So our point of entry back into the US after Canada was to visit Yellowstone national park. We didn't make it in one day so stopped at the first of many dodgy little towns in our travels, Helena, Montana. There was nothing to do in this place except watch cable TV and watch Rob flirt with the (straight) guy on the front counter. Both equally entertaining activities.
The next day we made it to Yellowstone National Park, where, shortly after we'd paid the entrance fee, we found out that only a small proportion of the park was open to visitors because of the snow. Despite the fact that even Old Faithful was out of bounds, the small amount that we did see of the park was amazing. We saw some geysers, a whole lot of deer and got caught up in a buffalo stampede (N.B. story may be slightly exaggerated for dramatic effect).
The same day we headed to our next destination, Mount Rushmore, in South Dakota. This was where the first of many Doris Day songs was stuck in my head ('The Black Hills of Dakota' - Calamity Jane) and I was, subsequently, able to torture Rob with
my wailings. We didn't make it to South Dakota in one day so stayed in a very unmemorable town in Montana.
Up at dawn's crack the next day, we made our way to Mount Rushmore and stumbled across another grand-scale rock carving, Crazy Horse. This is 50 times larger than Mount Rushmore and is not expected to be completed for another 200 years (crazy Americans - who thinks to do stuff like this?!). Despite it's incomplete state, it was rather impressive, as was Mount Rushmore, a further hour or so away.
Our stop-over for the night was in a little town called Hill City, which was the quintessential wild west town. It was pretty funny, made even funnier by the motel that we were staying in, where all sorts of stuffed wild beasts adorned the walls and the owner happened to be a world record holder for her extensive private collection of dolls.
Some more driving through snow later and we were in Boulder, Colorado, a college town, that, despite the sub-zero temperatures, was pretty cool. While we weren't preoccupied with warding off the onset of frostbite and trying to get my hiking jacket fixed, we marvelled
at the fact that fraternity houses actually exist, saw a movie, drank some beer and played some pool.
Arches National Park in Utah, was where we were next to be found. This is home to some amazing red rock formations in all sorts of bizarre shapes and sizes. It seemed more like we were on another planet than in the middle of America as we climbed craters and scaled strange peaks. The sensation was made even weirder by the snow that seemed to have followed us all the way from Canada. The low cloud came towards us until we could barely see in front of us and it seemed to stifle all sounds other than our own breaths.
We spent a couple of days at Arches and then headed further south to the grand-daddy of all national parks, The Grand Canyon. It's best seeing the pictures because words really can't explain how breathtaking the place is. Most people that have seen the pictures are amazed that there was so much snow at the Grand Canyon. I certainly expected the place to be dry and hot, but the top rim was covered in a thick blanket of snow.
The thickest snow we'd yet experienced awaited us in Williams, the closest town to the Grand Canyon, where walls of snow no less than 6 feet lined all of Route 66, entering the town. The whole town was completely covered in the stuff and a walkway had to be shovelled out of the snow in between our room and the car park just so we could get through.
This was also the last we saw of the snow as we motored on out and into warmer corners.
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