Road Trip USA
As the song goes – “If you ever plan to motor west” – well I decided to do just that with a road trip from Chicago to Seattle along the route pioneered by Clark and Lewis just over 200 years ago. With warning of deep snow in the Rockies ringing in our ears we flew over Labrador andNewfoundlandwith clear views of the sea ice and landed inChicago.
Chicagohas much to offer from skyscrapers to a truly vibrant music scene. The city claims to be the birthplace of modern skyscrapers and certainly has many to see. A ride to the 94th. floor of theHancockTower, only the third highest in the city, will leave you with views along the waterfront that are unrivalled. Lake Michigan givesChicago a feeling of having a seafront, with beaches and parks along the front. Back in the city choose one of the many restaurants for an excellent meal (ask for a doggy bag if you cannot finish it – everyone does) and then head for a club that plays your kind of music. They are inexpensive, full of life and really good live music.
We picked up our brand new RV (recreational vehicle), which was very well set out, equipped and comfortable and negotiated our way out of the suburbs of the city.
The roads were well maintained, free of snow and the other drivers very courteous. In fact almost everyone we met was friendly, interested in our trip, our accents and very welcoming. We decided to do a mixture of eating in and stopping at diners which gave us the best of both worlds. You can get lost in a Walmart – I did inRapid Citymaking my stop here anything but rapid! But with eating out it is worth remembering that Americans eat early and you will be frowned at if you arrive after 8.00 in the evening.
It would be true to say that the first 1000 miles could be considered dull, as you cross the prairies, but there is enough to keep you interested as you cross Illinois, Iowa and the first part of South Dakota. The farms and the wide horizons are punctuated with crossing theMississippiandMissouriRivers.
But everything changed when we got to theBadlandsand Black Hills of Dakota. The scenery was fantastic in the Badlands; throw in the sculptures of the Presidents atMount Rushmoreand the equally impressive and developing sculpture of Crazy Horse just half an hour away. You also meet the first of the bison and other American wildlife inCusterState Park.
The next destination was Mammoth Hot Springs in the northern part ofYellowstoneNational Park(the only bit open at this time of the year) stopping at Little Big Horn Battlefield along the way. All National Parks and Historic sites are very informative, well run and kept as natural as possible. Mammoth Springs are spectacular with steam and algae in the hot water making colourful pools and rocks. Here the wildlife was even more abundant with elks outside the RV at breakfast, but it was cold at night and the snow was still on the ground; in some places as deep as your waist.
There is more to write about this trip, particularly about the Rockies andSeattle, but that will have to wait until another time. If you ever want to travel West then, contact us for the Highway that is the best.