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From California we continued north into Oregon.  We stopped in one place to see sand dunes, stretching for 5 miles all the way to the Ocean.  It was impressive, but we remember it for another reason.  We were cooking dinner on the stove when we saw somebody hiding behind bushes.  At first, we thought he had to pee.  But then we realized the guy was masturbating!!!  I couldn't stop laughing.  He had his pants down and soon came out completely.  I wanted to take a picture to prove America is home to weird people, but Chris shouted at him and he run away.

We drove north along the green Oregon coast.  The Ocean is often dotted with little rocky islands.  We went as far as Portland, and turned East.  I read that the Columbia River Gorge is awesome, so I had high expectations.  Maybe that's why I was disappointed.  We didn't waste time and the next day we were in Idaho. As we drove east, vegetation changed from very green around Columbia River to dry and spiky in Idaho.  By the evening, we crossed into Wyoming and arrived in Jackson.  Next day we were hoping to see the famous Tetons, but the mountains were shrouded in clouds.  There was still a lot of snow everywhere.  The only consolation was seeing 2 big moose grazing along the river before we went north to the Yellowstone National Park.  I knew it would be amazing, it is the oldest national park in the world.  Unfortunately the weather was bad, it snowed so heavily that they had to close the road we wanted to take.  We stopped to see bison walking along the road.  My brother forgot to switch off the lights, and 5 minutes later we had to beg passing drivers for jumper cables.  Second time in 2 weeks!

The next day weather was a lot better.  We started in Mammoth Hot Springs.  This steamy and colorful place was my favorite.  Than we went to see some other features Yellowstone is famous for.  Plenty of geysers, although only 3 or 4 little ones erupted while we were watching.  Orange and blue hot springs were difficult to see because of steam, but gusts of wind made it possible.  Spring is a good time to watch wildlife, but not the best for thermal features.  We saw a lot of bison, 2 Bald Eagles chasing a third one with fish (which he dropped eventually), and 2 grizzly bears.  About 30 people were watching from the car park while grizzlies were feeding on a carcass by the river.  Chris and I went down to get a better view, but still about 200 meters away.  All of the sudden a ranger appeared and asked for ID.  I thought we would get fined, but we didn't.  Not that the ranger was nice to us, he simply couldn't do it, because the area was not marked as closed, and the rule is "keep 25m away from wildlife except bears, where 100m applies".  He made my brother delete all grizzly photos he took, and said a lot of funny things, like "those photos are illegal, if they appear on the Internet, Yellowstone National Park will take you to court".

After this we lost our appetite for Yellowstone, but we couldn't miss the most famous geyser on the planet - The Old Faithful.  It erupts regularly every 90 minutes, spitting out tons of hot water about 30 meters high.  It has done it for decades now, and the whole area is well developed and prepared for the crowds that never fail to turn up.  That evening we left Yellowstone.

South Dakota

By 5am we finally crossed the Bighorn Mountains and kept driving until reaching the Badlands National Park in South Dakota.  It's very close to the motorway so we decided to take a break and see something beautiful.  We only stopped at viewpoints, without walking around, which was a big mistake.  Those muddy pyramids formed by wind and rain are like mountains, only smaller.  In one place hundreds of little prairie dogs were hiding in the openings of their burrows.  But with patience, one can approach them and have a closer look.

After leaving Badlands around 2pm, we drove almost non stop to Chicago, arriving in the morning.  Very tired, but pleased that all went well and we managed to see so much and keep expenses down.  We spent just $1500 between us during those 3 weeks, mainly on petrol, costing almost $4 a gallon.  Once again, there wasn't enough time to see America.  First time, I had a week.  This time, I had 3 weeks.  Next time, I will have at least 3 months!   photos