November 29, 2012
By the time they resume classes in January, Knox College students Anjuli Walter and Riho Orito will have journeyed almost 5,000 miles together by plane, train, bus, and car, touring two countries and 14 states.
Walter, who is from Germany, and Orito, who is from Japan, became friends at Knox during the 2012 fall term. They decided to use Knox's traditional winter break -- a six-week period between the fall and winter terms -- to see historic sites, visit museums, and meet people. (Photo above: Walter and Orito in Chicago's Millennium Park.)
"We want to know more about the U.S.," Walter said. "Galesburg is a great town and all, but I think people are different in the U.S., and they're different in the different places and the bigger cities and the smaller towns."
"We're just curious because this country is so diverse and it's so big," she added. "We want to learn something, get an impression of this great country."
Walter and Orito have plotted out a 29-day itinerary that starts in Chicago, Illinois, and continues to Toronto, Canada; Niagara Falls; New York City, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.; Mount Rushmore; and Yellowstone National Park.
They will chronicle their travels on a blog, An American Odyssey.
Their tour stops will include the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Ground Zero in New York, the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall in Philadelphia, and the White House and U.S. Capitol in Washington.
While in New York, they plan to stroll through some of the city's most well-known and culturally diverse areas, such as Little Italy and Chinatown. They also hope to get tickets to a Broadway production of Wicked.
In Philadelphia, they've set aside a block of time to grab a famous "Philly cheesesteak" sandwich.
Perhaps the "craziest" part of the pair's trip, Walter said, will be the leg from Washington, D.C., to Rapid City, South Dakota.
They are traveling by bus. The ride will last more than 40 hours and cover more than 1,600 miles, taking the international students through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota before they reach South Dakota. There, they will see Mount Rushmore.
"It is a very hard trip, but we'll see so much of the country," Walter said. "It's kind of exciting."
After Mount Rushmore, they will drive to Yellowstone National Park. Walter previously has visited the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Death Valley, and Yosemite national parks, and she is eager to add another to her list.
"I've heard so many great things about Yellowstone, so I want to see it," she said. "I read that, especially in winter, you have a great chance to see wild animals there, like bears or wolves."
They plan to stay for three days at Yellowstone, then hop back in the car to Rapid City, and back on the bus to Chicago. In early January, they will return to the Knox campus.
Follow the students' winter break travel adventures at their blog.