Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Day Two.

Posted on | January 2, 2016 | 4 Comments

It’s the time of year for resolutions.  So I resolved to finish planning our trip out west this summer.  By “finish”  I mean get started and get finished.  All in one fell swoop.  Apparently the National Park rangers like to be notified that you’re coming at least 6 months in advance or they won’t hold a cabin for you.  The only problem is that if you live on the east coast and you are visiting a national park on the west coast, it’s hard to know when you might actually arrive at that National Park.   But with the Frommer’s and Fodor’s I’ve been collecting from the $1 used book store, the help of TripAdvisor, and a lot of Google maps, I made a plan.

Unfortunately, I’m starting out the New Year as a liar.  I originally told the kids that on the first summer we’d drive 1/2 way across the country, see the sights, and then come home.  Then on our second summer of travel, we’d fly to the midway point (Kansas?  Nebraska?), rent an RV to drive the rest of the way to the Pacific ocean seeing sights, and then fly home.  I’m not sure how much I thought 6 plane tickets across the country and 3 weeks of RV rental cost, but I obviously underestimated it.  By about 5 or 6 (maybe even 10) thousand dollars.  Bummer.  I hate it when I forget that I’m not rich.

So we’re going to minivan it all the way.  And because of that I had to split the trip into the top half of the country one summer and the bottom half the next summer.  That’s right, people.  I planned a trip driving with 4 kids in a minivan from the east coast all the way to the west coast and back, for 3 weeks, for 2 years running.  Well, by “planned” I mean I wrote out the first trip entirely and then jotted some notes about some places that we should hit during the second trip.  I’m going to put those notes in a nice, safe place where I will never find them again and plan the entire second trip from scratch next New Year’s day.  Let’s just let that tidbit of honesty offset the lies about the planes and RVs.

There are 3 bonuses to the new not-rich-people’s plan.  First, driving all the way isn’t that bad because we’ll have 3 drivers this summer since Big will have his license.  Next summer we’ll have 4 drivers because Pretty will have her license, too.  Second, we can use all the money we saved on plane tickets to stay in the nicest Super 8s and all the fancy Motel 6s that we can find along the way.  We might even be able to wash our clothes at the laundromat on occasion.  Third, whoever misbehaves in the car has to sleep on the floor in the Super 8 or Motel 6.  Or in the bed.  Whichever we deem is nastier.  Best behavior modification tool ever!

There were more difficulties with the planning process than just the financial snag.  The modem on our internet went down and I was forced to limp along for a day with just the travel books and a large North America Atlas.  The atlas had great street level maps but I kept losing track of which state I was heading toward as I plotted west.  I had to keep referring to the opening pages of The Rough Guide to the United States where all 50 states where displayed in their proper positions.  It’s shameful, I know, but let’s just say Colorado was not where I expected it and what the hell is going on with Idaho?

I finally folded and went to the store for a new modem.  WalMart’s electronics section disappointed me and I called home for backup support.  I asked Little to look up the phone number for Best Buy so I could call and see if they had the modem I needed before I drove all the way over there.  Have you ever tried to explain to a child of the 21st century how to look up a phone number in the phone book????  Oh mah gah.  Little finally gave up and put Big on the line and he struggled through it.  Agh.  When the computers go down for good, people, this country is screwed.  Totally screwed.

Which is why, after the modem was hooked up and the internet was back and I had all the directions, addresses, hours of operation, phone numbers, and alternative routes that I needed, I put it all down on paper and printed it out.  In 3 collated and neatly stapled copies.  It’s 15 beautiful pages of Type A, ranger-approved, travel itinerary.  In case you don’t believe me, here’s the summary:

Day 1:

Charleston, WV: Exhibition Coal Mine, State Capitol Building, eat on Capital St

Day 2:

Louisville, KY :Louisville Slugger Museum, Churchill Downs

St Louis, MO: Mississippi Overlook, Gateway Geyser, St Louis Arch

Day 3:

Springfield, IL: Lincoln Home National Historic Site

Chicago, IL: John Hancock Ctr, City Gallery@Historic Water Tower, Magnificent Mile, dinner at Navy Pier

Day 4:

Spring Garden, WI: Taliesin (Frank Lloyd Wright), House on the Rock

Day 5:

Dubuque, IA: Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium

Day 6:

Boys Town, NE: Boys Town

Kearney, NE: Great Platte River Rd Archway Monument

Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway and Visitors Center

Day 7:

Badlands National Park, SD

Custer State Park. SD

Day 8:

Custer State Park, SD

Keystone, SD: Mt Rushmore National Park

Day 9:

Medora, ND: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Day 10:

Glacier National Park

Day 11:

Seattle, WA: monorail ride to Seattle Center, Space Needle, Pioneer Square

Day 12:

Seattle, WA: Pike Place Marketplace, Sea Hawk Stadium, drive to Westport Beach for Pacific Ocean

Day 13:

Butte, MT: Our Lady of the Rockies, Granite Mountain Mine Speculator Memorial

Day 14:

West Yellowstone, MT: Grizzly & Wolf Discover Center


Day 15:


dinner in Jackson, WY

Day 16:

Boulder, CO: Celestial Seasoning Tea Tours

Denver, CO: Mile High Stadium, Colorado Sports Hall of Fame

Day 17:

Wichita, KS: Old Cowtown Museum, Keeper of the Plains

Oklahoma City, OK: Oklahoma City National Memorial

Day 18:

Little Rock, AR: Little Rock Central High School Historic Tour, Big Dam Bridge

Day 19:

Memphis, TN: Graceland, Beale St, Peabody Hotel, National Civil Rights History Museum

Day 20:

Nashville, TN: Centennial Park, Parthenon Art Museum

Ashville, NC: Pinball Museum, Basilica of St Lawrence, Lexington Glass Works

Day 21: HOME

I know what you’re thinking.  And it’s true: I’m amazing.  Unless you were thinking that’s too many places for 21 days.  Which is kinda true.  But keep in mind we can visit a lot of the monuments in the evenings because they’re open 24 hours.  So it’s OK if we roll up at 8 or 9 or even 10pm.  And some of the scenic byways allow us to pass through the park and see the sights without having to spend the night or go out of our way.

Beside, I think we can do it.  Because it’s still the season of hope until the Kings roll through on the 6th.  And I just finished my first resolution by Day Two of the New Year.  Day Two.  You people better get crackin’.  You’re already 15 pages behind in the resolution game. 🙂


4 Responses to “Day Two.”

  1. Diane Byrd
    January 2nd, 2016 @ 6:28 pm

    Wow Stevie! I’m impressed! That is quite a trip! Can’t wait to hear all about it!

  2. Jill
    January 3rd, 2016 @ 10:55 am

    My brother lives minutes from Spring Green, WI. Let me know if you want to hit them up and wash your clothes and see a beautiful view for free. Louisville Slugger place is very cool. Navy Pier is meh, but everybody goes there. Eating in Jackson, WY is an all day event because of the TRAFFIC. May wish to reconsider this. SD/ND/MT/WY are great BIG states…. Enjoy this time with your kids..

  3. admin
    January 3rd, 2016 @ 7:29 pm

    I’ll keep the laundry offer in mind. Maybe your brother will smell us coming!!! I never stepped foot in Navy Pier when I lived in Chicago but we can walk from John Hancock and eat and see the lake so it works out. We have to pass thru Jackson on our way out of Wyoming so I hope traffic isn’t too awful. Yes, driving thru SD/ND/MT/WY are the longest stretches. I may try 5 hour energy for the first time to survive it!!

  4. Sherry
    January 4th, 2016 @ 5:33 pm

    That trip sounds amazing. I told my husband that I want to go with y’all.Have fun, and please blog us all about it. 🙂

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