I am not going to think about my favorite vacation...I will just right about the first one that comes to mind....which would make it the most memorable since I am thinking about it first right?
So in 2000, when I was 17, my dad had a Goldwing motorcycle with a sidecar.....yes you read that right....a sidecar. Until he brought one, I had never really seen them in person before. He loved his motorcycle but wanted something that me and my little sister could enjoy with him all at the same time. After he had it for a little while he decides that he wants to take Lauren and I out to Rocky Mountain National Park, The Great Salt Lake, Vernal (the National Dinosaur Museum), and up to Yellowstone and over to Mt. Rushmore and the Badlands. We had taken a very similar trip once when I was about 10, but we went up through Minnesota and across to Glacier National Park in Montana and then down to Yellowstone and across South Dakota....but I digress. It was a trip that took a lot of planning....or well, my dad plans everything down to bathroom breaks, regardless...it was a long planned trip. He installed speakers and a cd player in the sidecar for my little sister and bought these things called "Catterboxes" for the helmets so we could talk to each other during the trip. I don't know how familiar everyone is with Goldwings, but for me on the back, it was like sitting in an easy chair. There were heating vents and a radio. The luxury of motorcycles. It was the beginning of July when we set out for our 4000 mile vacation, just the three of us on my dad's Goldwing.
The route of the trip started in Dayton, though Indiana to Illinois to Missouri to Kansas. Our first day was long, get through the states we had been to fast and then it was our first time in Kansas.....I will not go back. I am sure there are nice things in Kansas but the bad memory is still to fresh. It was two days of no clouds in the sky at a 110 degrees.....and because I am so fair, I had to wear long sleeves, I was lucky that my dad let me take of my leather jacket (he is a safety nut and leather is the safest protection). No joke, as soon as we crossed into Colorado, there were clouds.
There is nothing like driving on 70 into Denver. I love driving into big cities, I love to see the skyline. They always give me chills...even the cities I know like Cincinnati and Dayton....neither of which are crazy impressive either. But Denver is like no other city because it's skyline is set against the massively impressive Rocky Mountains. It was really cool because it was the silhouettes of the buildings against the mountains, so you saw little grey outlines with the mountains. I am doing a really bad job of describing it....just drive into Denver on 70 sometime and you will see what I am talking about.
We went from super hot in Kansas to being in the mountains where we had to wear full gear, gloves, chaps, jackets...the whole 9. That is one thing I love about the West. In the summer you can stand next to a glacier in a t-shirt. There is one picture of Lauren and I next to a glacier, I am freezing with my leather on and gloves, and she is next to me in a t-shirt happy as a clam.
We were in Vernal, Utah looking at the dino fossils when the first bump in the trip happened. We got a flat tire so we had to reroute the trip. It was going to take us a day to get the tire replaced, which honestly was fine with Lauren and I because we got extra rest and a longer break from sitting on the bike, but it meant that we had to skip going to Salt Lake City....which kinda sucked. Vernal was really cool though and I want to take Parker there sometime. There were so many dinosaur bones there and they were still finding more. There were also cave like paintings on the sides of the canyon walls. I know they aren't cave paintings but I forget what they are called right now. It was neat.
The next leg of the trip was going north into Idaho, another new state. It was late in the day when we crossed the Utah-Idaho border but we made the deal that as soon as we found an exit with a hotel we would stop....82 miles later, we found one.....that was a really long day, but the next day we were in Yellowstone.
There was a scenic overlook at either Upper Yellowstone Falls or Lower...I can't remember, but my dad pulled the sidecar right up to the very very edge while Lauren was in it...it seriously looked like it was over the edge of the cliff...she wasn't happy. But we also encountered the next bump in the trip...while we were driving on one of the paths through the woods (we were looking for bears) and at some point, the cord that connected my helmet to my dad's was lost. This meant not more communication between me and my dad and Lauren. They could still talk to each other because they each that their own "Chatterboxes" but mine was only via the cord. That was a tragic day for me. We were barely halfway through the trip. We had been gone for about 7 days and we had about 10 left. That is a lot of hours without talking to anyone else.
Yellowstone was great for the second time and when we left there we went on this mountain pass called the Beartooth. It was a very narrow two way highway all the way up one side of the mountain and down the other side...pretty intense. From there we went to Little Big Horn then to a horse ranch in North Dakota then headed South to see Mt. Rushmore, the Blackhills and Devil's Tower. Some where in SD we experienced on of the most intense rain storms that came out of no where. We had to pull off and rush to get our rain gear on because it was so out of the blue. Of course it lasted no time at all and while we were coming down the road ( I am pretty sure it was at Devil's Tower), we saw a double rainbow. Eventually one of them disappeared but the one that remained got closer and closer until I swear, we were driving right next to the end of the rainbow....maybe it was the beginning of it because it was in the middle of the road and there was no pot of gold. After that area of SD we moved onward to the Badlands. Another remarkable place.
After the Badlands, there isn't much in terms of highlights in SD. Well, except the Corn Palace in Mitchell. But after that, you are basically home. They are all familiar states with familiar scenery. I love being the in West. It has been 11 years since I have seen the mountains and sometimes they are the only view I wish to see. That vacation had so many more stories that I could tell you about and so much more of the US that everyone should witness but I would be writing a book about it. Being there though, by the mountains, the fossils, the natural beauty of the US, the history of the Native Americans, the way the we have literally changed the face (or faces) of a mountain, and then back to the raw beauty of the Earth....it just makes you appreciate this country. Most of my travels have been with in the borders of the US and while I want to see Europe some time, I don't know how it will compare to the natural history and natural beauty of the parts of the US. Sitting here and going through the photo album in my head of that entire trip makes me think that the very old ruins and man made beauties of Europe are nothing in comparison to Devil's Tower or the Yellowstone River Canyon. But of course, this is not an objective opinion since I have not had the other experience.
(I wish I had those pictures on computer or even at all)