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New and traditional ways of exploring the globe, and your own backyard.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The good, the bad, and the unusual

I've been a bad travel blogger these past few weeks that I have been on my cross-country road trip. Part of the problem was that I did not bring a computer but the other problem was that I was being a bit lazy when I was not driving. Can you blame me?

I did keep a written journal and realized how much easier it is to type than use a pen and pad - especially when writing in a bouncing moving vehicle in 100-degree heat.

I plan to put daily selections of my trip on here later this week, but I thought I would start with a teaser: a list of the best, worst, and weirdest parts of my trip.



Favorite Visited City: Aspen, Colorado (There is a perfect blend of civilization and natural beauty in this mountain oasis. It'd probably be even cooler to visit in the winter when you can ski right into the city and sometimes even into the hotels).

Least Favorite City: Beebe, Arkansas (Mainly because we were stuck there in an end-of-the-world thunderstorm which had lightning going off every five seconds in every direction in the sky. Also, this was the first town we came to which we went to check into a hotel and there were no vacancies).

City With the Worst Reputation But I Found It Cool Anyway: Atlanta, Georgia. (My cousin lives in downtown Atlanta and her first advise to me was to put anything at all, valuable or not, out of sight in my car if I was parking it on the street. There's obviously a crime problem, but the city has so much to offer. In the two days we were there, we went to a professional baseball game, went to the new World of Coca-Cola, went through an African Art Festival in the Olympic Park and ate at a restaurant owned by Ted Turner. To top it all off, I was parked in a two-hour spot for about 20 hours and did not even get a ticket. Still, I could see how some spots could be sketchy, especially the Atlanta Underground Mall after dark).

Favorite National Park: Yellowstone (It may be one of THE most touristy places I have been in my life, but it is this for good reasons. There are amazing and diverese attractions here from geysers to mountains).

Favorite National Park Attraction: the Tuolumne Sequoia Grove at Yosemite (It is not as large or famous as the park's other sequoia groves but that was part of the appeal since there weren't people everywhere and you could enjoy the amazing larger-than-life scenery).

Least Favorite Aspect of a National Park: the heat at the Arches National Park in Utah (I was all set to do the hike to the famous Delicate Arch....until I found out it was six miles round trip and in 90-degree heat. No, thank you. I took the 1 mile round trip route instead).

Biggest Food Craving: a Bison Burger (yes, they're cool animals but you get a little annoyed at them when they cause a 40-minute traffic jam. I finally ate a bison burger at Ted's Montana Grill in Atlanta. Mmm. It was worth the wait).

Favorite New Food: a Sapopilla with honey. (I had a feeling I would like Southwest food, and I was right. This is fried bread with honey. Delicious).

Weirdest Food That I Saw: Collard Greens Egg roll (We went to the Taste of Chicago festival and I saw that. I did not have the courage to try it).

Weirdest Food That I Tried: a Whole Fried Shrimp (I went to a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown where they eat the whole shrimp - shell and all. Um, it wasn't bad).

Most Bizarre Roadside Attraction: the Largest Skillet in the World (that about says it all).

Runner up bizarre attractions: the 50-foot Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota and the largest cross in the hemisphere in Texas.

Coolest Americana: a motorcycle owned by Elvis and the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard (both were featured at an auto museum in South Dakota).

Most Interesting Museum: The Battle of Little Big Horn museum in Montana (It depicted both sides of the tragic battle in an easy-to-comprehend way).

Weirdest Museum: the Museum of Spam in Minnesota (We got there just as it was closing but definitely one of the reasons I want to go back to Minnesota. How random yet awesome).

Friendliest Tour Guides: the International Guides at the Headquarters of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (my guides were from Ghana and the Philippines and even though they were obviously trying to convert me, they were extremely nice in the process and showed me around the immense property and huge 21,000-seat convention center).

Biggest Disappointment: that Mount Rushmore wasn't bigger (don't get me wrong, it was cool and all, but it was kinda like seeing the Mona Lisa: you expect this huge, grand thing but it's just not quite what you expected).

Attraction that I don't think will ever be finished: the Crazy Horse Monument in South Dakota (it's very impressive and much larger than Mount Rushmore but it is not even close to finished yet and they've been working on it since the 40s).

Most Random Fire Hydrant: a Painted Fire Hydrant outside of the University of Notre Dame (it looked like a little person, possibly a leprechaun).

Most Beautiful Drive: Route 1 Pacific Coast Highway in California (I had been looking forward to this part of the trip for months. It was everything I imagined - blue skies, sharp turns, tropical plants and picturesque large rocks jutting out of the coast).

Most Surprisingly-Beautiful Drive: The route off of I-90 to the Devil's Tower (We passed mountains, red soil, red rocks, rivers, plains, forests. I guess I had always imagined Wyoming to be boring, but it was anything but).

Favorite What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas Moment: I can't tell you. That's against the rules.

Best Hotel: Rodeway Inn and Suites near Deadwood, South Dakota (THE most comfortable beds, EVER. Not to mention, the pool, jacuzzi and breakfast).

Best Gas Station: Love's (with a name like that, it has to be awesome).

Favorite Part of Trip: Visiting Family (some of which I had never met before - in Aspen, Atlanta, and Delaware).

Second Favorite Part of Trip: Knowing I made it home without any major incidents (aside from the chipped windshield and almost lost purse).

What I Learned About Advertising: If you put dozens signs for something miles ahead of time, people will stop (it worked with the Wall Drug signs and the Corn Palace signs in South Dakota).

My End of Trip (Music) Epiphany: There are way too many people who listen to country music, and I should probably invest in satellite radio before the next trip.

My End of Trip (Actual) Epiphany: The United States of America may be united under one name but the areas are so different and unique in their own ways. I'm amazed that settlers made it out west before roads considering all of the obstacles - the great Mississippi River, canyons, the Sierra Nevadas, the Rockies. It was hard enough for my Nissan to traverse these. But, I also realized I want to see more and another road trip is definitely in order.


Blogger Jessica said...

Danielle, You can't forget to mention Reno and The Nugget Casino! The most fatherly protective bouncer, the best cheap and delicious greasy food, the Texas size order of fries, and that 32 once drink special. Reno is also where you learned an important travel lesson... you never know when you will need the random things you keep in the trunk of your car so that you can participate in a super hero pub crawl. -Partner in Travel Crime, Jess

July 22, 2010 at 6:15 AM 

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