ME! That's right, I've been given my first blogger award and I'm tickled pink! A great big thanks to Bev at Staying Native for the nomination. I've discovered that bloggers are usually super nice people that want to help each other out and that seems to be the motivation behind this award. It was started to help highlight new bloggers that don't have a giant following...YET!
Five states, over 3000 miles, 30 bags of corn nuts and 450 pictures later...we are done with the Wild West Road Trip! It was the first true road trip vacation we had ever taken as a family and it won't be the last. We had a great time! Thought I would end things with a quick recap of the trip.
Day one: Iowa
We drove across the entire state from Davenport to Sioux City. Our biggest stop in Iowa was the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.
I can't believe I've made it to the last day of our Wild West Road Trip! As I mentioned in my previous post, we had started making the long drive back home with just a few planned stops along the way. Just a little tip on how I planned those stops before I go on. First: About a month before our trip, I gathered numerous books from the library travel section on all the states we would be driving through. Every time I came across something interesting I made a note of it on my iPhone notes app. I divided the sections by states to make it easier for me to refer back to. Second: I searched on twitter for each state. I tweeted for advise to those people for interesting things to do in their state. That was VERY helpful! Then I made a list of several different twitter accounts to refer back to. I called it "Trip West". Lastly: I asked my friends and family for their favorite things to do in those states. Of course, there was a lot of the same response, but that helped me to know the big things everyone does. I was able to discover some interesting things that I had never heard of before and that leads me back to todays post...The Great Platte River Road Archway. Ever heard of it? I sure hadn't! It is located in Kearney, Nebraska and literally arches across interstate 80. You can't miss it. At least you can't miss seeing it as you drive by, they have made it difficult to get to...which I think they are trying to fix. I hope so anyway, because it is worth seeing . You might be wondering what it is, other than an archway over the highway. Well, that's what I am here to tell you. ;) Right there, in the middle of the highway in Nebraska is this fantastic history museum. I was very impressed!
Well, we made it to our final westward destination, Grand Teton National Park, so it was time to head east again. I had a few things planned for the trip home, but mostly it was just going to be a LONG drive. You can imagine with traveling over 3000 miles total, we made lots of pit stops. I was always happy to come across something other than a dirty bathroom and vending machines. Somewhere between Laramie and Cheyenne, Wyoming our pit stop was a very pleasant surprise. We were traveling along I-80, also known as the Lincoln Highway. Hence the monument dedicated to him at the rest area. The rest area itself was like a tiny little museum. Great place to stretch your legs and learn something at the same time.
The Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center was our last stop in Grand Teton National Park. I snapped a quick pic of me with the moose out front (that makes me think of the movie Vacation...moose out front shoulda told ya). ANYWAY, it is, by far, the best visitor center in the park. Highly recommend stopping there. We looked at all the exhibits and watched the movie. They also have a great gift shop if you are a shopper. The only thing I wish they had that they didn't was food. Oh well, you can't have everything. Not only did I like what they had inside the center, but the outside of the building itself was pretty incredible. It is a fairly new center, built in 2007 for $21.6 million, so that explains a lot! Wish I had taken more pictures for you, but here is what I have. Enjoy!
What an amazing place to build a church! Those pioneers knew what they were doing. :) As we drove South through the Grand Tetons, we pulled over at many places to enjoy the view better, walk around or just grab a snack. This Church of Transfiguration was located at the Menor's Ferry Historic District that you see below on the map. It is actually pretty hard to read, but it is located close to the Craig Thomas Visitor Center toward the very far South of the park. I would recommend it for all you history buffs out there. Also a good hands on history lesson for your kids.
After a buffet breakfast at The Old Faithful Inn, we headed South from Yellowstone to Grand Teton National Park. As you can see on the map, it was a quick trip since the two parks are basically connected. I've not mentioned this before, but I LOVE mountains. Not only are they beautiful, but they are awe-inspiring to me. They seem so powerful. In fact, mountains are the landscape where I feel the closest to God and his awesomeness. Recently in church they read a verse from Psalms that made me think of how amazing nature is. It led me to this verse...Psalm 65:6 "Which by his strength sets fast the mountains; being surrounded with power." So I'm not the only one that feels that way about mountains. :)
After we checked in to the Old Faithful Inn and enjoyed our dinner and a show, we decided to take a walk around the geyser hill loop trail. I always enjoy taking a very slow walk after I have eaten, and there was no better place to enjoy that than at Yellowstone. Slightly more things to see than a walk around the neighborhood. :)
By the time we arrived at The Old Faithful Inn, we had been on the road almost a week. I have been calling these posts the Wild West Road Trip for good reasons. First of all, we never knew exactly where we were going to spend the night. I didn't make any hotel reservations before we left. Second, we ate "on the road" a lot. We drove thru places or ate from the giant box of snacks I packed before we left. Needless to say, by the time we had the chance to eat at a nice restaurant...I was ready!!! The Old Faithful Inn has a restaurant aptly named The Old Faithful Inn Dining Room. :) After checking out their dinner menu, we decided to start with some Antelope Sausage. This might be a good time to tell you that I will try pretty much any food at least once. I have had snake, turtle, goat and several other things that I won't eat again, but am glad I tried. Anyway, the Antelope Sausage was served with caramelized sweet onions and applewood smoked bacon for $9.45. I liked it, as did the rest of the family. It didn't taste much different from other sausages that I have had in the past. Then we were on to the entrees.
Our second day in Yellowstone started with me calling Xanterra. Remember when I told you reservations for hotels in Yellowstone need to be made really far in advance? But there is the possibility to snag a room because of a last minute cancellation. Well, that happened to us in the best way and I truly was the HAPPY travel bug! There was one room that opened up at the Yellowstone hotel of my dreams...The Old Faithful Inn! I had wanted to stay there since I saw it as a child on my first trip to Yellowstone. In fact, I was so excited and felt so blessed to get the room that I called my Mom and told her about it. She was excited for me too! Why do I like the Old Faithful Inn so much? I don't really know, but I think it is because I love log cabins and this is a log cabin on steroids. Also, I am a history buff and it is a National Historic Landmark built in 1903. Plus, when you are little and have a dream about doing something, it feels so cool to finally get to do it.