|Erin and Jen Fortenberry|
Whew, what a day! We slept a bit too late and then hit the road. We drove from Kansas City, Kansas all the way home. We got home about 11:30pm. We really should have stopped at a hotel for the night but it somehow seemed silly to stop in Nashville when we could just be home. Plus Erin really wanted 2 days to recooperate (we originally planned to be home tomorrow). It’s good to be home but also kind of sad. We had a great vacation, some adventure, and 2 weeks together as a family. There were some rough moments but we did eventually get into a rythym. Ultimately it was a great vacation with some good memories. Now it’s back to the grind!
A recap of the states we were in:
Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Illinios, Kentucky and we were on the border of Nebraska.
Today we drove thru Iowa. There’s lots of corn in Iowa. Not much else, though. And we discovered that mid grade gas there is cheaper than the low grade. Apparently they are trying to promote their ethanol. Missouri was much of the same. We drove past Laura Ingles Wilder’s house, but it was 55 miles off the highway so too far to stop.
In the evening we ended up in Kansas City, Kansas. We got to visit with our friend Serena who we haven’t seen in 3 years. And that last visit was very brief. It was so good to see her! We had dinner at Applebee’s (I think this made our 3rd or 4th visit) and Erin had fun teasing her. We then found a hotel and while I put Nolan to bed, Erin shared pics of our trip. Then we stayed up much too late talking. I really miss Serena! We are hoping she will come visit us soon.
Another busy day! We drove thru the town of Deadwood, South Dakota (just like the movie). Cute town with lots of casinos. They opened the casinos after they had some bad fires in order to pay to rebuild the town. Their revenues from the casinos far exceeded their expectations.
After Deadwood we found a neat place called Trout Haven. They have a few trout ponds where you can fish and then you can either have the fish packed up to go or they will cook it for you at the cafe. We had promised Patrick to go fishing (it’s the one thing he wanted to do other than camping) and he was quite excited. We had fun catching 4 fish and then had them for lunch at the cafe with fries and coleslaw. The fish were quite tasty, even Nolan enjoyed it.
Our final excursion for the day was Mt Rushmore. It was quite a site to see. It seemed almost surreal. Patrick had almost fell asleep on the drive there. I think he was pooped from fishing. But we managed to keep him awake and he thought the “faces on the rocks” were pretty cool. I also liked the little walkway with the flags. We bought souveniers and then headed out. We ended up staying about 200 miles from Sioux Falls.
We had breakfast at the hotel and then drove on thru Billings. We were hoping to meet up with a Babyzone friend named Chelly (and her boys) but we ended up missing her. I wasn’t able to call her ahead of time as I had wanted due to lack of service an ultimately a dead battery. I was really bummed that we didn’t get to meet up!
We stopped at a rest stop outside of Billings and I swear the bathrooms looked like a prison. Erin agreed. Something about the big metal doors and metal toilets. We drove on to Rosebud, Montana where Erin’s great grandmother grew up. Erin was hoping to get info on the family, as well as track down a sign that his great grandmother had her pic taken in front of. No luck on either, though. We had lunch at a cafe in the small town and visited the Rosebud museum. Erin picked up a book from the museum that has a blurb about his great grandmother.
Patrick saw a cloud that he thought looked like a fish. I think he was tired of listening to Nolan cry since he begged Nolan to take a nap. We spent the night in South Dakota.
What a busy day! We closed up camp and I heard someone else yelling at their kids (not in a mean way). It’s nice to know we aren’t alone. Ha ha!
We drove around Yellowstone and saw a lot of the geysers. The sulfur smell really takes you aback, but they geysers are really cool to look at, some of them bluer than any ocean. We stopped at the Old Faithful General store and grabbed some ice cream while we waiting for Old Faithful. The ice cream was really good and Old Faithful was a neat thing to see. It was kind of funny how as soon as it stopped going off, almost everyone high tailed it out of there. On our way out of Yellowstone we saw elk, moose and buffalo.
We then headed off to Montana and drove on Bear Tooth pass. I have to say, this is the most beautiful scenery, right up there with Kauai. And if you ever have the opportunity to do this drive, by all means, do it. I don’t think you’d regret it. There’s a spot called “On Top of the World” and it really does feel that way when you look down at the valleys. There was snow up there and even though we were cold in our shorts and tshirts, we had a lot of fun tossing snowballs. Nolan was a little uncertain about the snow, though.
As we started heading down Bear Tooth we stopped at a rest stop and found a friendly chipmunk that ate cashews out of Erin’s hand. We ended up stopping in Red Lodge, Montana for the night. Very nice little town that caters to bikers (the Harley type). The hotel was quite expensive but we felt like we deserved it. The bug bites are still itching me, even after finally scratching them to death. I feel like a leper. We were very happy with the pool at the hotel, too. We had dinner at this place that was a combo Mexican/pizza restaurant. Patrick had pizza, Erin had tamales and I had a burger. Oh, and Nolan has been more interested in eating off our plates than eating his baby food.
Erin and I would very much like to come back here and visit more. Next time would be easier with an RV, though. Maybe some day.
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