We left Ashland, Ohio, early on Monday morning. I cried my eyes out til about the Indiana border (almost 3 hours). Around lunch time I discovered a note from my mom that she had tucked away in the cooler. Then I cried for a couple more hours. I wish I knew where that note was now, but I don't.
I don't have any pictures of the first day of our trip because, seriously, who wants to see pictures of cornfields? That's pretty much all you'll find in the midwest. We got stuck in traffic in Chicago and saw the world's largest truck stop somewhere in Iowa. Then we almost got stuck in the front yard of our hotel on the first night.
We drove all the way to Sioux City, Iowa. It was a long day and Phil wanted to get as far as we could that day so we could see some sights later on. We had the biggest rental truck available and we were towing my trusty green Saturn behind that. The hotel manager, not sure what kind of drugs he was on that night, told us we'd be able to turn around at the end of the parking lot. Uhhh. . . not so much. We got to the end and had no place to go. As a last resort, Phil decided to tear up their yard and we left our own little "wagon wheel ruts" behind as a lasting sentiment. He barely made it between two huge cement pillars which, oddly enough, were probably placed in the yard to keep people from driving through it.
Ohio. . .Indiana. . .Illinois. . .Iowa. . .and on day #2. . . South Dakota. Bless the people who live in eastern South Dakota. Oh my word. Most boring place on the planet. I slept through it until we hit the Badlands. Well, I remember waking up long enough to see a sign that said something about the Laura Ingalls Homestead or something like that (Gig, it was 45 minutes out of the way or we would've gone.) I've never seen anything quite like the Badlands. Notice to the right of Phil's shoulder a nice green grassy area, then right on to the cliffs and hills. Very strange but beautiful in it's own unique way. Wall Drug was another experience in and of itself. You see signs for miles and miles about "free water at Wall Drug." It's a whole town experience. And yes, you can get free water.
From the Badlands to the Presidential carvings at Mt. Rushmore. Totally cool thing to see. I can't even draw stick people very well and these men carved huge faces into granite.
We also drove not too far away and saw the Crazy Horse Monument. In the foreground you see a much smaller version of what it's supposed to look like when it's done (and Phil's right under the horse's nose). The real deal is in the rock behind it. They've still got a long way to go.
Leaving South Dakota to enter Wyoming, which was one of my favorite states. It's absolutely beautiful there. You could see the Teton Mountains for miles and miles. We pitched our tent at the KOA and survived a bit of a rainstorm. And true to the KOA spirit, we got free pancakes for breakfast.
Not too far from the campground we ended up in this little downgrade. It was hairpin turns for quite a while. My knuckles were white for a month after that. And people did this in wagons????
In western Wyoming we got to drive through Yellowstone National Park. (Simply because when Phil was planning out all the driving routes, he asked me what I wanted to see, so I got to see everything on my list.) Here's right after we entered the eastern gate to the park.
We drove quite aways around Yellowstone Lake. I kept my eyes peeled for bears, but all we saw were buffalo and elk. And everyone should get to see Old Faithful erupt once in their lifetime, so we saw that too. Did you know that the whole entire park is a ticking time bomb? It's one big huge gigantic volcano. If that place ever explodes, we're all gonners. It's pretty interesting to read about. So are the stories about people falling into boiling hot pools of water. My brother-in-law has a book about deaths in Yellowstone. Death by scalding. Sounds fun. As we were getting ready to leave Old Faithful, we got to see another geyser erupt off in the distance. There are actually geysers there that are way bigger than Old Faithful, but Old Faithful gets all the glory because of its regularity. I'd like to go back someday and explore Yellowstone some more.
Montana truly is big sky country - the sky is just huge - and the mountain passes in Idaho scared the living daylights out of me. We arrived in Spokane, Washington, and visited with Phil's family. His parents weren't able to come to our wedding because of their poor health, so we got to fill them in on everything. That was a special time for us. Then we finished the last six hours of our journey and ended up in North Portland, which was Home Sweet Home for the first two years of our marriage.