Movin’ Through the Midwest! – US Explorer

Hey everyone!

We’re coming at you from Day 12 of the US Explorer, as we are currently on the way to Minneapolis. This past week was jam packed with excitement since our last update, we truly have had a blast exploring Cleveland, Ann Arbor, and Chicago.

Arriving in Ohio on July 4th was really cool for all of our Trip Members! Our spacious campsite was conveniently located a few minutes away Cedar Point Amusement Park, allowing us to see their patriotic fireworks display from the comfort of our PJs. Our campsite manager, Josh, helped us prepare a dessert which we called The Ameri-Cone Dream, which consists of ice cream cones filled with chocolate chips, marshmallows, topped with red and blue berries. With individual sparklers and the view of the fireworks above, we had a super Independence Day celebration! The next day was spent at Cedar Point, the roller coaster capital of the world. Our trip’s daredevils and coaster-fanatics defied the laws of gravity on some of those rides! The most popular rides among our group were probably the Millennium Force (known to be the park’s best ride) and the Top Thrill Dragster, with a 420 foot drop at 120 miles per hour!

We packed up and moved onto Ann Arbor, Michigan, where we had the ultimate college life experience. We truly found our inner Wolverines as we got a chance to sleep in the University of Michigan’s student dorms, eat meals in the dining hall, browse at The M Den, and of course, take an amazing tour of the Big House football stadium – we even got to go in the locker room and run out on the field! The two days we spent on the campus were so enriching, as we learned about the school’s history and explored its’ fun, which absolutely inspired some of our Trip Members to attend the U of M for college! One of our nights in Ann Arbor was spent playing Whirlyball. Whirlyball, in case you were wondering, is pretty much a mix of lacrosse, basketball, and bumper cars. This game was one of our trip’s highlights so far, as we scored points and laughed all night! Ice Skating on the second night at the Ice Cube was a huge hit too, especially for our Trip Members who lent a helping hand to their friends who were beginners on the ice. With a rink reserved for our group, we turned the ice into a total dance party.

Next, we arrived in Beantown, Chicago! Our first stop was check-in to the swanky Omni Hotel, and we walked the halls like royalty. Although none of us made it on to the big screen at the White Sox game that night, seeing the homerun fireworks light up the sky was an amazing memory we will all remember. It happened to be country night at the game, and we were treated to clips of country stars performing at the Grand Ole Opry. Biking along Lake Michigan on Saturday morning was such a blast – getting to see the city from the outside looking in, and of course busting out the tunes on the 6-person surrey bicycles. Later that afternoon, riding the elevators to the top of the Sky Deck at the Willis Tower was scary yet exciting for many of our Trip Members; standing on the glass lookout box 110 stories up was unreal! For the “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” fans in our group, leaning on the window with mannequins of Sloan and Cameron, pretending to be Ferris himself was a photo op not to be missed. We loved the feel of Chicago, especially the food scene it has to offer. Trying out the local restaurants at the Taste of Chicago (and snapping pictures at the Bean) and indulging in some famous deep-dish pizza was a real treat. The next night we really enjoyed the unique experience of the Blue Man Group show, having the chance to sit in the splash zone, ponchos and all, was incredibly fun. We even had some audience participation among our group!

We’ve been lucky with awesome weather so far; we’re hoping it sticks for our camping in Minneapolis! Our next stop includes a cool waterpark and the famous Mall of America – we can’t wait!

Until next week,

The Westcoast Blogger

Interested in making your own west coast connection? Learn more about our U.S. Explorer Westcoast Connection tour.

US Explorer


From the Midwest to the Eastcoast – Eastcoast Encounter

Dear Friends and Family of Eastcoast Encounter,

Take me out to the ball game! Take me out to the crowd! Our trip was treated to a real thriller in Cleveland where the Cleveland Indians took on the Oakland Athletics. Unfortunately the home team did not prevail as the Athletics beat the Indians to a 5-4 win. Before witnessing America’s favorite pastime, the group was privileged to walk the halls and view rock and roll history at the Rock and Roll hall of fame. What a treat! Ringo Starr’s full original drum set was on display, artifacts from every era of music and for all you single ladies out there, there even was a Beyoncé exhibit. Everyone had a great time snapping photos of their favorite rock and roll artists. Next up was a fun day at Cedar Point Rollercoaster Park where everyone spent the day riding thrilling roller coasters and indulging in delicious foods including funnel cakes and hot dogs.

Then we were off to Washington D.C.  We visited the Korean War Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam War memorial, World War II Memorial which all led to a group debriefing where we were each able to share what we are grateful for.

Active Teen Tour

Next up was the Zoo where the giant pandas were the main exhibit! The pandas were so cute and our group enjoyed all of the animals we saw. Following the fun morning at the zoo we headed to Union Market to enjoy a plethora of different cuisines, and then enhanced our knowledge at the Newseum.

From there we headed to Virginia where we spent the morning sliding down some crazy water slides at Water Country USA and screaming our heads off on some of America’s best rides at Busch Gardens. Our last day in Virginia was spent swimming and hanging out at the beach where there was never a dull moment!  Everyone had an amazing day which led to an even more amazing night at an all time favorite, Dave and Busters, where trip members had the opportunity to enjoy some time playing a wide range of different games!  Dance Dance Revolution was a real hit! We can’t wait to update you on our magical adventures in Orlando!

The Westcoast Blogger

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Autographs in Chicago! -Major League Madness

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