Posted by: Anna | August 26, 2010

Best of … Trip Awards

Best Campground: Jenny Lake at Grand Teton National Park

Tranquil setting, a large bear box just for us that doubled as a countertop for making meals (didn’t realize at the time that this is rare), 200 yards from a bouldering area for Jack, hosts from Dallas who gave us a basin to wash our dishes in.

CON: long walk to the bathroom, bear in camp

Worst Campground: Old 76 in Deadwood, SD

We arrived and it was a big dusty gravel parking lot. However, it was the cheapest we could find close enough to Deadwood that we could check out the ‘happening’ nightlife in Deadwood and be able to walk home. Sometimes cheap does not equal good value. After we registered and paid, we went looking for the tent spots. Unable to find them in the parking lot, we returned to the front desk / mobile home to ask. We were told that we could set up our tent either on the grassy steep hill separating the campground from the rodeo arena, or the preferred location in the stables behind the parking lot. We opted for grassy hill that smelled like manure. It was the flyest campground we visited.

PRO: 50 cent cokes (machine was broken, so did not get to choose your flavor. Wanted Sprite, got Coke)

Best Camp Meal: Grilled ahi tuna and swordfish steaks our first night

Best Restaurant Meal: Deadwood Social Club

The highlight of our trip to Deadwood and one of Wine Spectator’s 10 best Italian restaurants in the country was the Deadwood Social Club. We shared an elk t-bone and fabulous pheasant fettucini. Mmmmm.

Worst Meal: the cafeteria at Yellowstone

The one pass buffet is an interesting concept. Three different plate sizes, each with its own price, and you can only go through the line one time. We each got the medium $10 plate. Tommy and our friend Noah were sent as our scout team to investigate the offerings before having to choose. The key to this buffet is to build a solid base and stack from there. We each managed a lot of food on our plate, but it was all for nought, as most of the food was inedible. A good mental challenge, a difficult intestinal challenge.

Best State: Texas

Best Trip State: Wyoming

Obviously Texas is the best state we have been to on this trip, and we enjoyed our time in Amarillo. But for this trip, Wyoming had the most to offer. Wyoming had such attractions as the rodeo with the wild horse race, Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, delicious Thai food in Jackson, and we didn’t do a single thing that sucked.

Worst State: Oklahoma (this award given by Tommy) OU still sucks!

Worst Trip State: South Dakota

We decided that a state we essentially just drove through could not qualify for a real trip award. (Sorry Iowa.) Of the contenders, it was not even close. South Dakota was by far the most disappointing collection of experiences. South Dakota is like Florida with no water, no Miami, and surprisingly more white trash. Anything you want to see in South Dakota will cost you $20. Forgive us for ranting again after yesterday’s post..

Crazy Horse Monument – an unfinished, and probably never to be finished monument that you can see from the highway as well as you can see from the viewing platform. It’s a noble idea to celebrate the Native American, but surely there is a more educational, interesting, and less blatantly capitalistic way to do so.

Cosmos Mystery Area – A house built on the side of a hill that claims to have special gravitational pull. It costs $20 to tour the house for 10 minutes, and we both spent the rest of the day nauseous. We both kind of liked it.

Mammoth Site – They found some bones in the ground. You can look at them for $16.

Mount Rushmore – The monument is free. Parking is $10. Actually, Rushmore was cool.

Deadwood – It is like Vegas had sex with a rodeo, and their love child was Deadwood. You may think this sounds cool, but it’s not. Tommy appreciated the $2 minimum three card poker. It appreciated him right back.

Most astonishing was the lack of affordable hotel rooms. You would be hard pressed to stay anywhere for less than $100 a night…in South Dakota.

Best Deal (Anna): The Renaissance in Denver with a pool / hot tub, nice gym, free laundry, and nice room for $50

Best Deal (Tommy): $2 three card poker

Anna says, “That’s right. Tommy’s best bargain cost us $40 and no hot tub, free laundry, or fluffy pillows.”

Worst Deal (Anna): Berkley Open Pit Mine in Butte, Montana

Why did we pay $2 each to look at a big hole full of toxic water? What made that sound like it would be interesting?? It wasn’t. Next time you are in Butte, don’t waste your time.

Worst Deal (Tommy): $50 bear spray

After we bought it, we didn’t even see any bears. Now we have the world’s most expensive bottle of pepper spray.

Worst Deal (runner up): Waterton, Canada

Here we are arriving in Canada - we don't know yet it won't be cool.

They graciously agreed to accept American money instead of Canadian money, but at the same rates. Gee thanks.

Best Animal Sighting (Anna says – no, please don’t write about that moose again!) – Moose

Worst Animal Sighting: the bear 10 feet from our tent in camp that only Jack saw

Best Hike: Iceberg Lake & Ptargmigan Tunnel at Glacier National Park

Iceberg Lake

At the top of the trail

Worst Hike: Goat Haunt

Five miles of trail ready for a mud wrestling championship, thousands of mosquitos, and the big payoff – a placid lake where we were told we had missed five moose by ten minutes. This was followed by a 2.5 mile mad scramble back to make the boat home in time. Woo.

At Goat Haunt. The border guards who work there actually commute on the scenic tour boat and live in Canada, even though they are US govt employees. A beautiful if long commute. This border used to be open to all nationalities, but is now only open to US / Canadian citizens since 9/11.

It wasn't all bad.



  1. Boo Tommy on the slam on Oklahoma. It is so much more than Norman and OU — thank goodness. And you didn’t even mention Hideaway Pizza and the wonderful university OSU

  2. loved your best/worst list…VERY funny! XOXOXO

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