The Final Stretch

It wasn’t long after we left Buffalo that we started seeing signs for Wall Drug. There had to be 50 or so of them before we actually got to Wall, South Dakota where it is located. We remember seeing them first time we took this highway (going west on a trip back in 2002 maybe?) and we were so curious about what it was, that we stopped.

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It is a wonderful roadside attraction that steps you back in time to an old watering hole on the trail west. It has since become a trading post of sorts, with all kinds of treasures to be found (including its freshly made old-fashioned donuts). If I remember correctly, this is where I got my little stuffed buffalo! This time though, we just drove by.

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Source: SD Tourism

We stopped for the night in Mitchell, South Dakota, home of another roadside attraction, the only Corn Palace in the world. We also stopped in here on a previous trip, so didn’t go to discover that it is currently under “cornstruction”. (That’s their bad pun, not mine!)

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Source: The World’s Only Corn Palace Website

Along the way we noticed a number of damaged silos and roadside signs. After the first few, we realized that they must have had some serious wind go through quite recently. It turns out that there had been a tornado in the county just south of Mitchell only two days before. We realized at that point that we seemed to be travelling in some sort of ‘good-weather bubble’ … other than the rain in Chicago on our way west, we’ve had gorgeous, albeit hot weather.

The next day was a long one. From South Dakota, into Minnesota. Down through the eastern side of Iowa and into Illinois. Got us to the southwest side of Chicago just before supper. We had decided that we’d rather drive across the bottom of Chicago after the evening rush hour instead of during the morning one, so we stopped for a quick meal before braving the crazy drivers on the racetrack stretch from Chicago through Indiana to the Michigan border. Between traffic and construction it was almost 13 hours on the road before we stopped for the night in Benton Harbor.

That extra long day meant the last of our six day cross-country marathon could be a bit more leisurely than the last five had been. We let ourselves sleep in and even stopped in a bookstore along the way (it wouldn’t be a vacation without visiting at least one bookstore!). We crossed the border just after 2 p.m. with only four cars ahead of us in line at customs!

After the last three weeks of driving anywhere from 65 mph to 80 mph, it seemed like we were just crawling along around the 100 kph limit! That aside, the last bit of driving never seems that long once home is ‘just down the road’!

It’s good to be home, but it makes me wonder … just where will our next adventure take us??

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The Road West

The west is somewhere that calls to us almost annually. This year it’s for a wedding in Vancouver. Being the travellers that we are, we decided to meander our way there via the Southwest states.

We crossed the border at Sarnia in what for us, was record time. No spaghetti sauce with beef, no hot dogs, and no fruit or veggies that had us pulled aside at customs. A very pleasant customs officer wished us well as we started our trek.

We always power drive on the first day. The sun shone beautifully as we drove through Michigan, the top tip of Indiana and into Illinois. As per our travelling tradition the skies darkened as we approached Chicago. Construction had delayed us and the skies opened up into a torrential downpour just as we hit rush hour traffic. Once we got to the far side, the skies cleared for the last leg of our day’s drive to Ottawa, Illinois.

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Next day was another long one as we headed across Iowa toward Nebraska. We’re travelling a bit earlier this year, so the corn is only about a foot tall. Mile after mile of fields highlights just why this is called the bread basket of America. We stopped at a little campground just outside Grand Island, Nebraska. Although we didn’t bring the trailer this year, we decided to try the Camping Cabins along the way. This first one was a pleasant surprise … small, but fully equipped with a small kitchenette, a bathroom, and even heating and air conditioning. We did take advantage of the heater to take the bite off the chilly overnight air.

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You know you’ve reached the west when you pass under the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument, considered by many to be the gateway to the West. From there it was across the rest of Nebraska, a short trip through the southeast corner of Wyoming and down I-25 to Fort Collins, Colorado.