On July 17th-22nd, our denomination had it’s quadrennial National Youth Conference, a time in which Brethren youth from all over the nation swarm onto the campus of Colorado State University. Our area provides a bus that leaves about a week before the conference actually starts and meanders through various sight seeing locations across the country So, you see, the most important decision of the trip was made early on- bus or plane? We who are brave chose bus.
This is our bus.
We first made its acquaintance at about 3 o clock on the morning of the 13th. None were more enthused than I. This is probably because the others were still half asleep.
Or more than half…
By the time everyone was alive, awake, alert and enthusiastic again, we had made it to South Dakota! Here’s our first stop. Unfortunately, the corn palace wasn’t nearly as exciting as the name would have you believe. (What, you don’t think “Corn Palace” sounds exciting?) Inside, there was a small room where we watched a film on the history of the corn palace, and a gym overpopulated with merchants selling “corny” things. And these.
The next day, we took a leisurely stroll through the Badlands, but we had to be careful. Some of the guys decided to start a career in modeling, and it was unanimously decided that this would be a great place to shoot a movie about outer space; or to fake the moon landing.
Afterward, we swung by Mt. Rushmore. Most of my fellow Busketeers were disappointed by its less-than-colossal stature, but I was ecstatic as usual. I also got a rad picture of George Washington. Back at the bus, the natives were beginning to get restless. One group was nearly half an hour late, and so we waited.
We stopped for dinner at the famous Wall Drug store. Not much that was picture worthy there; except for me riding a giant jackalope.
After a restful night at a Best Western, we hit the road again bright and early and drove to Devil’s Tower, which is a large collection of igneous rock surrounded by softer rock which has eroded away over many years. In Native American lore, seven sisters were out in the woods with their brother when about of madness came over him and he turned into a bear. The sisters climbed up the trunk of a giant tree (Devil’s Tower) and while their bear brother was scratching at the trunk, they escaped into the sky and became the stars in the big dipper. It’s a sacred place for Native Americans, and they often leave prayer cloths or bundles in the trees around the base of the tower. The trails around the tower were beautiful.
We spent our final day in Yellowstone national park where we saw a lot of bison, some thermal springs, and many, many dead trees. Our bus pulled up to Old Faithful just as it was erupting, so everyone had to run off as quickly as possible. We saw some awe-inspiring sights, but the whole time no one was able to tell me what the difference is between a bison and a buffalo.
So that’s our trip. On Saturday we arrived in Fort Collins, Colorado and stayed there a week for the “main event,” although I think the journey out was far better than the destination. It was truly a life-changing experience; We all made friendships to last for years and memories not easily forgotten. Maybe one day you can follow in our footsteps- but if you do, invest in a comfier bus.
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