Existing Member?

No Worries 'Mas o Menos' 2 years on the road, travelling South East Asia, China, South & Central America and who knows where after that... Photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dojo77/collections/

2 years, 3 months and 4 days in the life of...

USA | Saturday, 2 April 2011 | Views [8611] | Comments [8]

From Phoenix we handed back the car at the airport and, although we never expected to see snow in Arizona, we knew where we were heading next had a lot of snow and as we flew north we started to get some idea of what was in store for us, as everything below was pure white. Where better to experience a real US winter than in the middle of nowhere, well the middle of the US anyway. We were on our way to Pierre, South Dakota, the second smallest state capital, to see our wonderful friends Martyn and Hilary, who were kind enough to offer us their spare room for as long as we wanted!

South Dakota is a lot bigger than England but only has a population of 800,000 so there is a lot of free space, which makes it a great place for owning and walking dogs. With so much room to roam Kaanu took us for walks more than the other way around, which included walking alongside the frozen Missouri river that runs through the town.

The state is famous for its wide expanse of prairie lands and you can drive for hours without seeing another soul or house, as was the case on our trip to the Badlands National Park in which we passed only 5 other cars during the 2 hour journey. Generally, where there is a lack of humans there is an abundance of wildlife but our first sighting of a prairie dog wasn’t exactly the most authentic of experiences.

But it wasn’t long before we got our first sighting of the cute little burrowers, and realised although there was nobody else around on this particular day they obviously saw other humans, as they were so tame they came right up to us looking for food.

We had visited most of South Dakota’s attractions on a previous trip to the region, but we decided to return to the Badlands so we could compare it to where we had just visited. It certainly lived up to the other US national parks with it’s dramatic formations and colours, and was made even more exciting because we decided to go trekking despite the warning signs.


And there's no better way to finish a hike then with a helping of good ole American Pie at the famous Wall Drug Store.

Due to the lay of the land South Dakota is a good place for farming and Hilary’s Uncle Brad is a farmer and invited us over to see the family cows calving and mess around on the farm machinery including the ATV’s, which we managed to get up to 70 mph, and I even managed to get mine wedged into a snow drift when trying to ‘bust on through’ the snow, which, as Jo frequently reminds me, she had to pull me out of with her ATV :)

Out in this remote part of the states anything goes, so don't be surprised to see a dog drinking beer at a bar, set inside a church!

With lots of farms it’s very easy to get hold of good quality meat, and we were treated to some fabulous meals at both Martyn and Hilary's and in the local restaurants, so what better way to celebrate and say goodbye to our friends than with some South Dakota steak and some local brews, just don’t overdo the Old Rasputin as at 9% it will leave you groggy the next day (hey Martyn!)

We were as sad to leave for our next destination as Kaanu was to see us go...

Washington DC

We missed most Central American capitals due to the lack of interesting attractions and the high crime rates, and while the latter may still hold true in Washington DC, the former certainly does not. We enjoyed the various landscapes on the first part of our American adventure, but now it was time for us to take in some history.

We based ourselves in the Dupont Circle area of the capital, a lovely, safe area to stay, only a 15 minute walk from possibly Washington's most recognisable attraction, the White House, which appears to be very small from the vantage point miles away down the lawn.

The first thing we noticed about the White House was the snipers on the roof and as a helicopter flew over our heads we realised they were waiting for the President who was about to arrive on the lawn. Although we didn’t see Obama in person, that didn’t stop Jo giving him a wave!

Although not technically correct we dubbed D.C, the Marble City, as no matter which attraction you were visiting you could almost guarantee its colour would be white, including the Capitol, the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court.

This colour theme continued with the Monuments and Memorials of distinguished past Presidents, many of which were made more picturesque due to the fact that we happened to be visiting during the annual cherry blossom bloom.

All of the above are policed by very officious airport style security and it wasn’t long before we learnt not to wear watches and belts when out sightseeing. This security continued in the many great museums the capital has to offer, many more than we were able to see and all of which are free. We opted for the fabulous Air and Space museum where you can see Apollo 11 and other historic craft from the world of flight, with the exception of Enola Gay. We also paid our respects at the Holocaust memorial museum, a very fitting tribute to all those that suffered.

We had only planned to spend 3 nights in D.C, but there was just too much to see and do so we decided to stay an extra day. Our decision was helped by the fact that, although accommodation in Washington seems to be expensive across the board, we found a website that allowed us to choose a mystery 4 star hotel for half price, which meant that we stayed in a couple of hotels not remotely in our price range but great fun to enjoy even if they both came with some dodgy dressing gowns.

We decided to use our extra day to cross into the state of Virginia and visit the world's largest office building by floor area, exciting stuff! Okay you’ll probably know it better as the Pentagon, where we paid our respects to those that lost their lives during the attacks of 9/11.

From the Pentagon, you can see Arlington Memorial Cemetery, so we visited some more famous people from the past who are no longer with us, including the Kennedys.

Washington is a great city for walking, and we continued our walking tour by heading to Georgetown, to take in the university, and relive some films from our childhood, including standing on the Exorcist steps next to the house where it was filmed.

After all the walking we decided to treat ourselves and what better place than at Georgetown Cupcakes, home of the T.V show D.C Cupcakes, even if we did have to queue 45 minutes just to get in...Viva the cupcake revolution! 

New York

And then it was time for us to take our last ever bus ride on this trip, and after 3 hours we arrived into the bitter cold of the Big Apple. Unfortunately, this name for the city is totally lost on the younger generation who think there are apple themed souvenirs in the shops, not because of the nickname but because of the Apple store, as one seven year old decided to inform me!

We walked around Washington feeling like we were walking through a history of the country, but in New York it was like walking onto a film set as almost everything has been shown multiple times on both the big and small screen. Almost everyone has visited or seen pictures of New York so you probably can guess what we got up to on our last week of our travels, but here are a few pictures from our time to jog your memory.

It was a great city to end the trip in and say repeatedly, “Wow we made it, we really made it!!!"

The Big Summary

No. of hotel rooms = 291

No. of bus journeys = 206

No. of train journeys = 8

No. of flights = 19

No. of taxis/tuk tuks taken = Thousands

No. of taxi kidnappings = 0

No. of muggings / attacks = 0

No. of thefts = 1 (from a room in Nepal)

No. of times we had Delhi Belly = at least 10 times each!

No. of visits to a doctor or hospital = 0

No. of photos taken = over 20,000!

No. of times we said Awesome, Wow, Amazing = Countless

Favourite Countries - Thailand, Nepal, Bolivia (Jo) Laos, Ecuador (Ryan) China, Colombia (Both)

Favourite Cities - Luang Prabang, Kathmandu, La Paz (Jo) Bangkok, Havana (Ryan)

Favourite Colonial City - Bogota, Granada (Jo) Arequipa, Ouro Preto (Ryan)

Favourite Place - Capurgana, Colombia (Jo) Galapagos Islands (Ryan) Ko Lipe (Both)

Favourite Attractions - Great Wall of China, Salt Flats (Jo) Annapurna Circuit (Ryan) Macchu Picchu (Both)

Favourite Food - Satay Chicken, Indonesia (Jo) Panaeng Curry, Thailand (Ryan) Beijing Duck and anything Mexican (Both)

Favourite Beer - Brahma Maltzbier, Brazil (Jo), Beagle Fuegain Red Ale, Argentina (Ryan) BeerLao, Laos (Both)

So after 2 years, 3 months and 4 days our travels have come to an end and we have a head full of memories to keep us going for a lifetime. We hope that you enjoyed reading about our travels even a fraction as much as we enjoyed doing them and if you're thinking about travelling, just do it, you will not regret it!

 

Ryan & Jo

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dojo77/

Tags: badlands, end of trip, new york, pierre, south dakota, usa, washington dc

 

Comments

1

I can't believe it! How will I pass my workdays now?!

Well done guys, it's been fantastic reading about your trip - you both have a gift for travel writing, and even when you've been to places I've already visited, it's been fascinating to get your individual takes on them.

Where to next? Back to Oz, or a return to the UK?

Take care, Dan

  Dan Morgan Apr 26, 2011 9:45 PM

2

When the star of the show is your dog, you know you are in trouble! Great to have you come and visit. More importantly, it has been wonderful reading your blog, and congratulations to you both on an incredible journey.

  Martyn Apr 26, 2011 10:12 PM

3

Congrats, guys, and thanks so much for sharing your journey with us in such an entertaining fashion. Good luck settling back into ordinary life again. :)

  Liz Apr 27, 2011 11:13 AM

4

Great photos, amazing trip. A once in a life-time experience (or maybe you are addicted to the travel dust).

Best of all:

"No. of taxi kidnappings = 0
No. of muggings / attacks = 0
No. of visits to a doctor or hospital = 0"

DK

  david kaspar Apr 27, 2011 7:05 PM

5

Guys! What an adventure! How sad for us working folk not to be able to live through you anymore.
An inspiration, and has now set me up to do more traveling!

  Ursula Apr 27, 2011 11:06 PM

6

Cheers for the comments everyone.

Our current plans are to spend some time in the UK

  ryanandjo Apr 29, 2011 5:20 AM

7

Congratulations! We also finished our world tour after 1 year (still catching up with the latest posts on our blog: http://www.meandfrenchie.com). I can't believe you traveled for over 2 years, this is truly amazing.

  Boris May 4, 2011 6:51 PM

8

Wow, what an amazing, trip. Thank you for sharig it with us and keeping us entertained. My bucket list has grown considerably! Good luck settling back in to normal life ;o)

  Lisa May 10, 2011 2:44 PM

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.


About ryanandjo


Follow Me

Where I've been

Favourites

Photo Galleries

Highlights

Near Misses

My trip journals


See all my tags 


 

 

Travel Answers about USA

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.