Great Westward Trek- Part 1

(Or how we drove over 4000 miles with three kids and didn't die.)

{Note- this is super long and probably more details than anyone wants.  It's an easy way for me to remember this trip, but if you love pictures here you go!}

DAY ONE
On July 5th we pulled out of NY and headed toward Michigan, where our first stop would be.  The day was smooth, beautiful sunny skies, not much traffic and only a million tolls.  Seriously.  We would just get into a driving rhythm and BAM another toll.  Lots of flat farmland and one stadium!

Kids were pretty quiet- Dramamine helped keep everyone from getting car sick, iPads and Kindles kept people entertained!


I don't follow baseball but have several Indian-Fan-Friends- this is for them!


When we arrived in Michigan, we arrived at the home of a dear couple who we met in Florida.  They stay at the Ranch for six months and do maintenance and love our family like their own grandchildren.  We were so privileged to see their home and they took us in their RV for a 5 minute drive to Lake Michigan!!!






DAY TWO
We headed out, fortified with a homemade breakfast, sandwiches packed and snacks courtesy of Jack and Linda.  The morning was long- seemed to take forever to get away from the Chicago area and all the traffic (and both days pretty much consist of going south then west then north to get around the Great Lakes).  But once we cleared Chicago area, things really opened up and traffic got much better. We crossed into Wisconsin and the scenery really became beautiful, and once we crossed the Mississippi River, the traffic all but disappeared.  It was a super long day in the car but we landed in Rochester, Minnesota at a really nice "airport hotel."  Which is funny because there is nothing out there and the airport was barely an airport!  But a hotel with a pool and hot tub was just what we needed after two driving days!  Heidi took her first car nap today!!  Time change is making bedtime easier (we gained an hour today).

(at a random McDonalds for a potty break for me!)



Crossing into "the west" over the Mississippi


When you suddenly realize Heidi hasn't asked anyone for anything in five minutes and turn around to see what's wrong!


DAY THREE
We tiredly get up and get ready to head out again. The trip is going well but the tired is catching up.  Both Shannon and I are still fighting whatever sickness we have. I'm sick of having a sore throat all day, every day.  And body aches.  Shannon is still coughing a horrible sounding cough every day.  But on we press!  Today took us through the rest of Minnesota and into South Dakota.  Big wide open prairies (Little House on the Prairie takes on new meanings), a random gas stop at a Buffalo farm complete with firework selection, a great view of the Missouri River and then some of the most spectacular views as we drove in the area of the Badlands and into the Black Hills of South Dakota.  Definitely an area I want to see again!


Sporting my "Road Trip Warrior" shirt


Happy kids and all their stuff.  They are being amazing little travel-troopers!


Thank you South Dakota for playgrounds at rest stops.


Buffalo heads and fireworks . . . 




Massive (see how small kids are) statue of Sacajawea overlooking the Missouri River, also a great information center about Lewis and Clark's Expedition.


These neat concrete structures at at most of the rest stops in South Dakota.


More wide open fields of hay than I've ever seen!


And then all of a sudden, these amazing creations- the Badlands!

DAY THREE- SIDE NOTE
For 200 miles (or more?) we read signs for WALL DRUG.  Random little blurbs, just enough to peak our curiosity.  Lets face it, when the only thing in sight is hay bales, a road sign is pretty exciting.  The closer we got, the more interesting the signs became, until at last I googled it and discovered it's a "tourist destination" road stop- a store that became famous for offering "free ice water" back in 1931 and is now over 76,000 square feet (not a typo) of shopping, western curiosities, western art and more.  It was a perfect stop for us (one hour until the final destination of the day) and filled with great, random photo ops.  Like these . . . 


Riding the Jack-A-Lope


Some mean critters in these here parts.





We enjoyed dinner here and the best maple flavored donuts (pancake meets donut).  Piled back into the car for one more hour.  We stayed at a quaint little RV park that had nice wooden cabins with bunk beds, lots of grass, trees and open space.  Felt good to stretch legs and spread out, knowing that we wouldn't be driving the next day.



Comments

I loved reading all these details! Fun to know I was praying for you as you journeyed. What adventures and stories you'll have to treasure in your hearts.

We are traveling to Rochester, MN for a wedding next month, so we'll be taking the same route!

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