"Here's a Story, Of a man named Kennedy..." Well, we have to start somewhere, so let's start at the beginning....

Chris and I have been friends since the mid 70s. (Wow! That's a LONGG time). We grew up across the street from one another, and all was well. Then came High School graduation and college, I decided to go to school in White Plains, NY and Chris decided to stay locally in Rochester, NY. So, the dynamic duo were now separated by time and space. :(

In the summer of my Sophomore year of college, Chris & I decided that we needed a really good vacation/trip/excursion. So, we made plans, plotted a route. And on (Insert Date here) he set off for sights unknown...

First some, introductions are in order....

Chris at the start of the trip.
Scott (Me!) at the start of the trip.
Our journey starts in my driveway in Rochester, NY. We go east to Buffalo, into Canada and over Lake Huron, and then crossed back into the United States at Sault Ste. Marie. We then drove through the top part of Wisconsin, stopping for a moment on the shores of Lake Superior.

The trip so far was quite easy. We had driven 24 hours and made a perfect view of the morning.

Cool water shot!

From there we travelled to Duluth Minnesota, and met some friends of Chris. Nice people, but we just couldn't stay. So the next morning we were off like a prom dress and drove across the great expanse of Minnesota. To say that Minnesota is a straight state is to understate the impossible. We drove on roads like this for hours.

Such a long un-winded road.

We crossed into South Dakota, and drove across the state until we reached our first "official" stopping point. The Badlands of South Dakota. We arrived at 1-2am in the morning and following signs through the park, we arrived at our campsite. From the light from our headlights it looked like we had landed on the moon, and gray bleak desolate landscape. So, we threw the tent up and camped down for the night.

When I awoke that morning, I realized the cold, slimy feeling I had, was because the rain had soaked through my sleeping bag. So, I got up and saw a much different sight.

The campsite in the Badlands

After taking some pictures, drying out my sleeping bag, having some Triscits for breakfast, and getting accosted by the Ranger, Chris woke up and we went exploring into the "Badlands".

Chris standing on a rock in the Badlands

View the map of BadLands National Park.

The view for the badlands is incredible, and as we were admiring the view, we noticed that the people in front of us were talking in a very western New York manner. So we asked them, and lo and behold we met two people from Buffalo and New York City who were doing the same thing as Chris and I! Small world. Anyway, we then parted and started driving to the next destination...

More Badlands as seen from the car.

Mount Rushmore. The very name says "stop or you are un-American scum" So we stopped, looked around. Saw the cafeteria from "North by Northwest" but no one got shot while we were there.

The Obligatory Headshot

But I did learn some interesting rules about Mt. Rushmore.

Duh!

And I got to see some of the native animals before we wiped them off the face of the map.

Here Mr. Beefalo

From South Dakota, we crossed into Wyoming, and just like moths to the flame (or movie fans to the set.) we were drawn to an single spot.

Chris looking for the mothership.

But, unfortunately, the aliens did not arrive in time. So, we toured around the Tower. Actually it's the inner core of a now extinct volcano. But, the Indians (Native Americans, now almost as extinct as the American Bison) had a legend of seven maidens being chased by a demon bear. They ran up a hill and cried to their Great Spirit to save them, so he pulled up the earth to lift them away from the bear. but the bear kept clawing at the sides of the hill. So, he pulled them higher, but still the bear kept clawing. Finally he pulled the maidens so high that they became stars (now known as the Seven sisters aka Pleiades). Cool story, huh?

Woah, this thing is small!

View the map of Devil's Tower.

Anyway, from Devil's Tower we drove across Wyoming to Yellowstone Park.

I was really bummed when I found out that Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park was not based on Yellowstone, but we did get to see some really cool things, like....

Old dysfunctional. Blows it's cool every hour!

and of course, while the wondrous natural spectacle is going on the world-famous grovelling animals of Yellowstone are trying desperately to seduce you into giving them food.

Will work for peanuts...

And the occasional wallet or purse doesn't hurt either.

Look closely at the RV.

View the map of Yellowstone National Park.

From Yellowstone we headed up through Montana, to cross the border into Canada.

Let's just say the border guards here are not the brightest people, because they were certain that we were the well-known New York to Alberta drug traffickers, and so they had the drug dogs searching, they questioned us, they took the car apart, they couldn't find anything. So, they let us go, after many hours of brutal interrogation. (Well, they let me go but grilled Chris...:)

Then we were off to Calgary to visit Chris's relatives.

Calgary was a cool place, but we did not stay there to long, just long enough to see the sites. Look around. Drive Chris's relatives nuts, and then escape the police blockades. But we still missed the stampede... :(

No maps, but a great model of the city...

Escaping from Calgary, we crossed the great divide and were in Banff National Forest. But we kept driving because we were in a rush to see the great Pacific Ocean.

The Banff Mountain Range

We arrived in Vancouver and were thinking about taking a ferry across to the States, but then decided not to wait the many hours until the next ferry, and so we shot across the border, and drove around the Bay and up to Cape Flattery.

Cape Flattery is the Northwestern tip of the United States. (Don'tcha know) and we arrived right as the sun was about to set. Really perfect timing. So, we rushed out of the car. Glanced at the sign...

Ooooh I wonder...

Rushed back to the sign. Read it carefully. Then rushed out to the point. It was way cool. This was where I wanted to build a house. Right on the ocean...

Too cool for words

So, as we watched the sun majestically slip beneath the waves, we realized we had no flashlights nor any moonlight at all, and stumbled back to the car. All the while repeating the warning sign over in our heads.

Well, Back into the car we went, around to Mount Olympia, then across to a really cool disaster.

To call this a disaster, is a understatement. For about 20-30 MILES there are trees without any leaves whatsoever. Then from about 5-10 miles there are no standing trees, and then you come across a little shack selling food and drinks at affordable prices! I would have paid $5.00 for a can of soda but all they wanted was $.50, hot dogs were $1.00. Since, they were the only store on the only road for the next 30 miles, I had thought they would have gotten greedy, but have faith...

The awesome power of a Earth-Burp

Anyway, onto the actual Mt. If you look at the image. The top of the picture was were the top of the mountain ended. It blew all of that off! And the lake in the foreground is now deadly. It's basically a base solution. (Remember chemistry? Acids and BASES!) That entire area was devastated, but Mother Nature was quick to start reclaiming it. So, in 20-30 years it will be hard to see what happened here. So visit it now.

Okay, onto the great state of Oregon.

Well, that was quick, now let's enter California!

From Oregon, we travelled down Route 101 (the ocean route) to San Francisco. Nice place, but too many damn hills. Then we followed Rt. 101 some more until we reached Big Sur. (Read Keroac) Then we drove east a ways and came across Paul Bunyan's Banzai farm.

Geez, what an old tree. Let's make toothpicks.

Make that alot of toothpicks...

These trees were immense! Towering giants, that survived thousands of years. Until man came along and needed a table for 563. :) If you look closely you'll see a Winnebago in the foreground of the previous photo, kinda gives you a clue as to the size of these trees. Makes me feel like a toddler.

View the map of Sequoia National Park.

The 2nd arrow for the center is the birth of Christ!

Speaking of feeling young, these tress grow for thousands of years, this one was cut down in 1950. And was born/planted/sprouted about 500 BC!!!

From Sequoia, we travelled on through Los Angeles. In the early rush hour no doubt! Grr, no wonder people take potshots at each other. But, then we got out to Joshua Tree National Forest, camped there that night, and then headed into the foreboding "Death Valley."

To say this place was dry and hot is to say that this place was dry and hot. :)

But, seriously, we drove all day in the sun. Drank gallons of fluids, and never went to the bathroom...Ugh, now I have to shower just thinking of what came out my pores.

What do you mean we have no more water?

View the map of Death Valley.

After surviving the desert, we drove into the den of sin. Las Vegas.

This town had a show called "Nudes On Ice" although we did not go see it, the concept has always kept a dark corner of my mind company. "Slip, thud, Brrr." But, after Chris greeted Las Vegas, by screaming "Hey, we're from New York!" We drove onto Bryce Canyon and took the march of death.

This canyon runs about 5-15 miles long and is mostly traversable by the non-timid. At times, I had to hold the camera over my head and walk through the water, praying I could get to the other side before I drowned. But, in the end we hiked a cool trail, had a great time, and did not die. What else could you ask for?

A great hike, but bring waterproof clothes.

View the map of Bryce Canyon National Park.

After Bryce Canyon, we moved onto Zion National Park. Nice, a bit dull after the soggy shoes trip, but really weird wind/rain erosion effects.

Nice views, but a little stale.

View the map of Zion National Park.

From there, we journeyed to the North face of the Grand Canyon. This is the very rural, non-touristy side. Not the majestic drop offs, but fabulous views. So, we set up camp and had dinner. Then, the irresistible urge to go see the southside, made us break camp before dusk, and drive around to the Southside. BIG MISTAKE!

Killer campsite choice, just stay longer.

Welcome to hell. Please watch your step. Nothing against visitors to a fair country, but do they always have to be in front of me in the line for the bathroom? I mean really.

Fight the tourists for a view.

Ok, I'll admit the view was worth it, but I preferred the quiet unblemished Northside more.

View the map of Grand Canyon National Park.

Mankind's attempt at the Grand Canyon

I don't remember where this was, but the concept is still valid. This was a quarry that we drove by, and in my mind, I think Mother Nature does a better job, don't you?

Well, now we start the meandering portion of our tour. We go up to four corners. I recommend seeing it at midnight. There's no lines. :)

From there we went to go see the Mesa Verde cliff dwellings and then headed for Alberqueque, New Mexico. Don't ask me how to spell it.

View the map of Mesa Verde National Park.

From Albequrque, we traveled to the Gila cliff dwellings. A definite must see for the SouthWest. Here were the homes of some Native Americans from the 12-13th century. It was beautiful, the way they synergistically lived with their surroundings.

The people look like ants from here...

Onto the trip again, we drove past a Madonna movie. Or was that "Truth Or Dare"?

Wasn't that a game show?

Onto White Sands Missile Range & National Park. What a name. "Excuse me, but could you ask your children not to fire anymore ground-to-air missiles? It's annoying the other campers."

Hmm, what's in a name?

The white sand comes from the local Gypsum deposits in the area and are brought here but erosion and rain. Thank you Mr. Wizard.

Rule #21 : Never fall asleep in sand...

Okay. Way cool place. Must see.

This was one of the better places we visited. There is a big cave you can walk through. With box lunches for sale in the middle. :) Every night, the bat colony flies out for another day of feeding. Bats? Ok, some trivia on bats. First, bats eat 3-5 times their body weight in insects each night. Second, bats don't fly in your hair, they don't like it anymore then you do. Third, the dreaded vampire bats have never killed any human, and the amount of blood they do take from cows

No Chris, you go first.

I recommend taking a good camera with you, when you go into the caves, the sights are truly impressive and you'll want the best camera. Oh, don't forget to bring a really powerful flash attachment. :)

Okay, now stare into the camera... {FLASH} Augh! My eyes!

But, if you do get to visit Carlsbad Caverns, then you MUST go explore new cave. It's a guided tour, that first you hike about a 1/2 mile horizontally, and about 500 ft vertically and then you enter a totally cool world. Bring two sources of light and good boots.

Hmm, a short hike sounds cool.

While exploring the caves, be sure to look in all directions, you'll never know when something will remind you of things...

Auugh! Sorry, I thought you were my ex-mother-in-law.

But also keep in mind that some things look much better when you're close up.

Some cool stalagmites

There are also things that defy understanding, like these two structures. No one knows how these were formed. There doesn't seem to be any good reason for these to exist but they are definitely really weird.

The Great Wall. {CRUNCH} The Good Wall

I don't know what these are, but they are great in milk!

View the map of Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

Ok, enough crawling in the dirt and looking at rocks. From here we jaunt into Mexico, then across Texas, and onto New Orleans. We then went up into Tennessee. Of course visiting the shrine of the great one.

Elvis is Dead, people!

Jesus maybe Lord, but Elvis is King!

Now that I'm burning in hell for that, we follow on our journey upto Kentucky, where we enter Mammoth Cave.

Mammoth Cave is the largest cave system in the world. Actually, no one knows how big it really is, but every time a competing cave in Russia, explores at bit more, some intrepid explorer makes ours a bit bigger...

The not quite as cool as Carlsbad, but big cave award

View the map of Mammoth Cave National Park.

From Kentucky, we drive up through West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire all in 24 hours! Then we went up to Acadia National Park in Maine. Cool Place but ran out of film.:(

View the map of Acadia National Park.

From there it was a short hop to Chris's sister's place in Vermont, and the final 8 hour sprint home. So in the end, it took us many days, many pictures, a few repairs, a bit of border hassle, some serious rain, a speeding ticket in Montana, a great friend, and some serious good times.

The boys at the end of the trip.

And in case you don't believe me on the journey here's the odometers to prove it.

76339 miles (trust me) 91362 miles (I think!)

And if you want a larger version of the map and the route we took.

The bigger map (not clickable)

That's it. Go Home.