Wow, so much has happened since I last posted! I think I will have to do this one on two parts or it will be much too long.
We started the next part of our trip heading towards Chicago. The drive was going to take us about 19 hours so we broke it up into a few days. Our first stop was Rapid City – a small town just near Mount Rushmore. We stayed at a KOA which is a large chain of RV parks in the US. They had all you can eat pancakes for breakfast in the morning so we took the opportunity and ate as many as we could. While we were eating, the cook came out to speak to us – turns out he was a poet who used to catch rattlesnakes in the desert for money when he was younger! It was so interesting hearing his story and he even recited one of his poems for us!
After breakfast we went to a Dinosaur park!
We then drove to Mount Rushmore and before we even saw it we were excited – the RV we parked next to in the carpark was exactly the same rental as ours AND they had Australian stickers in the window! New friends! We placed some vegemite containers against our windows in hopes that they would notice and we could become RV buddies, then we headed in to see the monument.
The walk towards the mountain was covered in the flags of all the American states – it was a very large and American feeling entrance. The mountain was very impressive – I was amazed that that kind of carving into a mountain was done with mostly dynamite. We visited the museum that showed how it was built and described its story.
Unfortunately when we returned to the RV, the other Aussies had not returned so we never got to meet them.
We then headed to a place called Wall Drug – our Lonely Planet guide suggested it as a must see attraction in the ‘Weird and Wonderful’ section. It was a small shopping complex that was set up like it would have been back in western cowboy times. We even saw some real cowboys buying genuine cowboy boots – very authentic. I bought a dream catcher that was made by Sioux Indians. Out the back of the shops there was a large robotic T-Rex and some water fountains. It was all very odd but interesting. Wall Drug is most famous for providing travellers with free ice water – there are signs for hundreds of miles advertising this – so we got some water! We also found ourselves 5 cent coffee! Yes please!
That night we stayed in Albert Lea, Minnesota at a State Park – we didn’t really get to see the park as we arrived around 1am.
Our drive then continued towards Chicago – it was the last day of the trip. Along the way we saw billboards advertising the biggest water parks in the US – Flynn has wanted to go to a water park for years so we stopped just to have a look. The town was called Wisconsin Dells and it was a town of theme parks! There was one long road with hotels along both sides, and every hotel had its own water park and roller coasters! But because of the time of year, it was cold and everything was closed – almost everything! Flynn, Croakie and I soon found ourselves running around an indoor water park, even though it was about 10 degrees outside – it was so much fun!
We then met Eddie at Chicago airport and continued driving to our campsite. We could not find anything close to Chicago but we did find Indiana Dunes State Park which was close to a train station which would take us into Chicago. Before we got there we stopped at Whitecastle and got some of their mini burgers – they were actually pretty good!
We rode our bikes to the station – there were only two bikes and four people so I was sitting on handlebars and so was Croakie, it was also raining so it wasn’t a very nice ride. We caught the train into Chicago – it took about an hour, and we went to a bar which had batting cages upstairs. There was no one else there as it was a weekday so we got the cages all to ourselves! Once we got back to the station near our campsite it started raining heavily and a policeman turned up. Croakie decided to ask him for a lift back to the RV and his reply ‘Do I look like a taxi service to you?’ then stared at Croakie for a few minutes! He came back about 5 minutes later to tell us a shortcut to get home – we got drenched though!
Today was a lay day – we got up late and went exploring in the sand dunes. There was a beautiful beach and we played beach volleyball for a few hours before making dinner.
Flik re joined us today! We met her in Chicago and were all very excited to have her back with the gang. We found the original deep dish pizza restaurant that made this Chicago pizza famous and had lunch there. The pizza was more like a quiche or a pie! It was delicious. We also went up to the top of the John Hancock building for a view of the whole city. The observatory was about $20 each but there was a restaurant which was free to go up to – you just had to buy one drink each to get a table. So we did that!
I’m going to leave it here for now but next we head to Michigan to catch up with some mates from camp! Love you all