Road Trip: Day 5 – Rapid City to Laramie

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After a long and arduous drive across South Dakota, we were expecting more of the same for the next part of the trip. We were, however, pleasantly surprised with the change in topography. Where there were wide, flat plains before, there were now beautiful rolling hills (or mountains, depending upon your perspective) with trees. The road began to curve quite a bit more as well, thus slowing our already stately progress. Our objective this day, was first to hit Devil’s Tower and to finally end up at my sister’s place in Laramie.

The first part of the trip again started a little slow. This was primarily due to our difficulty with breakfast. It seems, that if you want a fast breakfast in “Rapid” City, you must avoid IHop. We chose an alternative, which was passable but not recommended. Moving on, we travelled north through the aforementioned rolling hills towards Wyoming.

Along the way, we decided that we should make a token stop at the city of Sturgis, SD where the biker rally is held.

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Getting our first view of Devil’s Tower was impressive. It rose from the ground like a wart on a witch’s nose.

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The formation is very interesting up from and seems to be out of place when contrasted with the rest of the land features of the surrounds. We took a hike around the base gathering even more pictures, some of which I will post later. After wasting much time milling around, we moved on to hurry to my sister’s in time for dinner. We almost didn’t make it in time.

Now, after leaving the tower, Wyoming changed and became even more boring and flat than South Dakota. Eye-numbing flatness… We chose a route which put us on a back road, but cut at least 30 minutes off the drive. However, I neglected to make a bathroom stop at the last civilized town on the interstate… and we drove for the next 2 hours or so needing to stop for a restroom. Imagine, however, a place with no pit stops, no gas stations, no rest areas, no pull offs, not even any trees to hide behind while “communing with nature”…

We finally made it to Laramie and had a great dinner with family and got to spend some time staying up a little late. We also left late this morning, but that was so that we could spend even more time with them.

Thank you, Mandy, for taking some time off work to spend with us! I type this now in the McAllister’s where my niece Brittany works and we’re finally getting on the road for Day 6.

Onward, Ho!

Road Trip: Day 4 – Sioux City to Rapid City

2016-05 VA to WA Cross-Country-Relo Sign Day4My apologies for this taking so long, but on Tuesday (May 31) we had a very busy day and I was so tired that I didn’t take the time to whip up a blog post.

Tuesday morning, we woke a little earlier, but had to waste some more time re-arranging some things in the trailer and still didn’t get out when we wanted to. But fortunately for us, we had a time change mid-state that gave us an extra hour at the destination.

What can I say about South Dakota? Well, it takes a long time to drive across. Wow. And it’s flat, too. We saw a lot of this:

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After many grueling hours of driving this barren land, we ended up passing through Rapid City, had dinner at Firehouse Brewing Co, which wasn’t all that great. Then, we drove up to a winery on the way to Mt. Rushmore. The winery had mostly sweet wines, based on various berries and fruits, although their most famous one was a rhubarb wine.

After that, we headed over to Mt Rushmore which was appropriately impressive.

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We got a good hike around the park and came back for a truncated lighting ceremony, which was fine since it was still rather cold.

Then, the day was done and we retired to our hotel. Thus was the end of Day 4.

Road Trip: Day 3 – Kenosha to Sioux City

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Since parking has been our concern with this trailer, I decided to park where I could get a good look at it overnight and in the morning:

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Today, we began our journey a bit earlier than yesterday. Last night, we decided that I did not need to go all the way to Omaha to broach the Nebraska border, but instead we chose to go to Sioux City which is on the river just across from Nebraska in Iowa. This puts us an hour ahead of our other route while saving us another hour in our drive today. With that in mind, and that we wanted to get up and leave early, we of course… didn’t. Instead, we got a bug in our ear that led us all the way up into Milwaukee – which I had already removed from our plans to save drive time. We went in and had some frozen custard at a place called Leon’s:

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After enjoying the wonderful, rich custard, we ventured into the downtown area, which was mostly deserted due to the Memorial Day holiday. We snapped a few pictures and saw the “Bronze Fonz” overlooking the river.

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Finally – we were then on the road again. Southern Wisconsin is actually a beautiful place, full of hills, valleys, trees and very interesting old barns, or as Laura said: “A barn-anza!”. After transecting the rest of the state, we crossed the Mississippi river into Dubuque, Iowa. Here are a few pictures along the way.

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Southern Wisconsin

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Barns in Iowa

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A little ray of sunshine after the storm.

The drive across Iowa was long, but not boring. The sights along the way kept us engaged and alert – especially the storms we drove through.

As a way to maximize the number of states we cross, we made a pit stop in South Sioux City right before getting to the hotel to get fuel in Nebraska. That makes three states on this road trip that I can add to my list.

Road Trip: Day 2 – Cleveland to Kenosha

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After arriving so late the night before, we decided that we needed a smidge of sleep before heading out for another day on the road. We slept in, had a wonderful free breakfast (it’s good to still be a Hilton Diamond member) and then headed out towards Chicago around lunch time.

Going through Ohio was a great drive – the terrain was wonderful. Rolling hills, trees and farms with some excellent old barns dotted the countryside. Indiana, however, was much more boring – not rolling hills, just small ground swells and the trees were fewer and far between. I suspect that we have more of that coming in Iowa and South Dakota.

Along the way, Laura discovered a store call the Pickle Factory – where they had all things pickle related, even when they were pickles at all. Here are some pictures.

We stopped in Chicago for dinner after getting gouged by the toll bridge to cross into Chicago.

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Traversing Chicago turned out to be fraught with potholes, traffic and getting lost (my fault – I had punched in the wrong address for the restaurant). We stopped in to Goose Island Brew Pub for my favorite Stilton Burger.

After that, we left Illinois and entered Wisconsin, thereby adding a new state to my list. 🙂

End of Day 2.

Road Trip: Day 1

Today, we got a late start. There was so much to do at home (soon to be “not home” I suppose) that it took many hours to both clean out the house and arrange and pack the remaining stuff into the U-Haul trailer. Yes, the company paid for a full “pack and move” package, but there’s always something they won’t do. And I don’t trust them with my computers. And, man, did we stuff that trailer full!

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For the first leg, I chose Cleveland as our overnight stop. It was a good choice, since we left around 5pm or a little after and were able to arrive a little after midnight. I chose a close first stop since I wasn’t sure how towing the trailer would be. Turns out, that’s not too bad. What was bad was how much stuff we had left over of what they wouldn’t take. We were able to cram in all of our stuff in the smallest covered U-Haul trailer, which works very well since it’s just as wide as our car – not wider. I don’t have to worry about the back wheels going over the lane lines before the X3 wheels do. The only difficult part was navigating the Pennsylvania Turnpike – that road just needs to be ripped and replaced with something straighter and wider.

On our way out of the Northern Virginia area, we stopped in a local chain place to eat called Cava Mezze and had some great food. Those of you back in NoVa should try it if you already haven’t – it’s good and also cheap.

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Late at night, we finally arrived in Cleveland – too dark to see anything, but we safely made it to the hotel… only to find it PACKED with people. There were apparently not only Memorial day travelers, but entire youth soccer teams. Parking was simply not available in the lot, so we made our own spot on the end of a row. With a trailer, parking is becoming quite a critical logistics issue, and apparently must be accounted for.

Once in the hotel, we collapsed.

Day 1: done.

A New Airport

… but not a new state.

Today, I’m hanging out in Anchorage, Alaska. I’ve been to Alaska before, but it was many years ago – like almost 3 decades… and we arrived by boat. I was 7 years old and it was summer – the sun almost never set.

Now, though, it’s winter – or pretty close to it, and the sun didn’t show up until almost 10AM. Not that I can actually see it, however – it’s too cloudy outside. I was hoping that I would get to see some Northern Lights, but that was not to be. 😦

Now, I have a new airport to add to my list bringing the total to 93.

A Little Closer To The Goal

I just added more miles to my “lifetime” pool. Now, I’m just under 940,000 – only 60,000 to go. In my old job, that would have been just another year of flying somewhere every week. Not so much now.

In order to speed up the “Million Miles” I talked about earlier, I took a mileage run to Guam and Tokyo – that added almost 19,000 miles in one swoop. So – that added two places to my travel map and two new airports to my list as well: GUM and NRT.

I’ll write more about the trip later.