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Day 6 – 11 : Yellowstone, Montana, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Salt Lake City, MOAB!

 

These few days were a blur…

After departing Gillette, WY we camped inside Yellowstone the first night.

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Odie met a cute bulldog puppy as well.

We were lucky because it was the last night all but ONE campground was closed, and we were able to snag a site without a reservation. It was the typical campground shenanigans, dogs running around, car alarms going off at all hours, Asian tourists huddled in the bathroom around the only 2 electrical outlets within 100 miles charging their I-devices (priceless). While on the topic of Asian tourists, i have to point out that they have a strange obsession with Odin. EVERY single time we pass a group of tourists with cameras out, once they spot him they immediately start snapping pictures, come over and ask if they can pet him and if he will attack them, its pretty comical at this point, he’s going to be a super star in Asia within 2 weeks time.

Here is his head-shot collection for any Asian Dog Modeling Agencies looking for new talent (because that must be a real thing…. hahah). These were all taken at the campsite in Moab, UT.

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Yellowstone is HUGEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, you really need a week to see it all. We were able to travel pretty much all of the park but we were constantly moving.

Some highlights:

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Following pics are old faithful erupting, more dumb luck….. happend to time this perfectly as it went off just as we got to the top of a view point that was about a 1.5mile hike.

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Quick lunch in the parking lot, the JetBoil was one of the best purchases on the trip! Can cook up a pot of coffee in about 2 minutes which is wayyyyyyyyyyyy faster than boiling water on the coleman stove.

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A cool gorge and waterfall in Yellowstone:

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Our Campsite at Rainbow Point in Montana. After the BS at the “real campground” inside Yellowstone we made the smart move to go outside the park in one of the National Forest Campgrounds, another amazing site!

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A cool converted Unimog expedition vehicle that we had seen around Yellowstone, they happened to camp right next to us ๐Ÿ™‚

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Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone:

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The next 2 pictures are a “photoshere” 360 image, if you open on android phone you should be able to get a 360* view of where i was standing at, it’s really cool.

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The Ravens here were huge and creepy, they would look you right in the eye as they walked around on the ground circling you trying to figure out what you were up to. You can see the wheels turning in their head as they creep walk around you, hahaha. Still can’t get over how damn big they are!

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Grand Teton:

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After Grand Teton we stayed in Salt Lake City in University park. Had dinner at a cool local brewery then headed out for Moab, UT the next day! While on a walk after dinner with Odie we stumbled upon a cool company that makes robots that look like they came out of the Halo video game (www.sarcos.com).

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I was waiting for armed guard to come out and tackle me for taking a picture of this from outside the building late at night, but i guess it’s not that top secret after all ๐Ÿ™

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MOAB, UT and Arches National Park:

We arrived in Moab, UT in the afternoon and needed to restock on food so we stopped at the grocery store downtown first. After our resupply we got a pass and went into Arches National Park. We snapped a few pics and did some off-roading then left around 5pm to secure a campsite on some BLM land up the road. We found a nice little spot off a dirt road, and woke up to some amazing views! Had to deal with a little rain and wind so sleep was minimal but it was all worth it when we saw the sunrise!

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Prickly pear cactus everywhere, Odie was forced to wear his boots when we were out in the desert.

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Stacked rocks all over the parks! We always did our part to help build one taller or make a new tower ๐Ÿ™‚

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The wood out in the desert was incredibly unique, you could peel the bark off with your hands and rub  it basically into a power that sparked with ease. (not sure what type it is, but it smelled amazing like a good BBQ smoke) After i got a little coal base i tossed on some bigger logs from fallen trees that stayed lit into the morning, i had to finally pour water on it as the thing would not go out on its own!!!

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The most amazing wrap ever: Fajita spiced steak meat, basmati rice, cheeseeeeeee, YUM!

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Sunrise in Moab, UT.

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Bears

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Elk

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Mountain Goat Things? (no clue what these were)

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Grand Tetons we breezed through pretty fast, but went on a short hike and yet again were very lucky, a Dad, Mom, and Baby Moose walked by!

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Spent today seeing the rest of Arches National Park and then headed to Colorado. Currently in a hotel in Glenwood Springs which is on the way towards Denver. Current plan is to check out Aspen tomorrow, then head south towards Canon City where there is a huge suspension bridge over a gorge, then make our way back up north to Denver for a spa day at a nice hotel before the dreaded 3 day drive home ๐Ÿ™

 

Day 4 & 5 – Sioux Falls, Badlands, Mt.Rushmore, Hippy Hole!

Day 4:

Started off with some bad ass thunder storms in Sioux Falls. The lightening bolts were huge and the thunder booms immense, nothing like back home I am glad we got to experience a Midwest thunderstorm. The previous night we chatted up a crew of construction workers who were partying at the restaurant across from the hotel to get the scoop on local matters. Our main goal was to avoid any tourist crap and experience the hidden gems, which only locals can clue you in on.

They filled us in on speeding tolerances, which is 3-4mph over the limit (which was usually 80mph), my guess is this has something to do with the way fines are calculated for the speed you are over the limit. They more importantly told us what NOT to see (“Wall Drug” which is pretty much every billboard in SD and Reptile Gardens). The first thing i had asked them was if the falls were worth checking out in town, he shrugged and was like “yeah, i guess… they are pretty cool but its really the only thing to see around here”. Afterwards he started talking with the rest of his crew filling them in on our situation asking them where good places for us to go where, and his friend immediately piped in “DUDE, whatever you guys do you HAVE to go to Hippie Hole”. Now here is where i would normally explain what Hippie Hole is, but it’s better if you just keep reading ๐Ÿ™‚

Due to the rain, we got a slow start and didn’t end up leaving the hotel until 11ish. Our first stop was going to be a much needed car wash to get all the bugs off, but the rain took care of that good enough so ย we decided to get the tires on the truck rotated and balanced instead as i could feel they were really starting to get off balance and needed a rotation as well. After striking out atย 2 mega-chain tire stores, we lucked out at the 3rd place which was a local auto mechanic. He got us right in and out, didn’t give us any crap about Odie, charged a fair price and wished us luck and safety on our travels.

THE FALLS!!!!!!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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Ok… they were pretty cool, definitely worth checking out since it was only 5 minutes up the road in the “City” (the definition of a City is quite comical in SD). Had to dawn the rain gear since it was showers on/off still but we got alot of good pictures and Odie got some good exercise before the long drive. Our next destination was Mt.Rushmore but we made the best decision of our entire life by “taking the scenic route through the badlands”.

At the park entrance we saw there was only an option for a week pass, not a day pass. Being the frugal person i am, i silently questioned this but the next morning we both laughed at each other at the thought of only wanting a day pass for the Badlands, we could have spend a week here easily!

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As soon as we rounded the corner from the entrance and saw the views, we were struggling to pick our jaws up off the floor. I had done some research already about camping in the park, and there were 2 sites, 1 as soon as you go in with a ton of RV’s and kids running around, and the one we stayed at in the very back of the park down a long dirt road (Sage Creek Campground). Again, best decision of our life. Words cannot describe the views, so here are pictures to do the work for my mouth.

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Day 5:

There always has to be “that guy” who gets too close to the Bison…. well the next morning i was “that guy”.

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When we woke up, there were 2 bison grazing literally feet from the truck.

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We were camped in the horse area, so there were some wooden structures and a little corral which i used a barriers in case the bison decided to charge me. I was able to eventually make my way INTO the horse corral, as there was a Bison feeding right next to it so i could get some good pics behind the protection of the fence. I was so close i could touch him, but he was starting to show signs he was aware of me so i didn’t piss him off ๐Ÿ™‚

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(yeah i know what your thinking… “your nuts” well no i didn’t just run up to the bison trying to get pictures with no regard for safety. This was a well frequented campsite so one could logically infer that these bison are used to people being around and walking up with little bricks in their hands then running away, as was the case. Signs of aggression are pretty obvious and as long as your not making fast or aggressive moves your not going to upset a bison who could knock you into next week. It also helps to have a metal cage around you ๐Ÿ˜› ).

After making some coffee, we hiked up to the top of the hills behind the campsite to get some more amazing pictures of the landscape. Again, words do no justice, be amazed by the pics:

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Our next destination was Mt.Rushmore, which was about a 1hr drive away. We opted for the back roads again which proved to be another great decision. Rushmore was EXTREMELY touristy. Once you see it, you realize its one of those things you go to see, just to say you saw it. The Badlands blew Rushmore out of the freaking water!

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Now everyone that know me, knows that my buddy Odie goes wherever i go, no matter what…. even if there are 5 million signs that say “no pets” (he’s not a pet, hes mah boy! ๐Ÿ˜› ). So naturally, i slapped on his “Working dog, do not pet” vest and we headed up the monument! When he has his vest on, he knows he’s working and behaves extremely well, so everything went off without a hitch and Odie was one of the few lucky pups to visit the Rushmore site.

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Speaking of water….. whats the Hippie Hole thing i was talking about earlier? Oh damn did i just give a hint that water is involved? Probably the coolest place near Mt.Rushmore, and you’ll be damned if you catch a tourist there! Hippie Hole is a big bowl of water down in a valley of rocks off a forest service road, no way in hell you are finding this place unless someone local tells you about it or you somehow stumble across it online. Very similar to some places in NH and ME i have been to with big pools of water up in the mountains.

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Now…. every single person i have met from SD and talked to about Hippie Hole said “YOU HAVE TO JUMP IN!!!”. Well, its September…. 65*F temp… and i know the water is much colder….. since so many people had raved about this place we knew we had to at least go and take some pictures but was probably not going to jump in. We had followed a guy in to the site on a Harely off-road (this guy had some serious riding skills to be riding off-road, i dont know how the hell he was riding on these trails with a street bike, I turn on 4wd in the truck). When we got to Hippie Hole, he told us he had been down the day before and jumped in and climbed up out on the rope, and gave us some tips on how to get down to it since the trail was pretty treacherous. Yet another local telling me i had to jump in….. damn… should I?

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We’ve been watching alot of “Bear Grylls” lately… so i decided it was time to join the Bear Grylls club and “strip down to my skivvies” and jump into a freezing cold body of water, on ย a cold day. What a rush!!!! Just looking over the edge got my heart pounding, and when i jumped off the cliff it was like slow motion! The water was cold and sucked the breath out of me but once i climbed back up the cliff i warmed right up when the adrenaline hit me, despite being practically naked and soaking wet, totally worth it!

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Odie tired fromย a hard days work at Mt.Rushmore and hiking the hills of the Badlands.

We had originally planned to camp behind Rushmore, butย decided to hit up a hotel in Gillette, WY which is on the way to Yellowstone. We’ve been avoiding campground and going the primitive camping route in the National Forests/Parks (usually just a pit toilet available, no showers, etc.) so it’s nice to sleep in a real bed every other day and get a shower.

Tomorrow we head to Yellowstone, then spend a day or two there and also Grand Teton which is just south of there, following that we have our sights set on Moab, UT and then Colorado before we have to turn back home…

More to come, thanks for reading!

Day 3 – WI, MN, SD

Day 3 began with a slow start from Rockford, IL.

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Our last night camping in PA had been in the back of a pickup truck, and as much as I love the setup for camping let’s be real, it’s not a good night sleep. The hotel in Rockford was a much welcomed upgrade after a long day of driving and a sub-par night’s sleep.

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Rockford, IL is very close to the border of Wisconsin, so we ended up there pretty early in the morning after we started our day on the road to our next stop Sioux Falls, SD. We decided to take an early pit stop to the nearest Tractor Supply that was on our way to ย pick up and few items for Odin to make his (and our) life a little more bearable. We got him a dog bed and water bowl that mounted to the side of his crate, both of which proved to be invaluable as he finally relaxed on this leg of the trip. We also dedicated my camelback as his on the road water supply so he was a pretty happy (spoiled) dog.

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The GPS gave us the option of going through Iowa (corn fields) or Wisconsin/Minnesota (to our surprise, more cornfields) so we opted for the more scenic route of WI/MN.

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Once we got into Wisconsin the Truckersย were a lot less ruthless, we had one incident with a FedEx truck that cut us off as another big rig was entering the highway but we are still alive and in one piece, and I already complained enough about the big rigs (or did I…..) ๐Ÿ™‚

THE MISSI-SIP:

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When people tell you things change once you cross the Mississippi they are not kidding. It’s very subtle at first once you cross that great divide, but after a while of driving and letting the surrounds sink in, you really appreciate the beauty of the United States. It’s simply incomprehensible how vast and breath taking the United States is. Everyone on the East Coast who thinks they live in a rural settings is CLUELESS. You have not experienced rural until you visit the Midwest!

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Forest Fire?!!!!!!! No… just some farmers burning a brush pile, ‘merica! ๐Ÿ˜€

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Well… it’s midnight local time (er… wait no… damn laptop not updating the time!), we had a fun night over at the local watering hole “K’ravN”. I went out on a limb and tried the “New Fashion” which was basically an Old Fashion, Sioux Falls Style (aka a glass full of whiskey, they know how to party on a Wednesday out here ๐Ÿ™‚ ). ย Met some cool locals who helped point us in the right direction for sights tomorrow, so stay tuned for more updates!

Peace out from Sioux Falls, SD!

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Day 1 & 2 -MA, NY, PA, OH, IN, IL

Yes, we made it through all those states in just 2 days!!! lol

Day 1:

Consisted of a long drive through upstate NY to our first destination: Allegheny National Forest in PA.

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We would have stayed on the NY side but considering they don’t give a **** about personal freedoms, we crossed the border to sleep in the free state of PA! It’s a shame that NY City gets to govern the entire state NY, its clear the people upstate do not agree with their rights being taken left and right (as evident by the many “repeal the SAFE Act” signs in peoples front yards).

We stayed at “Willow Bay” campground, which was right on the Allegheny Reservoir and managed by the National Forest Service.

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To our great surprise, THERE WAS NO WATER!!! (well some but not much) Just as we walked down the trail which would have lead up to the water, another camper came over and introduced himself and filled us in on the situation. Apparently this is the lowest the water level has ever been in the past 20ish years. It was a dry year, and the city of Pittsburgh needed the water so they drained it.

Day 2:

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THOSE F***ING TRUCKERS!!!!!! For those of you who have not traveled cross country, let me fill you in on a little secret, TRUCKERS SUCK! Big rigs have this signature move on 2 lane highways, where they will cut into your lane at lightening speed, go ONE MILE PER HOUR over the speed limit, only to slowly overtake the even slower big rig in the right lane. Not only that, but if you try to over take them on the right, they will just cut you off again and slow back down.

Ok now that i got that out of the way…. ๐Ÿ™‚

We left PA around 12pm, way past the 8am deadline we had planned. Our next stop was Rockford, IL to a hotel so we were not in a particular rush to leave the area. We found a nice lake on the way to the highway in PA and let Odie swim a bit to tire him out for the car ride.

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Ohio and Indiana were not very memorable, flat land and corn fields for the whole time pretty much. Cleveland we agreed to call “the new Worcester” as it reminded us of a similar situation to Worcester, always the next “up and coming big thing” but never amounted to anything (sorry Cleveland, maybe if we get a chance to visit on the way home we can paint a better picture ๐Ÿ˜› )

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(even the snap chat filter is ghetto)

Hit rush hour traffic in Chicago due to the time change which we forgot about but was not as bad as we expected it to be, and we got some good pics of the city!

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Will try and get some pictures up and more stories later, tired from the day long drive and about to chow down on some deep dish pizza!

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Next stop: Sioux Falls, SD!