Jeri and Drue head out west - August 2008
From August 4th through August 15th, Drue and I packed up the car and drove from Fairfax, VA to Yellowstone, WY. We had a great time and saw a lot of the United States. We traveled from VA to PA to Ohio the first day. Day 2 we drove from Ohio through Indiana. stopping in South Bend at Notre Dame University for lunch. That evening we were in Chicago though we did not stop to sleep until we were just past the Illinois/Wisconsin line. Wednesday, Day 3, we drove through Wisconsin and across the bottom of Minnesota into South Dakota. We spent the night in Sioux Falls and got the oil changed and the tires rotated before driving north to De Smet, the homestead of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We also found an amazing "garden" in the middle of South Dakota right off Hwy 90. Day 4 ended with watching the sun set over the Badlands and camping out under the stars on a sandy plateau in the middle of Badlands National Park.
Day 5 began with sourdough pancakes and buffalo sausages and we spent most of the day hiking through the Badlands. We jumped in the car and made a quick detour to Wall Drug before heading to Mt. Rushmore. We made it to the monument in time to see the evening program at Mt. Rushmore and watch them light the monument. It was amazing. We spent the night in a KOA and Saturday began with us lazing by the pool. We broke down our camp site and left KOA around noon and drove into Wyoming with stops at Bear Country, USA and the infamous Reptile Gardens. We hit a massive dust storm somewhere in Wyoming and stopped for the night.
Sunday, we drove to Yellowstone, stopping in Wind Cave Reservation to observe the bison rutting - the bulls were fighting while the females lazed around awaiting the victor - getting to our camp site around 3 PM. We set up camp, cooked stew over the campfire, ate smores and slept under the stars. Luckily, on the advice of a very nice guy we ran into at the depot, we bought an additional blanket. With the temperature diving to 39 that night, we needed our sleeping bags, extra blankets and warm clothes! Monday, day 7, we took the Circle of Fire tour. Nick, our friendly tour guide, made sure it was an amazing day! That night was not quite as cold - it was a balmy 44 degrees! Day 8 we washed clothes at the local laundry and spent time hiking around Old Faithful and seeing the geysers and hot springs there. We had an amazing dinner at one of the restaurants overlooking Yellowstone Lake and crashed hard. Wednesday, day 8, we sadly left Yellowstone promising to come back for three weeks next year!
Wednesday was largely uneventful. We drove through Wyoming which was gorgeous. The Tetons are amazing and the plains are fabulous. Nebraksa - well Nebraska is fired. Outside of Lincoln, we hit a huge storm system and watched a tornado form about five miles north of where we were driving. It formed, traveled along beside us for awhile and then got sucked back up. While Drue was amazed, I'm just really glad I did not pee in my pants! The windshield survived golf ball sized hail and we watched a deer get struck by lightening before finally getting ahead of the storm system and stopping for the night. Day 9, Thursday, we drove out of Nebraska and cheered when we hit Iowa. Iowa and Illinois were quick drives after the long journey through Nebraska and we stopped in South Bend to spend Thursday night.
Day 10, our final day on the road, was a mad dash across Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland and we got home Friday night around 6 PM! Our trip was over. We had a great time and a some exciting times on our adventure. Drue loves to camp out which makes me happy. Drue loves Yellowstone, one of my favorite places on earth which makes me every happier. And for ten days, it was me and my daughter. We fought, we bonded, we laughed and we took our relationship to a stronger, better level. What more could a mom ask for?