A Travellerspoint blog

South Dakota & Wyoming

all seasons in one day 10 °C
View Ben's World Tour on BensWorld's travel map.

After some long driving days, we are making surprisingly quick progress across the United States. The landscapes we are driving through are outstanding, and the weather has changed, becoming much colder. Badlands National Park is the first of our trip (and there are many more I'm looking forward to!). The landscape was incredible and the scale was enormous - pictures do not do it justice! It was very cold (less than 10C) so our tourguide Nick did an awesome job and sorted us a 6 bedroom house to stay in for about $5 each for the night!

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The next stop was Mount Rushmore...bet you never knew there are actually 5 presidents there!...

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Then it was Custer State Park with even more amazing scenery. We camped near Custer and went out in the town in the evening and were the only outsiders in a tiny local bar, and were the centre of attention all night - I don't think some of the people in Custer have ever left the area in their whole lives! The bar had sawdust on the floor and signed dollar bills all over the wall! Very cool! My name is there somewhere - let me know if anyone finds it! And the next morning when we woke up, our tents were covered in snow!! Yes, camping in the snow! Not quite what I had expected but fun all the same!

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In the same area is the Crazy Horse Memorial, being sculptured out of the cliffs in a similar way to Mount Rushmore. It was started in 1948 and is being built in memory of the Native American Leader "Crazy Horse". It is taking so long because it is only being funded by the income generated by visitors and being constructed just by the family of the original sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski. It was offered a $10million grant by the US Government but they turned it down in protest to the way Mount Rushmore was carved on Native American land. The model sculpture in the picture below is how it will look when finished.

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We spent the afternoon in a sleepy mid-Amercian town called Deadwood - very quiet but a really picturesque place, and a really good all-you-can-eat buffet at the casino! That evening we stayed at a campsite right next to Devil's Tower National Monument.

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The next day and we spent a few more hours driving through the South Dakota countryside. I'm getting quite good as passing hours at a time in a minibus now! We ended up at another small town called Cody, where it was snowing (again!) and Nick, our tourguide, managed to get us a good deal on some cabins (nice one Nick!). That evening we had another night drinking in a small local bar, and ended up at a houseparty afterwards. It was a good night, and a good hangover the next day - not good on a road trip!

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Posted by BensWorld 14:42 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Miller Brewery & Spam Museum

semi-overcast 16 °C
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So on a morning with a hangover, what would be the best thing to do? Go on a brewery tour of course! We went around the Miller Brewery in Milwaukee which is one of the largest in USA...so much beer! There was a very cheesy video the tourguide showed us before our tour. It showed lots of the old Miller TV adverts..."What time is it?...Miller time!"

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And then our tour guide Nick had a surprise visit for us... It turned out to be the Spam Museum! One of the most bizarre places I have ever been!

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Posted by BensWorld 15:36 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Niagara Falls & Chicago

semi-overcast 17 °C
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The roadtrip has begun! My Transamerica tour with Suntrek started in a rainy New York heading north towards Niagara Falls & Chicago. My group all seem really cool - there's 11 of us and our tour guide, all sharing a fairly small minibus for the next three weeks. I am really looking forward to it though! Our tour guide, Nick, is from Pittsburgh and the rest of the group are from all over the world...

Daz and Sam were the first of our group I met in the hostel. They are brother and sister from Australia travelling around USA together. Daz managed to win their trip by entering a competition online. I must remember to check out the website for any competitions when I get back...I like the sound of free travel! Also from Australia are Paul and Nate, who are brothers from Brisbane and Jen who is from Perth. The European members of our group are Anke and Sandra from the Netherlands, Kate from UK, Andre from Germany and Thomas from France.

The first highlight of the trip was our trip to Niagara Falls. Unfortunately tickets for going over in a barrel were sold out by the time we got there! Instead we went on the boat trip up the river to the falls - the "Maid of the Mist". Our campsite was on the US side of the falls, but in the evening we went across to Canada for the evening - where you get a good view of the falls at night. It was good, I'd never been to a different country for the evening! Even though it was just a short walk across the bridge, immigration was really strict - they asked every single one of us in our group where we had come from (USA!...we had just walked across the bridge!!), then why we were visiting Canada and how long we planned to stay there. You think they would have got the idea after the 5th or 6th person gave the same answers and that we were travelling in a group!

The day after Niagara Falls we stopped at the Finger Lakes, which aren't as big as the great lakes, but still large enough that you could not see the other side!

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Next stop was Chicago where we got to stay in the luxury of a hostel! Chicago reminded me of New York, with lots of skyscrapers but also had one of the coolest things I've seen on my trip - a stainless steel sculpture nicknamed "The Bean"! It was amazing, you could walk right around it and through it, where there were loads of cool reflections. You could even see yourself 5 times at once...not that that is necessarily a good thing!

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Although we really only had one whole day in Chicago, we still managed to have a walking tour of the city and go up the Sears Tower, which is now called the Willis Tower (who has their building sponsored anyway?!). I do like heights and I did enjoy the glass floor at the top of the tower- see the photo below! That afternoon we also went to see baseball between Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks. Unfortunately Chicago Cubs were absolutely thrashed by Arizona! It was a good game though!

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Posted by BensWorld 13:45 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

USA Road Trip!

sunny 22 °C
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Tomorrow I start my trip across the USA and can't wait! Last night I arrived at my starting hostel to find a sign pinned to the door saying that the building was "imminently perilous to human life". The hostel had been closed down by New York City! Luckily they had a booking for me at another hostel and I am still (alive) and ready to go!

It made it onto local TV:

http://www.ny1.com/5-manhattan-news-content/top_stories/117439/dob-shuts-down-harlem-hostel--dozens-stranded

While I'm camping I'm not sure how easily I'll be able to find internet access, so here is my progress along the route

Posted by BensWorld 15:10 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

New York - Part 2

sunny 20 °C
View Ben's World Tour on BensWorld's travel map.

Even after being constantly annoyed by the touts for the opentop buses, we did jump on one and it was a good way to see the city. The bus went on a full loop of Central Park and a separate evening route went across the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn, giving amazing views back of Manhattan. We also went down to the south of Manhattan island and checked out Wall Street. However, nobody there would answer why I only got 1.6 Dollars to the Pound, when it was nearly double that two years ago! After seeing Wall Street, we walked to Pier 17 on the East of Manhattan where there are some very nice restaurants.

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We went up the Empire State Building to see sunset and the city at night, and it was fantastic! An amazing view...

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That night we had a great meal in the Heartland Brewery, where there were also some very nice beers to try!

In the last two days we still managed to squeeze in a helicopter flight and a boat trip past the Statue of Liberty on to Ellis Island and a brief look at the immigration museum there. Luckily the helicopters were not grounded, unlike all the flights to and from Europe, due to the volcanic ash cloud in Iceland. After a fantastic few days, Dad's flight was one of the first to start flying again and I went my own way, onto the hostel meeting point for my first tour.

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Posted by BensWorld 14:19 Archived in USA Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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