Where do I want to visit? Well, let me tell you :) States, Towns, Museums, Parks and Places of Interest. There is a strong possibility we will drive across into Idaho as well - being so close it would be rude not to :)
Jackson Hole - Wyoming - I've often heard this is the playground for some of the rich and famous - particularly in the winter months - yet on my whistle stop trip there before I can't say it gave off that kind of vibe at all. In fact I found it to be one of the most welcoming places I've visited which is why it's back on my list. I got to eat lunch here (quickly) before being whisked off. Dropped back to our motel at 9 that evening we took a quick hike into town, grabbed something to eat, went back to the motel, slept and left just after breakfast the next day. I felt safe wondering from our motel into town in the dark (something that can't be said for a lot of American places) and loved how things were lit up. I'd love to explore the town further and get a real feel for it. The Silver Dollar Bar is a MUST when I get to Jackson. Love the idea of sitting on a saddle as a bar stool :) Just to reassure you I shall make sure I am definitely in Jackson on a Monday. Can't go missing out on Margarita Mondays - Happy Days :)
Snake River Float - Jackson Hole - Wyoming - I have been extremely lucky enough to do this before when I visited (one of the only things we weren't rushed on). We went on the very last trip of the season, the water was quite low and there wasn't any animal to be seen anywhere (I did see loads of Bald Headed Eagles though!) I'm not particularly fussed to do it again (although it was very relaxing) but I would like whoever ends up travelling with me to experience it as I think they would enjoy it - if you ever get the chance to do it, then do so; it's a lovely way to spend a few hours and the guides are excellent.
Aerial Tram - Jackson Hole - Wyoming - I'm not really a lover of cable cars to be honest, but I've been told a trip in one of the aerial trams is "a must" if you are visiting Jackson so I have added it to the list of things to do. Having checked on their website it does look as though the scenery will be stunning and the view phenomenal. That's got to be worth getting over my fear for?
Grand Teton National Park - Wyoming - Named by the french (if you know your french words and have seen landscape images of the Tetons you'll understand they are called "Big Titties"!!!). I had 35 minutes in the visitor centre and surrounding areas, making it as far as the river edge before having to rush back for us to leave and head off elsewhere - I wanted to spend all day exploring. The mountains create a stunning backdrop which can be seen for miles. There were a few snow patches on them (I'd like to have seen more but I guess that could have stopped us getting quite so close). While there we did have a 10 minute photo stop at Jenny Lake - neither visit was long enough which is why they are both on the list to visit, so I can spend more time at time, taking in all the beauty mother nature has set before me.
Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming/Montana - I've been told you could spend 3 weeks exploring Yellowstone and it still not be enough time, so imagine how it felt when I was before to have just 1 day. Don't get me wrong in that one day I got to see a lot (through the window of the bus) stopping at just 3 places in the whole 15 hours we were on the bus. Obviously Old Faithful has to be visited (I was awestruck at it). I'd also like to visit Biscuit Basin, The Fountain Paint Pots, Dragons Mouth Spring, Artist Point, Mammoth Hot Springs, Mud Volcano, Grand Prismatic Spring and so many other places we drove by but never got to stop at.
Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Centre - Montana - As much as I would prefer to see the animals in their natural habitat (not too close though as I don't fancy being a bear or wolf's meal for the day - I also don't want to encroach on their day) that is not always possible and the animals here are ones that cannot be sent back into the wild for one reason or another. I am sure there are many among us who would say they should be left to fend for themselves which would result ultimately in their death (survival of the fittest and all that) and that we shouldn't interfere but sometimes we can't just walk away. I love the idea of being able to get closer to these beautiful creatures than you would be able to in the wild too. To learn more about how these animals live/survive can never be a bad thing either.
Cody - Wyoming - A true "wild west" town apparently! Home to Buffalo Bill (where the name Cody comes from). Also said to hang out there were Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid along with the Hole-in-the-wall gang. Full of museums and nods to the history of the west, it's a place calling out for me to explore.
Old Trail Town - Cody, Wyoming - the chance to take a proper step back in time the place is meant to be as authentic as possible so exploring is a must to get some idea of how it must have been to live in a small town in the USA during the gold rush. A living piece of history.
Little Bighorn Battlefield - Crow Agency - Montana - I knew I wanted to visit this place long before I even really knew it existed. I had an hour there last time - I needed at least 12 (and more). Today it's just open land with far reaching views, stunning really, yet it holds a tale of American History that everyone knows - the day Custer finally met his match. He picked on the wrong people on that hot June day and got exactly what he deserved. As a child I would watch TV shows about the west, about the cowboys, Indians and how the Blue Coats were always the hero's yet to me they weren't. Ok, so the won the civil war but that's as far as it goes. To me all I saw were men slaughtering other men, women and children because they were different, lived differently and had land that the white man wanted. I was ashamed to be white at a time in my life when I should never have known or understood what shame was, let alone how to really feel it. As such when I grew I read as much as I could about the Native people of America - all native people. People like Crazy Horse became my role models, standing up for his people doing all he could to protect them; the people running my country could take a leaf or two out his book. They call Little Bighorn "Custers last stand" but in effect it was really the Native people's last. Oh they carried on for a few more years, but the second they embarrassed the American Army, Government and all people in power their cards were marked - they were never going to stop being hunted and persecuted and had they not finally given in and signed the treaties (which the white Americans NEVER stuck too) they would have been hunted to the point of extinction. Little Bighorn battlefield is definitely somewhere to visit and which means so much to me, without me really knowing why?
Sheridan - Wyoming - Really just a place to get our head down overnight en-route to another destination; even the town website doesn't actually offer up anything to see/do other than mentioning outlying places, golf or polo (trip adviser's top 20 list of things to do has hotels/motels so it's not really a hip and happening place) but I did see in the motel I stayed in before that there is an old Steam Engine Train on Broadway and 5th, I'd quite like to snap off a photo of 2 of that - we'll make it a quick stop-off point on the way to Deadwood.
Devils Tower - Wyoming - When is a big piece of rock, not just a big piece of rock? When it's a volcano. When is a volcano not just a volcano? When it's Devils Tower of course. Being such a geology lover this giant piece of rock towering upwards is fascinating to me for being just what it is. It's also fascinating for the mystical stories that surround it - some believe it to be a portal to beings from other planets (have you seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Crap film really but it plays on the Alien ideals). One Native legend has it that the tower arose from the earth to save two lost young boys from a bear chasing them - there are several variations of this story. Whichever you believe it's certainly an impressive sight to see.
Deadwood - South Dakota - Synonymous with so many things. When I hear the word I think of Doris Day as Calamity Jane and get songs running through my head for hours. People younger than me might think of a TV show starring Ian McShane. Some people might just think about the gold rush and how the town developed at the height of it all when gold was found in the Paha Sapa (Black Hills). The place is steeped in history; every twist and turn throws up another historical story. The main street itself still holds an old style feeling to it. There are plenty of places to explore and things to learn. I plan on spending a whole day pounding the streets and side roads learning as much as I can.
Tatanka Museum - Deadwood - South Dakota - Not a massive museum by any stretch but one that needs to be visited for any person wanting to know how the plains tribes were able to survive thanks to the bison. They killed only what they needed, using every single part of the animal - nothing went to waste. White hunters coming in, killing the bison for their hides helped with the eradication of the native people. Their source of meat and clothing was gone, left to rot on the prairie. This museum pays homage to that and the bison themselves.
Adams House Museum - Deadwood - South Dakota - Came across this when researching places worth a visit and it looks like a nice little place to take a step back in history for a couple of hours, so plan on having a nose round while in Deadwood.
Wonderland Cave - Deadwood - South Dakota - If there was time I'd love to add a visit to the caves at Wonderland, however I'm not sure we will be able to squeeze them in but they are most definitely on the 'maybe' list.
Wounded Knee - South Dakota - There is no visitor centre here, not museum, just a road leading to a gateway, leading into a cemetery honouring the 300 or more native people massacred one cold December day in 1890. According to Blue Coat reports the Indians attacked first - odd then that they lost more than 300 people, the blue coats just 25. This was a massacre, pure and simple. It's not a tourist attraction and I don't think should be treated as one. It may even be wrong of me to want to visit, but it's somewhere I have always wanted to go for as long as I can remember.
Mount Rushmore - Keystone - South Dakota - Now, whether you agree with the place or not, it's got to be somewhere to visit if you're in the area. I got there just as it was closing on my whistle stop tour so literally had about 5 minutes to take photos. There was no chance to find out how they managed to pull of such a work of art (I don't agree with it per se but do have to agree that it is art and is a pretty marvelous achievement in the grand scheme of things). It's part of American history and culture and is a must-stop place.
Needles Highway - SD - I came across this just a few months ago whilst looking for something completely unrelated (so much so I wasn't even looking for places, or anything to do with America). When it popped up I had a google and thought it looks like a great place to add to the trip; we should get some stunning landscape and scenery photographs from it. As it's not taking us out of our way at all and is in fact perfectly situated between 2 stop points for us, it's a definite on the list of things we will do.
Wind Cave National Park - South Dakota - Another place it would be great to stop at and explore, but only if we can find the time. It's not on the priority list, but is a definite on the 'maybe' list.
The Badlands - SD - I'll be completely honest, the thought of the amount of rattlesnakes slithering around in The Badlands does make me somewhat nervous (as with the bears and wolves, would love to see one to photograph but don't want to be close enough in any way to be struck). However, have you see photo's the amazing landscapes in the Badlands? This place is just amazing. Flat grass prairies to suddenly split apart to reveal ravines of greys, creams and pinks. Hoodoos and stacks rising out of the ground creating an almost lunar landscapes. Birds of prey flying free, circling overhead waiting for that moment they can swoop down to collect their dinner. I want to do the whole Badlands Loop, stopping at every point we possibly can as we do so. I think I might need more than one memory card for Badlands Day.
Wall - SD - Anyone who has an interest in western american history will have heard of Wall, famous for it's drug store (so I believe). I'm not sure it's anything to get really excited about, but it is another part of living history and somewhere that needs to be visited so it can be ticked off the map.
Rapid City - South Dakota - Our arrival in Rapid City will signal the end of what I hope will have been a bloody amazing road trip. It is really this is just an over-night sleep stop where we can grab some breakfast the following morning before heading home later in the day.