I'm back! And tired! Wow you guys. 2,300+ miles in a car when you're almost five months pregnant is a whole new way to travel. Add in a trip straight up into the Rocky Mountains without stopping (we're talking sea level to 9,000+ feet in one day), and what would normally be a simple road trip becomes quite the challenging adventure. There were definitely some road bumps along the way (pun absolutely intended), but I am infinitely happier that we did this instead of just hopping on a plane. Robbie and I got to spend so much quality time together before he leaves for the band's late summer tour (and before baby comes!), and it was awesome to be able to set our own hours, stop and go when we pleased, and choose what to see and do along the way based upon our current moods.
It had been years since I'd taken a multi-state, multi-day road trip like this, and I'd almost forgotten how liberating it feels. We didn't plan much of anything aside from the overall amount of time we'd be gone and what our budget would be. There were no hotels booked in advance or set day-to-day schedules of any kind. The ability to be so spontaneous was incredibly refreshing. Our trip consisted of eight days, six states, and everything from chilly, two-mile-high mountain air to unbearable heat in the flattest of prairies, from delicious locally owned cafe meals to truck stop junk food runs. It was pretty great.
The photos you see here are from the first half of our journey (Illinois/Iowa/Missouri/Kansas/Colorado). And to spare you from being bombarded with copious amounts of boring travel pictures, I'll share the second half (Colorado/Nebraska/Iowa/Illinois) in a few days. Most of the 'good' photos that we took with our real camera are from the second half of our stay in Colorado, which means that the majority of images in this post are plain old cell phone pictures. But we did our best to just enjoy the experience rather than worry too much about documenting every step with our camera (a habit that, as a blogger, can be hard to break). Hopefully the images we did capture can adequately convey what a wonderful experience we had.
Some highlights from the first half of our trip:
- Getting off 1-80 in Iowa to avoid a closure and as a trade-off, being able to stare at the lushest, greenest, rain-kissed rolling hills for miles and miles.
- Calling Robbie's grandmother 'Nana' about an hour before we rolled into town and surprising her with the news that we were coming for a visit.
- Staying at the raddest little cowboy-themed hotel in Joseph, Missouri.
- Sneaking into the Moila Shriner's Country Club so we could see a picture on the wall of Robbie's grandfather as President in 1963.
- A truly gluttonous breakfast at a Missouri Cracker Barrel (you don't see many of them in the Chicago area; it's a serious treat).
- Watching old videos for hours with Robbie's Nana.
- Stalking Robbie's childhood home in Kansas City, and getting a special tour of all his favorite places in the area from when he was just a little dude.
- Eating a very unhealthy, heavily-fried dinner in Salina, Kansas before crashing at a roadside Best Western.
- Singing Beatles songs at the top of our lungs to fight off highway hypnosis as we drove across the vast, never-ending Kansas landscape.
- Being forced to remember the days where no cell phone service existed for longer than an airplane flight while in Kansas. It's surprising how freeing that can be.
- Coming upon a totally amazing 85-foot reproduction of Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers' in a tiny, middle-of-nowhere town called Goodland.
- Finally watching the midwest's everlasting flatness disappear in the rear view mirror as we approached the Continental Divide.
- Pulling into Robbie's parent's condo up in Dillon and getting to introduce them to their future grandchild for the first time.
- Experiencing severe altitude sickness, which apparently was a result of being pregnant and traveling into high country without spending a night at half-elevation first (I've lived at 10,000 feet and travel to Colorado at least once a year and have never had a problem before). This included a visit to Urgent Care, a fainting episode, way more time in bed and curled up next to toilets than I would ever choose, and lots of supplemental oxygen. Although not a highlight by any means, it was certainly something I'll never forget!
- Being blissfully lazy, which mainly consisted of lounging on Robbie's parents' deck and staring at pretty Colorado birds, all with a gorgeous lake and mountain-scape in the background.
- Free outdoor music a two-minute walk away almost every night in Dillon.
- Getting to grab dinner with one of my best friends (and bridesmaid) Rhonda. She is a massage therapist and did a beautiful ritual for me that involved rubbing a special essential oil on my belly, to which the baby responded with more movement than I'd felt thusfar. So cool.
And that's it for the first half of our journey! If you made it this far, you rock. Stay tuned for part two early next week...