There are three places/things I've seen that were better than advertised, took my breath away and in one case brought me to tears.

hookyIU1990

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The first time I was in Yosemite Valley was a weeknight stay in October and it seemed we had the whole place to ourselves there was only one other person in the campground. It was awe inspiring to look up at all of that and hike a portion of the Muir/Mist trails with no one else around.

Watching the northern lights and listening to wolves howl while on an Isle Royale backpacking trip with my son on his 18th birthday was pretty incredible too.
 

hookyIU1990

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Sheet, I bought some of the sauce from the grocery the other day. It was too damn hot. Honestly unedible. Mind you I’ve had the cocktail sauce many times in person. I’ve purchased the sauce before but this batch I couldn’t handle.
It's just ketchup and horseradish.
 

BradStevens

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Yea I went to Yellowstone this summer on our great RV trip and saw the Grand Canyonn of the Yellowstone River. Another better than advertised visit on this trip was to Crazy Horse in SD. First of all I enjoyed it much more than Mt. Rushmore. While it's yet to be completed and probably won't during my lifetime at the rate of work the cultural experience is fantastic and was very educational for my kids, wife and I. I highly recommend it when passing through SD.
Good info. I'm heading out there next week (SD then Yellowstone).

Regarding your initial question, the Vatican and St. Peters were pretty awe inspiring. My first visit to the Rockies didn't disappoint, either. Probably due to growing up in Indiana, any mountains impress me a lot. Finally, on a sad note, I had to go to NYC in early October of 2001. While there, I went down to Soho to eat at an amazing restaurant for dirt cheap and was within a few blocks of the World Trade Center carnage. I walked over to look. It was incredible; I can still picture it to this day. Warped steel beams and wreckage everywhere and a stifling smell of jet fuel that really was tough to stomach.
 

HooDatGuy

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Good info. I'm heading out there next week (SD then Yellowstone).

Regarding your initial question, the Vatican and St. Peters were pretty awe inspiring. My first visit to the Rockies didn't disappoint, either. Probably due to growing up in Indiana, any mountains impress me a lot. Finally, on a sad note, I had to go to NYC in early October of 2001. While there, I went down to Soho to eat at an amazing restaurant for dirt cheap and was within a few blocks of the World Trade Center carnage. I walked over to look. It was incredible; I can still picture it to this day. Warped steel beams and wreckage everywhere and a stifling smell of jet fuel that really was tough to stomach.
Jet fuel can’t melt steel beams.
 

NPT

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Seriously, though, Ireland did/does it for me. As one of Irish descent, the whole country speaks to me in a way no other place/thing can. There's something mystical/ethereal about so much of it. You can feel the spirits of those who came before. In many of the small villages/towns and their pubs you can sense your great-great grandfathers' presence. The Irish whiskey and Guinness helps . . .

God invented whiskey so the Irish wouldn't rule the world . . .
When working I had to travel to Ireland ever so often...I too liked it and loved the people... friendly and laid back.

It would be hard for me to pick a favorite place...
  • I love Glacier National Park... beautiful
  • I really liked Alaska (all over).... been there 4 times and would love to go back
  • The Grand Tetons are my favorite mountains.
  • My wife is from CO.... love that state... so much to see.
  • Smoky Mountains are really beautiful in the fall... doesn't get much better than that.
As you can see we are outdoor people.... I like manmade things but nothing compares to nature.
 

DrHoops

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1) I agree with you 100% on the Grand Canyon. No matter how many times I've seen pictures and seeing it on television and in movies. None of that does justice to seeing it in person. It's mind blowing how massive it is and it just blew my mind.

2) Machu Picchu, Peru. If you are lucky enough to get there on a clear day. Mine was on and off clear...again...just out of this world. How this was built, why it was built and how precarious it is sitting on the mountain. You can very easily just fall over the side and you'd be long gone.

3) Tokyo (and Japan in general) If you ever want to feel like you are stepping into the future and at the same time looking into the past...go to Tokyo. Every technology that we think about, they seem to put into action. It's such a beautiful, odd, interesting, place where the culture is just different than anywhere you will ever see.

4) The Great Migration in Tanzania (you can also see it in Kenya). The number of wildebeest and Zebra you see is so overwhelming you can't believe what you're seeing. And then there are the predators who are like kids in a candy store. Lions, hyena, crocodiles, Leopards. You realize that every day is a fight for your life in Africa.

5) Victoria Falls (Zambia/Zimbabwe border). The most beautiful waterfalls in the world.

6) Bora Bora - Perfectly crystal clear water. Nothing to do but relax.....

7) Sugarloaf in Rio - Breathtaking views.

8) Villa Borghese in Rome - See Bernini's statues of David and Apollo & Daphne. You won't believe that these are carved out of a single piece of stone.

9) Versailles outside of Paris - Unbelievable.

10) Amalfi Coast in Italy - Villages hanging on the cliffs and tumbling down to the sea.

11) Forbidden City in Beijing - WOW!

12) Almost forgot Venice, Italy. For the first day or so you can't believe it's not some Disney creation. Amazing place. Definitely stay over night so you can see it when all the crowds are gone.

13) Colosseum in Rome - Just being inside, understanding the history.
 
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DrHoops

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Been to 1 and 3 and yes they are great. I'll add 2 places. Not saying better or worse but certainlyshould be on a bucket list.

I've been to the Taj Mahal twice and it is also awesome. Just wear sunglasses when you go. The sun reflecting off of the white marble is tough on the eyes.

The 2nd place is Machu Picchu. Hopefully, I can retire to Arequipa and make more frequent trips there in a few years.
I love almost everything about Peru. The food is great (I even had some guinea pig...it was worth trying).
 

HooDatGuy

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4) The Great Migration in Tanzania (you can also see it in Kenya). The number of wildebeest and Zebra you see is so overwhelming you can't believe what you're seeing. And then there are the predators who are like kids in a candy store. Lions, hyena, crocodiles, Leopards. You realize that every day is a fight for your life in Africa.
I’ve been big game hunting down there, magnificent beasts, but they are no match for a Winchester! :)
 

jsig

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I love almost everything about Peru. The food is great (I even had some guinea pig...it was worth trying).
I lived there for a year and worked in the jungle on a 29 days on and 15 days off scenario. I ate all sorts of stuff in the jungle the workers from the labor camp caught. Stuff like turtles, lizard, fish. I had guinea pig at a restaurant in Cusco. Liked city food much better but fruit in the jungle was awesome. I spent most of my off time in Lima.
 

76-1

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Indiana
1) the Matterhorn (the natural one above Zermatt, Switzerland..., not the Disney version 😉)

2) the Cathedral Group view (the Grand Teton, Teewinot and Mount Owen)

3) Sunrise on the Diamond (East Face of Longs Peak) from Chasm Lake

The above put anything manmade to shame (in my opinion)...
 

outside shooter

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Damn, y'all have lengthened my list of vacation destinations.

Has anyone been to the Galapagos Islands?
 
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twenty02

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I've been to many of the places mentioned already here in the US ..and they are all great (Grand Canyon, redwoods, Tahoe, etc)

Igauzu falls (Brazil/Paraguay) has to be pretty far up there for me.... makes Niagara look like a nothing.

Most surprising place to me domestically was the sand hills region of Nebraska. Truly amazing place, totally and completely isolated (we drove upwards of 50 miles on sand/ dirt roads right through cattle pasture - often cattle laying in the road - to get where we stayed).

The hills region itself is such unique topography you feel almost like you're on another planet.
 
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Eppy99

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I've been to many of the places mentioned already here in the US ..and they are all great (Grand Canyon, redwoods, Tahoe, etc)

Igauzu falls (Brazil/Paraguay) has to be pretty far up there for me.... makes Niagara look like a nothing.

Most surprising place to me domestically was the sand hills region of Nebraska. Truly amazing place, totally and completely isolated (we drove upwards of 50 miles on sand/ dirt roads right through cattle pasture - often cattle laying in the road - to get where we stayed).

The hills region itself is such unique topography you feel almost like you're on another planet.
I'm not sure what's considered the sand hills region of nebraska but my first trip through the state on the way to Colorado was boring as feck and smelled of sheet. This past summer as we drove the Rv on the way to Jackson, WY we got off the mainn highway 80 route and took the Old Oregon Train which led us through the more Northern part of Nebraska into Wyoming. I had no idea how beautiful this ride would be. Honestly it may have been the most suprising part of the whole trip.
 

CO. Hoosier

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In 2019 we took 22,000 mile North American road trip over a period of 17 weeks. We visited 32 national and state parks and monuments and about 34 museums and galleries. Having seen most of the big name national destinations we concentrated on many of the more of the lesser knowns. We mostly stayed off the interstates and found many boutique hotels and B&B’s. Needless to say we had a ball. Some lesser known highlights, in no particular order, that you should add to your bucket lists.

  • The Winston Churchill Museum in Fulton Missouri
  • The Museum to the American Revolution in Philadelphia. The Best Museum we saw.
  • Quebec City One of my two favorite cities anywhere.
  • Duisenberg/Auburn museum in Auburn In.
  • Ford Museum
  • Crater Lake. A shade of blue you have never seen.
  • the Bunker at The Greenbrier Hotel.
  • Wakulla Springs and lodge in Florida.
  • New Hampshire in October
  • North Cascades National Park.
  • Scenic Byway 12 in Southwest Utah.
  • Beartooth Highway between Red Lodge Mt and Cody Wy.
Still so much more to see and do.
 

DANC

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I'm sure I might be able to think of more but at the top of my head in chronological order from when I saw them.

1) The Great Wall - I visited China in 1994 with my parents and it was better than advertised. I mean this thing is massive and when you consider how long it took and the amount of workers.

2) The Statue of David in Florence by Michael Angelo - I by no means am a great lover of art. I appreciate some art but sometimes I see art and just think, meh. My wife and I visited Florence on our honeymoon in 2003 and we had to see some art since that's what you do in Florence. To this day the Statue of David is the greatest piece of artwork I've ever seen. You can't fully appreciate it without being in person. I'm not sure I can even describe why it's so perfect but it just is. This literally took my breath away and was way better than advertised and better than my expectations.

3) The Grand Canyon - I visited the south rim of the canyon with my wife and kids in 2018. I expected it to be awesome and beautiful, but upon first site it was far and away the greatest thing I've ever seen. It literally brought me to tears. As a person it made me realize how small I am in comparison to the world and how long this physical place has been here before and will be after me. I can't wait to go back. It's funny I think the movie Vacation actually made me think it wouldn't be such a big deal.

Anyone care to share? Doesn't have to be 3.
I'm with you on the Grand Canyon. Awe-inspiring. I visited the western side - an Indian reservation. Took a day trip from Vegas. The part I saw, I swear it looked like an alien quarry. But it was amazing and I hope to see the other sides some day.

I've seen the David, but I was too young (15) to appreciate it. It's a wonder, though.

So, besides the Grand Canyon, I'd say Niagra Falls is #2. It's just beautiful and a ride on Maid of the Mist is a must. On the Canadian side, you can go behind the falls. Very fun and you can spend a couple days there.

My #3 is Salisbury Cathedral in the UK. I don't know, really, why it stands out to me among all the other European Cathedrals, but it does. Maybe it's the fact the Magna Carta resides there. Now THAT is awesome! (I also saw the field where the Magna Carta was signed. Not all that impressive, but damn - you're RIGHT THERE.

 

CO. Hoosier

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I could spend a month just driving throughout Colorado. When we've visitied with the kids they don't seem to mind the drives as everyday is one breathtaking view after another. I love the changes in topography. I will say driving up to the top of Mt. Evans is one of the scariest white knuckle drives of alltime! I much prefer being the driver than the passenger though....doesn't take much for me to get car sick with the switchbacks.
Ever been to the San Juan mountains and driven Red Mountain pass? Scary pass. No guard rails because of snow removal issues.

 

DANC

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The Grand Canyon stunned me into silence. There are simply no words.

I am mesmerized by all big waterfalls.

My first sight of and drive toward the Rocky Mountains was religious.

On the right mornings, an early flight from Louisville to Charlotte provides a look up the Appalachians and Shenandoah Valley that is awesome.

But just sitting on the bluff in my hometown as a kid and watching the Ohio River flow by a million times changed me every time.
LOL When I first read that, I thought you said 'sitting in the buff'.

Bring the smelling salts, stat!
 

Univee2

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In 2019 we took 22,000 mile North American road trip over a period of 17 weeks. We visited 32 national and state parks and monuments and about 34 museums and galleries. Having seen most of the big name national destinations we concentrated on many of the more of the lesser knowns. We mostly stayed off the interstates and found many boutique hotels and B&B’s. Needless to say we had a ball. Some lesser known highlights, in no particular order, that you should add to your bucket lists.

  • The Winston Churchill Museum in Fulton Missouri
  • The Museum to the American Revolution in Philadelphia. The Best Museum we saw.
  • Quebec City One of my two favorite cities anywhere.
  • Duisenberg/Auburn museum in Auburn In.
  • Ford Museum
  • Crater Lake. A shade of blue you have never seen.
  • the Bunker at The Greenbrier Hotel.
  • Wakulla Springs and lodge in Florida.
  • New Hampshire in October
  • North Cascades National Park.
  • Scenic Byway 12 in Southwest Utah.
  • Beartooth Highway between Red Lodge Mt and Cody Wy.
Still so much more to see and do.

The bunker at The Greenbrier is an interesting bit of Americana. The story about who could get in and who might have to be left outside was bone-chilling.
 

DANC

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The first time I was in Yosemite Valley was a weeknight stay in October and it seemed we had the whole place to ourselves there was only one other person in the campground. It was awe inspiring to look up at all of that and hike a portion of the Muir/Mist trails with no one else around.

Watching the northern lights and listening to wolves howl while on an Isle Royale backpacking trip with my son on his 18th birthday was pretty incredible too.
Camped out in Yosemite when I was in the Army. We drove my car (a '72 Pinto) to the parking area and set up the tent nearby, along with some other campers.

In the middle of the night, some dogs started barking, people were shouting, banging pans and just making a lot of noise. Turns out a bear had broken into the car (a Mustang) next to mine - he popped out the window with his claws and rummaged around and got some flour left in the back seat. Shredded the leather seats. The bear eventually took off.

Unbeknownst to me, my roommate had gone to sleep in my car when he got cold in the night. When he woke up, the bear's ass was pressed against the window and scared the hell out of him.

The same roommate hiked up to the top of mountain where there was supposedly skinny dipping in the lake. He came back and said there was, indeed, skinny dipping there and some nekid women. We didn't believe him - until we saw the pictuers he took of them. Damn.

That was an epic weekend.
 
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DrHoops

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I lived there for a year and worked in the jungle on a 29 days on and 15 days off scenario. I ate all sorts of stuff in the jungle the workers from the labor camp caught. Stuff like turtles, lizard, fish. I had guinea pig at a restaurant in Cusco. Liked city food much better but fruit in the jungle was awesome. I spent most of my off time in Lima.
Lima is an awesome city. That sounds some a great adventure for you. I’m jealous.
 

Stuffshot

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I'm sure I might be able to think of more but at the top of my head in chronological order from when I saw them.

1) The Great Wall - I visited China in 1994 with my parents and it was better than advertised. I mean this thing is massive and when you consider how long it took and the amount of workers.

2) The Statue of David in Florence by Michael Angelo - I by no means am a great lover of art. I appreciate some art but sometimes I see art and just think, meh. My wife and I visited Florence on our honeymoon in 2003 and we had to see some art since that's what you do in Florence. To this day the Statue of David is the greatest piece of artwork I've ever seen. You can't fully appreciate it without being in person. I'm not sure I can even describe why it's so perfect but it just is. This literally took my breath away and was way better than advertised and better than my expectations.

3) The Grand Canyon - I visited the south rim of the canyon with my wife and kids in 2018. I expected it to be awesome and beautiful, but upon first site it was far and away the greatest thing I've ever seen. It literally brought me to tears. As a person it made me realize how small I am in comparison to the world and how long this physical place has been here before and will be after me. I can't wait to go back. It's funny I think the movie Vacation actually made me think it wouldn't be such a big deal.

Anyone care to share? Doesn't have to be 3.
The first time I saw the Grand Canyon, we had driven there all day from the Frisco area. It was hot and unpleasant.

As soon as we parked the car, a family with four screaming, whining, quarreling, fighting, bratty kids pulled up and parked next to us. Obviously, they were hot, tired and grouchy. Very unpleasant to be around.

When we walked the short distance through the brush to the rim, the canyon came into view all at once. When the four screaming, whining, quarreling, fighting, bratty kids saw the canyon for the first time, they all just stopped, stared and (most importantly) they just shut up, quit fighting and looked!

The canyon is amazing, and I'll never forget the effect it had on those four screaming, whining, quarreling, fighting, bratty kids. If anything, the Grand Canyon is underrated. Photos don't do it justice.
 

twenty02

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I'm not sure what's considered the sand hills region of nebraska but my first trip through the state on the way to Colorado was boring as feck and smelled of sheet. This past summer as we drove the Rv on the way to Jackson, WY we got off the mainn highway 80 route and took the Old Oregon Train which led us through the more Northern part of Nebraska into Wyoming. I had no idea how beautiful this ride would be. Honestly it may have been the most suprising part of the whole trip.

Sand Hills region would be north/ west part of the state. Like due north of North Platte from I80.... and then west. Definitely nothing like the rest of the state.
 

TommyCracker

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I'm sure I might be able to think of more but at the top of my head in chronological order from when I saw them.

1) The Great Wall - I visited China in 1994 with my parents and it was better than advertised. I mean this thing is massive and when you consider how long it took and the amount of workers.

2) The Statue of David in Florence by Michael Angelo - I by no means am a great lover of art. I appreciate some art but sometimes I see art and just think, meh. My wife and I visited Florence on our honeymoon in 2003 and we had to see some art since that's what you do in Florence. To this day the Statue of David is the greatest piece of artwork I've ever seen. You can't fully appreciate it without being in person. I'm not sure I can even describe why it's so perfect but it just is. This literally took my breath away and was way better than advertised and better than my expectations.

3) The Grand Canyon - I visited the south rim of the canyon with my wife and kids in 2018. I expected it to be awesome and beautiful, but upon first site it was far and away the greatest thing I've ever seen. It literally brought me to tears. As a person it made me realize how small I am in comparison to the world and how long this physical place has been here before and will be after me. I can't wait to go back. It's funny I think the movie Vacation actually made me think it wouldn't be such a big deal.

Anyone care to share? Doesn't have to be 3.
When I saw the David I was like, okay it's taller than I expected.

However if you look at it from the right side POV, it hit me.

The intensity of his face is amazing. I truly felt that I was in the moment right after everyone laughed at him, right before he drew his sling shot.

You don't get that from the common pictures or even when you are there looking at it from the front....but it gave me chills when I went to the right of the display. His face is intense and his body is angled in an aggressive position.

Awesome.

Common front view.

799px-Michelangelo%27s_David_2015.jpg


Side view:

165px-Michelangelo%27s_David.JPG
 
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Cortez88

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I remember the first time I saw NYC. I was 18, hadn’t really ever left central Indiana, and was on a clattering NJ Transit train headed for Penn Station. And then I saw the skyline. It was so much grander than I could ever have imagined. The buildings just kept going forever. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
 
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bawlmer

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I think any true art masterpiece is better in person. A few years ago I was in The Hague for a business trip, and went to the Mauritshuis museum of Dutch masters. It was okay, and occasionally very interesting, until I eventually reached the Rembrandts. It made me appreciate his masterpieces even more after seeing lots of other good, but not perfect, artwork. Everything in his painting was perfect, at least to my eye.

For some reason I also can't get out of my head the scenery of Kit Carson National Forest while driving on US 64 several years ago. We went to southern Utah and the Grand Canyon on the same trip, but the rolling meadows of Carson have stuck with me and was the first thing to my mind in this thread. I have to go back just to see if it really is that amazing.

Venice is probably my third. For a tourist destination, it's as unchanged by time as anywhere I've been (the advantage of no traffic).
 
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i'vegotwinners

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Memorial Stadium.

If you had ever been to an IU football game in the 10th Street "Stadium," you'd understand . . .

10th st stadium was "Memorial Stadium".

the only thing bad about the old MS on 10th st, was that it had the track around it.

the bane of all old stadiums with that track.

that said, i think one of IU's greatest blunders ever was not fixing it and keeping it either for soccer or the little 500.

and yes, i realize it had issues and fixing costs money.

still should have done it. huge mistake.
 

T.M.P.

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I'm sure I might be able to think of more but at the top of my head in chronological order from when I saw them.

1) The Great Wall - I visited China in 1994 with my parents and it was better than advertised. I mean this thing is massive and when you consider how long it took and the amount of workers.

2) The Statue of David in Florence by Michael Angelo - I by no means am a great lover of art. I appreciate some art but sometimes I see art and just think, meh. My wife and I visited Florence on our honeymoon in 2003 and we had to see some art since that's what you do in Florence. To this day the Statue of David is the greatest piece of artwork I've ever seen. You can't fully appreciate it without being in person. I'm not sure I can even describe why it's so perfect but it just is. This literally took my breath away and was way better than advertised and better than my expectations.

3) The Grand Canyon - I visited the south rim of the canyon with my wife and kids in 2018. I expected it to be awesome and beautiful, but upon first site it was far and away the greatest thing I've ever seen. It literally brought me to tears. As a person it made me realize how small I am in comparison to the world and how long this physical place has been here before and will be after me. I can't wait to go back. It's funny I think the movie Vacation actually made me think it wouldn't be such a big deal.

Anyone care to share? Doesn't have to be 3.
1. Jennifer Mettler.
 

zeke4ahs

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Yea I went to Yellowstone this summer on our great RV trip and saw the Grand Canyonn of the Yellowstone River. Another better than advertised visit on this trip was to Crazy Horse in SD. First of all I enjoyed it much more than Mt. Rushmore. While it's yet to be completed and probably won't during my lifetime at the rate of work the cultural experience is fantastic and was very educational for my kids, wife and I. I highly recommend it when passing through SD.
I liked Crazy Horse much better than Rushmore too.
 
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13thman

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I remember the first time I saw NYC. I was 18, hadn’t really ever left central Indiana, and was on a clattering NJ Transit train headed for Penn Station. And then I saw the skyline. It was so much grander than I could ever have imagined. The buildings just kept going forever. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
I was there when I was 15. The view from atop the WTC at night was awesome. Also, flying into Vegas at night is quite a sight.