Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Epic Road Trip 2014

As will become obvious, the goal of this trip was not to get across the country as fast as possible.
If I'm going to drive across the country, I'm going to see a few things.
(Whether my kid wants to or not)

I made a point of bringing my "real" camera
for all of the sites we were planning to see.
It promptly died on day one.
So awesome.

Day One
July 13
Our goal on day one was to go to Western New York to stay with some friends of ours, the Duncans.
They have a cool cabin, built by George Duncan himself and even a little guest cabin.

Can you see the babies? They were so adorable!

We had a lovely, relaxing evening there.

Day Two
July 14
Chicago was the goal of Day Two.
Austin is living in Chicago now so how could I cross the country without seeing him?

I had booked all of my hotels online in advance for a couple of reasons:
to be sure I had a room waiting for me
to give me a goal to drive to every day

I booked a Hotel 6 near Boston.
and although I thought I had read reviews for the hotels I chose, I am apparently not that good at choosing hotels.
It was a bit run down and right next door to a strip club!
We tried to order a pizza for delivery and were told that they "don't deliver over there"
So I went to pick it up and asked the girl if I was in the bad part of town.
She tried to be diplomatic but in the end just said, "Lock your doors"
But we slept ok
and were safe 
so it worked out.

Day Three
July 15
We drove straight into the city on the morning of Day Three so we could visit Austin.
We got to see his apartment, took him to breakfast and bought him some groceries.

We then drove to Nauvoo, Illinois 
where I planned to spend two whole days.
I've always wanted to spend some time visiting Nauvoo.
It is a well known site in the history of my church.

First we visited Carthage jail
where Joseph Smith was killed.
The last time I visited there, the kids were little (Carter was a baby)
and we locked the keys in the car!
We were stuck there for over 4 hours waiting for AAA.
This visit was much shorter.

 This is the window that Joseph Smith fell from as he was shot.
 The door with the bullet holes in it

 We arrived in time to see the show that night so that was awesome.

The hotel was nice enough.
Nothing special but also nothing horrible.

Day Four
July 16
We spent Day Four in Nauvoo seeing ALL the sites.
We went to the visitor's center first thing to get tickets to shows and sort of plan out what to see.
The woman kept mentioning things and saying "Oh, he'll love to do this"..referring to my bored looking teenager.
We laughed about it after we left because, really, who cares what Carter wants to do (or not do)!
This was my party.
Riding in a wagon pulled by oxen.

Carter said we could do whatever I wanted and he was a good sport.
We couldn't fit in all of the shows that were there but we saw just about everything else.
It was great!
Carter showing his commemorative Nauvoo brick
The Nauvoo Temple rebuilt just like the original
We stayed for the second show that night!

And Carter admitted to enjoying lots of it...not all...but lots.

We spent the night there again.

Day Five
July 17
We headed towards the Badlands but it was a little too far to make it all the way there.
My goal was about 8 hours of driving per day.
We stayed in another scary roadside hotel...
and I once again doubted my ability to pick hotels!

In the morning the police were in our parking lot
because someone had sideswiped a car in the parking lot and completely ripped off the whole rear side of the car
and then they took off.
I was soooo glad it wasn't me that got hit!

Day 6 
July 18
Forcing Carter to take a picture with me at a scenic overlook. This kids hatred for pictures is super annoying!
Badlands National Park
One of the first things you see when entering the park is a place where you can see the prairie dogs up close.  They were so cute!

We really enjoyed driving the loop and we got out and did a couple of short hikes.
We commented on how if Dad had been with us, he would have been off the trail, hiking all over
But Carter and I were perfectly content to stay on the trail.

excited as usual
Good reasons to stay on the trail! 

There were MANY MANY signs for MANY MANY miles as we drove
that advertised Walls Drugstore.
It has been around since the great depression
and got people to visit by offering free ice water.
We decided it was worth visiting...
the place is HUGE.
We ate lunch there and, of course, tried the free ice water.

Carter trying the ice water, which was not delicious.
They are also known for their homemade donuts, which were quite delicious!

We then drove to Mt. Rushmore
I enjoyed it more than Carter I think, but its something I've always wanted to see.
We didn't hike as far up as we could have...
we were both kind of hot and lazy.

The original, scale carving that was used to do the mountain.

It is near a little town that obviously exists only to feed and entertain the tourists.
We stopped and had an ice cream cone but didn't stay long.

We got back in the car and headed to the hotel.
We got a hotel near the Wind Caves (our next destination)
The hotel was a Super 8...not a bad hotel
but the area had SO MANY hotels
I have no idea why I had such a hard time finding a good one!

We had a decent night's sleep and no one mugged us.
We're just going to call that a success.

Day Seven
July 19
Our first order of business was to go to the Wind Cave.
We were going to try to do that on the same day as Mt. Rushmore but just got too tired.
We got there for the first tour of the day (8:40) and that was totally the right move!
There were only 17 people in our group and all the other tours were a full 40.
The cave was very cool and definitely worth visiting.
We also saw the herd of buffalo  that lives on the land over the caves
and that was super cool!
The original opening to the cave...discovered in the 1800s

My original plan was to drive 8 hours on that day,
stop at a hotel,
and then drive the 3-3.5 hours home the next morning.
But we decided at about 5 hours in that we would just keep going and get home today.

As we drove, we passed the hotel we would have stayed at
It had a beautiful view, it looked amazing on the outside
(so it was probably nice and clean and all that on the inside)
I started freaking out a little bit at missing out on our one and only nice hotel
but Carter was adamant that we keep going.
So we did.

We happened across another site related to the Mormon Pioneers so I stopped there.
It was a quick one...but I got a picture of the mountain pass called "Devil's Gate"
How those pioneers made it through those mountain passes with wagons and hand carts is beyond my comprehension!

We arrived at about 10 PM

80 MPH speed limits in lots of places
listening to the Divergent series of books as we drove (still have 3 hours to go to finish)
ABBA on spottify that kept me awake when I really needed it
Watching for buffalo
Seeing lots of windmills
All the farms! Man, we grow a lot of corn in this country.
I finally got to watch the Lego Movie
My car got almost 40 MPG!
The weather!  It was perfect! Not too hot, not muggy.  We commented on it often.  We had a couple of rain storms but nothing bad.  It was just about perfect weather for our entire trip.
Spending a lot of time with Carter.  We had a good time together.

1 comment:

  1. We went to Nauvoo on our way to Chicago in 1999. I loved what I saw but then I got the stomach flu (or food poisoning?) and missed the rest of it. sad. The temple wasn't there so it's weird to see it now!

    Sounds like a pretty great trip, aside from all the bad hotels. I hate bad hotels.