The Darling Nomadess: Great American Road Trip: Chicago, Badlands, Wall Drug, Mount Rushmore, and Carhenge

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Great American Road Trip: Chicago, Badlands, Wall Drug, Mount Rushmore, and Carhenge

There's something about a road trip that earns the excitement and attention from almost any American. Growing up, family vacations frequently revolved around packing up the car, hitting the open road, and enjoying America the Beautiful. Perhaps it is the sense of freedom that comes from escaping the quintessential small town into the vast beyond, the big cities, the quiet wilderness, and the kitschy Americana roadside stops.

A few weeks ago my younger brother, Michael, and I departed on a semi-cross continental road trip. We escaped from our small town for a few days with one goal in mind: Colorado or bust. Thankfully, we didn't have to worry about the latter and we arrived safely to my new place of residence. However, the journey along the way was unforgettable filled with quirky sites and breathtaking views.

Chicago's "The Bean"
After leaving home at approximately 3 am EST, we arrived at our first stop, Chicago! I haven't been to the windy city since high school and Michael had never been before. We only had about an hour or two so we checked out the Navy Pier and walked to The Bean, a giant metallic bean-shaped thing in the middle on Centennial Park.

South Dakota's "Wall Drug"

After driving four hours on end through the most boring stretch of highway in the entire country, we arrived in Wall, South Dakota for the night. The next day, we checked out the kitschy must see, Wall Drug. I could have probably spent hours at this place! There is so much to see and it's just ridiculous, quirky fun complete with Jurassic Park set up, a giant Jackalope (second largest in the world, matter of fact), a giant gorilla playing a piano, and a fake Mount Rushmore. What's not to love about a place like this?!

Badlands National Park

Only 20 minutes away from Wall, S.D., is the Badlands National Park. After doing research before the trip, I decided to purchase the National Parks Annual Pass ($80), which will allow me and a carload of people access to all of America's beloved parks. Definitely worth the money!
The Badlands is such a unique area. You can see the lines as the sediment changed in all of the formations. The Badlands are definitely a gorgeous must see!

Mount Rushmore National Monument

What would be a trip to South Dakota without a stop at Mount Rushmore?! It's an impressive site to see the four of America's most loved presidents carved into the side of a mountain. The detail work alone is just incredible! If you look closely at Teddy Roosevelt, you can see the outline of his glasses, and some say they can see the sense themselves.

Black Hills National Forest

I truly wish we could have spent more time in the Black Hills National Forest but we only had time to drive through it. I would love to go back and explore more as well as check out Custer State Park. We were able to catch a glimpse of a few bison on the side of the road, too!

Carhenge is in the middle of Nebraska surrounded by nothing but corn. This quirky stop is designed, to scale, as a car version of Europe's Stonehenge. I'm impressed that someone took the time to do something like this piece of work! This was only a 5 minute stop and I doubt you'll need any more than that if you chose to go, to be honest.

I filmed a mini-video documentary/music video of the road trip so I don't actually have many photos of all the sites. I created the video to my current life anthem, "Renegade" by X Ambassadors, for my friends and family to view. I rediscovered a love for video producing (that was my original major in college), and hope to incorporate more video content on the blog next year perhaps after I figure out the whole music licensing stuff. I'm not going to post the road trip video on here, for obvious reasons, but if you are interested in viewing it, let me know in the comments and I'll email you the viewing link and password. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Have you ever gone on a road trip? Where did you go and what did you see? 

With Love,


  1. I'd love to view the video! Send me the link! Is it bad I know about the Badlands from The Bachelor? lolol

  2. I've wanted to go to the Badlands for awhile! It seems like you planned out a great road trip with a good combination of scenic stops as well as quirky, fun ones.

  3. Oh America! the best country to roadtrip! very nice guys! happy holidays!


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