I am excited to tell you more about how much fun we had in the States with my boyfriend Keith, so get yourselves prepared for story number 2! Especially if you want to hear more about must see places in the US! 😉
We had a fantastic summer, full of adventures, family and some chill time.
In my previous post, you could read about our first couple days in Atlanta. Now, I am sharing more stories about how the following month turned out for us. A lot happened but I collected the most exciting ones and the ones I would undoubtedly recommend to you guys to see for yourselves!
We flew to Chicago to visit Keith’s grandparents and soon after to participate in a great Native American reunion in South Dakota. A lot of family members (Keith’s mom, aunt, grandma, cousins, etc. ) came, all together we took 3 cars from Chicago.
Every year Keith’s family has a reunion, as they belong to the Sioux Native American tribe. They always try to keep together, even the distant family members, at least around these times.
Our journey led us to Santee, Nebraska, a cute little town on one of the Sioux Indian Reservations in South Dakota. We stayed in the middle of nowhere, in a tiny cabin. 🙂 I am not complaining, we had all the things we needed for our stay, and I loved the environment. We had a bedroom, bathroom, AC (yes, it is crucial for Americans I already learned that:P), and a small kitchen. It was my first time meeting his cousins and distant family members. (Still not everyone though, since my baby’s family is HUUGE.)
We spent 4 days there, but all 4 days were full of fun and delightful experiences.
Mount-Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, Bear Country USA
During our trip, we non-expectedly found a super exciting zoo, called Bear Country USA. This is a place where you can drive amongst the animals without them being in cages or anything that would separate them from us.
The Mount-Rushmore is a beautiful place to see indeed. It is amazing how they carved the 4 presidents into the mountain to represent the 130 years of history of the country. They offer helicopter tours that take you much closer and even land on the mountain, but we didn’t choose to go on one. It was pretty nice to see the monument from “further” as well.
The BearCountry USA is a fantastic place. You can drive into the zoo with your car where the animals are all around you in their habitat. It was a little bit frightening at the beginning, but it seemed like the animals are used to cars and people watching them. You can’t get out of the car, you can’t even roll down the windows, but you still see them from very close, and it is still a great feeling and an unforgettable memory.
My favorite part was when the bears crossed the roads in front of us, showing not much care that we wanted to pass. 🙂 Eventually, they decided to cross and let us go. There were some more animals to see outside of the driving path, in the enclosures. There were tiny little cute bear cubs, wolf puppies, for instance, they were so adooorable, I wanted to take one home. 🙂
Oh yeah, on the picture you can see that even though we are not short (I am 5.8 and he is 6 feet) a bear standing up is much taller than us. On the second picture, a cute white fox was chilling and hiding from the sun. Then those cute loveable bear babies and the big bears who got us stuck on the road. 🙂
The Crazy Horse Memorial was such an extraordinary experience, especially because Keith’s family has Native American relations. Besides seeing the monument itself, there was a little movie theater where they filmed the whole story of the memorial. We could also visit its museum which showcases other beautiful Native things, such as a tippy tent, the clothes they used to wear, and stories about Native chiefs. We figured out that the lineage of Keith’s family was of Chief Crazy Bull! Amazing! The story behind Crazy Horse is so beautiful. You should check it out on their website!
Let me summarize: There was a Native Oglala Lakota Chief called Henry Standing Bear, who made a deal with a Polish-American sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski, to carve a monument to honor all North American Indians. The carving of the mountain started more than 60 years ago and still goes on until now. It is the world’s largest carving in progress. Even if you are not related to Native blood, the whole story is very moving! The place has an incredible mission, let me cite it from the official website:
“The mission of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians. The Foundation demonstrates its commitment to this endeavor by continuing the progress on the world’s largest sculptural undertaking by carving a Memorial of Lakota leader Crazy Horse; by providing educational and cultural programming; by acting as a repository for American Indian artifacts, arts and crafts through the INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA® and the NATIVE AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL & CULTURAL CENTER ®; and by establishing and operating the INDIAN UNIVERSITY OF NORTH AMERICA® and when practical, a medical training center for American Indians.”
This is a must-see place, I highly recommend it to you guys!
It was fascinating to me to see the Santee Indian Reservation where we stayed. Just imagine that even in the 19th century, Native Americans lived here on this land. It is kind of heartbreaking.
Later on our trip, we visited the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Rosebud because Keith’s family requested their Native American ID-s, so that they can apply for the benefits from the state.
In these 4 days that we spent in the village, I was lucky to go to a little Pow-Wow which is basically a Native American Festival. Native families gather together for this event and if they want they can get dressed in Native clothes, and while Native drummers sing and play the drum they can dance to the music in a circle so that everyone can see them. I am attaching a video, I am sorry for the quality, but I hope the vibe still comes through. 🙂
Oh my God, this experience was so very memorable for me! I was sitting so close to the young drummers and I was amazed by the way they sang and played the drums! It was a very beautiful ritual to listen to the drummers and to watch the dancers at the same time, you could feel the vibe and the energy flowing through your soul. I also had a chance to try Indian taco bread which is delicious, reminds of one of our Hungarian snack, called Lángos, but without the dressing the on top!
We had a little fire burning at the cabin almost every night. We spent some time with the distant family members as well. I got to try my very first SMOOORE! OMG, I think I had a mouthgasm! It was so so so delicious! (We don’t have those in Hungary, we only roast the marshmallows and that’s it:))
I had such a magnificent time here, that I was a little sad when it came time to head back to Chicago. I certainly got closer to the Native American culture, it is not question that I want more exposure to it later!
We spent our 4th of July in downtown Chicago. We don’t have a huge celebration like this in Hungary. Our celebration for the foundation of our country is August 20th. We have beautiful fireworks in different cities all over the country, street festivals, and my favorite thing is always the “cake of the country” which they make and choose every year.
Thanks to Keith’s work, we were invited to spend 4 days in San Diego, which is a breathtaking city. Somehow everyone tends to be much more health-conscious there, and people are more relaxed and outgoing (legal weed is probably not the (only) reason. ;)) Downtown is vivacious but somehow friendly at the same time, and the beach is just paradise itself. It kinda reminds me of the European beaches. The weather is beautiful. In the mornings, it is a little bit chilly and the sun doesn’t always come out. However later on throughout the day, it gets pretty nice and hot. Nonetheless, around dinner time, after the sun sets, it gets cooler again to the point where you need a sweater for sure.
There is a fabulous restaurant, called George’s at the Cove with an incredible view of the ocean, that is where we went out to eat dinner. I had a great time there watching the sunset and eating delicious food.
At La Jolla Beach you can go to the edge of the cliff where the sea lions sunbathe, and you actually can get close to them, they will not care.:) I certainly recommend to take a walk around there, the whole beach area is so very beautiful.
Our next trip led us to Oneida. They had a much bigger Pow-Wow there, and since Keith’s family noticed how mesmerized I was even with the smaller one earlier in Santee, they wanted to show me a bigger and real festival.
You could walk around here in a big area with full of merchants selling natural products, typical native American food, dreamcatchers, blankets, T-shirts, etc.
At the procession, there were a LOT of dancers, and all of them were dancing in a big circle, following each other, kids, parents, elders, and youth. To watch the whole ceremony made me teary eyed and emotional. Took me to another world. It is hard to explain to those who never experienced something as such. Even though I do not have Native relation, I was soo drawn to the energy, the ancient collective vibe, and power they were transmitting. It was certainly a kind of meditative state, I felt like I was so engaged with the moment, it was beautiful to see.
I need to attach a video so you can see a little bit what I am talking about. Click on the link below, and you can see it. (Note: It is a little bit loud, so make sure your speakers are not in high!)
We caught one of the “wolves” and took a picture:)
After these memorable experiences, our way led us to Florida, but I will write about that in the next post. I don’t want to overwhelm you guys and make it hard to decide what to see next. 😉 So stay tuned!:)
I hope you enjoyed my stories about these must-see places in the USA, let me know what your favorite ones are!
Leave a comment, I would love to hear your stories!