U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week Eight (North Dakota back to Chicago)

North to South U.S. road trip recap week eight

Rounding out our second month on the road, we started week eight by finishing off our northern U.S. 5-park circle. After visiting Badlands, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Glacier National Parks the previous week, we found that Theodore Roosevelt National Park — a park we’d never heard of until we spotted it on the map — was an unexpected gem of wildlife large and small.

Once we’d had our fill of bison and prairie dogs, we headed back toward the Windy City, paying a brief visit to one of my oldest friends along the way, and returned to Chicago just in time to celebrate the 4th of July with a totally unique fireworks viewing experience from the Chicago river.

Note: I’m still catching up on our weekly road trip re-caps! This one covers June 28 – July 5. 

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You can get an overview of our trip each week here on the blog, but we’re posting more frequent updates of our cross-country U.S. road trip on Facebook and Instagram.

4th of July kayak adventures! #NTSroadtrip2015

A photo posted by North To South • Diana + Ian (@dianasouth) on

tree growing crooked in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

A lone tree growing on the hillside in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

States Visited This Week

  • North Dakota
  • Minnesota
  • Wisconsin*
  • Illinois

*just passing through

States Visited in Previous Weeks

Total States Visited So Far: 19

California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota

girl blowing dandelion

Trying out the blowing dandelion photo… it’s harder than it looks.

bison and prairie dogs in Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

Bison (and prairie dogs) in Theodore Roosevelt National Park


  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND
  • Minneapolis, MN
  • Chicago, IL
Diana and Laura in Minneapolis

Hanging out with my friend Laura (and her new puppy Vivian) in Minneapolis


  • Visiting with one of my old friends from middle school (and her new puppy) on our way through Minneapolis
  • Prairie dogs galore in Theodore Roosevelt National Park
  • Kayaking through downtown Chicago at night on the 4th of July


Notes and Insights

  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park is the best place for prairie dog watching we’ve ever seen!
  • It’s impossible to look attractive when capturing the blowing dandelion photo.
  • If you ever have the opportunity to kayak through a city, DO IT! It’s an experience unlike any other!
Theodore Roosevelt National Park summer scenery

Summer scenery in Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Sunset over the midwest

Sunset view from a rural midwestern highway on the way to Chicago

kayaking at night in downtown Chicago on the Chicago River

We returned to Chicago just in time to spend the 4th of July kayaking on the river through downtown Chicago.


All photos were taken by Ian and Diana with the Sony a7 II (Ian’s camera), Sony RX100 III (Diana’s camera — review here) and our smartphones.

Week 9-12 Preview

  • Settling in to our month-long road trip “break” in Chicago
  • Getting creative with jewelry making and leather camera strap crafts
  • Whirlyball
  • Homemade beer brewing with my twin brother
  • Visiting Ian’s parents at the Osh Kosh air show in Wisconsin
  • Playing DOTA (a video game) probably a little too much…

I hope you enjoyed this U.S. road trip re-cap! In case you missed them, check out our other weekly recaps from our road trip. Have you road-tripped to any of these U.S. locations? Tell us about your trips in the comments.

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About the Author

Diana Southern
In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.

3 Responses

  1. judson December 7, 2015 / 7:52 am

    Haha I was in chicago for the fourth of july too!

  2. Jordan December 8, 2015 / 9:46 am

    Awesome recap! It’s amazing the variety of places you’ve visited in such a short time. And those are some amazing photos!

    • Diana Southern December 8, 2015 / 11:09 am

      Thanks, Jordan! These recaps sure are a lot of work, but I think it’ll be really nice to look back on them several years from now to re-visit all the cool things we did! And I’ve only got like 25 more to go, haha. 🙂

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