Take the Long Way Home – Part 9

So I don’t really have an excuse for the super long blog hiatus, except that I was just bored. Bored, bored, bored of blogging. But today I was thinking “man, I should really try to finish blogging about the road trip.” So here it is, the final installment of our cross country trip.

Montana

We were several feet down the road when we saw these three little animals crossing the road into someone’s yard. From far away they looked like dogs, but when we got closer we saw they were deer. So cute!

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One stop shopping (somewhere in Montana)!

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Most of the area we drove through that day looked like this. And there was some kind of haze or smoke or something in the air, which made it hard to really appreciate much scenery.

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This sunset was so cool. That bright pink sun is exactly as we saw it; I didn’t edit it at all.

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We spent the night in Missoula, Montana (we weren’t really fans of the place; sorry, Missoula) and drove through this neat tunnel the next morning as we were leaving town.

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This part of Montana was much prettier than the area we drove through the previous day.

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We stopped at this place for some souvenirs and breakfast. Seriously, this is where tacky roadside souvenirs go to die. But breakfast was good!

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Idaho

Idaho? No, you da ho! (Sorry; dumb joke between me and my BFF.) Oh my gosh, Idaho. Wow! Idaho was just GORGEOUS! It only took us a couple of hours to drive through this part but we loved the scenery.

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We made a quick detour through Wallace, a historic mining town we had read about online. It’s got all these cool old buildings from the 1800s. I wish we’d had more time to visit but we had to be at the new house by 4PM to do our official walkthrough with the homebuilder.

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Washington

We were in the home stretch by noon! We’d always flown into Seattle before so this was my first time going through Spokane.

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While on the highway just outside of Othello, we spotted this huge fire in the middle of a field. Chris explained that they were probably doing it to get rid of wheat stubble so as to not waste time or fuel tilling the ground.

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And at 3:30PM PST we pulled up in front of our brand new home! It was a picture perfect day with not a cloud in the sky and our sweet friends (and now neighbors!) had come by earlier and left us a balloon surprise.

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This moment signified the end of one journey and the beginning of another. We’re Washingtonians now!

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The stats:

  • Number of days = 7
  • Miles traveled = 3,585
  • States visited/driven through = 13
  • Tanks of gas = 11
  • Cool towns seen = a lot!
  • Family members visited = 5
  • Delicious meals eaten = 14
  • Historic landmarks and places = 8
  • Wildlife encounters = 6
  • Arguments = 5
  • Times we got lost = 2
  • Overall trip score, from 1 to 10 = 15.5!!!!

Take the Long Way Home – Part 8

Yellowstone National Park and Virginia City, Montana

Yellowstone National Park is another place I’d always wanted to visit. I was so happy we finally made it there.

This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen in my life. I don’t even need to describe it; just check out these pictures.

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Lake Yellowstone. I didn’t even know there was a lake.

Continuing our new tradition of posing with every sign.

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When we exited the west side of the park we were just outside of Montana.

We decided to take a detour to Virginia City, Montana. It’s a historic old west town that has remained mostly unchanged since the 1860s.

Now I know where to go if I need a stagecoach or horses.

That’s it for now. Peace out, yo!

Take the Long Way Home – Part 7

Wyoming

Our last stop in South Dakota, before continuing on to Wyoming, was in Custer.

We stopped for lunch at a little local place called Wrangler’s and took a couple of pictures at the Flintstones camp site.

Then we bid farewell to South Dakota and headed on towards Wyoming.

We made it!

This is pretty much what 90% of Wyoming looked like.

We hit some road construction in the mountains which slowed us down considerably. (I think these were the Laramie Mountains, but I can’t be sure.)

A beautiful sky at dusk.

Sheep!

Gorgeous sunset.

We stopped for dinner at Cassie’s Steakhouse in Cody.

We decided to spend the night at the Pahaska Tepee Resort just outside of Yellowstone and had to drive through a couple of these dark, creepy tunnels to get there.

Apparently Pahaska Tepee is a historic landmark. It was really overpriced for what it was, but we figured when else would we ever get to stay there again. Right? Right.

I forgot to take a picture of the inside of our room, but here it is from the outside. There were four rooms per cabin, so you can imagine how tiny they were. This is about as close to camping as I’m ever going to get.

The length of my car was longer than the width of our room!

They offer horseback rides but we didn’t do that.

We did, however, have a yummy breakfast in the lodge, surrounded by this gorgeous scenery.

Next stop: Yellowstone!!

That’s it for now. Peace out!

Take the Long Way Home – Part 6

Sorry for being gone so long! We had a lot of stuff going on with family and friends and, frankly, I was kind of tired of writing about the trip so I needed a break. But there is a lot more to share so let’s jump right in, shall we?

South Dakota (Part 3) – Mt. Rushmore(!!!!!)

I have wanted to visit Mt. Rushmore for as long as I could remember. I remember as a kid learning about it in school and just being fascinated by the idea of this giant sculpture carved into a mountain. I could not wait to get there.

First you drive through this cute little town at the foot of the Black Hills called Keystone. We didn’t get to stop there but if we get to go back, this is definitely a place I’d like to visit.

Getting closer! (Moving car = blurry picture.)

We’re here!! This was taken from the road driving up to the monument entrance.

I admit I geeked out and got a little teary-eyed. It was more beautiful than I had ever imagined.

We walked the trail that takes you up closer to the monument and there are a few little stops along the way, including this little cave…

And this tepee where the park rangers host talks about the Native Americans that reside in the Black Hills and share historical facts and information about the area.

And then there’s the artist’s studio where you can see the actual model Borglund based the monument on. I guess they were originally supposed to have torsos?

Just superfluous scenery shots of the Black Hills.

*Sigh*  I really loved being here.

This nice lady offered to take a picture of both of us (we hadn’t wanted to bring in our tripod) in front of the monument. Thank you, nice lady!

And then we had to leave. =(  But check out this gorgeous scenery along the way! Holy smokes, that’s beautiful!

 

A few miles from Mt. Rushmore is the Crazy Horse Memorial. We didn’t go there but you could see it from the road. Pretty cool.

That’s it for now! I promise not to take as long for the next part of the trip.

Peace out!

Take the Long Way Home – Part 5

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South Dakota (Part 2) – The Badlands

Have I mentioned how much I loved driving through South Dakota? I reeeally loved driving through South Dakota. I especially loved coming across these golden fields of sunflowers throughout our drive. So pretty.

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We stopped at this antique market just so we could have a $.10 Pepsi… then we completely forgot about it and left without having any. Call it a senior moment, if you will. I could have spent hours in this place, though; especially looking through all the old books (my weakness) and the vintage metal lunchboxes.

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One of our pre-planned destinations for the trip was Badlands National Park. This place was amazing, with all the naturally-formed peaks and spires and cliffs.

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Chris had been to the Badlands with his parents when he was about three years old and they had taken this picture of him (seriously?? SOO adorable!).

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We tried to recreate it to the best of our ability but since we didn’t have the original photo for reference it’s not exactly the same. Still, pretty close.

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At this particular moment, Chris was trying to get the camera set on the tripod and asked me to stand there while he took some test shots. I may look calm but I was actually terrified about plunging to my death as there is a long, loooong drop off the side of that cliff.

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Gorgeous views.

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The sun was starting to set when we were there so there were all these beautiful shadows and reflections everywhere.

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As we were leaving the park, we spotted a small family of antelope grazing on the side of the road. I finally get that whole “home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play…” thing!

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After leaving the Badlands, we drove to Wall, SD in order to make a stop at Wall Drug, which is, apparently, a tourist mecca. We only had a few minutes to check it out and pick up a couple of souvenirs before closing time (Chris had been there during a previous road trip with friends, but I never had).

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We decided to have dinner at the Cactus Café across the street from Wall Drug, where Chris ordered the biggest beer I’ve ever seen in my life. I swear, after the waitress dropped it off, I asked him “did you order a pitcher??”

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Chris took this picture before we left Wall.

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Our stop for the night was Rapid City, SD. I wish we’d had more time to check it out, as there were several cool-looking little bars and pubs on the block where our hotel was located, but we needed to get to bed. However, the next morning Chris was looking out the window in our room and spotted something… uh… unusual…

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A dinosaur! I have no idea what that was about, but seriously? How cool is that?

 

That’s it for now. More to come.

 

Peace out!

Take the Long Way Home – Part 4

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Iowa & South Dakota (Part One)

We finally got out of “Misery” sometime after 11pm and made our way into Iowa. We arrived at the hotel in Sioux City, Iowa at around midnight (it may have been later but I can’t remember right now). Chris’ cousin works at the hotel so she got us a great rate. She also met up with us when we arrived, and she and Chris went out for a drink and to catch up on family gossip. Sadly, I had to bow out as I was completely exhausted and really just wanted to get to bed.

 

Because we weren’t able to get a picture at the Iowa state line the night before, we had to make up for it the following day.

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We really only got to see a little corner of Iowa. 

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These small, wild sunflowers were all along the side of the road.

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At the other side of the highway was the South Dakota state line.

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More corn.

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We made a stop at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It was such a pretty location. If we’d had more time we would have had lunch here.

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I love this type of farm, with the cute red barn, the silo and the dairy cows just chilling out.

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As we were driving along a very flat, empty stretch of highway…

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We spotted this giant “thing” off in the distance.

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As we got closer we saw that it was a sculpture garden. So there are all these random metal sculptures just sitting there, in the middle of nowhere South Dakota. It was so strange, but also pretty cool.

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One of our pre-planned stops in South Dakota was the Mitchell Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. When we got there the first thing I had to do was get my picture taken with this guy.

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Then I had to sample the corn. Needs more butter. (That cob was made of metal and burning hot in the sun, so while Chris kept trying to adjust the picture to get it right, I was trying not to get my hands singed. It hurt!)

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And here it is… The Corn Palace!

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Apparently, it’s the World’s Only Corn Palace. Umm… okay.

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It was actually a neat place. And I thought it was cute that their snack bar was called “The Corn-Cession Stand.” I’m a sucker for a good pun.

 

Well, that’s it for Part 4. More to come.

 

Peace out!

 

(P.S. I think I forgot to mention this before, but you can click on the pictures to see them slightly larger, if you so desire.)

Take the Long Way Home – Part 3

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Missouri (aka “Misery”)

The next day we drove through Missouri, which pretty much took up the entire day. FYI, I HATED driving in Missouri. It was absolutely the worst part of the entire trip. And that’s not even including the suicidal deer that decided to run out in front of my car while I was driving 65mph on a pitch dark road. Stupid deer. But I digress.

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The first city we came to in Missouri was St. Louis, so of course that required a stop at the Gateway Arch.

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At the base of the arch structure is this beautiful park with a view of the Mississippi River.

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Inside the arch is a free museum detailing the westward expansion of the United States. Pretty neat stuff.

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We decided not to take the tram to the top of the arch as we would have had to wait about another hour and we really needed to get back on the road. We did take a few of these “artsy” wannabe pics from underneath.

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Once back on the road we saw some menacing looking storm clouds but, luckily, we never actually encountered any bad weather during any part of the trip.

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There were a lot of corn fields along the highway.

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We made a quick pit stop at this tacky roadside shop called Ozarkland and they had these sweet Elvis glasses with the attached sideburns. I tried to do my best Elvis sneer, but it just ended up looking like I was smelling something bad.

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More corn. This field was being harvested.

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We had planned to stop in Kansas City for dinner. You can’t go to Missouri and not have famous Kansas City barbecue for dinner. That would be sacrilege.  It took us a while to figure out our way around but we finally found a place called Jack Stack BBQ. We ended up sharing a platter called “The Roundup.” It was a lot of food and it was SOOO good.

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Downtown Kansas City.

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That’s it for part 3. More to come.

Peace out!