Update: This post was written last night, we have arrived! But I’m too tired to update anything else 🙂
So, we are 8 days into our roadtrip with 1 to go! Here’s the short version of what our days looked like:
Day 1: Merrimack, NH to Erie, PA (We took several days to meander from Kingfield to MA visiting friends and family, so we didn’t count that as part of the trip)
Day 2: Erie, PA to St. Ignace, MI
Day 3: St. Ignace, MI to Appleton, WI
Day 4: Appleton, WI to Wall, SD (our longest drive)
Day 5: Wall, SD to Badlands National Park, SD (our shortest drive)
Day 6: Badlands to Billings, MT
Day 7: Billings, MT to Yellowstone National Park, WY
Day 8: Yellowstone to Boardman, OR (our second longest day of driving, crossed 5 states)
Day 9 (yet to come): Boardman, OR to Oakridge, OR, where our stuff and our car will land for the next 5 monthsRather than bore you with details of the road, here’s a list of what we found interesting and not. Sorry to the states that didn’t get mentioned highly. I’m sure you all have beautiful spots; we just did not see them on I-90. For example:
Most boring state to drive through: Minnesota, which was one of my favorites when I drove through it on Route 2, but I-90 goes through pretty boring farmlands with no rest stops along the way.
Most interesting state to drive through: Montana -so gorgeous at every turn with the white-capped Rockies in the distance, rolling rangeland, buttes, and mesas. There was lots to look at as well as the most fun driving, with all its twists and turns, inclines, and declines. This is where we passed through the Continental Divide. And hardly any other cars on the road.
Place we took the most pictures: Badlands gets first place; Mammoth Hot Springs, in Yellowstone takes second.
Best roadside stops: Again, Montana wins. It had the best and biggest truck stops. Although Al’s Oasis in South Dakota was pretty fun too. And I enjoyed the cheese/gift shops of Wisconsin.
Worst roadside stops: New York; overpriced and generic rest areas on the very long turnpike.
Warmest part of the trip: South Dakota and into Montana on Day 6, got into the 70s.
Coldest part of the trip: The Upper Penninsula, near the Great Lakes, didn’t get above 40 all day.
Friendliest state: Wisconsin; everyone seemed so genuinely kind and happy to see us.
Place with the most wildlife: Badlands. These were all the animals we saw: prairie dogs, bison, antelope, deer (white tail and mule), ground owls, blue birds, meadowlarks, killdeer, morning dove, coyote, bighorn sheep. Yellowstone was a close second, where we saw bison, antelope, pronghorn, elk, a bald eagle, rabbits, magpie. We were amazed at the amount of wildlife we encountered in these parks, and how close we got to them. We saw bison scratching themselves on picnic tables, and elk grazing so close to our campsite we could see the mats in their fur. Most surprising animal find were mountain goats at Mt. Rushmore beside all the tourists.
Most played CDs: Grateful Dead, Phish, Tom Petty, and Turner Templeton.
Most frequent car snack: Chocolate bunnies! No, just kidding. (If you missed the bunny saga click on the Instagram feed to the right.) Clementines.
Highest Speed Limit: 80 mph in South Dakota
Favorite place we ate: Jason -Hooch and Blotto’s, in Erie, PA; “purely for the name,” and the food was good too.
Catie -Dobber’s Pasties in the Upper Penninsula
Best craft beer we tried: Big Sky IPA (more points for Montana)
Bottom 3 Worst Moments (in no particular order):
- Sharp corners through Cleveland, OH
- Crossing the Mississippi into Minnesota in the pouring rain with construction
- After Mt. Rushmore, seeing the line of cars waiting to get into Bear Country to see “Cub Fest” (cages bears and their newborn cubs)
Really, it was hard to come up with the worst moments. The trip has been wonderful!
Top 3 Best Moments (in no particular order):
- Backpacking in the Badlands, especially spotting the buffalo after scanning the landscape for so long. (Grandpa’s binoculars came in handy), and being able to pick out our own campsite.
- Driving into the Badlands and being greeted by two prairie dogs, one on each side of the road, doing that cute thing they do when they stand up.
- Driving into Yellowstone, in the first 5 minutes spotting heards of bison, antelope, and elk.
- Watching ducks surf the rapids at Boiling River in Yellowstone. We saw several ducks lining up to float the rapids, just like kayakers or white water rafters do. They were just playing, and enjoying the river, warmed by a hot spring.
Tomorrow is our last day, which is a little bittersweet. We are happy to finally arrive at our destination, but a little sad to see this great trip end.Next up on the agenda: visiting friends and family in Oregon, flying down to Orange County to visit with my brother and sister-in-law, then they drop us off at the trailhead on Sunday! So close we can see it in the extended weather forecast! Looks warm 🙂
P.S. Here are some more photos of the trip: