I’ve been watching a lot of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episodes recently, so I decided Philly is our destination for today’s Throwback Thursday!
After graduating UCLA back in March of 2013, my family and I spent 2 weeks exploring the East Coast. We flew from Los Angeles to New York City, rented a car, and drove all over the northeastern states. Philly was one of our stops!
Philadelphia is unlike any city I’ve ever visited before simply because of its significance in United States’ narrative. It’s always fun to explore a new place full of so much history and good food (who are we kidding)! We only spent one day exploring the city, which was surprisingly enough time to visit the major attractions: Independence Hall, Franklin’s grave, City Hall, Liberty Bell, and Philadelphia Museum of Art/The Rocky Statue and the Rocky Steps, and last but not least, Philly cheese steak at Ishkabibble’s Eatery.
We spent some time walking around Philadelphia’s Independence Historic Area, which was so incredibly charming! Such an East Coast vibe!
The journey to Mount Rushmore was long. Getting out of Yellowstone was 120 miles alone. Plus, Wyoming is one wide state. I can’t recall how many naps I took during the car ride only to wake up STILL in Wyoming.
This is Wyoming. As far as the eye can see, miles and miles and miles of flatland and open road.
We drove straight from Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore, which took the whole night. This was the first day that we didn’t stay at a hotel. Instead, we spent the night at a rest area smack in the middle of the Wyoming/South Dakota state line. It was uncomfortable, it was freezing, we haven’t showered for more than 24 hours, but it’s what makes road trips… well, road trips! The unexpected detours and changes in itinerary make the adventure all the more memorable.
We arrived at Mount Rushmore around noon, and the weather was glorious! Clear skies and sunshine! Even the drive up the mountain was scenic.
It’s free admission to enter the the park, and there wasn’t a huge crowd when we arrived.
The way leading up to the mountain was a pathway lined with flags of the 50 states, which gave the place an even more patriotic atmosphere. It was surreal to finally be able to witness in person the monument itself. Pictures definitely did not do it justice. Seeing the faces first-hand makes you think just how much sweat and labor that was involved. Washington’s nose is 21 feet long. That’s about 4 of me! Insane!
Inside the park is also a small movie theater where visitors can watch about the history and controversy regarding the creation of mountain.
See short video diary below! (Yes, I am aware of my own awkwardness).
Last Saturday (July 5, 2014) happened to be my half-birthday! What better way to celebrate my 23 ½ years of life than by spending the whole day at the happiest place on Earth!
I ended up losing my Mickey ears after the first ride (Matterhorn), yet I had a blast nonetheless! Most of the rides didn’t take more than 20 minutes. To make the most out of the day, my family and I purchased park hopper tickets in order to visit both Disneyland and California Adventure!
The latter part of the day was spent at California Adventure. I’ve visited the theme park about 4 times since Carsland opened, and it never ceases to fascinate me. The attention to detail is unreal. It really does feel like you’re in the movie!
The line for the Radiator Springs Racers ride was 90-minutes, but thanks to our smart planning, we were able to get fast passes and bypass the long wait!
My family and I weren’t able to witness a fireworks show for 4th of July so these were definitely a treat!
Disneyland is always a good idea, and I can’t wait to come back!
The serenity of Montana was restorative. My family and I stayed at a cozy 2-bedroom cabin at Island Park Village Resort, which is located just a few miles away from the Wyoming-Montana state line. Located 22 miles outside the west entrance of Yellowstone National Park, the resort is a nature lover’s paradise. Surrounded by lush forestry, the area is open to visitors who wish to stay in cabins, tents or RVs.
Island Park Village Resort
Prior to entering the park, we spent a few minutes strolling around their town, which was oh so charming! As a city girl, I find the vibe of small towns so refreshing. The old Chevy pick-up trucks, the friendliness of the locals, the mom and pop’s restaurants… there’s is something about All-American small towns that warm my heart.
Yellowstone has been on the top of my list of national parks to visit, and it was surreal to finally be able to make it happen. Despite the season, the weather felt chilly, perhaps in the low 40 degrees, with slight wind chill.
It was a 2-way road in and out of the park, and merely five minutes upon entering, I noticed cars slowing down. I investigated the cause of the potential traffic, and lo and behold… there was an American bison eating grass on the side of the road!
I could not believe my eyes! I rolled down my windows and was immediately in awe of such majestic beast. It was literally 5 feet away from us! What struck me by surprise was how calm it was. Despite the lines of cars driving beside it, not once did it look up to see all the attention it was receiving from the visitors. It just continued to eat its lunch and do its thing. Little did we know what was ahead of us. A few more miles up the road was a wide open field with hundreds of bison! (the plural form of bison is also bison; English is weird)
It wasn’t long until we started noticing fumes rising from the ground. You know what that means… geysers!
I’ve never experienced being up close and personal with geysers before, so I didn’t know what to expect. The first set of geysers we observed were easily accessible given there was a wooden pathway for the visitors to walk through. Some geysers were only a few feet away that their fumes, with the right wind gust, would blow directly to your face, which to be honest, was quite a unique experience to say the least. The fumes were moist and warm and thick. The smell? Sulfuric. PEE YEW! Aside from the rotten/boiled eggs odor, the geysers were extremely fascinating. There were a few where you can literally see the liquid boiling! The vibrant colors of the hot springs were also a favorite of mine. The bright blues and the tie-dye action of the colorful chemicals were definitely a sight to see.
Of course, a trip to Yellowstone would not be complete without visiting Old Faithful herself. By this time, the weather has been unpredictable, with sporadic rain, snow, and even hail!
Old Faithful Geyser, WY
There was a sign that conveniently indicates each upcoming eruption, and lucky for us, we arrived just in time! A few hundred miles out of Old Faithful were benches where spectators can safely observe the showing. It goes without saying that Old Faithful did not disappoint!
Day #1, June 13, 2014
California – Utah – Idaho – Montana
The journey begins! All of our bags were packed, and we were ready to go. At exactly midnight, we were off to our first stop 400 miles away, Zion National Park, Utah! My mom and dad alternated driving for the next six hours, and as scheduled, we reached the Utah state line just as the sun was rising.
It’s been more than ten years since I’ve been to Utah, and the banded-iron formations were just as majestic as I remembered them to be. Everything was red, from the pavement to the mountains! Talk about being in real-life Carsland!
*Sidenote: During my senior year at UCLA, I took a Geology class where I learned how these red rocks (banded-iron formations) were formed. Basically, the BIFs are sedimentary rocks that resulted from the iron in the ocean reacting with the oxygen being produced by photosynthetic cyanobacteria. So just imagine, these mountains used to be water! The Earth was literally rusting billions and billions of years ago! Shoutout to Professor Schopf for being such an awesome teacher that I still recall his lessons a year and a half after graduating.
Zion National Park, UT
We didn’t intend to hike or backpack around the park, so our stay at Zion was brief. After fueling up on breakfast, off to Salt Lake City we go!
Our itinerary required us to be at West Yellowstone (Montana) by the end of the day, so Salt Lake City was another quick pit stop. We visited the State Capitol, EnergySolutions Arena (where the Utah Jazz play!), and the Union Pacific Railroad Station.
Idaho? No, Udaho! (sorry, can’t help it)
More driving ensued (by me this time). The further north we went, the colder it got! Eventually, we reached Montana just before the sun went down.
We stayed the night at a cozy 2-bedroom cabin in the middle of the woods. Nature surrounded us, making it a perfect setting to restore our batteries after a long adventure-filled day.