A good friend retired as an airline pilot this summer and invited us along on his last flight. It was Las Vegas – Seattle – Las Vegas. Great time was had by all on the flight and in LV for the weekend. The only downside was the flight left LV at 6:00 AM. First time I’ve been in an airport before the Starbucks opened! We were back in Vegas before noon.
A few weeks later we headed to Iowa for the 4th of July and a visit with Mark’s family. Lila was celebrating her birthday, too. We did a little sightseeing in the area while we were there, checking out covered bridges, cornfields, and small towns.
It’s been a while since Mark and Susan have planned a “real” road trip so when a wedding invitation appeared in the mail, we decided it was time! We headed off to Des Moines – about 630 miles. We’ve done the drive in one day but, being retired has its advantages and one of those advantages is spending the night in the middle of the drive! We stopped in Lincoln, Nebraska, for the night and squeezed in a visit to Boiler Brewery.
If you’ve never driven across eastern Colorado and Nebraska from west to east, you haven’t missed anything except about 500 miles of rolling plains covered in corn while your car passes and is passed by LOTS of trucks.
After a walking tour of the University of Nebraska in the morning, we drove on to Des Moines where we spent the weekend with our niece and her husband while we went to a wedding. Iowa is much hillier than Nebraska and the scenery changes, adding soybean fields and windmills to the corn fields. For those of you who have thought about riding RAGBRAI, be ready for hills.
Next, we headed south to Creston, Iowa, for 3 days with
Mark’s mom. We admit it … we’re
spoiled! The humidity was too high for
us (95% on the day we left).
Time to head back to Fort Collins taking a less-than-direct route. We zigzagged our way northwest across the back roads of Iowa to get to Sioux Falls, SD.
Susan FINALLY ate a Maid-Rite sandwich, invented in Iowa. I’ve heard about them forever but never ate one. They are nothing more than a “loose meat” sandwich (another Midwest term). This translates to ground beef cooked and put on a hamburger bun but not made into a patty. Ketchup, mustard, onions and the rest of the usual condiment suspects are added to the bun. The best way I can describe a Maid-rite is a sloppy Joe without any spices or tomato sauce added.
We visited a friend in Sioux Falls, SD, spent the night and then headed to Mitchell, South Dakota, home of the famous Corn Palace.
From Mitchell, it’s a pretty much straight ride north on US Highway 181 across the South Dakota plains to the North Dakota border and on up to I-94. I-94 is also straight with the only difference being that it heads east/west instead of north/south!
South Dakota and North Dakota were inundated with rain and
snow this year causing river floods and flooded farm fields. We passed lots of fields with standing water
and no hope of planting a crop this year.
To add misery to the farmers a strong rainstorm battered us for about 30
minutes, limiting visibility and adding to the wet fields.
Mark loves the South and North Dakota interstates with an 80
mph speed limit. Even the backroads have
65 mph speed limits.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park makes a good one day park if you’re not into hiking when the wind is gusting at 40 mph constantly. This is the North Dakota region of the badlands and is the only National Park we’ve seen with an interstate running through the middle of it.
We spent a few hours at Devil’s Tower National Monument in northeast Wyoming and it was packed with visitors, including a large group of boy scouts. Went for a nice 1.3 mile hike/walk around the Tower before we headed to Gillette, Wyoming to spend the night and have some tasty Mexican food.
The last day took us from Gillette to Fort Collins. Since this was Wyoming, the wind must be blowing! Signs were posted all over the interstate warning of 40 mph wind gusts. By the way, I-25 across Wyoming is not very exciting either … miles of not much scenery but as least the traffic was light and the speed limit is 80 mph.
12 days and 2300 miles later, we drove back into Fort Collins and Mark drove all 2300 miles! This road trip was so much fun, we’re thinking about where the next one should go. New Mexico and Arizona, maybe??
The adventure has started! Stop 1 was Iowa via Omaha and, as Mark likes to say, the trip is all downhill from Iowa! We started in Omaha (cheaper flight from Denver) with an overnight before heading across Iowa through all the fields of ripe corn and beans and spending the weekend in Iowa City. Thank heavens the University of Iowa beat Wyoming in the opening game of the season or the entire city would have been filled with VERY unhappy people!
You can find Hawkeye gear all over Iowa City.
Just in case you need a U. of Iowa Tie
Just in case you need to update your supply of Iowa sox you can find them at the Hawkeye Fan Shop in Coralville, IA.
These are highly prized and expensive reserved parking/tailgating spots right outside of Kinnick Stadium at University of Iowa.
The route back west across Iowa to Mark’s Mom’s house took us through Washington and Pella, Iowa. We went on a hunt for Susan’s long-ago relatives in Washington cemeteries and found a few 5th cousins 4 times removed. (We share great great great great great great grandparents – and, yes, the number of “greats” is correct!)
John Baker tombstone in Pleasant Hill Cemetery, outside of Washington, Iowa.
Located about 5 miles outside of Washington, IA in the middle of cornfields. We’re guessing my relatives had a farm somewhere in the vicinity in the late 1800’s.