Highlights from a westbound Journey to Wyoming

Some of my favourite moments involve watching other tourists in Yellowstone.  I’m blown away when I think of how many photographs we take when we travel — much of it as a result of the introduction of digital photography.  Maybe we spend so much time looking through the lens of the camera or making sure that we capture the moment on film; that we forget to really experience and cherish how we feel in that moment.

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This … is a really late post and very much long overdue 🙂
A timely road trip is vital.  I probably booked my time off from work quite appropriately ahead of time — because this could not have come at a better time.  With numerous and significant sudden changes that I’ve been confronted with at work and some heavy coursework from my part-time studies, I was looking forward to some time to take a breather, step back, and let my thoughts drift to and fro concerning my current situation as I drove thousands of kilometres away from home.

I tend regard my travels in a rather philosophical manner and this two-week pause (in terms of short-term demands) gave me the opportunity I needed to evaluate the direction I was taking over the past year or so.  This road trip did not have any real destination other than checking out Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Teton National Park; so it resembled very much my state of mind over the past few months — I knew I needed to move in a specific direction but I just wasn’t sure where.  So during this two week road trip, I let myself drift across the mid-western United States.

The general route - over eight thousand kilometres travelled

Some of my favourite moments involve watching other tourists in Yellowstone.  I’m blown away when I think of how many photographs we take when we travel — much of it as a result of the introduction of digital photography.  Maybe we spend so much time looking through the lens of the camera or making sure that we capture the moment on film; that we forget to really experience and cherish how we feel in that moment.  As I travelled, I realized that I wanted to take fewer photographs and spend more time on thinking and observing.

Tourists checking out the geyser in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone was packed with tourists wherever I went but fortunately tourists still like to sleep in so I managed to get some quiet time by waking up extra early and driving out to the different quadrants of the park.  The month of May was definitely colder than I had anticipated and to make things even worse, I forgot my sleeping pad at home and was sleeping with a sleeping bag that just didn’t cut it.  I meant to use it as a test but without the sleeping pad, I was having a hard time getting to sleep at night as it colder.  Nevertheless I stuck it out and gradually worked my way south.

Geyser in Yellowstone National ParkHiking in Yellowstone National Park

I had wanted to take on a hiking trail or two in Yellowstone but huge mounds of snow blocked my way.  If only I had brought snowshoes with me!

Waterfall and rainbow in Yellowstone National ParkGeyser in Yellowstone National Park

After a few nights of freezing my butt off, I decided to push south into the Grand Tetons.  I have to say that of all the areas in Wyoming, the Grand Tetons was definitely my favourite area.  I could just stand there staring into the mountains and horizon in breathtaking awe and serenity.

View of the Grand Tetons across the lakeStorm approaching over Grand TetonsDriving through the Grand Tetons National Park

There were occasions during my trip where I had the opportunity to see wildlife but never did I get stuck in a traffic jam with so many fellow hikers in the early morning on the way to Inspiration Point — thanks to a family of moose.  We just stood there quietly waiting for the moose to move along.  I think it delayed us for about half an hour (some folk were pretty impatient, but I quite enjoyed the chance to just sit and watch).

Moose in the Grand Tetonshiking to Inspiration Point Inspiration Point in the Grand Tetons

After spending some quality time in the Grand Tetons, I started making my way back east very gradually.  I was feeling a bit unsettled — not knowing where to go next — driving from one country road to the next.  Eventually, I ended up with the crazy romantic notion of driving all the way to Manitoulin Island.

This is how I ended up in a very peculiar main street part of town.  I was actually looking for the best milkshakes in the state but I found a deserted street instead.  Still pretty awesome.

a deserted main street

As I travelled north east, I decided to stop by and visit the Crazy Horse Memorial which is rather quite the sight and impressive vision once I learned more about the future of this land.  Supposedly this won’t just be a monument for all Native Amerindians, but also evolve into a campus and community.  I really admire the ambition and goal of where this project is aiming to strive towards, and definitely will be keeping an eye on it.

Crazy Horse National Monument

You can’t pass through South Dakota without taking a pause in the long drive and checking out the Badlands National Park.  It’s simply a lot of fun to walk through although I can see how easily someone could get lost just simply by wandering around.

South Dakota Badlands National Park

Now I had heard about an amazing pie place in Minnesota but never did I expect such a challenge to find it.  The Aroma Pie shop is nearly in the middle of nowhere (no offense to the townsfolk) — it is actually in a very nice community but there are so many twists and turns that one has to make to find this “little slice of pie heaven” that it makes you wonder how many people drive there?

Actually, from what I observed, no one seemed to drive to the Aroma Pie Shop but rather cycled there!  Many people simply purchased a slice with some ice cream and sat in the porch area watching the hummingbirds come by and drink from the nectar feeders.

Fantastic blueberry pie from the Aroma Pie Shoppe

And of course, no road trip into the mid-west is complete without driving through a crazy storm.  It was pretty unbelievable to see a cloud like this.  On my way back into Ontario, I had to stop or slow down many times on the road because the rain was just insane.

A crazy storm on the way back home

After getting through Chicago (note to self: I need to stop driving through Chicago, the traffic is insane), I decided to make a final stop in Detroit so I could visit the Motown Museum.  You can’t take any photographs of the interior but it was such a fun place to visit.  It is a guided tour and the tour guides are very talented singers themselves!  Expect to sing along and dance. 🙂

Motown Museum

There were a lot of unexpected surprises and no I didn’t end up making it to Manitoulin Island despite the crazy idea that popped up in my head.  At the very least it gave me a sense of direction and along the way, I met some very kind and interesting people.  This time off gave me the break I needed to put some thought into life and work in general, and one of the things I walked away from this trip was that I wanted to spend more time sketching.  Expect to see more sketches in the future.

I definitely want to visit the Grand Tetons again, and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to also learn more about Minnesota and Wisconsin as I travelled through those states.  I now want to explore those two states more.  Whenever that will happen is to be determined but it’ll be added to the list!

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