The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Unknown
“You only have a few magnets on your U. S. map,” my boyfriend, Roger, said to me after one of our dates. “We’ll have to fill in the rest.”
He captured my heart with that statement. We married soon afterward and enjoyed traveling every year. I removed all the magnets that represented my solo trips because the map now chronicled our lives together. Our travels included visiting family members, often returning to the same states multiple times. We’ve joyed trips to Canada, cruises to the Caribbean, the Bahamas and a trip to Australia and New Zealand. However, our main goal was to visit all 50 states. During the ensuing years, we managed to add new states to the map.
On our most recent trip, Roger and I planned to fly from Missouri to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to spend one night and part of a day and then drive to Rapid City, South Dakota. Our late evening flight was delayed causing us to miss our connection in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Delta Airlines gave us a voucher to stay at a hotel in Minneapolis. We each received an emergency pouch containing a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, and a few other essentials. In addition, we were given stand-by boarding passes for a flight out the next morning. One catch-all the flights were completely booked giving us an almost nil chance of flying out the next day.
We returned to the airport early the next morning with hopes of taking the first flight out. Passengers arrived at the gate taking their rightful place in line. With only about six minutes left to board, our names were called. With a sigh of relief, we boarded the plane. We landed in Sioux Falls around noon and immediately began our five-hour drive to Rapid City. When we arrived, we were surprised to see thousands of motorcyclists.
One of the residents explained that the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is held annually in Sturgis, South Dakota for ten days during the first full week of August. More than a half million people were in attendance.
Our goal was to visit the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial and Custer State Park the next morning. The massive sculpture at Mt. Rushmore of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln is impressive. In Custer’s State Park, we saw a bison lumbering along on the side of the road. I got a great picture.
To stay on schedule, we left for our nearly nine-hour drive to Jackson, Wyoming hoping to arrive before the check-in desk closed at midnight. Hotel key retrieval arrangements were made just in case. On our long drive, we missed a deer by about four feet. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture because I was too startled.
We saw a bull elk which was too far away to get a decent picture. We arrived at our hotel with ten minutes to spare and collapsed for a long, comfortable night sleeping.
The next day, we toured the city of Jackson in Wyoming’s Jackson Hole valley taking in the charming western style features. One of the most interesting sights was the Jackson Hole’s Elk Antler Arch which presents a perfect selfie-photo op. I toured the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, and we took a stagecoach ride during our visit. We drove through the Grand Teton National Park. The Grand Tetons, known as fault-rock mountains, occupy a majority of the Jackson Hole valley where people enjoy mountaineering, camping, and fishing.
Our drive through Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the world seemed disappointing at first because we didn’t see any bison. We saw elk, donkeys, and shortly before the end of our journey, we finally we saw bison, thousands of bison. We took pictures of them running in the distance, fighting over a female, and nursing baby bison called red calves. The bison crossed the road, sometimes stopping and causing an hour and a half traffic jam. Drivers were warned to stay away from the wildlife, but sometimes the wildlife came to them. We took pictures of the bison, some up close and too personal.
There is a difference between bison and buffalo. Although we use the terms interchangeably, the American bison is native to North and South American and Europe while the buffalo resides in Africa and Asia.
Our trip to South Dakota and Wyoming completed our bucket list of visiting all 50 states. Our map is now complete. Perhaps we should add to our bucket list, “Fill in a world map.” What do you think?