Wandering Around America One State at a Time – South Dakota

State 37:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

South Dakota

South Dakota became the 40th state on November 2, 1889. The Capital is Pierre.

Our travels have taken us through South Dakota a surprising number of times. The Corn Palace in Mitchell and Wall Drug Store in Wall are two fun places to take a travel break along Interstate 90.

Like so many other people, we made the Black Hills our primary travel destination in South Dakota. There is so much to see there we couldn’t do everything we wanted on our first trip so we returned five years later. In addition to the spectacular scenery, the highlights of our visits were Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument, Custer State Park, the wildlife, Deadwood, Wind Cave National Park and Badlands National Park.

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Mount Rushmore National Monument
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Crazy Horse Monument in 2006
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Crazy Horse Monument in the summer of 2011
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Five years after our first trip to the Black Hills, we camped at Game Lodge Campground in Custer State Park. We loved being close to so much wildlife.

Custer State Park is home to herds of Bison, also known as American Buffalo. Many can be seen from the scenic Wildlife Loop Road. Some also like to hang out in other parts of the park and we often saw them near the Game Lodge Campground. There were many calves when we were there in early June. As we drove through the park and on the drive through Wind Cave National Park we saw bison, pronghorn antelope, prairie dogs wild burros, and even white tail deer. This collage of the bison and other wildlife we saw in and around Custer State Park shows just a small sample of the wildlife that is there.

Just driving through the Black Hills is an adventure and there are several scenic drives to enjoy. Iron Mountain Road and the Needles Highway are both narrow, steep, curvy roads with single lane tunnels. There were spectacular views from the Mount Coolidge Overlook at the end of another narrow road. Another day the views were spectacular as we drove through Spearfish Canyon but I forgot my camera that day!

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Along the Needles Highway in Custer Sate Park
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Eye of the Needle on the Needles Highway
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Needle Tunnel
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Mount Rushmore from one of the tunnels on Iron Mountain Road
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View of Crazy Horse Monument from the top of the Coolidge Overlook in Custer State Park

Deadwood is famous for being the town where Wild Bill Hickok was shot by Jack McCoy in the Number 10 Saloon in 1876. In the new Number 10 Saloon visitors can see a reenactment of the shooting of Wild Bill and there are reenactments in the street with gunslingers. We took the drive to his grave in the nearby Mount Moriah Cemetery.

We discovered a couple of delightful campgrounds outside of the Black Hills during our South Dakota journeys. The owners are hard working and helpful at the Belvidere East KOA. Blondie enjoyed the dog park and we loved the Indian Tacos at their restaurant. The sunset was great, too.

Sunset at Belvidere East Campground
Sunset at Belvidere East Campground

Mina Lake State Recreation area near Aberdeen was a perfect place to chill after our time in the Black Hills. The park was practically empty and the camp hosts were friendly and helpful. They even brought us some pheasant appetizers one evening.

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Mina Lake State Recreation area near Aberdeen

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York     North Carolina    North Dakota      Ohio     Oklahoma     Oregon     Pennsylvania    South Carolina

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – North Carolina

State 30:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state in my series is

North Carolina

North Carolina became the 12th state on November 21, 1789. The capital is Raleigh.

From the Great Smokey Mountains to the Outer Banks, there is a lot to explore in North Carolina. Waterfalls and beaches, hikes and scenic drives, mountains and racetracks, wildlife and wildflowers  –  these are just a few of the things that make North Carolina memorable.

Back before our RVing days we wandered around the Outer Banks seeing the lighthouses and beaches, visiting the Wright Brothers Monument where they took their first flight, and taking the ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke.  Another ferry took us from Ocracoke back to the mainland where we visited Bath where the pirate Blackbeard once lived.

If you love waterfalls, you won’t be disappointed in North Carolina.

It doesn’t get any better than a campsite with a beautiful view. Our campsite at Campfire Lodgings in Asheville was perfect for hanging out after hiking or touring the fabulous Biltmore Estate.

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Blondie taking a break at our campsite at Campfire Lodgings in Asheville
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Biltmore Estate in Asheville
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Sunset at Campfire Lodgings in Asheville

I felt as if I had gone back in time to Mayberry as we wandered around Andy Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy.

We ended our tour of the Charlotte Motor Speedway in the winner’s circle.

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In the Winner’s Circle at Charlotte Motor Speedway

One of the hikes we made was on Whiteside Mountain in the Nantahala National Forest.

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Whiteside Mountain in Nantahala National Forest

Whether it’s the leaves showing their fall colors or the flowers showing their brilliant blooms, the vibrant colors of the North Carolina mountains change with the seasons.

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Fall Colors on the Blue Ridge Parkway

We explored Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway and Mingus Mill in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park near Cherokee.

And if it’s wildlife you’re looking for, try visiting in the fall where you might see the bugling elk in Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico      New York

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – New York

State 29:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. We have never been to New Jersey so the next state in my series is

New York

New York became the 11th  state on July 26, 1788. The capital is Albany.

A few years ago we camped in Niagara Falls, Canada. After exploring the Canadian falls we made a day trip into New York where we had close up views of the Bridal Veil Falls and got soaked as we walked along the decks on the Cave of the Winds Tour.

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Bridal Veil Falls as seen from Canada
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Niagara Falls USA

You will get wet if you take the Cave of the Winds Tour!

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You can’t get much closer to the falls that this
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Up close to the falls on the Cave of the Winds Tour
Walked under the American Side of Niagara Falls in New York
That’s Henry waving from the Hurricane Deck

Our next stop in New York was Golden Hill State Park. Although the park is located about thirty miles by water from Niagara Falls the drive is a little bit longer. This peaceful state park was exactly what we needed after the excitement of Niagara Falls. Where else can you have a view of a lighthouse and one of the great lakes from your campsite? We enjoyed touring the Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse and Blondie enjoyed swimming in Lake Ontario. The highlight each day was watching a gorgeous sunset over the lake.

I recently returned from a fantastic Mother-Daughter Weekend in New York City. We did all the things on our bucket list and much more. The best part of the weekend for me was seeing the city with my beautiful daughter.

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri     Montana     Nebraska     Nevada      New Hampshire     New Mexico

Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Montana

State 24:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state is

Montana

Montana became the 41st state on November 8, 1889. The capital is Helena.

We visited Glacier National Park in 2006 on our very first cross country RV trip. The National Park had just opened back up after a wildfire when we arrived at Johnson’s RV Park.  The smell of smoke was heavy in the air and many firefighters were still in the area. Our campsite sat on top of a hill overlooking St. Mary’s Lake.

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St. Mary’s Lake

Driving from the eastern entrance of Glacier National Park to the western entrance in West Glacier on the 55 mile long steep and curvy Going to the Sun Road was the highlight of our visit. After wandering around West Glacier we turned around and returned to St. Mary the same way we came. We also enjoyed exploring the St. Mary side of Glacier.

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Glacier National Park, Montana
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Glacier National Park, Montana
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Glacier National Park, Montana
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Glacier National Park, Montana

The next year we traveled to Montana again, this time to visit the Little Big Horn National Monument near Hardin. While we were in the area we made a day trip to Big Horn Canyon.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana
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Little Bighorn Battlefield
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Bighorn Canyon

Earlier in that same trip we had gone through snow storms in Minnesota so we kept an eye out the weather after we left Hardin. We made a quick overnight stop in Garrison, Montana. Everything was fine when we went to sleep that night. The next day we woke up to several inches of snow. We were headed west with more snow moving towards us from the east so we skedaddled out of there as fast as we could and arrived safely at our next destination in Washington.

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After the storm in Garrison, Montana

Several years later we enjoyed spectacular scenery as we traveled through Montana on the way to Alaska. We spent a night at Cardwell Store and Campground and three nights in Great Falls before crossing into Alberta, Canada about 120 miles north of Great Falls.

Mountains in the distance in Cardwell, Montana
Mountains in the distance in Cardwell, Montana
Our Lady of the Rockies overlooking Butte, MT
Our Lady of the Rockies overlooking Butte, MT
Snow on the mountains between  Butte and Great Falls
It was snowing over the mountains between Butte and Great Falls

In Great Falls we took care of some business and stocked up on supplies before continuing north to Canada and Alaska. We also got to do a little sightseeing.

Statue honoring Lewis and Clark at the Visitor's Center
Statue honoring Lewis and Clark at the Visitor’s Center
Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls and Dam

On our way home from Alaska two and a half months later we spent two more nights in Montana as we traveled east towards Georgia.

A Bear cub with fish in our campsite in St. Regis, Montana
A Bear cub with fish in our campsite in St. Regis, Montana
Montana Sunrise
Montana Sunrise at Camp Three Forks

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky     Louisiana     Maine     Maryland     Massachusetts     Michigan     Minnesota    Mississippi     Missouri

Mother-Daughter Weekend in New York City

I recently returned from a fabulous mother-daughter weekend in New York City. My daughter leads a very busy life and lives 400 miles away from me so it isn’t often we have time for just the two of us to be together. We talked and laughed, walked and rode subways and taxis, did everything on our bucket list and more, and ate our way through several different parts of the city. The best part of the weekend for me was spending this special time with my wonderful daughter.

We arrived Friday evening after a several hour weather related flight delay. The first thing on our agenda was a walk to Kesté Pizzeria in the West Village for possibly the best pizza I’ve ever eaten.

On Saturday we started off with an early morning walk to Katz’s Delicatessen for breakfast. It was bagel with lox and cream cheese for me and blueberry blintzes for my daughter. I even ordered a salami to be sent home (it’s delicious).

We took our time admiring the amazing art at the Modern Museum of Art. My daughter knows a lot more about art than I do and pointed out some of the most famous artists and paintings.

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Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”
Girl before a Mirror by Pablo Picasso
Girl before a Mirror by Pablo Picasso
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Monet’s Water Lilies

We both loved the fabulous afternoon tea in the elegant Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel. It was our big splurge of the trip and my Mother’s Day gift from my daughter. We chose the New Yorker tea with so much delicious food that although we tried, we couldn’t eat all of the desserts.

We hopped on the subway to Central Park West to visit the John Lennon Memorial in Strawberry Fields. On our way to the memorial we stopped to admire the view of the city from The Lake.

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The Lake in Central Park West

After our full day we returned to the hotel for a short rest before wandering around SoHo and stopping for drinks and a snack at the SoHo Room. Before turning in for the night we browsed in a couple of book shops in Greenwich Village where my daughter found a book she hasn’t been able to find anywhere else.

Sunday morning started with an early morning ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Going early has it’s perks. We arrived at the Statue of Liberty early enough to beat the crowds.

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Statue of Liberty
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Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
Statue of Liberty
Ellis Island Great Hall
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Lower Manhattan as seen from the ferry

Once we were back in Manhattan we walked to the 9/11 Memorial and spent a while in silence and reflection gazing at the two pools where the twin towers once stood. From the pools we looked up at the One World Trade Center building, also known as the Freedom Tower.

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9/11 Memorial
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One World Trade Center

It was cold and windy as we walked around lower Manhattan and it had been a long time since breakfast. We hopped on the subway to Little Italy for lunch, coffee and pastries. As we strolled along we browsed in a few shops and wound up in Chinatown (and had people trying to sell us watches and purses) before returning to the hotel for an afternoon nap.  Late in the afternoon we headed to Times Square and the Empire State Building.

Our weekend was filled with so much more than just sightseeing. One of my favorite things was just strolling through different parts of the city admiring the beautiful architecture of the buildings. I loved passing by community gardens and parks. It was fun stopping in a pastry shop on our way home one night and trying to decide which of the treats to take back for a late night dessert. Several times we had total strangers offer to help us find what we were looking for. A kind subway station attendant helped get us where we needed to go when we accidentally entered the wrong gate. One night we stopped to look at a FDNY Fire Station and had a nice conversation with one of the young Firefighters.

Monday morning we had time to walk to a coffee shop for breakfast before taking a wild taxi ride to La Guardia, We said goodbye to New York City with a fabulous aerial view of the city.

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View of the city after take off from La Guardia