Though there is some dispute regarding the origin of the phrase, I will credit it to John B.L. Soule, an Indiana journalist who wrote “Go West, young man, and grow up with the country” in an editorial in the Terre Haute Express in 1851. Following his advice, in a way, I packed my great dane, Scarlett into a rental car and did just as Mr. Soule
This was a last minute trip. A surprise visit to my sister, who resides in Seattle. However, I am spontaneous and I enjoy adventure. My mom is always up for a road trip across the country and is the
worst best navigator…so I threw her in the car as well. 🙂
In July of 2012, the three of us set off on our 2300 mile adventure across America. Through the Great Plains, up around the mountains and along the National Parks we drove…dodging the antelope and moose as we went.
4900 roundtrip miles later, many exciting detours, and a swapped out rental car later, I had quite the plethora of memories and even more photos.
Because this was a surprise trip, therefore my sister did not know we were coming to visit…there is not much evidence of the trip from east to west. I will start the photo section of this post from West to East on the return trip. Forgive the photo quality. Many in this post were taken with my cell phone.
Goodbye, Seattle. Hello, open road!
Mount Rushmore was quite impressive. Washington, first president. Jefferson, Louisiana Purchase. Roosevelt, Panama Canal, Trust Buster and National Parks. Lincoln, saved the union during the Civil War. Beautiful memorial. Scarlett was happy to get out and stretch her legs. As I explored I found that even the soda machine had a presidential theme.
We continued on to visit the Crazy Horse Memorial. They have a live webcam for anyone who has not been able to visit this breathtaking monument in person. Picasso said, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off of our souls.” In more ways that one, the monument, Crazy Horse…did just that for me.
The mission of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is to, “protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians. The Foundation demonstrates its commitment to this endeavor by continuing the progress on the world’s largest sculptural undertaking by carving a memorial of Lakota leader Crazy Horse; by providing educational and cultural programming; by acting as a repository for American Indian artifacts, arts and crafts through the Indian Museum of North America and the Native American Educational & Cultural Center; and by establishing and operating the Indian University of North America and, when practical, a medical training center for American Indians.” What a story Crazy Horse had. I feel privileged to have been luck enough to visit this remarkable site.
This Monument reminds me of a character’s quote played by Kevin Spacey: “Money is the McMansion in Sarasota that starts falling apart after 10 years. Power is the old stone building that stands for centuries. I can not respect someone that doesn’t know the difference.” Gazing at this incredible monument and work of art, I can not help but think of what power really means. Certainly some form of what Crazy Horse set out to accomplish. Here’s hoping this stone man and his horse will be the last masterpiece and testament standing.
The Crazy Horse Memorial was Silently Epic.
Crazy Horse started this adventure and monument for many different reasons. Some personal and some political. However, when I gaze at the rock…slowly becoming his dream and vision, I think of something Vincent Van Gogh once said, “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you can not paint,’ by all means, paint and that voice will be silenced.”
On we traveled to Wyoming.
Wyoming will always have a special place in my heart.
I would like to have this view every morning. Complete with the horse ears. There is absolutely nothing like an early morning horseback ride up through the mountains. Einstein said, “The reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” Sitting astride a horse on a mountaintop overlooking a forrest and rushing river…I couldn’t have been more thankful for time. For that single moment. To stop, forget anything else, and simply take it all in.
This makes my heart happy and my soul feel at peace.
The Grand Tetons. The Mountains of Imagination.
Though they are the youngest mountains in the Rocky Mountain chain, The Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway have a combined area of 333,700 acres within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, which encompasses more than 13 million acres and is considered one of the few remaining, nearly intact, temperate ecosystems on Earth.
The little bears in my hand on the bottom, right of the photograph are the dog treats I was given at the ranger booth for Scarlett upon entering the Grand Teton National Park. That made my trip!
On down the road, in Yellowstone National Park, it was difficult to drive very far without stopping to pull over for a photo. There were incredible sites in all four directions, at all times. It’s amazing to me how the terrain can change that quickly and still be just as beautiful if not more so. Each part of the park is stunning in every, little way.
Most people stop to take a break and stretch their legs. I like to get out of the car for a cartwheel or two. 🙂 I grew up in Indiana and had my share of the country, but the wide open spaces out West are certainly one-of-a-kind. It makes you feel small, yet somehow incredibly important to be standing there, present at that moment. As I cartwheeled, I thought somehow of forgiveness and recalled something Oscar Wilde said, “Always forgive your enemies – nothing annoys them so much.” It seemed an appropriate line for letting go and cartwheeling across a field Yellowstone. I don’t consider myself to have many enemies, but the few that come close had been forgiven before I was done.
On we drove, out of Yellowstone and into Cody, Wyoming. Cody is a real, cowboy town. In the group below, I snapped the top, right photo with my cell when I saw a cowboy jogging down the road towards me, spurs and all. He quickly checked the trailer and then jogged back to his truck before the light changed. I don’t mind saying that I almost abandoned my own vehicle to chase him down. What is it about cowboys in hats, tight jeans, and spurs? 🙂
In Cody, they still have rodeos, every night in the summer. It is also a town home to one of the hideouts for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Of course, Robert Redford and Paul Newman made the film famous in 1969, and according to an eye witness, much of the story from the film is true.
The tall tales never end with these two. Robert Leroy Parker, or Butch and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh, better known as The Sundance Kid, were thieves of a different sort. They still have quite the following, including me. On my top ten list is to take part in the eight day outlaw ride created from the Hole in the Wall gang:
Each year in August, a group of enthusiasts gather for an eight-day Outlaw Trail Ride beginning in Thermopolis and ending at the Hole-in-the-Wall. Guests make the trek across the vast Wyoming countryside on horseback, discovering historical landmarks along the way. The trip also includes a stop at the Hot Springs County Museum which houses the original Hole-in-the-Wall Saloon. In addition to this group, Historic Trails West offers horseback trips across various parts of Wyoming, including a six-day Outlaw Trail Ride through Hole-in-the-Wall, and Thunder Mountain Tours provides an interpretive tour with access to private land that surrounds the area, including views from the top of the bluff.
Here is a clip of my favorite part of the film. 🙂 It will always be a classic and definitely one of my favorite films of all time.
Down the road a bit in South Dakota, we made sure to stop and visit the most famous drug store in the world.
Though in the tiny town of Wall, South Dakota, you would never miss the drugstore. They have billboards for miles in both directions with funny sayings and slogans. It makes the drive quite entertaining!
Run by a husband and wife team in the 1930’s, they handed out fresh ice water to weary and overheated travelers along the road. Most everyone who came in for the free ice water also bought an ice cream cone or made a purchase from the pharmacy. Their famous drugstore is still going strong today and I am happy to have been a part of that interesting history.
Wall Drug Store taught me about visionary problem solvers. Free ice water for everyone! Their original slogan and photo from 1931.
Jimmy Buffett said, “Life is more manageable when thought of as a scavenger hunt as opposed to a surprise party.” That sums up my trip out west, pretty well.