Driving through Missouri and Illinois

June 23, 2017: Missouri and Illinois – Day 3

Taking a long cross country trip has its good sides and its bad sides. On the less comfortable side, it can be hard to stay seated all day long. You get to that point where you forget about it for awhile and then you make a stop, get out of the car and realize how stiff you are, what a relief it is to stretch. That would be one of the bad sides.

On the other hand it’s amazing how time changes. When you’ve driven through three states in one day, it feels like your day has been richly filled, compared to say, sitting at a computer all day long or all week long. In the latter scenario, you find yourself at another Friday night and wonder, really, did the week go by that quickly? I enjoy the feeling of time spreading out and having a day more densely populated with experiences and memories. Maybe it can’t be like this everyday, and maybe I wouldn’t want it to, but it’s fun to remember that it’s possible.

On day 3 of our trip, we drove through Missouri.

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And then we drove through a corner of Illinois.

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And then we arrived in Kentucky!

Next: Day 3 – Wycliffe Mounds, Kentucky

 

Rawlins, Wyoming

June 25, 2017: Rawlins, Wyoming – Day 2

Part of the reason we picked the motel we did in Wyoming was that it had an interesting cliff behind it. It was a Rodeway Inn – looked like a motel on the outside, felt more like a hotel on the inside. The last motel we had stayed in together was kind of gross – it smelled like smoke and was a little dingy – so we were relieved that this one was pretty comfortable. And it matched my car!

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We were impressed with all the beautiful old churches and other historical buildings in the town of Rawlins. The town looked like it had once lived through better days but was now just a place for people to stopover on their way to somewhere else.

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Next: Day 2 – Driving through Wyoming

Salt Lake City, Utah to Rawlins, Wyoming

June 21, 2017 – Summer Solstice – Utah and Wyoming – Day 1

This summer Chad and I set out on an 11 day road trip, driving to Nashville and back. No, we weren’t going to check out the Country Music capital of the world, we were just going to a family reunion. We thought we’d make a vacation out of it rather than just fly in for a day and a half and then fly back.

We had our trip all planned out and were  both excited about it and then one of our dogs, Charlie, had to have last minute, unexpected surgery. The surgery went well and she seemed to be doing better so we decided to go ahead and board her at the vet to recover from her surgery in a calm manner (ie, with no way to jump around like she usually does) and then we could still go on our trip. I was questioning this decision though, still worried about my sweet little Charlie.

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So we packed up and hit the road. We stopped off in Salt Lake City and then took interstate 80 into Wyoming… and beyond! As soon as we got out of the city and into some wide open spaces I started relaxing and getting revved up for the trip, trying to have faith that Charlie would be just fine.

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Wyoming has such beautiful landscapes. It feels like a privilege to see some of the less populated areas of the country. The wide open spaces just fill you with awe.

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Chad and I had scoured the map along our route to look for interesting spots along the way. Our first one was an interesting spot on the map in Green River, Wyoming: the Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport. We drove through the town of Green River trying to find the “spaceport” right around sunset. When we found it we were disappointed – not because it was just an ordinary old landing strip (which we knew it would be) but because it had several signs warning us that unless we were professional aircraft people we were not welcome. We decided to respect the signs and just enjoy the sunset.

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We got back on the road and drove until we reached the Continental Divide. I admitted I didn’t really know what that meant and Chad patiently explained that on the western side of the divide the water runs to the Pacific Ocean and on the eastern side of it, it runs to the Atlantic. So there you have it!

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I was starting to get fidgety in the car by this point and Chad agreed that it would be a good idea to go ahead and find somewhere to stop for the night. We had our choice of hotels in Rawlins, Wyoming and picked the one that looked good to us both.

Day 2 – Rawlins, Wyoming

Cool night in Mancos

Waking up in Chaco was hot, really hot, so it was a relief to finish out the day in the cool evergreen forest at Mancos State Park, Colorado. The next day before we hit the road we had a fun time doing some yoga, taking photos and relaxing. As ready as I was to get to our destination and get our dogs and cats out of the RV and into a more permanent living situation, I had a lump in my throat as we took down our tent and prepared to leave. The soft forest floor of Mancos had been so inviting!

Drive through Southern Utah

As we made our tired way along the last leg of our cross-country odyssey (day 10!), I was thrilled to snap photos of the amazing scenery in Southeastern Utah. These landscapes always make me feel that I should be seeing big cats roam along them, as if they belong in Africa or southeast Asia. Beautiful scenery to end our trip with!

Chaco National Heritage Park, New Mexico

The road to get there was 21 miles of washboard purgatory (why not hell? well, we didn’t know if we would ever arrive…), but the arrival was cool moonlight silhouettes of astounding buttes. Coyotes howled all night and the burning sun woke us in the morning. This was my first real experience of the desert.

Wichita Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma

The Wichita Wildlife Refuge was one of the few destinations that were on our original travel plan that we actually made it to. It was exciting to be arriving just around sunset and to have a wide choice of campsites to pick from. Also, we were finally out of the humid forests of the Southeast and into a different type of habitat – open canopy woods.

 

Tishimingo morning

Arriving at Tishomingo State Park in Mississippi late on the second day of our cross-country honeymoon trip was exciting because I was out of known territory. The camp sites were nestled in around a lake, and we drove around in the dark trying to pick the best one (ie, the one that was both close to the bath house and away from other people). Our night there started out well but became harrowing when one of the cats escaped. Luckily the next morning we were able to relax, go for a walk by a stream, get our paws wet and hit the road again feeling poised.