When we last left our intrepid traveler she was embarking on a journey from one coast to another. Wednesday morning she called from Illinois to tell me that her traveling companion had to go home on family business. She was heartbroken for an number of reasons. I asked if she wanted me to fly out and help her drive. I told her to think about it and let me know later that day.
When we spoke again she said she’d like me to help her drive to Olympia, so I booked a flight to Chicago for the next morning.
She picked me up and we drove to my Mom’s house where she’d stayed the past two nights. Mom was confused and didn’t understand that I wasn’t sticking around. She thought I was there to drive Clare back to our house (Washington State/Washington DC — people do occasionally get confused about that, I suppose). So Mom was sad when we drove off. Clare was also sad. I guess I was the only not sad person because I’d always wanted to drive cross-country and I got a few more intense days with my daughter.
Clare planned the trip and our first stop was to be Sioux Falls, South Dakota about 8 hours from Elgin and to get there we had to drive through Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Clare was feeling poorly — she thought allergies. I thought common cold — so I drove first. We headed north thorough Wisconsin — we passed Baraboo and the Dells, places I remember fondly from my childhood.
About an hour after the Dells area we entered Minnesota, a virgin state for both of us. Southern Minnesota is pretty much the same as Wisconsin, except maybe more hilly and with fewer (actually zero) signs for cheese. We did, however, begin seeing signs for Wall Drug.
We also saw thousands of wind turbines. For miles and miles it looked like an alien invasion — giant white creatures twirling their appendages at us. As darkness fell all we could see were thousands of blinking lights. It was spectacular. I tried to get a photo or two, but everything is blurry.
South Dakota (another virgin state for us) didn’t seem much different from Wisconsin or Minnesota. the Wall Drug billboards and signs became more frequent and were joined by Rushmore and the Corn Palace signs. Many of the Rushmore signs were on what seemed to be abandoned semi (articulated lorry) trailers.
By this time, Clare was driving and I was trying to work a little — but that didn’t last long. It was dark by the time we rolled into Sioux Falls and as we navigated to the hotel at which we hoped to sleep we saw fireworks in the distance. Not your average fireworks either. Some pretty amazing pyrotechnics. Earlier in the day I suggested that we maybe should book a hotel in Sioux Falls in case there was a convention there and all the hotels were full. Clare thought I was being silly and I sort of thought that too. Turns out that the first two hotels we tried were booked because of a convention. A fireworks convention. Luckily there was another nearby hotel that had a room for us.
I’d worried the night before the trip — about the flight and about the drive, but it all worked out fine in the end.