Monday, August 11, 2008

Appendix to a Road Trip

We are done, which is good because we are two very tired kiddies. But we had a fantastic time. We hope you were entertained, because God knows we certainly were. Thanks for checking in on us!

So, here's a recap of our trip, by the numbers:
2,600+ miles traveled
11 states visited
36 different state licence plates seen
28 trucker horn honks
9 mustards sampled
41 cups of coffee drank
10 candy cane sticks licked away
2 caramel corn husks eaten
2 candy necklaces consumed
2 dress-up outfits worn
1 stint in jail (in 1880, of course)
1 queen beheaded

Free stuff we received:

French fries (Indiana)
Complimentary flat bread with spices at the Pizza and Grinders place (Chicago)
Sample of Cosi bread (Chicago)
2 cups of coffee at gas station (Indiana)
Tampon (Chicago)
Rossettes (Wisconsin)
Mustard (Wisconsin)
Cadbury egg (Wyoming)
Carrot chips (Utah)

And we did a study in gasoline prices. Utah was by FAR the most expensive at $4.15 for the 87 grade.

Hickory, North Carolina had the least expensive gas at $3.44. What a way to kick off the trip!

Here's what we found elsewhere:

Kentucky - $3.58

Indiana - $3.83

Illinois - $3.77

Wisconsin - $3.74

South Dakota - $ 3.79 and $3.85 (This was strange. All the gas was 10% ethanol, and the 87 was 10 cents more than the 89 grade at every gas station. We did not understand this.)

Wyoming - $4.05 (but this also was weird, they only had a 85 grade and 88 grade. This was the 88 price.)

Utah...the final frontier.

For us, at least. Space was not an option.
We decided we had to get the Welcome to Utah sign, even if it required pulling over on the side of the interstate, which is what we did. Never mind that the speed limit was 75 mph. It was all worth the photo.

Yes, Utah does have beer. And a sense a humor.

Even though we are soooo pooped as we stand on top of Hidden Peak (elevation 11,000 feet) at Snowbird Ski Resort, we are still darn cute.

If we had skis on, these signs would tell us where to go. Black means VERY hard skiing, so it's a good thing we didn't have skis on. (The snow situation helped out, too. There was none.)
[Insert ooohs and aaaahs here.]
Amanda and Moroni. He's the golden angel blowing his horn atop the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Why oh Wy(oming) are you so big?

We woke up this morning in this hotel (in Lusk, WY...where the heck is that?), and had no idea how we got here. That's not entirely true, but we were so pooped after of full day of South Dakotaing that we were essentially sleepwalking to the room. It was very nice though. Nicer than what we paid for because Amanda broke the key off in the lock and they had no choice but to put us in another room and all they had left were the nice ones. Yay, Amanda! Wyoming is huge. Were were in Wyoming for 10 hours of driving. Some at night on Saturday, but most (9 hours) on Sunday. After a while it all started looking the same, Pretty same, but the same. Here is a train in Wyoming.
Here are windmills in Wyoming.

Here is the long Wyoming road.
These are a bunch of big rocks and bridge in Wyoming.

And a covered wagon near something historical in Wyoming.
Bikers were in Wyoming, too. Most of them were doing the whole Sturgis thing in South Dakota last week.

That's what we did in Wyoming. Go here if that wasn't enough for you.

Kiss me, I'm Corny

South Dakota was very fun and verrryyy loooonggg. The longest day of our lives. It is a day and a half later and we still have not recovered from all the fun we had. So, as a result you're getting short blurbs. It will still be fun, don't worry...

Here is Tommy enjoying his breakfast. He works out, so sausage and eggs the size of his body are a perfectly acceptable first meal of the day.

After breakfast we went to the Corn Palace. The World's only Corn Palace, according to the Mitchell tourism folks. We believe them. In the parking lot Marcie and Amanda parked next to a Honda Civic that looked just like Marcie's Honda. It too was from North Carolina. Corn Palace Twilight Zone!
Tommy wouldn't stop begging us for a photo of him in front of the Corn Palace. He is trying to look cool. This is all corn. Wow. They redesign the facade every year. This year it was dedicated to every day heroes, like cops and teachers. Very nice.

And they play basketball in the Corn Palace! The high school team and the college team. How cool would it be to go onto the NBA and say, "yeah, I started my career playing under a ceiling of corn."

Here's a shot of the palace in all its glory. That's a lot of corn. I'm sure if we had read the fliers about the palace we would know exactly how much corn. But we didn't. That's what the Internet is for: Amanda got a super cool tee shirt here. It says "C is for Corn Palace." Marcie wanted the "Kiss Me, I'm Corny" one, but they only big sizes. Sad.

We also got yummy caramel corn treats (shaped like corn husks!) at the Corn Palace. Made for a nice snack before we headed into 1880 town a few hours down the road.
1880 Town is a town, well, meant to replicate 1880. ( Here Tommy learns stuff in the 1880 school house. Actually he probably isn't learning much because he's facing away from the front of the room and sleeping, we think. Slacker.
This is the point in the trip where Amanda and Marcie officially lose it.*

And we when say we lost it, we REALLY lost it. Lost it all actually, and that landed us in jail.

And eventually killed Amanda off.

JUST KIDDING! It was only $5 each to dress up in 1880 gear. And they let us run all over 1880 Town and take photos of whatever we wanted. A lot of people laughed at us. We aren't really sure why. Others thought we were employees of 1880s town and took photos of us. Little kids looked at us like we were insane, wait. adults did that too.

Here were are waiting for our coach to take off. (It never did.)

And here we are taking this cowboy for all he's worth, the wicked card players we are.
This is Saloontender Joe. We didn't get in a shootout in the bar so he liked us.

Tommy was so embarrassed by us that he decided to wait out in the car during dress up. You can see how annoyed he is here.But he forgave us when we took him to Wall Drug. (He had been seeing the signs along the interstate for 200+ miles, and since he's such a sucker for good marketing, he just had to stop.

And ride the Jackalope.

After about 8 hours of driving across South Dakota (that included our time travel back to 1880, though), we finally arrived in the Black Hills of South Dakota, not unlike Rocky Raccoon. He didn't go to Mt. Rushmore though, but we did. We even watched a video reminding us about our nation's history. During the video Amanda told Marcie that Abe Lincoln was born in Rutherfordton, NC. Fascinating. Want more?

We also saw Crazy Horse. The monument is still years away from being done, but when it is, it will be HUGE. All of Mount Rushmore (the heads) would fit in Crazy Horse's face and hair. That sounds weird, but you get what we mean, we hope. Learn more fun facts, if you wish.

* We are SOOOOO tired.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Coming soon to a blog near you...


The amazing, action-packed adventure of two 20-something women traveling across the country. Old west shootouts! National monuments! Palaces of corn! Motorcycle gangs and countless leather chaps! (Not pictured.) And a drug store!

The adventure continues Sunday through Wyoming and into Utah! (Que action music here...)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Dr. Bonkers

Amanda and Marcie dedicated most of their time in Minnesota to hanging out with Sean, who is now officially on his way toward becoming a doctor. At the University of Minnesota Friday, Sean and the rest of his medical school class received their physician jackets during the white coat ceremony.

Dad was very proud.

So was Mom.

And Sister.

Sean performed his first surgery minutes after the ceremony -- on Mom's camera. The memory card had been inadvertently locked for a couple hours and no one could figure out how to fix it. Sean got it though.

Sean and his medical school class pose after the ceremony. You can't tell here, but Sean is near the back and he is the ONLY person in the entire class wearing sunglasses. He is very cool.
We're proud of you, Bonk!!

And, just a little side note: This is Sean's new cat, Rodney. He will be critical to keeping Sean sane through Med School. He does that by being so cute and cuddly.

Anne Boleyn died in Wisconsin

At about this point in our drive through Wisconsin, Anne Boleyn had about three hours to live. We enjoyed the view along the scenic Great River Road, which curves and weaves along the Mississippi from LaCrosse, WI and into Minnesota while listening to the tragic tale (on CD) of a rather witchy queen doomed to have her head chopped off. It was fun. And pretty. (The view, not the head chopping.)

Our trek up the GRR (short of Great River Road, of course) started in LaCrosse, WI, home of the world's largest six pack. Here it is. If you look at the bottom of the middle can, you'll see Marcie leaning up against a sign describing the sight.

Don't worry, moms, we only drank one of the beer from this six pack. But one beer holds 114,700 gallons, so you do the math. This, combined with the cute restaurants, music shops and bars, was enough to make Amanda declare that she is moving to LaCrosse.

Then we continued our merry way up the GRR, to Lock and Dam No. 4. Home of the "Best BBQ by a Dam Site." Thank goodness for that. All the BBQ we've had by Dam sites in our lifetimes have sucked. This is our creative attempt to catch the roadsigns and the Pabst Blue Ribbon sign dangling above one of the billions of bars (a slight exaggeration, but only slight) in Wisconsin. We meant to count the PBR signs, but ran out of fingers and then ran out of toes and then just decided to drop the counting because there were just too many bars with PBR signs.

This is Pepin. 878 people live there and there are about 2.5 streets. Clearly the roadsigns to EVERY establishment in town is necessary.

Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of Little House in the Big Woods, was born in Pepin. They celebrate her birth every year in September with a festival aptly named "Laura Ingalls Wilder Days." They also claimed to have a pickle factory, which Marcie and Amanda hooped and hollered for about four seconds until they realized it was merely a bar. Can you imagine the photos that would have come out of a pickle factory visit?!

The drive up Hwy 35, or the GRR, was pretty. The Mississippi followed along the road to the west and the sun hit it beautifully, making the water look like silver.

Huge bluffs soared into the blue sky along the east side of the road -- a very cool contradiction to the more level lands and water across the street. Here Amanda documents the experience on film so ya'll know were aren't making this stuff up. (Car's still doing OK, too. Like the river, it glistens silver in the sun.)

Now we are in Minnesota! (It's the first time since Tennessee we've remembered/had the camera ready/weren't on a bridge when we came into a new state.)

And to rectify that, we did a U-turn on the highway to get the "Welcome to Wisconsin" sign. But it mocked up by saying "Welcome to Prescott," which we clearly didn't go through first because it neighbors Minnesota.

P.S. So far we have liked Wisconsin the best. Trolls, mustard, pretty things to look at, cheese, PBR.