Category Archives: American Travel

From Crazy Horse to Wall Drug: Visiting Home

By Danielle Prostrollo

This autumn I am taking a few weeks off from writing, reading, and studying to be with family and introduce my other half, Dan, to the beauty of South Dakota. Having grown up there its easy to go back and entertain myself – its home. But this will be Dan’s first trip to America, so I feel the pressure to make sure he gets to experience everything.

Flag_of_South_Dakota.svg

So I’m going to do what no born-and-bred South Dakotan has ever done (I’m guessing?)… consult a tourist guidebook. The library has an heroic collection of travel guides for all corners of the United States so I was lucky enough to find two different books to use: Mount Rushmore & The Black Hills by Laural A. Bidwell (a Moon guide) and Off the Beaten Path: The Dakotas by Lisa Meyers McClintick.

The obvious ‘Must-See’ attractions are there – Crazy Horse, Mount Rushmore, and the Badlands. Those aren’t in question, we’ll certainly put those on the list. Other options that would normally be a given include Hill City/Keystone salt water taffy but sadly we’ll have missed out on taffy season.

From the guidebooks I realised I had forgotten about the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site and Launch Center Delta-01 – a site we will definitely visit, weather permitting. The old Cold War missile silo and launch center are something a little bit different in a state that is best known for its Wild West history.

While reading I stumbled into the history of Mount Rushmore, something we all learn as kids but hadn’t thought about in a long time and resonated much more now that I have been living abroad for a few years. Specifically, what I found interesting is that Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum was friends with famous French sculptor Auguste Rodin and had exhibited for Queen Victoria before returning to America and taking on large scale projects such as the Stone Mountain project (which his temper eventually saw him relieved from) and Mount Rushmore.

And in a bit of reminiscence, the entry on the Black Hills Institute brightened my day. The Institute was a stalwart of my childhood summers. Sue the T. rex was my favorite. I was of the perfect age to be devastated when she left the Black Hills for good but on this visit I hope to see Stan, the most complete T. rex, to date.

There’s so much to see, hopefully we can tick off as many as possible.

There’s:

Wall Drug – the greatest emporium/roadside attraction around

Alpine Inn in Hill City – ultimate restaurant for the indecisive (you get a steak, either a big one or a smaller one)

A beer in Deadwood – toast one to ol’ Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane (for more info on Wild Bill in South Dakota, we have some great books on the man in the library)

Mount Moriah – a similar but more solemn remembrance of Bill and Jane at their resting place

Nick’s Hamburgers – on the other side of the state these famous burgers are tiny but delicious

Corn Palace – who wouldn’t love a building covered in corn murals?

Falls Park – the namesake of Sioux Falls, the Falls are a great attraction for anyone who enjoys a walk in the park

Al’s Oasis – to get between East and West River you have to stop at Al’s Oasis to recover and recuperate in their cafeteria.

And the list goes on. Undoubtedly, this trip will spark a ton of lists for future visits as the Black Hills and the Great Plains offer such beautiful landscapes and rich culture.

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under American Culture, American History, American Travel, Books, Uncategorized

A Greeting from Berkeley

12968082_1105337528822_3623167663974747068_o

The following post is a guest post by Kate Feenstra. Kate is an American Studies student at UEA, currently in the US, partially supported by a scholarship provided by 2AD veteran Charles Walker.

I am not living in America, I am living in California. This is the correction my American friends make every time I say, “well, we are in America”. These are two apparently distinct places, ideologically separate, philosophically different. Some even go further and say, “Kate, we’re not in California, we’re in Berkeley”. That infamous ‘Berkeley bubble’, pocketed in the liberal oasis of the Bay area, inside that even more widely blown California bubble, itself placed inside the thought-experiment that we call the United States of America. Here, everything nests inside something else, you are always a small cog in a grand plan.

You could say I’m cocooned by an assorted collection of history, assumptions, politics, even aesthetics. Every class I take, be it literature, film, or sociology, is deeply saturated in contextual thinking; how does this book relate to growing gentrification in Oakland? How does this film reflect growing sentiments of anti-immigration in California specifically? How can we read this theory in relation to homogeneous, conflicting forms of ‘Americanness’? We are taught to bring everything back to the deconstruction of the rich layers of where we are and how we fit, or don’t fit, in.

12970987_1105347369068_732114984417402399_o

I live in one of the student-run co-operatives, a giant experiment in itself, where we play with the rules of how to live communally and self-sufficiently. It is in its own low-cost bubble in an area where the tech-boom is making student rent wholly unaffordable, and an archetype of what Berkeley is known for; hippie sentiments and an excess of tie-dye. I wake up to palm trees by my window and someone playing guitar on the hammock tied to the tree trunks, overhearing discussions which move from talk of the creation of a startup for Silicon Valley to the destruction of capitalism in the next breath.

I’m extremely grateful for the help of the Colonel Charles L. Walker Scholarship which is helping fund my studies – it has come with a great amount of help and communication. Everyday that I’m here I peel back a new layer of what it means to be in this multitude of bubbles. I could be here for the next 50 years and still not figure it out, and that’s the beauty of this place.

12973438_1105340648900_936634556403966179_o

1 Comment

Filed under American Culture, American Travel

America’s National Parks – so many places to visit!

Although it is only March, we’ve been doing some day dreaming of places to visit during the summer holidays. And where better to start thinking about where to go than some of America’s National Parks?

There are 407 areas that are managed by the National Park Service, including 59 National Parks, 78 National Historic Sites and 79 National Monuments. All these areas encompass more than 84 million acres (339,936 km2) and are in every state and overseas US Territory! They range in size from the smallest, 80 m2 at the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania to Wragell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska at 53,419 km2. The area of the United Kingdom is 243,610 km2, so the total land managed by the National Park Service is 40% more than the UK and the largest National Park is 10 times as large as Norfolk! These areas saw almost 293,000,000 visitors last year.

nat parks etc map

SOURCE: kids.britannica.com

Those of us who work at the Memorial Library have visited a few of these special places, although there are many more we’d like to see. A few of our favourites are Olympic National Park, Washington and Acadia, Maine.

Olympic
Olympic, Washington:
This park has coastline, glacial mountains and alpine environments as well as the temperate rainforests that the Pacific Northwest is famous for. There are numerous endemic plants and animals and trails that can lead you to discover waterfalls, mountains and beaches.

acadiaAcadia, Maine: The Park covers most of Mount Desert Island and a few small islands off the coast of Maine. It is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi River, and was once part of Acadia, a colony of New France that included parts of Canada in the 17th and early 19th century.  There is so much to do there, including kayaking in the sea or lakes, walking and cycling along the many carriageways throughout the Park. In addition to the scenery, there are historical sites and there is also really amazing local seafood in the area!

A few parks which are not as well known, but special places to visit if you can:

capitoal reef parkCapitol Reef National Park, Utah: This long and narrow Park protects the Waterpocket Fold – a 65 million years old warp in the Earth’s crust. This warp is the result of colliding continental plates and has eroded to expose millions of years of fossils and geology. There are few paved road in the Park, but there are miles of unpaved roads and trails through the incredible landscape for the more adventurous traveller. There are also numerous petroglyphs left behind by the Fremont people, who inhabited the area in 1000 CE.

kings canyon - sequoiasKings Canyon, California: This Park is often overlooked by visitors heading to its neighbouring (and better known) Parks – Yosemite, Sequoia and Death Valley. There are some spectacular canyons, including Kings Canyon – one of the deepest in the US at 2,500 m! There are also giant sequoias, rivers and exciting wildlife. John Muir, who visited in the 1870s, was struck by the similarities between the geography of Kings Canyon and Yosemite. The dramatic U-shaped valleys in both areas were carved by glaciers out of the bedrock during the last Ice Age. These areas influenced Muir’s ideas about the impact of glaciers on the Sierra Nevada landscape, which caused some controversy in geologic circles in the late 19th century as the other competing theory was that earthquakes had created the valleys and canyons.

Ofu parkNational Park of American Samoa: This is probably the hardest National Park to get to; flights to American Samoa are only 2-3 times a week from Hawaii (2,600 miles away). There is very limited tourist infrastructure in the area, so visiting takes a bit of an adventurous attitude – but can be well worth it! The Park will organise home stays with local families, who are permitted to fish in the Park. The parkland in fact belongs to local villages and is leased to the National Park Service. Many of the Park’s visitors come via cruise ship, but there are some others that are able to come and stay longer.

If you’re thinking about visiting any National Parks or travelling around the US this summer holiday (or anytime), we have many books to help you out, such as: yosemitezion et algrand canyonNPS 2NPS guide - NGacadia book

If you’d like to learn more about the experiences of a Park Rangers or the National Park System, these books are great:

hey rangerdesert solitaireseed

Have you visited any of these? Or do you have some favourite National Park places of your own? Let us know in the comments.

All photos courtesy of National Park Service (www.nps.gov)

Leave a comment

Filed under American Travel, Books