Cross Country Tour with My Girl

Twenty-six hours driving through 90 plus degree temperatures with a dog, a packed car and seven hours to go… and we’re still having fun!

Ali, my 21-year-old blond haired, blue-eyed daughter, picked me up from the Chicago airport midday on Saturday for a cross country road trip so that she can have her longest visit with us, ever! Seven weeks.

That first day as we drove through Iowa and the fields of corn, I thought of RAGBRAI, the cross state bike trip that I consider taking from time to time, how I used to call my boys “Children of the Corn” when I needed to gather them by my side and the whole time they thought it was some airy fairy Waldorf thing and not the horror movie. Then thoughts and conversations moved onto Monsanto – the real world horror.

We listened to Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire and music from her Ipod, interspersed with Ali’s stories from Bonnaroo, a music festival she just attended in Tennessee. We dined in hot and sticky downtown Des Moines where her brindle boxer, Hendrix, received a lot of compliments and made Ali want to move there. We reached Omaha late (partly chosen because one of her favorite bands hails from there). Gotta love those kind of reasons.

Thirteen hours of traveling, six states and all is well in the world.

Sunday we braved the prairie, but much to our delight the weather had cooled and there was a breeze. After hours of driving without much change, we pulled over to visit the Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center on the Platte River.  Beautiful wildflower across acres upon acres of waving grasslands and a few bison, in memorandum of the thousands of wild beasts that once roamed these lands. We saw the lark bunting and heard about the Sandhill Crane migration for which the area is well known. I would love to see them and the Prairie Chicken Dance.

We arrived at our hotel, a little sick of dingy Motel 6, but otherwise in good spirits. That night we drank ales in the Exchange Tavern, a little pub we found via our GPS and her IPhone.

Yesterday we crawled out of bed a bit bedraggled but determined to visit Boulder. The bartender had raved about Snooze Eatery a must for the delicious upside down pineapple pancakes and coffee. Oh yum, it was sooo good! We bought some goodies from the funky shops (I got my patch) and we were on our way again. As we drove through the Rockies, we both oohed and ahhed over the lush environment. It rained then the sun came out again. I pulled over at White River and all three of us took a dip in the refreshing water. We both added rafting on this river to our bucket lists.

Although we were in for a long stretch, we had finally reached the West and territory I knew well. I commandeered navigation and took us on a long detour to see Moab and Arches National Park. Currently I’m entranced by Terry Tempest Williams’ writing and this is her muse and it had been three years since I had last seen the sun set the red rocks afire.

Unfortunately, all our pit stops meant driving til 1:30 am. And we’re finally in the nicest hotel. They have shampoo in the rooms, a free computer in the lobby and waffle breakfast! There are more photos on my phone, but it’s out of juice and I can’t go in the room where Sleeping Beauty rests to plug it in.

Seven hours left today. Zion National Park. Vegas. Home.

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