the busiest three weeks ever: part three, the big road trip

We left off having returned from Missouri…

I had been spending the last month or so saying my goodbyes. Last looks at the White House and the Monuments. Last walks through the museums. See-ya-laters to the friends .The moving company showed up a grand total of two days after we got back from Missouri, wrapped the furniture in protective blankets, plastic wrapped the couch, and loaded all 50 some odd boxes we had packed up into their giant truck. The next morning we packed the car, loaded the cat, turned in our keys, took one last look at the apartment, and locked the front door for the last time. Virginia was good to us, but it was time to hit the road.

And so began the road trip to end all road trips…all 3400 miles of it.

Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California

On the first day we made it all the way to Indiana. A few interesting (or not so interesting) tidbits from the first day: I forgot to make a road trip mix CD, so we couldn’t listen to the Forrest Gump Soundtrack, which by the way, makes excellent road trip listening. That and we played a rousing game of “name the state capitals.” Tim couldn’t remember the capital of Alabama. Oh, and we stopped at Walmart and bought Lunchables (which I haven’t eaten since grade school). Tim made me make his cracker sandwiches for him while he drove. I figured it was the least I could do.An interesting factoid about Indiana? The Hoosier State is obsessed with two things. God, and a man named Tom Raper. Mr. Raper is on almost every billboard, selling RV’s. It’s a rather unfortunate name don’t you think? Though, when we passed the showroom, we did kinda want to stop and look at an RV.

Day two we made it to Missouri, where we passed through St. Louis to see the Arch. Before we got there though, there was all sorts of road trip fun to be had. First, was the realization that from the very beginning when we left Virginia there was never more then a 30 mile stretch between Cracker Barrel locations. Almost as many road signs along the rout as Tom Raper RV signs in Indiana. Second, country radio stations in the Mid West really like Randy Travis. Specifically, “Three Wooden Crosses”. You can watch it bellow and experience what we got to listen to about once every half hour. If I didn’t know all the words before this trip, I sure do now.

Third on the list of mentionables from the day would be the fact that Sunday morning the country station treated us to a break from Randy Travis, for the weekly top 20 countdown. We got to about song #14, and were enjoying the non-repeating of songs, when we crossed into Missouri…and had to switch radio stations…to a station that was just starting the top 20. So…we got to start over and listen to it again. Sigh. Lastly, having finally tired of country radio for the day, Tim decided to switch off the tunes. I was secretly looking forward to a little quiet so that maybe I could crack open the book that I had been meaning to read on the trip. Tim had other ideas. He decided to make up his own radio station. Disney songs, all sung by himself. “Spoon Full of Sugar,” “Hakuna Matata,” and “Kiss the Girl” from Little Mermaid. It was quite amusing if I do say so myself.

Here are some photo’s from the St. Louis Arch:

Day Three was almost entirely Iowa and South Dakota. Iowa has to be the second most boring state I’ve ever been through (you’ll learn about the first a little later). South Dakota was by far my favorite State we visited. I was beyond surprised by how much I loved South Dakota. We stopped and did a lot of sight seeing in SD. Here are some shots from the road:
This was, hands down, the prettiest cloud cover I had ever seen:
We stopped at Mt. Rushmore:
And then, the partially completed Crazy Horse memorial. And, by the way, if you ever go by there, stop at the little visitor booth at the early entrance (not the big one further up the hill). Hopefully Jim will be working. He’s the nicest old guy ever. He greets you with a giant smile and says things like “and what can we do for you today little lady?”:
If Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse weren’t cool enough, we were lured by the dozens of roadside signs for the elusive Wall Drug, which claims to be “America’s favorite roadside attraction.” Now, I don’t know about America’s favorite, but it certainly is MY favorite roadside attraction. Here are a few reasons why. I think the coolness speaks for itself:

Day four was all Wyoming. This is the most interesting thing we saw in Wyoming:
Needless to say, Wyoming takes the prize for “Most boring” state I’ve ever been too. It’s quite an honor I’m sure. The only amusing thing that happened there was that I got to see lots and lots of antelope, which I originally confused with Gazelles. But Tim set me straight…”Gazelles live in Africa, Nic.” Oh, yeah. Whoops.

On the fifth day we made it all the way to Nevada, where we each lost five dollars on the slots in Reno. At one point I was up to $6.50, but then I got greedy and went and lost it all. Quit while you’re ahead isn’t a lesson I’ve learned yet, apparently. Prior to reaching Reno, we passed all the way through Utah. It was interesting enough. Salt Lake City, the Morton Salt Company, the salt flats (home to what has to be the longest, flattest, and straightest road in America), and this strange roadside odity: the Metaphor: Tree of Utah. Also in Utah, I discovered my new favorite Johnny Cash song, “One Piece at a Time.” If you haven’t heard it, you can listen bellow. I find it quite funny.

And now we have finally reached the sixth and final day of the trip, where we found our way to California and the good ole Pacific Ocean.

It was a short drive (comparatively) through Nevada to San Francisco. We made it to the Bay Bridge around two o’clock in the afternoon. Here’s the first real California view that we got:
Yeah, I think we made the right move.

Now, I bet you all are wondering where Oliver was during the trip. Oh, he was there all right. He got the entire front half of the back seat to himself. He had quite the spread back there. Litter box, favorite purple blanket, and his carrier in case he got scared. I had done all sorts of reading about how cats handle road trips and things to worry about and watch out for. None of it was necessary though, because, well, Oliver is the best traveling cat in the world. I’m convinced he’s actually a dog. By far the funniest thing he did was try to go number two in his litter box, balancing on three legs, while Tim’s driving 80 mph down the freeway. He was successful, and any remaining concerns I had about him traveling went right out the window. If he wanted some attention, he stood up against the back seat and pawed my shoulder so I could drag him up front to my lap. If he wanted a better view he stood up on the door handle and watched the miles and miles of endless farmland roll by. If he wanted to sleep, he crawled into his dungeon (under his blanket) and slept. Just so that you can get a good Idea of how he handled the trip, here is a shot of Oliver, demonstrating his lounging abilities somewhere in the middle of South Dakota, and then getting ready for bed at a Motel 6 in Wyoming:

So there you have it. Here we are, the three of us, back on the West Coast. Yay!


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