After completing our third week on the road in the U.S. this summer, we decided it was time for a little breather. We departed St. Louis at the beginning of week four and then pressed the pause button when we reached Chicago. And there we stayed, visiting my twin brother, for the first two and a half weeks of June.
Despite growing up in St. Louis, I’d never visited the nearby Windy City ’til now. And what an awesome place it turned out to be! So much so that we decided we’d return to Chicago for an even longer break after our upcoming national park loop. We finished off this three-week period in Badlands National Park, where we found unique erosion-formed landscapes, plentiful prairie dogs, and the craziest (and unexpected) storm we’ve ever experienced! (You don’t want to miss that video.)
Note: Since we paused for so long in Chicago, this recap covers weeks four through six of our U.S. road trip. And I’m still catching up on our weekly road trip re-caps! This one covers May 30 – June 19.
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.
States Visited These Weeks
- South Dakota
*just passing through
States Visited in Previous Weeks
- Week One: California, Nevada, Arizona
- Week Two: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas
- Week Three: Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri
Total States Visited So Far: 15
California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota
- St. Louis, MO
- Chicago, IL
- The Bean (Cloud Gate) in Chicago, IL
- Giordano’s Pizza in Chicago, IL
- Badlands National Park in South Dakota
- Diana’s friend Kristen’s wedding in St. Louis (Congrats again, Kristen and Derek!)
- Visiting Daniel, Diana’s twin brother, in Chicago
- Meeting Priscilla the pig, a house pet owned by Daniel’s friend Nestor (Did you see my selfie with the pig?)
- Loads of scenic farmland beauty from Illinois to South Dakota
- Prairie dogs! And lots of ’em in Badlands National Park.
- The craziest lightning storm ever… followed by a tornado which resulted in us spending the evening in the basement of the campground’s lodge at Badlands National Park instead of our REI Half Dome 2 Plus for the duration of the storm (see the video below).
Notes and Insights
- Having a weather radio would have been extremely helpful during our stay in Badlands National Park. I’ll be adding that one to our road trip packing checklist. Also, don’t trust someone else to be responsible for your safety during a natural disaster — even in a U.S. National Park. Before you leave on a road trip, research what you should do if you ever encounter a tornado. More about the storm we endured in our shot of the week.
- Rent the Runway is a pretty awesome service, especially for an event like a wedding where the bridesmaids need matching dresses that they’ll likely never wear again. I wrote a review of our whole Rent the Runway bridesmaid dress rental experience on Stylish Travel Girl, if you want to check it out.
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 Seven Preview
- Yellowstone National Park — bison, bears, chilly sunrises, and the Northern Lights
- Grand Teton National Park — mountains, meadows and the Milky Way
- Glacier National Park
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
- 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.
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