It was originally only going to be a trip to Wyoming to be apart of my dear friends wedding, but it turned into an adventure/road trip before we headed to South America.
Our trip to wyoming started in Colorado because we found a very cheap flight to Denver from Atlanta Georgia. So the journey begins!
Denver was unfortunately our only stop in the beautiful state of Colorado but we do wish to come back and maybe do some skiing on the legendary ski slopes that Colorado is so well known for. The airport itself is a little intimidating because of how truly massive it is. You literally have to take a train to get to different terminals, even baggage claim! But downtown Denver is a unique place. The streets are not only lined with shops and exotic places to eat but street performers with great talent patrol the sidewalk. While we were here we very much enjoyed strolling through the outside mall that they call 16th street mall. Like back in California there was a Starbucks on every corner! The only down side for us was having to lug our massive backpacks around, but luckily to our rescue the mall offered a free shuttle service that literally took you up and down the long stretch of mall territory and stopped every hundred feet or so to let people on or off. Denver was a wonderful relaxing experience and we hope someday we are able to come back.
From Denver we took a greyhound bus to Hulett Wyoming and boy was that an interesting ride…..but once we arrived we were picked up by our dear friends to help with wedding prep.
Our trip to the state commonly known for Yellowstone National Park was one of a kind. Not only did we get to be a part of a dear friends wedding, but we got to visit the United States first national Monument, Devils Tower.
The Story behind Devils Tower
Devils Tower has many names and stories of how it came to be. Col. Richard Dodge gave the name “devils tower” to the rock formation in 1875, when he lead an expedition to confirm gold discoveries, and explore the area. At the time scientists thought the tower was the heart of an ancient volcano but recent studies have shown that it may be in igneous intrusion. For those of us who are not good with science; an igneous intrusion is when molten magma is thrust into sedimentary rocks above it and cooled underground. As it is cooled it shifts and splits into columns, and over many years of erosion devils tower is exposed.
Back in the day Indian tribes, that surrounded the area, where afraid of the tower and often would perform forms of spiritual ceremonies to stay on the “spirits” good side. For some time the Indians actually fought the idea of letting visitors be near the tower, afraid that it would cause something terrible to happen. Today, many families visit Devils Tower and enjoy the day hikes that surround the national monument.
Thanks to Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, Wyoming now holds the first national monument, (Devils Tower) and national park, (Yellowstone).
The town of Hulett WY, where we stayed, was a small town indeed, with only one of each of the basics (grocery store, church, diner, and a golf course). The majority of towns people are ranchers who farm hay, or raise cattle. It can be quite odd seeing large hay bails littering the fields.
We had so much fun exploring this part of Wyoming. Being in the middle of nowhere was a little frustrating at times, but it has prepared us for our future endeavors in the mountains of South America.
After the wedding we helped the newly married couple move into their new apartment in Wisconsin before leaving for for their honeymoon. Thus the road trip begins!
Sadly we just drove straight through South Dakota on a mission to move our friends into their new apartment, but if we have the opportunity to go back we would love to visit Mt. Rushmore and The Badlands.
Alas like our time in South Dakota, we only got to drive through Minnesota as well . If we have a chance to go back our list starts with Boundary Waters, witch we heard is absolutely amazing!
After driving through Minnesota we finally arrived in Wisconsin. Moving our friends into their new place was a lot of fun and hard work but we were greatly rewarded with going to this adorable restaurant in town called Culvers. Which if you haven’t been there has great food! We also had the opportunity to go to our very first Cabela’s! We got very lost in this store, they literally have every kind of outdoors gear and hunting equipment you could imagine. So cool!!
If we ever have the opportunity to go back, first things first, we will have to try some famous Wisconsin cheese!
Once everything at our friends apartment was settled, they were kind enough to drop us off in Chicago Illinois sense it was on their way.
Chicago is a fabulous city, with wonderful public transportation, great pizza, and much to see/do. We spent our time here visiting the sights such as Millennium Park, taking advantage of the night life, and much more. But like any big city it’s important to be smart, leading us to our advise on staying safe in Chicago.
Don’t Get Shot in Chicago
For many people, Chicago is a tourists dream. The city contains American culture, amazing art exhibits, popular outdoor and indoor theaters, loads of fun free things to do, and resides alongside a lake so large that if you were to gaze out over the water there would be no discernible coast line to see.
However, what many people don’t know, is that this place is one of
According to neighborhoodscout.com the specific location where we stayed while in Chicago was the 4th most dangerous place to live in the United States, in 2013. We discovered that while living in Englewood, within a years time every individual has a 1 in 9 chance of becoming a crime victim. This being the case, we have come up with a small list of things you can do to stay safe while in Chicago.
1. Stay out of the neighborhoods
Never walk through a neighborhood if you can help it. Especially since the city is so racially divided, someone could land in a heap of trouble if they found themselves amongst many other people of a different ethnicity. Much of the violent crime is local rivalry, and in general most people will leave you alone, as long as you don’t bother them.
2. Stay with the boundaries of the city
It is very simple, you can look at almost any map of the city found at information desks or subway stations, and see a distinct rectangle shape for the downtown area. This will be your “safe zone”, but remember that you are never “safe”. Now this does not mean you need to be going through town afraid of every loud noise you hear. Just be smart and don’t do anything stupid like take a “shortcut” that could get you in trouble.
3. Act normal
Many people do not realize that when they are nervous they tend to be rude and short with others. If you ever find yourself in a scary place, just act like you belong. If someone says “hello”, say “hello” back. If someone nods their head acknowledging you, nod back. One of the worst things you can do is ignore them. Tourists generally paint a large target on the back of their head saying, rob me. Often times, if you pretend the part of a local, you will look the part, and people will leave you alone.
4. Keep moving
While in a sketchy area, keep moving. Unless you are talking to a police officer, there is no reason for you to dilly dally, continue walking and get out of there.
5. Stay in groups
Obviously, safety in numbers. Plus it is more fun, if you don’t have anyone with you, meet someone. Strike up a conversation with the person next to you in the restaurant, or bar.
6. Stay close to the coast
Especially at night, if you are going out, stay close to the coast. Make sure you are not too far north or south and you should be fine.
We wish you the best on your travels in Chicago, have fun, and stay safe.
After trapsing around Chicago for a few days we decided to move on to our next destination: Niagara Falls. To get here the cheapest way was by bussing to Cleveland Ohio then up to Buffalo New York (right next to Niagara Falls) so thats what we did.
Niagara falls was such an amazing experience. Not only did we get to gaze admirably at Gods creation on the New York Side but we got to sneak over to Canada for an even more spectacular view! It’s true what people say about Niagara Falls, It really is a lot
prettier on the Canada side.
Visiting Niagara Falls is a trip for all ages and its a free day trip if you don’t do the boat tours. By going over to the Canada side you basically get just as good of a view then you would in the boats only without getting soaking wet. Plus you get the rights to say you have officially been to Canada!
A few things to bring when visiting the falls:
1. Your camera
2. Passport (so you can go over to Canada, the view is so much better)
After visiting the falls we found out that my husbands (Caleb’s) insurance only had locations in guess were….Cleveland Ohio, so back to Cleveland we went to get the shots we needed for traveling to South America (left a little over a week later)
A few days later we finished our appointments in Cleveland and hopped back on a bus to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, stopped for a few hours then booked it to New York City!
New York City was truly amazing, full of life and culture. Our
favorite place to visit here was central park. It really is an oasis in a giant concrete jungle. It has a zoo, pounds/lakes, grassy fields for picnics, horse drawn carriages, paths and roads going through it for bikers and runners, cafes, beautiful sculptors, and much more.
Also while in New York we went to the Metropolitan museum of art, strolled the streets admiring the views, attempted to see a broadway play (way to expensive), and saw the Statue of Liberty!
All in all our adventures through these states were unforgettable, and we are so grateful to have been able to get a glimpse of backpack traveling before heading to South America!