Badlands, Chicago, Canada and NYC

Trip Start Jun 01, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , South Dakota
Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We woke up at 4:45 am to get up to see the sunrise. A small group of us took a walk up to a small hill and sat on the dust and watched as the sun came up over the rocks and splintered light across the land and warmed us up.

Once the hour long sunrise was over we went back to our makeshift camp and got back into our sleeping bags to get a few more hours in, we were politely woken up by Aaron banging pots and pans in a bid to get everyone going! We were soon up and headed out after cleaning up the remnants of our camp and drove out of the Badlands with a memento of over 40 mosquito bites from the night in the grass. Nice!!

But alas it was fine and we drove back out of the dust and onto the tarmac of south dakota joining the hundreds of bikers that were still blazing around and never failing to facinate me.

We drove to Badlands National park and went in, driving through absolutely remarkably unique landscape of rough and ragged rock formations that stretched for miles and sizzled under the dry and intense heat. We stopped off in several places but the heat was almost unbearable and shade is not in supply out there. So after a few stops and a breathtaking few hours of driving we stopped in a town called Wall. This town consists of 10 blocks and thank god they had showers. Well one cold shower at a free public pool! We checked out this towns shops which is all in one building and they are all inter-linked. Again due to the biker sturgis the town was packed with bikes and bikers. For the first time in a small town i was very under -tattooed. It was wicked!

We checked ou the cute little town had a coffee, bought a knife (as you do) and generally had ourselves a damn good time. A cold shower was more than welcome after sizzling under the heat! That and it had been a few days since we'd had running water let alone an actual shower!

We drove back into the park again and made dinner, much again to the interest of many onlookers. There were however some more bikers so i was happy.

I went for a short walk to vent some frustration of the crazy paranoid, and frankly annoying old couple on our bus who did nothing but mumble, rummage through their bags, mumble some more and just fuss around everyone the whole time. I think sweating in the 45 degree heat whilst ranting for a while helped. I returned a fully made meal and sat and ate in the shade of the bus with the other guys who were equally pissed at the crazy old couple.

After dinner and the clean up we took a trail which warned us of rough terrain and rattle snakes. The 27 strong green tortoise crew pushed on and we walked over the rough terrain that was really not rough at all, over a few rocks, a few jumps, and up a wood and chain ladder type thing and we reached a cliff edge which over looked miles of badlands desert. We sat up there and watched the sun set and felt the heat subside slightly. It was superb to watch the sky change colours from a bright blue to have the yellows, oranges and browns of the sunset develop in the sky with the clouds whiipping across it.

We made our way back down the path we had just taken and got out to the parking lot where we saw a rattle snake. Oh no i'm nt joking! A big rattling rattle snake. The sign says move away. We took photos! So cool to see something like that in its natural habitat. Thank god it wasn't a spider is all i can say! WE got on the bus that evening and drove out of the badlands which i was sad about. I really like the nothingness of these places. We spent the night driving and through a massive storm. A water logged gas station was one of our stops and after a few hours sleep i woke up to discover it had stopped.

I woke up in chicago to discover it was back. It rained like the world was going to end. I've never heard thunder like that other than the last time in chicago. Anyway we made our way up to a spot for breakfast and set the theme for the day as we spent most of it eating!

We caught the train up to michigan avenue and hit millennium park to enjoy watching the fountains and an aptly named free band called Tortoise in the theatre there. After this we walked along michigan through the magnificent mile and up to macys food court for lunch. After this we headed to the Hancock observatory for drinks in the lounge overlooking the chicago skyline and spent a few hours in there. After this we wandered back down towards where the bus was wating and had thai. During our meal an apocalyptic storm broke out and we sat and marvelled at the wind, rain thunder and lightning. Darting to a blues bar next door we all got suitably drunk and ran to the bus that was no more than a hundred yards away. Unsuprisingly we were soaked. Chicagos streets weren't fairng any better. We hit a dead end as a road was so water logged a car was half submerged in the street. 3 point turn in a bus on a chicago street. We got outta there and drove away from the city and once again were lucky enough to see the city lights of chicagos beautiful skyline dissapear behind us as we headed out to campground. The rain continued and we stood under a tarp eating our dinner and needless to say sleeping on the bus! The next morning after getting ready there we drove out to the New York side of Niagra Falls.

When we arrived we took a walk around and looked at the american side. Not wholy impressed it has to be said. We crossed the canadian border by foot and went on a boat trip. The falls are much better from the ontario side. The boat was really cool, it took us right into the horseshoe and thankfully we were given beautiful blue macs. If not we would have been soaked. It was pretty phenominal to be so close to so many thousands of tonnes of water hammering down all around us. Really pretty cool. After dinner it was back t the bus just in time to see the firework display of the falls and we began our drive to our night drive!

A wake up call of House of Pains jump around got my day off to the perfect start, i was up and literally jumping at 7 am!! Perfect. We were in a small parking lot in out of state new york which was lush and green and just off a lake. We took a drive to our campground in the catskills where i spent the afternoon just chilling in the grass, hanging out with everyone, showering and then making our final green tortoise dinner and getting fortune cookies! (my trip has been so far accurately predicted by these little chinese wonders! Lets just hope this one comes true!)

After this we all descended upon the bar after some drinking in the grounds. Let me be clear it was not intended to be so chaotic but it ended with every single person off the bus on the dance floor absolutely steaming!! It was brilliant, a total night of chaos and drunken dancing and karaoke (not partaken by me). The evening ended in a circle of crying girls because we didn't wanna say bye to each other

A few sore heads the next morning and a packing up of the camp occurred for our drive to New york to do the drop off began and man did it suck to know we were all going to have to say bye to each other. The drive into the city was sweet, manhattan looks so cool as you approach it. If you fail to be impressed by the skyscrapers as chris garver once said 'there is something very wrong with you'.

After crossing the george washington bridge the bus dwellers piled out back into civilization. The bemused pedestrians had no idea what the hell was going on i'm sure but many tearful goodbyes were said and then those of us coming to boston boarded avery empty feeling bus and began what turned into an 11 hour drive to Boston. What to do? Get drunk and stop and mcdonalds, drink some more, taco bell, sleep and wake up feeling rough as hell in Boston.

Saying bye to my 2 incredible drivers was completely painless.

Call me crazy but there is a bus going from boston to San Francisco via the south on the 17th. And guess what. I'm on it!! oh yeah.

It'll be a nice surprise for my driver who has no idea i'm showing up and a plan on the bus was hatched not to tell him so on the 17th hopefully he'll be as happy that i showed up as he was on the last trip!! SURPRISE!!

So i'm here in Boston and it's beautiful and i'll let you know whats happened before i board my next bus!!
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