Banff or bust, part 9: The Home Stretch

3,174 miles later… we are home!!

We have just finished putting the new pins in our map of the United States. We had walked through the trip beforehand, using that same map — but now that the miles are behind us, the enormity of it is really hitting me. One city (Edmonton, Alberta) is so far north it isn’t even reflected on the map.

We listened to over 39 hours of audiobooks (see the full list at the bottom of this post), not including additional episodes of podcasts or time spent quietly watching the landscape.

And of course, our trip home was far from uneventful. After departing Billings, Montana, we took a side trip to Little Bighorn Battlefield; we had been there before, but I find the site incredibly powerful — not only for the remembrance of the battle itself, but for the way the museum owns up to its changing narrative. After all, the park used to be named for Custer and included less representation of Native American voices. Our sense of history can evolve.

We spent our final night just outside of Mount Rushmore — in fact, we could see the monument from our dinner spot.

It wasn’t Rushmore that drew us to the area… it was Under Canvas, a company that sets up elaborate canvas tents in lieu of traditional hotel rooms.

We had visited Under Canvas Yellowstone a few years back, and the company only opened Under Canvas Mount Rushmore this summer.

The Mount Rushmore site is far more posh than the Yellowstone site was, though Yellowstone is bound to have expanded since we were there last. Rushmore includes communal tents for dining, playing games, and lounging. They also offer s’mores every night and a view of the monument’s nightly lighting ceremony.

I would have been devastated to leave had I not been so eager to get home. It has been a stunning and magical trip — but it has also been a long one. Before our planning session I hadn’t realized that Rushmore was merely 5 hours away, so who knows, I may be back for glamping before too long. For now, my own bed and bathroom are feeling like the fanciest places on earth.

P.S. Leave it to us to find an enormous bike sculpture along our route home.

Miles driven: 3,174

Audiobooks completed:

Part 1: Jackson Hole 
Part 2: Craters of the Moon 
Part 3: Idaho Falls
Part 4: Kootenay National Park
Part 5: Banff National Park 
Part 6: Calgary
Part 7: Edmonton Fringe Festival
Part 8: Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
Part 9: The Home Stretch

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