Friday, June 22, 2007

Days Four & Five of our Eastward Trek--June 18th & 19th

The mornings on our trip never seemed to start as early as we would've liked. We had intended on leaving Molly's house around 8 a.m. on the 18th, but we didn't actually make it out of the house until around 9:30 a.m.

We drove the 4 hours to Mt. Rushmore. Here are a couple of pics.

Mt Rushmore

Honestly, Mt Rushmore was a bit of a disappointment. It was much smaller than Jeff had anticipated. For me, there just wasn't a lot to do around there. Plus I think we were just so ready to be finished with our trip, that we just weren't all that excited for one more thing to stop and explore.

We didn't stop at Wall Drug in Wall, SD.

We did have a very relaxing camping experience at the KOA in Kennebec, SD.

KOA Kennebec, SD

Jeff built a fire; we roasted marshmallows. We slept in the back of our Scion.

Jeff had a heck of a time sleeping in the car, because every time he'd fall sleep, I'd have him roll over. It was quite a sleepless night for him, made even more frustrating as he watched his wife enjoy a deep slumber.

The next morning, Jeff awoke at 6:30 a.m. and built a fire. I continued to sleep until around 8:30.

In the morning, we played a round of their free mini golf. Take a look at our slide show for a couple of pics of their very elaborate course. :-) We also played several games of table tennis.

Then it was soon time to pack up and head out.

We didn't stop at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD.

About 60 miles East of Albert Lea, we thought we were being attacked by a crop duster. Seriously, we thought a plane was right over us, but we couldn't see anything! After a little bit of us twisting and turning our heads to look out the window to see what was the matter, Jeff thought it might be something with the car. When we pulled over, he revved the engine, and we sighed a big sigh of relief that it didn't sound like engine failure. As soon as we got out of the car, I noticed the flat tire!

We just wanted to be home!

Now we had to change to the spare, and it would be that much longer before we would arrive in Eagan.

Once that headache was all cleared, we were back on the road (at a slightly slower pace than we would've liked). We finally arrived at my parents house around 7:20 p.m.

Whew!! We made it!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Day Three of our Eastward Trek--June 17th

Sunday morning, we needed to check out of our Kamping Kabin by 11 a.m. After enjoying a bit of a lazy morning--I blogged while Jeff slept--we finally got really moving around 9:30. We checked out with 10 whole minutes to spare!! :-)

Our next destination was Casper, WY. A good friend of mine from Cottey lives there. I had made plans with Molly for Jeff and I to arrive around 3:30 or 4, and it was only 2 hours from our campsite, so we had some time to spare.

We visited the old WY state penitentiary. We took a self-guided tour, which we were not supposed to do. Their website said, "Free admission, tours $6.00." We interpreted that to mean that you were free to walk around on your own, but if you wanted a docent, you needed to pay the price.

So, we walked around on our own. It was creepy!!

Once we got to the kitchen, we met up with the tour, and were told that we weren't supposed to be back there without a tour guide. Oops! We had gone through the whole place anyway, so we were ready to be done.

Click on the link below to view our pics from the Old Pen.
Old Pen

We were also surprised to find that Martin's Cove was directly in our path to Casper, WY. In case you don't know what Martin's Cove is, it is an LDS historical site. During the migration West, there were two handcart companies that were hit by an early snowstorm--the Willie and Martin handcart companies. Martin's handcart company took shelter in a cove near Devil's Gate, and now you can visit this site. On days other than Sunday, you can even push a handcart on a 5-mile trek. Our visit was on a Sunday, so we were unable to push a handcart, which is probably a good thing, because I'm not sure that we would've made it.

We barely made the 1-mile walk to Devil's Gate and back.

Martin's Cove/Devil's Gate

This historical site is also commemorating the Sun Ranch. At one time, it was over 1 million acres in size. That's huge!! This area also marks where the Mormon, Oregon, California, and Pony Express trails all crossed. I didn't realize that they all took basically the same route.

Walking/driving around this area really made me realize how difficult there journey was. I know that I probably couldn't do it today. Of course, we've been spoiled with modern technology. It also made me realize how beautiful their journey was. Even being stuck in a snowstorm with loved ones dying around you, I'll bet many of the pioneers still revelled in God's marvels and the beauty that they were beholding. There is only so much you can take in when driving 80 mph done the road. Imagine the beauty you experience when walking alongside the mountains.

We also got very philosophical in our little trek to Devil's Gate. We got to thinking about all the beauty that God created in the Earth. Artists throughout time have tried and tried to duplicate, but no work of art can compare to what our Heavenly Father created for us to enjoy.

It was a nice place to spend our Sunday.

We even ran into a couple missionary (Elder & Sister Mellor) that had served a previous mission in Minnesota. I believe they served in Willmar, and I grew up in Alexandria, so we knew some of the same places. It was fun to chat with them for a bit, and we left the Visitor's Center grateful to be members of the church where the world suddenly seems much smaller.

By this time, we were actually running late. We were still about an hour or so from Molly's house. She had specifically given me her phone number, so I could call if we were running late, early, etc. Unfortunately, we had no cell phone signal in all of WY. :-( I think we finally arrived around 4:30.

Molly & Edis have the most beautifully, decorated home! We fell in love with it as soon as we entered. I wish we would've taken some photos, unfortunately, our camera didn't come out once during our short visit. I didn't even get any pics with her and I, but that doesn't mean we didn't fully enjoy our visit with them. I had forgotten what a great storyteller Molly was--and so funny! I think that the four of us pretty much laughed non-stop from the time we got there until bedtime.

We wish we could have stayed longer, but by this time, we were really starting to be ready for our road trip to end, and we knew we still had quite a bit of driving ahead of us.

Here is one last album of Day 3. These are just some pics of the beautiful WY countryside. Some of these were taken before Martin's Cove and some were taken after. The ones before were all taken from the window of the car as we drove along. We actually pulled over for the ones after Martin's Cove. Before this road trip, I never really realized just how beautiful WY was!!

WY Countryside

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Day Two of our Eastward Trek--June 16th

The next morning we were up at the crack of dawn, but actually crawled out of bed around 7:30. Between breaking down camp and our long, luxurious, hot showers, we were back on the road by 9:30 a.m.

We were headed for Salt Lake City. I had never been to Salt Lake before (or Utah for that matter), so it was one stop that we definitely wanted to make.

We had intended on doing a temple session, but after our late start, we decided it would be too stressful to try to cram it in. We just walked around Temple Square.

It was SO hot! I don't care what anyone says about dry heat vs humid heat...95 IS STILL HOT!!! Even with 15 SPF sunscreen, I got a little pink (and a little red around the neckline of my shirt because, oops, I forgot to apply it there).

It was so bright and sunny out, that our pictures didn't turn out as nice as we would have liked. :-(

You can't really tell, but Jeff is sitting next to a cascading fountain in this pic of the SL Temple.

The Salt Lake City Temple
There was this really cool bench under this really cool tree. The pic isn't real clear, but the bench is made to look like tangled tree branches.I really liked how these two pics turned out of us on the bench under the tree.

After walking around a bit, we met up with Stephanie and Dave Allen for some lunch. We had some very yummy burgers from Crown Burgers near Temple Square. We decided to walk the 3 blocks, without realizing just how long SLC blocks were in that area. It was a very hot, uncomfortable walk, but the food definitely hit the spot.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten to change my wristwatch to Mountain time, and we didn't realize it until Jeff consulted his phone. I thought it was only 2:15, but in reality it was 3:15. We still had 4 more hours of driving to get to our campsite.

But we couldn't stop in SLC without seeing the Christus.

After just a few minutes in the Visitor's Center, we hopped back into the car on our way to Wyoming. Our campsite was 4 hours away, and we wanted to get there before dark.

Somewhere in WY, we made our second stop at a Wal-mart. We needed more insect repellent and we thought we'd get some camping towels. We spent way too much time at Wal-mart, but still stopped for gas before getting back on the road.

We finally arrived at the KOA--Rawlins a little after 8 p.m. with some nasty looking clouds lurking above. Since the sky looked stormy, it was already so late, and we wanted to get in a little swim before the pool closed, we decided to upgrade to a Kamping Kabin.

Black Betty (our Scion) in front of KK3

Front view of KK3
Dining area
Porch swing


After our quick swim and after we got all settled into our kabin, we were very grateful that we'd upgraded. The wind was fierce, and I think that there was a bit of rain as well. And, of course, there were NO bugs!! Of course, there didn't seem to be very many bugs outside either. Maybe bugs don't like the WY climate...

Day One of our Eastward trek--June 15th

Originally, we had hoped to leave Trudy's bright and early Friday morning to head to Twin Falls, ID, our first camping site. Unfortunately, after the day we'd just experienced, we were very achy, Jeff's knee sounded terrible, and we were tired. Needless to say, we weren't moving with any sense of urgency.

I think we finally got on the road around 10:30 or 11.

In Pendleton, OR, (about 2 hours into our trip), we made our first stop at Wal-mart. We needed some food, toiletries and insect repellent. With our food bag and cooler stocked, we were back on the road.

I think we finally got to the KOA--Jerome/Twin Falls around 7:30 or 8 p.m.

The first thing we did was fog our campsite. In all of our excitement of beginning a new adventure of camping, I think we forgot how much bugs there would be and how much they would annoy us/creep us out. Jeff used nearly the entire container of this fog repellent. Plus he doused himself in 30% DEET repellent, and the bugs were still crawling all over him--or at least it seemed that way.

After fogging our area, we set up the tent.

Then we donned our swim suits for a soak in the hot tub!! Ooohhhh it was so nice on our aching bodies to rest awhile in the hot, bubbly tub!! Unfortunately, the chlorine levels in there were dangerously high, so our eyes began to burn a bit. We soaked as long as we could.

Then off to a tent...on an air mattress... :-)

Anna Sophia (Black) Zendt

As I mentioned in our Moving Day post, having dinner with Erin, Joe and Anna was, by far, the best part of our day!!

Here are a couple of pics of our dinner with the Zendt's.

Mommy, Daddy, and Anna

Time to say Good-Night to Anna

Anna and me (I loved how she was looking up at me in this one...)

Me and my good friend, Erin Black

Moving Day--June 14th

This was probably the worst moving day Jeff and I had ever experienced--since we've been married and including when we were single. Fate was definitely working against us, as it seemed that everything that could go wrong, did.

It all started with the credit card machine not working properly at the truck rental place. Not as many people showed up to help as we thought would be coming.

Then the biggest road block was that all our stuff was not fitting into the truck!!

We were moving all of Jerilyn's stuff to Trudy's house in Dufur, OR, and all of our stuff was going to a shipping yard in Portland to be loaded into Relocubes(R) to be shipping to MN. What this meant was that we needed to load the truck very specifically. Jerilyn stuff took up a lot more of the 24' truck that we'd envisioned, leaving us with not much room for our own stuff. After much frustration, a LOT of phone calls, and my breaking into tears, we were finally able to finagle all of our stuff into the truck for the drive to Portland. All of our stuff was packed in nice neat totes and boxes, so hopefully that was able to secure our belongings against breakage. We will wait to find out next week when we unload our stuff.

About 12 or so miles into our trip up to Portland, a terrible annoying alarm started going off in the moving truck. I wasn't able to experience this, so I don't know exactly the words to describe it. Basically the alarm was telling Jeff that the brakes were bad. Luckily they seemed to be working fine--unless you're looking at it from my perspective. I was following him, and his brake lights were not working. Let's just say it is quite nerve-wracking to follow a huge truck and not know when he is braking--especially for me with my poor distance judgment.

Finally we arrived at the shipping yard, transferred out stuff to the cubes, only to find ourselves in the thickest of rush hour traffic--1 1/2 to 2 hours behind schedule.

We arrived in Dufur without too many further incidents. Well, there was the gas station...but I'm not going to go into that...

Of course, all of this didn't seem so bad once we got to the restaurant to have dinner with Erin, Joe, and little Anna.

Anna is honestly one of the cutest little babies I've seen in a long time. She is about 3 months old now, and even though we kept her up way past her bedtime, she was still a sleepy cheerful. I even got to hold her for a bit, which was very fun for me. :-)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007 a TENT...!?!

Anyone who knows us will read this with some amount of disbelief.

Yesterday morning, our plans to stay with a couple of old friends in Salt Lake City fell through. As I have never been to Utah before, we really wanted to keep this location on our itinerary. At first we were at a lost as to what to do. We didn't know anyone else in the SLC area that we felt comfortable asking to stay with and we knew that staying at hotels would be too expensive.

On our drive home, as Jeff processed the information, it occurred to him that it might be kind of fun to buy a tent and camp along the way (with our queen size air mattress). We figured even with the cost of buying a tent, it would probably be cheaper than staying in a hotel.

Now we will even be able to break up the long trip from Mt Rushmore to Eagan--our last leg.

We checked out the KOA website ( and are now even more excited to begin our road trip on Friday.

Thursday is moving day.

Tomorrow is last minute packing day.

Oh, and one of the great perks of staying at a KOA is that most of them have free wireless internet. We'll be traveling with our laptop, so hopefully we'll be able to keep our blog updated as we progress along our road trip. :-)


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