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Arrival

August 19, 2016

1660.6 miles. Seven states. 2 adults, 3 cats and 24 hours spent in a tiny 3 door hatchback.

We’ve made it. Actually we made it mid-afternoon Wednesday, but the evening was spent attempting to acclimate to a non-sitting position and a quick trip to grab food. Thursday, the Giant and I headed out and about exploring a bit more before once again trying to adjust to time changes, weather changes, and all the other changes that occur when you pack your life up and head to somewhere else. More on that later, for now let’s talk about the trip!

Monday around noon the Giant and I made one final pass through our house and loaded the cats and ourselves into our little car, with one last drive through  the place we have called home for a little over 5 years (non-consecutively) we headed out on the open road towards the Pacific Northwest.

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That first day we covered three states, including the one we started in, Nebraska, Iowa and our final stopping point was South Dakota. The Nebraska to Iowa trip was a familiar one, but with no time to waste we could only pass by some of the areas I grew up with. The majority of the trip was our trek through South Dakota. A state I will freely admit I had not traveled further west than Sioux Falls. Even so I felt fairly confident I knew what to expect with the state (fields of corn and soybeans and maybe a few cattle farms.) This proved true for a large part of the trip, aside from a few highlights.

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First, Wall Drug. Now again having admitted the non-traveling outside of easternmost parts of the state I was aware of Wall Drug, but never really investigated it/thought about it. Well this trip certainly changed my awareness level. There seemed to be three different types of billboard for Wall Drug that they rotated every x number of miles along the way (and when you are about 4.5 hours away that turns into a lot of billboards.) There are also billboards for some “1880’s town” that were interspersed with the Wall Drug billboards. It was almost a tie for which of the two places I was more annoyed of hearing about, until we passed the 1880’s town and saw that they had of all the random things in the world, a camel. A freaking camel….who I might add was just hanging out in a field near the “town” munching on some grass. I was so flummoxed that I couldn’t help but laugh at it all.

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The second highlight was crossing the Missouri river. It was cool because the Missouri river is something that helps divide Iowa and Nebraska (my two most frequented states) and I was finally crossing it somewhere else. Of course this meant we had to cross a bridge. (Fun fact I dislike bridges, more on that later.) The view was pretty at least.

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As the sun began to set we arrived in Wall, SD (of course the Wall Drug signs continued throughout the town.) It is important to note that this is my own personal opinion of the following: While I thought finding an apartment that accepted three cats was a challenge, finding hotels that would allow them proved a bit more interesting the first hotel was….well let’s just say that I feel as though it could have been a setting for one of the Law and Order episodes. 

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Luckily we survived the night and headed out early for our next destination. We drove by the badlands and saw signs for Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone, but this wasn’t a vacation we had another destination we had to reach. The one thing we definitely got to see were fields upon fields of sunflowers. South Dakota was just covered in them.

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Not counting SD as our starting point for the day we ended up crossing two states this time, Wyoming and Montana. Neither of which I had ever been to before. I have been to Colorado (once) and for some reason I was expecting it to be similar terrain (read mountains.)

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As someone who has lived in the Midwest their entire life, I thought I knew what big open space was. Granted I lived in cities, not farms but I drove through enough of the area to feel fairly certain I knew what endless meant. Nope, not even close. There was just so much of it: sky, land, hills, sky, cows, sheep, sky, horses, did I mention sky? Seriously It was one of those things that you think you understand until you get there and realize you never really could have known. Now however I completely understand why it’s called “big sky country.”

 

Of course after half a day of driving through the big openness the novelty wore off and I (and the cats for sure) were more than ready to 1)see something other than big vastness and 2) ready to get to the hotel. Luckily we hit Bozeman and started to see some variety and by the time we made it to Butte we were greeted with a definite change of scenery.

 

The hotel this time was significantly less scary and at least two of the cats made quick work of claiming their spots.

(When we lived in the Chicago area, our grey cat had a habit of constantly draping himself across the air conditioner. When we moved back to Omaha the habit continued, but this time it was limited to vents. The edges of his fur flutter so adorably in the breeze that it is sometimes hard to do anything but snap a photo and give him a couple of scritches…until it becomes too warm and you have to move him off of the unit to cool the place down again…but I digress)

Day Three found us with two more states, Idaho and finally Washington, but first we had to make it through more of Montana. Luckily the western portion of the state is far more varied than the big vast openness of the eastern portion.

Also, I have come to realize that should I ever need to move somewhere else, Montana will be on my list. Why you ask? Well because there are places that are devoted to all things Huckleberry. I don’t discuss my love of Huckleberry, mainly because it’s difficult to damn near impossible to find in the Midwest (at least for me.) So when we made a quick stop on the border before heading into Idaho and found a town that featured numerous signs and locations with a variety of huckleberry options I could not resist purchasing a slushy-surgery-huckleberry-goodness, even though it was only about 7:30 am at that point.

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It was worth the brain freeze, it was worth the sugary, sticky mess. It was so worth it, that my only regret was that I didn’t get more.

Our jaunt through Idaho was fairly brief, but the scenery was amazing. So much so that the Giant insisted we stop (at a desginated area) and jump out for quick photos.

Horace had to get in on the action again (finally) he had gotten a bit lost in the reorganizing of the car on day two so his photos are limited to that first and last day. In order to make up for it, he was included in most of our photos for the rest of the day.

As beautiful and lush and green as Idaho was, Eastern Washington was not. It was dry and bare and made me miss the endless green fields of crops from my beloved Midwest.

Fortunately (and unfortunately) we eventually found the Columbia river. I say fortunately because it was a dramatic change in to the varying shades of sand and dirt we had been experiencing since Idaho. It was unfortunate because we had to cross a very large bridge over a very large body of water. (Have I ever mentioned I don’t like bridges? Yeah I have this big irrational fear of neither the thing collapsing, the car careening off the side or even just getting stuck on one. I blame some of the whole bridge thing to the film I saw in a physics class about the Tacoma bridge disaster. 1:23 mark) Anyway the crossing did help a bit in terms of our view, the Cascades started to appear and the fields were starting to look a bit more like the farm land I was familiar with.

 

Around the time we got close enough to actually see the green trees and mountains, was around the same time that I started to get hit with another wave of motion sickness. This coincided with me stupidly dropping my phone (with the directions on it) below my seat. I made a few feeble attempts at recovery, but eventually the Giant had to pull over so I could properly retrieve it. As I went for the phone, I managed to first hit my head on the radio knob (which let me tell you hurts likes none other) I then managed to get my wrist caught in a weird angle as I tried to reach under the seat. This was followed by me hitting my head a second time, however this time it was the shifter (which hurts even more.) At this point I snapped. I had been in a car for three days with various levels of cat car sickness, meowing and just their own anxieties. I had been playing co-pilot/navigator for the Giant, been dealing with motion sickness that made me envy people who own boats. We had gone through a variety of different elevations, crossed two time zones and seven states. I was just done. I ended up slamming my hand on the side of the door of the car quite hard (stupid I know) and I yelled and swore and cried and basically just had a few moments where all I wanted to do was go back to Nebraska and forget this whole long mess had happened.

 

Fortunately the Giant remained sane enough to realize that wasn’t a possibility and after checking on my various levels of bruising, and that I did in fact manage to get my phone; he continued the drive through the cascades. Which of course are beautiful. The mountains/rocks/novelty of it all was amazingly cathartic. The trees, oh my gosh guys, the trees here are so amazing. I’ve grown up in older neighborhood with established oaks or maple, some birch, weeping willows, some pine trees that seem to climb as high as the houses next to them. They are nothing compared to the trees here. The sheer number is mind boggling, the heights they reach have caused me to stop walking and just stare (or just stare out the window, with a wonder that made me feel that same sense of smallness and amazement as I did in Montana.

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Around 3:30pm local time: 2 adults, 3 cats, 24 hours in a car and 1660.6 miles in a tiny three door hatchback arrived.

We got the keys to our new place and let the boys out to explore. The next big part of our adventure is waiting for all of our things to arrive. Until then we have an air mattress and some minor cooking equipment and are just taking it day by day.

 

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4 Comments
  1. 1marylou permalink

    Thanks for sharing your photo travelogue.

  2. Welcome! Enjoy this unseasonably warm weather we are having while it lasts. But don’t worry it will cool off soon. I loved reading about how you liked the trees. Growing up here Mt Rainier has always been my compass and I forget that not everyone has that view.

  3. Sounds like a trip that was one day too long. Glad you all made it safely! Let the waiting begin… For the yarn stash to arrive!!

  4. shellssells permalink

    It took you until Washington to snap? Your patience is better than mine. I mean, just the change alone, never mind driving for 3 days with cats in the vehicle and a penchant for motion sickness would make me snap. It took quite a lot to push you over the edge!

    (And isn’t it lovely to have people in our lives who allow a big old snap, and still stay on an even keel, allowing us our moment and then letting it go easily and moving on?)

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