The numbers….

A recap:

  • June 1 to July 7, 2011 (37 days)
  • 10,000 miles
  • Drove through 27 states
  • Lowest temperature: 27F (camping at Yellowstone)
  • Highest temperature: 116F (Death Valley)
  • Longest drive: Chicago IL to Badlands SD – 837 miles, 14 hours 1 min
  • Shortest drive: Mt Rushmore SD to Crazy Horse SD – 16.3 miles, 28 min
  • Number of times the Fit broke down: zero   =)

EXPENSES

In case anybody is considering to go on a extensive roadtrip (such as ours) in the future, here is the cost of being on the road for 37 days. When we were planning the trip, we budgeted around $3000 each, and I think we were pretty successful sticking to that budget.

Totals:

  • Gas – $955.59  (average per gallon: $3.72)
  • Lodging – $1,367.05

For one person:

  • Gas: $477.80
  • Lodging: $683.53
  • Food & Drinks: $389.00
  • Souvenirs: $259.90
  • Attractions: $262.13
  • Pre-trip supplies: $680.26

A grand total of $2,752.93 .

Note: Calculated by Chris2. Gas and lodging are exact calculations, while other expense categories are based on incomplete records and so may be a little higher.

LODGING

13 nights in Motels
15 nights in tent
2 nights in hostel
2 nights in car
3 nights in house
1 night spent driving
EQUALS 36 nights total

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Day 37 – Welcome Home!

Although we had decided to go straight home from South Carolina, we still wanted to spend some time at the famous Myrtle Beach. After driving to the beach area and finally finding a parking spot (not at the $8 per hour lot!), we took a step outside. It took us less than 10 seconds to mutually agree that our stay here would be very short. Even though it was still early in the morning, the sun was unbearable and the thought of being sandy and salty for the entire ride back to New Jersey was not something we were looking forward to. After taking a few photos on the beach to prove we were there, we got back in the (air-conditioned) car and started what turned out to be a 12-hour journey back home.

Our route took us from South Carolina, through North Carolina, Virginia, Washington DC, Maryland, Delaware, and finally arriving in New Jersey. Interstate 95 was crowded almost the whole way up, but it’s something we came to expect driving along the East Coast. Approaching Baltimore, we entered a thunderstorm which turned day into night, and completely reduced visibility, forcing us to crawl ahead at 35 mph. The good news was that after we eventually escaped the storm, the road was pretty empty until we reached New Jersey. We instantly knew we were in Jersey when the destruction derby started: cars speeding 90 mph, weaving, dump truck trying to push a car off the road….. I don’t think I encountered driving like this anywhere in the states we visited.

Around 11pm we arrived home, sad and happy at the same time. Just like that, our month (and a week) long roadtrip was over, the event we had spent more than a year planning for. For the most part, the trip went off without a hitch. We didn’t have any car troubles, nor did we get robbed or severely injured. We saw all of the places we had planned to, and even some extra we weren’t anticipating. Unfortunately, the weather did not seem to cooperate with us, and prevented us from reaching some of our goals. The good news is that now we know where we should come back and visit in the future, especially to summit Mt St Helens and see someone famous in LA. The trip has taught us many things about ourselves, and put the world into a whole new perspective.

Finally being at home is bittersweet. On one hand we miss the excitement of being on the road and visiting new places everyday.  On the other, it’s nice to be able to relax, do the things we enjoy, and eat some normal home-made food. Hopefully some day in the future we can go on another roadtrip, or maybe even a bike trip? Wherever life takes us, this was certainly the trip of a lifetime!

Note: There will be one more post with the costs and other random numbers sometime in the future, before the beginning of August.

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Day 36 – Atlanta & Myrtle Beach

As we ate the complimentary breakfast at the motel, we slowly formed the sightseeing plan for Day 36. After taking a quick look at our guidebooks, we realized that there was not much to see in Atlanta, and that if we kept to the schedule, we could arrive at Myrtle Beach by the start of the evening. The only place that we really wanted to see was the World of Coca-Cola, a museum dedicated to the Coca-Cola company and its history. Although CNN headquarters is also in the area, none of us watch CNN News on TV, and the tours weren’t cheap, so we decided to skip.

Some aspects of the World of Coca-Cola were very cool, while some creeped us out a bit. The first major attraction is a short movie that is shown before you are allowed to enter the main part of the museum. But instead of showing how Coca-Cola is made or something like that, the movie was made as part of their “Happiness Factory” ad campaign. We both assumed that it was predominantly meant for little kids, but even then it seems the people who made it were high on some sort of drug. When the screen goes up at the end of the movie, a pair of doors automatically opens and you can explore the exhibitions. There is a large collection of posters, vending machines, artwork, and other Coca-Cola memorabilia, from the founding of the company in 1892 to the present day. A small assembly line is set up so people can learn about the process of making Coca-Cola. The bottles of Coke that are made here are then sent upstairs where you can grab one on the way out. When we visited, they had a special label in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the founding of the company. The special commemorative labels are only being printed for 125 days.

Next, we headed upstairs, and got in line for the In Search of the Secret Formula attraction, a 4-D film featuring an eccentric scientist and his assistant searching for “what makes a Coke a Coke”. The seats in the theatre move and the attraction features wind and water effects, such as feeling the wind in your face when skiing down a mountain and the seat rumbling when the ‘car’ you’re in goes over cobblestone pavement. This is definitely the best attraction in the museum; even if you hate Coke or have a limited amount of time to sightsee in Atlanta, make sure you go on this ride.

The last exhibit before exiting is one of the coolest in the entire museum. ‘Taste It!’ is an exhibit where guests can sample 64 products offered by the Coca-Cola Company worldwide. You can try as many products as you want, from each continent, although not all Coke products are represented here. Personally, I hated ‘Beverly’ from Italy, which had a really bitter taste, but loved ‘Bibo’ (pineapple flavor) from South Africa. Sadly, it was time to get back to the car and start driving to Myrtle Beach.

You might have noticed that during this last part of the trip we stopped exactly following the predetermined map. Although there were other stops on the way, we wanted to get to Myrtle Beach faster so we could relax and not have to pay for an extra night(s) at a motel. After a series of wrong turns and confusion, we finally arrived at a motel some 11 miles away from the beach area. Taking the advice of the motel owner, we rested for a while and drove down to the shore.

Myrtle Beach is a mid-sized coastal city that is a popular summer vacation destination. The main street is lined with hotels, stores, and bars. Honestly, I was expecting something more upper-class, but it looks almost exactly like Wildwood or Seaside Heights in NJ, except much smaller. While walking down the boardwalk, we were stopped by a security officer. As it turns out, a film production crew was in the process of shooting a scene for a new HBO series (name unknown). A whole section of the boardwalk was filled with video equipment and lights to illuminate the actors were set up all over the place. We did catch a peek of the actors, but it was not anyone we could easily recognize. It had been a long day, so we decided to make our way back to the motel after eating supper and checking out some of the attractions.

While sitting at the motel, we realized that we were very tired after having been on the road so long. Our bodies were beginning to feel the effect too. We needed to drink caffeine constantly, and we wanted to eat some normal home-made food.  Also, the weather pattern had turned unbearably hot and humid, discouraging us from camping again, but at the same time we didn’t want to spend a lot of money for more motels. We talked it over and decided to drive straight back to New Jersey (from South Carolina) the next morning, after spending some time relaxing at the beach. It kinda felt like the rug was pulled out from under our feet, because it was such an abrupt and unexpected ending to our trip. But at the same time, the trip had lost some of its optimism and cheerfulness, probably because of the toll the trip had taken on our mental and physical health. The places we had planned to see on the East Coast could easily be seen on a short trip sometime in the future, when we would be more eager and excited to see them. After making sure that we were confident of the decision, we passed out almost instantly, weary from all the adventures of the day.

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Day 35 – New Orleans to Atlanta

After waving goodbye to New Orleans, we proceeded east towards Atlanta, our next destination. Our route would take us through Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. Most of the day would be spent driving, besides a few breaks to get something to eat.

About an hour into the drive, we saw a sign for a scenic route that runs parallel to Interstate 10 and decided to make the trip a little more interesting. We ended up driving through the shore towns of Gulfport and Biloxi, which at first seemed just random places, but after doing some research online, it turned out these were the cities (in Mississippi) where the most destruction occurred when Hurricane Katrina came ashore in August 2005. Almost 6 years later, it is rare to see any remnants of the destruction that was inflicted on these coastal cities. According to one source, 90% of buildings 1/2 mile near the coast were completely destroyed, bridges collapsed, and the storm surge made it’s way up to 6 miles inland. We were tempted to stop and spend a little time in the Gulf of Mexico, but the heat and drive ahead of us discouraged this idea. Tired of having to stop at traffic lights every mile, we drove back to Interstate 10.

After driving for another few hours, we stopped in Montgomery, Alabama for dinner. The outside periphery of the city is quite nice, with lots of Southern architecture and many trees, providing a very relaxing and pleasant atmosphere.

Some time after sunset we arrived at our motel near Atlanta. The motel was actually located not in Atlanta but in the suburbs. Sometimes, booking a motel away from the city is a better idea, as we did in several places, such as Chicago and Seattle. First, it’s cheaper since you’re far away from the major attractions. Second, suburbs in general are a bit safer than cities.

Arriving in Atlanta meant that we were back home on the East Coast. Less than a week left of our roadtrip….

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Day 33 & 34 – New Orleans

Finally the day had arrived! We were in New Orleans! Why the excitement? New Orleans is one of America’s most famous cities, full of rich history and an interesting culture. After having spent two days there, I can say with confidence that there is no other place like it anywhere in the world, and it is certainly worth it to visit the city at least once in your lifetime.

After sleeping until 2pm, we decided to take a dip in the pool and then board the 5pm campground shuttle to the city. Although New Orleans KOA is pretty expensive ($51 per night), it is in a nice neighborhood, and the perks (swimming pool and free shuttle) are very useful. Our plan was to explore the nightlife on day 1, and then see the sights and enjoy the fireworks celebration the second day.

Of course, the first thing we did once we arrived was to find a place to eat, since our last real meal was almost 12 hours ago. We stopped by Embers, on the world famous Bourbon Street. My choice of meal was a Po’ boy, a traditional Louisiana submarine sandwich, filled with alligator meat. Although it may sound disgusting, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was kind of like Polish kielbasa, except really spicy and dry, probably one of the best meals I ate on this trip. In order to immerse ourselves in the New Orleans/ Bourbon Street atmosphere, we decided to sit outside on the balcony (not a good idea – really hot and humid). From an architectural point of view, New Orleans, especially the French Quarter, is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States. Sitting on the balcony, we had a view of all the action.

Our next step was to go across the street to the world famous Cat’s Meow, a karaoke bar, from which you could hear people screaming their lungs out all the way down the street. The rest of the night was spent checking out the historical spots located on Bourbon Street and enjoying the nightlife. Although you are allowed to drink alcoholic beverages in the street (only in plastic containers), people were calm and didn’t do anything stupid or crazy. As our shuttle driver said, New Orleans Police Department is very skilled at crowd control, and is constantly present in the area but doesn’t seem intimidating.

We began the second day with a cruise along the Mississippi River on the paddleboat Natchez (the last authentic steamboat still cruising the river!). We listened to a jazz pianist while eating authentic Creole dishes, such as jambalaya and bread pudding. Creole is a style of cooking originating in Louisiana which blends French, Spanish,and African influences. One of the surprises on the cruise was an instrument we had never seen before, a steam calliope. The way it works is similar to an organ: steam is sent through large whistles, and the resulting sounds can be heard from miles away.

The time after the cruise was spent walking through the historical French Market (gifts for those waiting for us back home) and taking pictures next to the famous attractions located around the French Quarters. One of our stops was the Saint Louis #1 Cemetery, reputed burial place of the famous and notorious voodoo queen Marie Laveau.

After spending some time in the creepy cemetery, we returned to the French Quarter, where a small concert was being given by the Navy Jazz Band. Afterward, Amanda Shaw (American Cajun fiddler and singer) and the Cute Guys went onstage. We were blown away by what we heard; this concert took violin playing to a whole new level.

The night came to a close with the fireworks show. Since the fireworks would be launched from two barges on the Mississippi River, we went towards the river and sat down on the rocks that formed the levee. It was pretty exciting spending the Fourth of July in New Orleans, and is certainly a memory we will remember for a long time. However, make no mistake, the New York City fireworks show is still one of the best, if not THE best show in the entire country.

A few words about Hurricane Katrina: The majority of the city is rebuilt after the destruction that occurred in 2005. When we were visiting, the only thing not functioning was the tram along the river. Besides that, there’s nothing that would even hint that a hurricane passed through here. Most of the historic French Quarter escaped the damage, with only some minor repairs needed. An interesting fact is that when they rebuilt the roads, they used styrofoam as one of the bottom layers of the roadways. The water table in New Orleans is extremely high (dig only 6 feet down in order to hit water) which creates problems for the foundations of buildings and roadways.

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Day 32 – Texas

Since we arrived in San Antonio in the middle of the night, all we had to do the next morning was pack our tents, grab breakfast at the “Chuck Wagon Café”, and we were on our way to see the sights. Our first stop was the Alamo. As anyone who attended school in the US knows, the Alamo has a special place in United States history: it was the site of the Battle of the Alamo. In 1836, during the Texas Revolution, a handful of Texians attemptedto fend off an attack by the Mexican Army. Knowing that they faced certain death, a group of about 150 Texians were successful in defending the Alamo for 12 days. On the 13th day, General Santa Anna and the Mexican Army advanced on the Alamo, killing all of the Texian soldiers. Only the women and children were spared, and were sent to spread the news of the horrible fate of the defenders, in hopes of quelling the resistance. Eventually, Texas would become a country for 10 years, after which it became a part of the United States. This is the abridged version of the history of the Alamo; for more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Alamo.

Our next stop was the famous San Antonio River Walk, which is a network of sidewalks alongside the San Antonio River. The sidewalks are lined with stores, restaurants, and craft vendors, providing a very pleasant atmosphere. We walked to the Arneson River Theater, which should be familiar for those of you who watched Miss Congeniality (with Sandra Bullock). If I recall correctly, it’s the location of the scene in which Cheryl (from Rhode Island) is being interviewed by the host:

Stan Fields: Miss Rhode Island, please describe your idea of a perfect date.
Cheryl “Rhode Island”: That’s a tough one. I’d have to say April 25th. Because it’s not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket.

We decided not to spend too much time at the River Walk, considering that we had to drive to Houston and see the Space Center before it closed for the day. After eating some lunch (General Tso’s with fried rice – our favorite meal to order during the trip), we climbed back into the car and headed east.

While driving to Houston, we did some research and found there wasn’t anything that interesting in the city itself. The Johnson Space Center (aka Space Center Houston) is actually 20 mins south of Houston. This is the location from which all American human space flight is managed, home to the Mission Control Center. When we first entered the museum, personally I was a little disappointed. Most of the facility seemed to be geared towards kids, instead of being a real museum. However we soon found out that there are tram tours of the actual NASA space center, which is probably the best and only reason to come here. The tram takes you around the office and warehouse complex, stopping at the Mission Control Center and a building that holds one of the unused Saturn V rockets. The driving around part was pretty uneventful, since the complex looks like any normal office park. The most exciting part was seeing one of the two Mission Control rooms. Although there was no one working there at the moment, a live feed of the space shuttle launch preparations from Cape Canaveral were being projected. The space shuttle is planned to blast into orbit later this week. Our second and last stop was at the Saturn V rocket. The pictures we took can’t properly show the enormous size of the rocket. It remains the tallest, heaviest and most powerful rocket ever brought to operational status and still holds the record for the heaviest launch vehicle payload. On our way back to the museum via tram, we passed by cattle grazing, which we thought was a really random sight to see in such a developed area. Apparently NASA donated some land to a local community program and allows them to raise cattle there. By the time we came back, the museum was about to close and so we decided to head towards Galveston Beach to find somewhere to pitch our tents. Galveston is known for a hurricane that destroyed the city in 1900, which is still the deadliest natural disaster in American history.

Upon arriving in Galveston we discovered that both campgrounds were full, and that there weren’t any other camping options available to us in Galveston. After dipping our toes in the Gulf of Mexico, we decided to head east to the Bolivar Peninsula, where we could set up our tents on the beach. In order to get there we had to take a car ferry, which took a long time but was a new experience. We finally arrived at one of the beaches, but took one look around and kept on driving. The beach is open to everyone, and we didn’t feel safe sleeping there, especially since some people were there obviously to party. Also, the sand would have gotten everywhere and be a pain to remove.

Our plan was to drive towards New Orleans and stop at the first campground we saw. Unfortunately, it turned out that all of the ‘campgrounds’ marked on the map where for RV’s only, and so we had to keep driving. We tried to get a motel after midnight, but either they had no vacancies or where too expensive (around $100). Considering that we would only be at the motel for 4 to 5 hours, $100 did not seem like money well spent. After crossing into Louisiana, we finally arrived at a rest stop (with a security patrol!) and attempted to get some rest. As it turned out, this area was probably the mosquito breeding capital of the world. When we got back into the car and shut the doors, we realized there were dozens of mosquitoes in the car with us, and so the bloodshed began. After killing 40 or so, and making a mess on the windows, we could still here a buzzing noise, like something out of a horror film. At this point the decision was made to get out of there as fast as possible. We took off down the highway, with the windows opened in the hopes that the last of the mosquitoes would get sucked out of the car.

Finally, around 6am, we arrived at the New Orleans KOA. Since the office didn’t open until 8am, we went to sleep in the car. Thankfully, even though check-in is after 12pm, the owner was nice enough to let us find a campsite and set up our tents then and there. After being awake for a day and a half, we fell asleep instantly, although the heat and humidity eventually made sleeping in the tents extremely uncomfortable. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered such heat and humidity in New Jersey, even the owner said that he can’t get used to it after being there for 7 years…

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Day 31 – Roswell and Carlsbad Caverns

After getting some much needed rest in Albuquerque, we started the day by jumping in the car and heading towards Roswell. Roswell is the site of one of the most debated incidents in history: in the summer of 1947, allegedly an extra-terrestrial spacecraft and its alien occupants crashed near the city of Roswell. The Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) issued a statement claiming to have recovered a crashed “flying disk.”  An article ran on the front page of the Roswell Daily Record and the next day, RAAF changed its statement to say that the object was a weather balloon, not a flying disk as they previously reported.  This revised statement sparked immediate controversy and has continued to be a topic of debate more than 60 years later.

What made our visit even more interesting was that we were arriving during the annual Roswell UFO Festival (July 1-4). Thousands of UFO enthusiasts invade the town for four days to see celebrity guest speakers and UFO researchers, take part in a costume contest and parade, and more. Roswell is also home to the International UFO Museum and Research Center. Once we arrived at the museum, we realized that the advice we had been given about this place was very true: the museum and the town were very kitschy and cheesy. Basically, unless you’re a true diehard UFO enthusiast, you’ll probably be a bit disappointed. Because we had a tight schedule, we decided to move on to our next destination, Carlsbad Caverns.

If you’re closely following the map, you might notice that at this point we decided to take a different route than originally planned. Instead of going through the Fort Worth/Dallas area, we will drive further south, passing through San Antonio and Houston.

When we crossed the entrance gate to Carlsbad Caverns National Park, we immediately noticed that the terrain was charred and blackened, as if a fire tore through the area. We weren’t surprised; about two weeks ago, the whole park was closed for a few days when a wildfire burnt in the park. Fortunately, firefighters were able to control the blaze and no park facilities were damaged. Make no mistake, the Southwest is extremely dry. Even one carelessly tossed cigarette will cause a wildfire that consumes thousands of acres. Back in Albuquerque, all the hiking trails were closed due to extreme fire danger. They even had police officers stationed at the trail heads to make sure no one goes up the mountain. It’s so dry that when a thunderstorm occurred, the weather service said the rain evaporated before it hit the ground.

But getting back to Carlsbad Caverns, after finally arriving at the visitor center, we proceeded to enter the cave. The entrance to the cave is actually quite dramatic. All you see is a huge opening in the ground, and the pathway seems to go down into an endless darkness. It feels very nice being in the cave compared to outside, since the temperature is around 65F. A special characteristic of the caverns is that thousands of bats call it home, and each night people can sit at the amphitheater next to the entrance and watch the bats fly out in search of food. We continued to walk down the ramps inside the cave, and at times it felt like we were going to the center of the earth. The enormous size of the caverns was also breathtaking. Even though both of us have been at Luray Caverns in Virginia and Wieliczka Salt Mine in Poland, this place easily surpassed both of those places in regards to awesomeness. If you’re ever going on a trip around America, make sure to plan a stop here. Unfortunately, even with the lighting inside the cave it was dark and so our pictures did not come out well.

After finishing the cave tour, we got back into the car and headed east to our final destination of the day, San Antonio. This required us to drive about halfway through Texas, and arrive at the campground no earlier than 1am. We decided to stay at a KOA campsite located in the central part of San Antonio. Even though the campsite was located in the industrial/warehouse section of the city, the campground was surrounded by trees and a fence, so sleeping there felt perfectly safe and actually as if we were out in the wilderness instead of a city. The good thing about KOA campgrounds (chain of 470 campgrounds around America) is that they have restrooms on site, water and electrical hook-ups, a pool, and usually a store or restaurant where you can get something to eat. When you’re on a tight schedule and trying to save money, these amenities are a godsend.

Finally, after driving all afternoon and half the night, we quickly set up our tents and instantly fell asleep, even the heat and humidity didn’t bother us. We needed to get some rest for what turned out to be a very long day (and night!).

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Day 29 & 30 – Albuquerque

Hey guys,

After touring the Petrified Forest and Meteor Crater, we were ready to take a break from the scorching hot desert and spend some time relaxing. This was the plan for Albuquerque, our next destination. We stayed with Kyle, one of my friends back from college. At first we thought we wouldn’t be doing much, since what possibly is there to do in a city like Albuquerque. Well, turns out there is A LOT to do there :).

Our first day was spent doing some rock climbing at a local gym. Having never tried it before, I thought it was beyond my abilities. Yet, after receiving some instructions from my friend, it soon became one of the funnest things I’ve ever done. Afterwards, we visited the Sandia Peak Tramway – the longest one in the world. The views were simply spectacular and made me fall in love with the New Mexico outdoors.

The next day was spent relaxing and getting ready for the rest of the trip. Due to the fires in the area, most of the hiking and biking trails in the Sandia Mountains were closed, so we didn’t get to do anything crazy. But, after all the sightseeing, hiking, and blazing hot weather, an easy-going day was just what the doctor ordered. Special thanks to Kyle for being such a great host and making us feel at home!

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Day 28 – Meteor Crater and Petrified Forest

We left Grand Canyon early in the morning, and turned east toward Albuquerque. Our first stop of the morning was Meteor Crater, which is a meteorite impact crater, one of the best preserved in the world.  It is about 1,200 m (4,000 ft) in diameter and around 170 m deep (570 ft). Most of the meteorite itself was vaporized on impact, however small pieces are sometimes randomly found. It’s amazing how an object the size of a car produced a crater in the ground that enormous. According to the tour guide, this impact would have been classified as a “city killer”, meaning that anything in a radius of 10~20 miles would immediately die, but the rest of the world would survive. NASA astronauts have trained at the crater in preparation for missions to the moon.

In the afternoon we arrived at the Petrified Forest National Park. Don’t let the word ‘forest’ fool you. The landscape is a desert, with not even one standing tree to be found anywhere in the distance. Rather, the term ‘petrified forest’ refers to ancient forests of trees which over milliona of years turned to rock. Although wood usually decomposes, in this case it was buried deep and fast enough that instead silica from volcanic ash entered the tree’s cells and turned the tree to stone. There are many petrified trees laying around the park, and people attempt to steal little pieces of the trees to take home. While it is illegal to take a piece from the park, there are many stores that sell petrified wood taken from private land. Before exiting the park, we stopped by the ruins of an ancient pueblo village and were able to see petroglyphs (rock engravings) which are thousands of years old.

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Grand Canyon – Day 27 & 28

After spending most of the day driving from Hoover Dam, we arrived at the Grand Canyon Camper Village right around sunset. The campsite is located in Tusayan, which is a town a few miles south of the entrance, best described as the base camp for tourists visiting the Grand Canyon. Although it was above 90F during the day, we woke up freezing in the morning; the temperature was around 32F. We got up early in order to avoid the heat and the sun when hiking in the canyon.

During the summer, it’s not recommended to hike between the hours of 10am to 4pm. This isn’t a typical New Jersey forest hike. There are no trees or any other type of shade, and on this trail no water fill-up stations other than at the entrance. Once the sun gets high up in the sky, it beats down on you mercilessly.

Once we were finally inside the park, we discovered that instead of driving there is a bus system that takes tourists to every trailhead and scenic overlook in the park. Our plan was to hike the South Kaibab trail, which according to the brochure provides some of the best views of the canyon. After about an hour we reached Cedar Ridge. Although we wanted to go further, we didn’t have enough water to make it down and back up. Also, signs everywhere warn not to attempt to hike to the river and back in one day. Most people turn around this point, so we decided to do the same. There were more places we wanted to see and there was no sense in exhausting ourselves. Afterwards we visited Yaki Point where we took some panoramic pictures of the Grand Canyon. The rest of the day was uneventful; we went back to the campsite. Chris1 worked on his tan and I slept for most of the day, suffering from a bit of heat exhaustion.

The Grand Canyon is truly one of the natural wonders of the world. It extends farther than the eye can see, and the sheer magnitude is a sight to behold. There is no other place in the world that can even come close to the beauty of the Grand Canyon.

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