driving across the country has been on my bucket list for a while, and i couldn’t pass up the chance to make the trek with the only person i know who wants to fit in even more adventures in one day than i do. my favourite thing about this trip was that i would wake up in the morning somewhere neat and end up that night somewhere entirely different – and have seen lots of rad stuff along the way.
it was really cool to be able to visit some church history sites – places my heart has always wanted to see. we essentially took the route of the early saints and the pioneers, with a few exceptions, and read “our heritage” together in the car between stops. i was strengthened spiritually.
for a relatively cheap one way ticket to new york city, i got to see important, significant, spirit-charged places, an incredible gem of metropolis, an insane national landmark, two of the best sunsets ever, some amusing americana, and a whole lot of land in between. when we arrived home on independence day eve, i felt quite patriotic.
picture overload ahead.
day 1: new canaan –> fayette –> palmyra –> niagara falls –> kirtland –> frankfort, illinois
we were up and going for 23 hours on day one, and it was exhausting. when we got to our friend’s parents’ house in the chicago suburbs at 2am i slept like never before.
day 2: chicago –> nauvoo
we took the train into the city and hopped on an architecture boat tour through the chicago canals. it was such a glorious day and floating down the water with skyscrapers on every side was sensational. i absolutely fell in love with chicago.
the bean!!!!!! i have fascinated, near obsessed, with this sculpture for a few years and have longingly looked at others’ pictures with “cloud gate” in millennium park. finally i got to see it myself, and it was so cool! this was honestly up there with great wall of china for landmarks i want to experience in the world.
my eyes welled up with tears when we drove into nauvoo. it is such a special place (corny word, but really, really). after sunset, we took the bikes off the back of the car and cruised around historic nauvoo. the fireflies were out and the lawns were literally constantly sparkling. that is something i will never forget.
day 3: nauvoo –> mankato, minnesota
we went to a morning session at the nauvoo temple and it was a super sweet experience. we sat in the celestial room with swollen hearts thinking about the faith of the pioneers. we took a wagon tour around historic nauvoo, visited the red brick store (where the endowment was first administered and the relief society was organized) and the mansion house (where joseph smith and his family lived) and enjoyed music from the mobile nauvoo brass band. as we left nauvoo i thought of joseph and hyrum leaving on their horses trotting to their eventual martyrdom.
there is an amazing spirit in nauvoo.
we drove through a super crazy storm in southern minnesota. there were trees down in the street and lots of lightening. by the time we got to dani’s sister jill’s house, the storm had given way to an otherworldly gorgeous sunset that engulfed the whole sky.
day 4: mankato –> wall, south dakota –> mt. rushmore –> rapid city
south dakota is the land of random roadside attractions. this sculpture garden was the first we spotted, right over the state border.
then we started spotting really interesting billboards, which kept us entertained through the entire state en route to mt. rushmore.
and we were not disappointed. wall drug was a marvel. they had everything they claimed to have, and more! a grand entrance hall, western wear galore, more souvineers than you can fathom, an animatronic t-rex with red eyes, a traveler’s chapel, a nice cafe with tiffany lamps, and of course a giant jackelope in the backyard. what a diamond in the rough.
mt. rushmore is creepy and awesome. we turned around a corner and all of a sudden dead presidents were staring at as out of a mountain. we sang “proud to be an american” with a few hundred people as they lit up the monument for the night. can you see it shining behind out heads?
day 5: rapid city –> park city, utah
we slept at my cousin’s in rapid city, went to church with some awesome south dakotans, and then the last day was just driving – wyoming from end to end. wyoming doesn’t have as entertaining billboards as sd. when we drove into utah we were astonished at it’s prettiness and after all those miles, it sure felt good to be home.
i am happy to have had such a great adventure and covered so much land. are you happy to have made it thorough this extraordinarily long blog post?