What to Watch: Yellowstone Road Trip

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Making the Most out of Your Trip Through Videos

In my experiences with traveling, the way you go about planning for a vacation is different from what you might do if you’re hoping to take a trip.  When you go on a vacation, you’re looking to break away from daily routine and unwind through relaxation and fun.  Not to discredit its importance, but vacationing is really the laziest level of the travel planning heirarchy (if such a thing exists).  Which is as it should be because when you plan a vacation, the only decision you really have to make is where are you going to do your relaxing and rejuvenating.  That’s not to say rest and relaxation can’t also be a part of a trip, but the way I think about a trip includes a much broader purpose than just relaxation and fun.  As cheesy as it may sound, going on a trip should be a quest for knowledge and learning, like an indigenous walkabout.  This learning may occur in the form of life lessons, lessons of self-discovery, or connections with humanity as a whole.  Before taking a trip, I try to set myself up for this kind of learning by making time for some reflection.  Taking the time to think about what I’m hoping to get out of the trip means that I’m better equipped to plan a truly personal travel experience that will attempt to achieve those results.  Somewhat reminiscent of the steps a teacher might go through when planning a unit of curriculum.  Although I pride myself on being an avid planner (maybe slightly OCD, have you seen my itinerary, and that’s the abbreviated Internet version), one of the great things about a travel adventure is its ability to serve as a vessel for those unexpected discoveries too.  The purpose of this first post in the Education series for our Yellowstone Road Trip is to highlight the watchable aspects of the curriculum that I prepared prior to our trip, as well as highlighting the unexpected discoveries we encountered along the way.

Watch To Watch: Yellowstone Road Trip Edition

Before You Go:

1. Disney’s A Goofy Movie

Before going on our trip, I forced the hubby to watch this movie.  Somehow, he’d managed to dodge this 90’s classic during his childhood, and I knew that meant before our trip, it was a must see.  Watching this movie is the perfect way to set the tone for any long road trip, but can very easily be connected to the sights and experiences a road trip to Yellowstone has to offer.  Summer vacation, the open road, tourist traps, waterfalls, and even Bigfoot, this movie is sure to get you ready for your adventure, and BONUS the soundtrack is one of the best!  Convinced?  Check out A Goofy Movie for yourself.

2. AMC’s The American West mini-series

For older audiences, AMC’s The American West provides all the background necessary to fully understand the historical importance of many of the places and sights you’ll encounter during the road trip.  Although not really binge-worthy unless you’re a true history buff, taking the time to watch even some of this series before your trip allows you to cut out spending time in museums without sacrificing the opportunity to learn.  Additionally, having the historical background prior to the trip adds a level of significance and meaning to all the sights you’ll experience during your trip that truly define the West.  For me, this meant seeing buffalo roam freely through a lens of empathetic injustice and heartbreak while finding comfort in the current efforts to aide in their protection.  Find out what meaningful insights the series can add to your trip by watching it now.

3. AMC’s Hell On Wheels

Although this TV series does not provide the same in-depth historical content as The American West, there is certainly some overlap.  The show tells a fictional story of a Confederate Soldier with a personal agenda who finds work with the Transcontinental Railroad after the Civil War.  The general timeline of the show mirrors a lot of what you see in The American West, but the show’s well-crafted storytelling provides an alternative approach to the presentation of historical facts.  History buffs may disagree, but as an English teacher with an appreciation for a well-told story, this is the most entertaining way to brush up on some history. Begin your binge.

Along the Way:

4. Crazy Horse Memorial Video

SPOILER ALERT: The video above is not the entire video you’ll see when you actually visit, just part, but for a good reason.  I was on the fence about including the clip at all, because there is so much to gain from going into your first Crazy Horse viewing experience blindly.  But eventually, I reasoned that patience-lacking people (you know, they types who just can’t wait for anything) may benefit from a short teaser.  That being said, I strongly recommend you take my advice and wait until your actual visit to start drinking the Kool-Aid.  It is impossible not to be moved by the time you leave the theatre.  As a blogger focused on legacy, it obviously struck a nerve for me, but see what it does for you!

5. Yellowstone Forest Fire Video

In the early planning stages of our trip, I stumbled across a travel blog that recommended taking the time to watch the video about the Yellowstone Fires offered in the Grant Village Visitor’s Center.  I was skeptical, but the blog was so convincing and after a somewhat chaotic day, we personally found it to be a nice way to unwind before dinner (just make sure you get there before closing).  With this video I’m not going to be as kind to my patience-lacking friends.  Wait until you’re there, you’ll see the park in a whole different lens!

Love the idea?  Try it yourself, and let me know about it in the comments below!

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