Hancock Observatory surely got the best sight of Chicago, its skyscrapers, lake and beaches.
Boat tour in the Chicago river and Lake Michigan gave us another great view of the city and the high rise buildings along with  Buckingham fountain, Grant park(The day of Lollapalooza at Grant Park) and Navy pier. 
We bummed around in Devon street, which reminded of streets of Hyderabad, India and made us feel nostalgic. With Haleem(a Ramadan specialty dish) and my all-time favorite Hyderabadi Biryani, we drove home, tired, sad and equally excited!!


  1. awesome post durga. while going through the post i was googling all those places and bookmarked them so that i can plan a visit asap.

  2. @Sirisha
    Thank you Siri:) SD is only 6hr drive from Denver, you guys should try it for sure!

  3. @Sirisha Also these visitor centers have souvenirs and really good children books. Try collecting them, you will need them soon for Smriti:)