Fortunately, this road trip was much less eventful than last time. No U-Haul malfunctions or major delays. In fact, since all of our household goods were already en route on a tractor trailer, we traveled relatively light, although Jon did get a cargo box for his car.
As it usually does, cleaning took much longer than expected, so we got a pretty late start on a Thursday night. And due to some work obligations, we had to alter our route slightly, which unfortunately meant we wouldn't be able to visit friends along the way like we had anticipated. But, our condo was empty and the carpets freshly steamed, so despite the fact that it was after 11pm, we said our final good-byes to DuPont and hit the road.
We only made it as far as the Snoqualmie mountain pass, but it was important for us to leave when we did. The next morning we motored through eastern Washington, stopping in beautiful Coeur d'Alene, Idaho for lunch.
We stayed a bit longer than intended in Idaho, so when we arrived in Missoula, Montana for dinner, we decided to quit driving for the night and get an early start the next day. Driving at night after driving all day is such a strain, and even though I thought we needed to get a little bit farther, I'm glad we stopped when we did. I was not glad at 5am when we woke up, but overall it proved to be a good choice.
It was essential to start so early on Saturday because we had some ambitious driving goals. Even though we knew we no longer had as much time to get to Memphis, it was still extremely important for us to get to North Dakota. Neither of us had ever been there before and couldn't foresee another time we would be within striking distance. No offense to anyone with connections to North Dakota, but it certainly didn't rank very high on our list of vacation spots.
I feel like I've alluded to (or outright mentioned) this before, but Jon and I have a goal of traveling to each of the 50 states. We're at approximately 36, each with a couple the other hasn't hit. At any rate, because of this aspiration, we were going to get North Dakota, gosh darn it, even if it meant driving 12 hours in one day. Which we did. The road got awfully long and lonely once we exited from I-90. We chose to pick off North Dakota with the least possible deviation from the straightest route, but that meant we were on a state highway.
We've driven enough to encounter our fair share of road construction, but North Dakota's take on it was a bit different. Usually at least one lane is left for drivers to traverse. Not so on this highway. The entire thing had been dug up and was being re-done from scratch. And we could still drive on it. So, there we were (new manual transmission driver behind the wheel, no less) following a pilot car and a Buick through an active construction site. I think that qualifies as something significant enough to be able to check North Dakota off the list once and for all.
|So, where did the pavement begin?|
We caught our first glimpse of the Black Hills once we crossed the border and vowed to visit the Mount Rushmore National Memorial first thing Sunday morning. Just the little bit of history we absorbed in the visitors center made the mountain even more impressive.
Next on the list were the Badlands, a national park we were encouraged not to skip. However, on the way there, we kept seeing billboard after billboard for the world-famous Wall Drug...so we had to pull off the highway. Cheesy and genius all wrapped up in one, I'm glad we stopped, if only for making the "license plate game" that much easier.
The origin of the name "Badlands" is about as obvious as it gets. The land is literally bad land. Bad for farming, bad for traveling, bad for living...but awesome to visit. It was breathtaking and really puts things into perspective. The erosion that created the land patterns occurred over thousands of years and is still going on.