A "Must" For Your Bucket List

A "Must" For Your Bucket List

| December 05, 2019
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A few years ago, everyone was talking about their "bucket list."  Honestly, I thought it was something new to the world --available online or in the nearest strip mall for sale!  But apparently people get excited when they think about all the things they would like to do before they "kick the bucket"--- thus, a "bucket list." Personally, I've never had one, but will share a suggestion I have experienced that you may want to add to your list.


If you are able, travel.  It really doesn't matter if you stay in America or venture outside her boundaries - just do it.  If you have the time, make it a road trip.  Yes, it takes longer, but there are some amazing things to see in America--things you would miss from the skies.  Use an actual roadmap versus the GPS on your phone - it adds to the adventure!

The year after my husband and I married, we took a two week road trip across America.  We planned our route by KOA Kampgrounds of America -- and slept in a tent the majority of the time.  We kept a journal of the places we went and the interesting things we saw along the road.  Here are some of the things you can see when you hit the open road with your loved ones!

  • Benton, Illinois to Sioux City, South Dakota:
    • St. Louis is the "Gateway To The West." Do Not hit St. Louis, Missouri at rush hour!
    • Count how many times you cross over the Missouri River. 
    • Check out the roadside billboards - guarantee you will see one that makes you chuckle! 
    • Did you know that Missouri roads are lettered? Like Hwy J versus Hwy 246.
    • Interesting sign off I-29 - a sign for a truck stop had a complete 18 wheeler up on posts about 10' off the ground!
  • Sioux City, South Dakota to Spearfish, South Dakota:
    • South Dakota tap water leaves much to be desired (must be the minerals or something!) - bring bottled water.
    • Rich black soil to see in many farms. Count the number of "Wall Drug" and "Corn Palace" billboards. 
    • Check out the sod house and teepee replicas at the Salem Rest Area.
    • Did you know Laura Ingalls Wilder grew up in Desnet, SD -- take exit 350 off I-90 West to explore.
    • Stop by for a visit to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD.  The outside pictures on the building are made of various colorations of actual corn on the cob -- and they change it annually. Worth the stop.
    • Notice the terrain changes from farmland to ranches.
    • When you see an "X" along the interstate, that sign marks the spot of a fatality; the program has been in effect since 1979.
    • Be sure to be on the lookout for the T-Rex near the 1880 Town. 
    • Oh, and do not miss seeing the World's largest prairie dog!
    • Check out The Badlands - but bring water to drink - and watch out for rattlesnakes!
    • Go visit Wall Drug in Wall, SD for your free ice water and $.03 coffee.  Worth the stop. From Wall Drug it is exactly 1,360 miles to South of the Border, SC!
    • Stop for a visit at Mount Rushmore National Museum - and take the walking trail at the base of the sculpture. 
    • If you have ever seen the opening credits of National Lampoon's Vacation, you will want to stop in to visit Trout Haven (look for the large trout sign...can't miss it...just down the road from Mt Rushmore!). 
    • Be sure to include a stop in Deadwood, SD to visit the Mount Moriah Cemetery where famous names such as Wild Bill, Calamity Jane  and Seth Bullock are buried. 
  • Spearfish, South Dakota to West Yellowstone, WY: 
    • Visit Devil's Tower - it may look familiar if you ever watched "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."  Take the walking trail around it.  See if you can spot the rock climbers. 
    • Stop and visit the Little Bighorn Battlefield and experience the history. 
    • Can you see the Rocky Mountains? Do they have snow on them?
  • Yellowstone National Park, WY: 
    • Keep an eye out for wildlife, such as Bald Eagles, Bison, Coyotes, Swans, Wolves, Bear, Elk, and more! Be mindful none of the animals which call this wonderful place home are tame -- they are wild animals that can cause bodily harm or even death -- use caution and read up on minimum requirements for distance with each one in the visitor information booklet.  How many can you find?
    • Visit the Artist Paintpots, Norris Geyser Basin, take the side roads, drive through the campgrounds, visit Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, Lake, West Thumb, Grant, Canyon, and Roosevelt (the latter may be still snowed in) - and take to heart the warning signs to stay on the boardwalks - the ground may be an inch thick or thicker - you do not know!
    • Remember when in Yellowstone, you are inside a volcano! Thermal areas are beautiful and captivating - follow the rules - and the life you save, may be your own.   
    • Did you know that Mammoth Hot Springs was once a fort?
    • Do you know there is a book called "Death in Yellowstone" and it tells the tales of those who died in a nearby cemetery? 
  • Yellowstone National Park, WY to Dubois, WY: 
    • Visit the Teton's and Jackson Lake for some incredible views.
    • Check out the riverbeds -- are they dry?  It is not uncommon for them to be dry until the snow melts to fill them up. 
    • Stop in to Jackson Hole, WY for a bit of "civilization" before venturing into the Grand Teton National Forest. 
    • Depending on the time of year, there may be large snow berms alongside the roadway -- but don't worry -- the further south you travel, the snow goes away.  
    • Take note of the change in terrain the further south you travel. 
    • Dubois, WY is home to the World's largest jackalope -- located in one of the convenience shops and is a must stop to collect all the jackalope memorabilia and gifts. 
  • Dubois, WY to Estes Park, CO: 
    • Enjoy the sights of the Wind River Reservation. 
    • Visit Sacajawea's grave site.  Notice all the lovely floral designs in the cemetery. 
    • Take note Hwy 287 parallels and crosses The Oregon Trail.  
    • Find a point in the distance on the road and keep track of how long it takes you to reach that point.  You may be surprised.
    • Be sure to stop by the Colorado Welcome Center to pick up your free "Colorful Colorado" hat!
    • Notice the terrain and see if you can find where a fault shifted the earth upward.  
    • For those horror fans - be sure to stay in the hotel that inspired Stephen King to write "The Shining"-- The Stanley Hotel.  Doubtful Room 217 will be available, but you can always take in the daily ghost tours, or visit some of the items leftover from the mini series.
    • The original movie "The Shining" is running 24/7 on its own tv channel - enjoy!
  • Estes Park, CO to Goodland, KS: 
    • Be sure to enjoy a moment on the porch of The Stanley and breath in that fresh mountain air!
    • Check out the interesting buildings and signs along the way. 
    • Notice the terrain change again - what do you see?
    • Do not be afraid to trust your GPS (put down the old school map) and take a gravel road on faith.  You may not pass many people, but the landscape is amazing.  You may even see a ring necked pheasant!
  • Goodland, KS to Oak Grove, MO:
    • A must see - Vincent Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" painting - check it out before leaving Goodland.  You cannot miss it. 
    • Oakley, KS is the hometown of "Buffalo Bill" Cody. 
    • Notice how the billboards have changed? 
    • Stop for lunch at The Cozy Inn for sliders.  Only mustard and onions for these - so please, do not ask for ketchup!
    • Abilene, KS - home of "Ike" Eisenhower. 
    • Take a short detour to Alma, KS to see all the Main St buildings are made from local limestone. 
    • Take note of the number of American flags along the route. 
  • Oak Grove, MO to Paducah, KY: 
    • There is a town called "Town and Country." 
    • Drive past St Louis Cardinals stadium.
    • Stop by to visit Superman at Metropolis! Superman seeks "Truth - Justice - The American Way." 
    • Take photos being Superman or Supergirl.  See the tallest grocery clerk!
  • Paducah, KY to Trenton, GA: 
    • Visit Jackson, TN the home of legendary Carl Perkins.
    • Visit the Buford Posser museum in Adamsville, TN. 
    • Visit the Shiloh Battlefield in TN.
  • Trenton, GA to Rock City, Lookout Mountain, TN: 
    • Visit Ruby Falls and you can take a guided tour in a cavern  until you see the prime attraction: Ruby Falls. 
    • Climb up onto Castle Tower for some fantastic views. 
    • Venture on to Rock City to explore the rocks, plants, swinging bridges, fairy cavern and amazing views. 

Do not get me wrong, taking a flight is a easy mode of transportation to get us where we need to be faster.  But faster is not always better. 

On the open road, you learn a lot about yourself, your traveling companion(s), and this great country of ours.  Seems like we always hear about the big places, like New York City or Las Vegas, and while they may be wonderful for some -- there are other places just as deserving that offers history, enrichment of soul and spirit, and adventure. 

So next time your buddies mention a road trip, consider taking the road less traveled. Let the adventure begin!

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