(a lot) more from the road

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

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site of the official founding of the church of jesus christ of latter-day saints, april 6, 1830.
it is truly amazing to think of those original 6 members and the worldwide church today.

the lobby of the palmyra temple has a clear window looking out onto the sacred grove,
and around the back of the temple you can soak in the view.

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the sacred grove is where joseph smith saw god the father and jesus christ, and the restoration of the gospel began. i felt so hallowed, peaceful, radiant and believing walking through the trees.

this is a reconstruction of the home that the smith family lived in and the place where the angel moroni visited the boy joseph to instruct him on receiving and translating the book of mormon.

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niagara falls exceeded my high expectations. it was absolutely spectacular.


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our quick stop in kirtland was worth it, just to see the temple, where so many super significant things happened. it is astounding to think of the sacrifice of the saints to build this building.

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

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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.


we found this sweet explosion of color installation outside the chicago institute of art. i love it.

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as luck would have it, this huge food festival was going on and we got to try lots of different treats in grant park with thousands of other people. dani and i love this kind of stuff.

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.

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you have to admit that is super, super, super neat.

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we were on the road again by mid-afternoon and made it to nauvoo just in time to watch the sun set over the mississippi river.

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.

we ended up sleeping in this little log cabin our night in nauvoo!

day 3: nauvoo –> mankato, minnesota

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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.

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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.

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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.

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this one made us cry with laughing for about 15 miles.
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vintage dolls at a hotel? creepy! tourism, dinosaur bones eating children, a campaign to wear fur!

then we started noticing signs for wall drug. i’m not exaggerating - there was a cool vintage sign for wall drug nearly every mile. every mile. we started thinking we might need to make a stop.

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after tons and tons of wall drug ads along i-90, we spotted this one on the left side of the road:

150 miles! this one preceded 150 more signs leading us to a drugstore that apparently has everything you can imagine. our curiosity was peaked.

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seriously, we had to stop at exit 110.

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.


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back on the highway, another storm created another out-of-this-world sunset that peaked right as we drove into the black hills to mt. rushmore (pictures are lame).

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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?


  1. Ha ha ha! I was dying laughing at the Wall Drug part!!

  2. i've seen the corn palace. up close and personal. sd is wayyy better than wyoming.

  3. Love it! I LOVE Nauvoo so much. Michael and I went last summer and we want to go back so bad. It almost feels a little bit like home for some reason.

  4. Wow, What an awesome trip. This is almost the exact trip I want to take very soon. Thank you for all of the pictures. Keep traveling so I can live through you. Maybe when my kids have grown I can start the process of traveling,but until then I will continue looking at your blog.

  5. How fun! That sunset is beyond belief. Way to capture everything....including Wall Drug!

  6. Palmyra, my home away from home! Thanks again for the text :)

  7. A-MA-ZING! Truly amazing! You're the coolest! Love your face!


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