Midwest trip: June 23, Day 5

Bodger & Crabtree kids at KC's Power & Light District

Bodger & Crabtree kids at KC's Power & Light District

Day One at the Crabtree’s home in Parkville, just outside of Kansas City, and decisions must be made as to what activity we’ll do for the day. We settled on “Steamboat Arabia Museum”, a museum dedicated to displaying the artifacts found on a submerged steamboat which sank in 1856. From a postcard: “The boat, loaded with over 200 tons of frontier cargo sank suddenly in the Missouri River in 1856 after striking a submerged tree. All 130 passengers survived. The largest pre-Civil War artifact collection in the world has been preserved and is on display” at the Museum in Kansas City. 

Realizing that the Missouri River appeared to have changed courses, four regular guys from 2 families got an inkling that a steamboat may be underground in a corn field several miles off the current path of the Missouri River. They found, 45′ down, the Steamboat Arabia in amazing condition.

My favorite artifacts

My favorite artifacts

Beautiful china

Beautiful china

Clothing was also preserved
Clothing was also preserved

A movie about the find and excavation is included in the tour and is quite fascinating. Following the film, one of the actual discoverers, David Hawley, was available to answer questions. So cool! He, his brother, and father still run a local refrigeration business – it pays the bills! 

Football at the park

Football at the park

Soccer, anyone?

Soccer, anyone?

Soccer in the field

Soccer in the field

 

 

 

 

 

 Prior to the museum, we played soccer at a local park and I had the distinct pleasure of breaking my only pair of flip flops! The soccer game was fun, but walking through downtown KC with only one shoe was quite challenging – and shoe shops don’t seem to be a specialty in that area. We had lunch in the power and light district where David Cook performed his American Idol hometown visit concert- we’d seen it on TV, so that was pretty cool to recognize it and realize it was what we thought it was.

Later in the day we went to get ice cream and replace my shoes at Via Rosa (similar to Redmond Town Center around here), where we also got to play at the sprinkler park on a perfect summer day!
Free-for-all at the fountain

Free-for-all at the fountain

Mom and Jordan play in the water

Mom and Jordan play in the water

Fun at the water park

Fun at the water park

 
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Midwest trip: June 22, Day 4

 
Each S. Dakota rest area that we saw had this teepee formation
Each S. Dakota rest area that we saw had this teepee formation
Bekah and another teepee

Bekah and another teepee

 

Today was a travel day, with our only significant stop being at the “Corn Palace” in Mitchell, SD. We began our day in Rapid City, SD(leaving our automatic toothbrush charger – ugh!) and traveled via I-90 until its junction with I-29 at Sioux Falls, IA and on into Kansas City, MO and Brad and Stacey Crabtree’s house! Just under 700 miles today, and about 10.5 hours. Feels great to make it into the heartland.

(Brad is a friend of Willie’s from Bellingham High School, class of ’86, who has traveled extensively with the Marines and now lives just outside of KC with his family: wife, Stacey, and two boys, Ty (11) and Boo (8).)

Our last day in SD we stopped in Mitchell to see the Corn Palace which had turned up in several tour books. Like Wall Drug, it was one of those places with a “whole lot of nothing”. If we’d had more time and could’ve learned more about the history then our perspective probably would have been diffferent, but with the day’s destination being what it was we didn’t have time to wander much. We picked up a couple souveneirs (yellow Farkle dice and a cob of corn that can be popped in the microwave) and can now say we’ve been to The Corn Palace.

Bodger Family at the Corn Palace

Bodger Family at the Corn Palace

This is what the postcard from there says: ” World’s Only Corn Palace, Mitchell, SD. Eight years before the turn of the century the World’s Only Corn Palace was built on Mitchell’s main Street. During it’s hundred year existence, it has become known world wide and now attracts a half million visitors annually. Thousands of bushels of corn, grain and grasses are used to redecorate the Corn Palace each year. Cherie Ramsdell designed the theme Everyday Heroes.”

The kids in coonskin caps

The kids in coonskin caps

Flooded corn fields in Iowa

Flooded corn fields in Iowa

There had been much flooding in the Sioux City, IA area in the days prior to our visit. The corn fields could be described as fields around ponds, except the ponds shouldn’t have been there.

A most unusual sunset in Missouri

A most unusual sunset in Missouri

Midwest trip: June 21, Day 3

Seeing Mount Rushmore was truly unbelievable. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to see the Statue of Liberty sometime, for I’m sure it would also evote strong emotion and pride in our country. The fact that 40 people spent 14 years carving a mountain of granite and used dynamite 90% of the time to do it – so that our country’s leading presidents could be honored – is both fascinating and humbling.

Our first glimpse of Mt. Rushmore 

Our first glimpse of Mt. Rushmore

Mount Rushmore has gotten a lot of attention in our house recently through media exposure. Between the “National Treasure” movies and a cartoon show Jordan likes called “Ben 10”, the kids have seen it quite a bit and seeing it was a real treat.

It would have been fun to climb the stairs at the base of it but Jordan was surely not up for that. Disabilities affect every part of our days. We were able to enjoy a couple of movies/documentaries while visiting the Gutzon Borglum Museum and the kids earned their Jr. Ranger awards!

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The Memorial as seen over the Avenue of Flags

The Memorial as seen over the Avenue of Flags

Mount Rushmore National Memorial entrance

Mount Rushmore National Memorial entrance

Did You Know?
Did you know that the figure of Thomas Jefferson was started on Washington’s right? After 18 months of carving, the figure of Jefferson had to be dynamited off the mountain and restarted on the left of Washington.

Also, the original sculpture plan included doing busts on each of the presidents, however when it came time to sculpt Washington’s jacket buttons they found a different kind of rock that proved to be unsculptable!

This year's Christmas card?

This year's Christmas card?

Just before leaving the Memorial, we stopped by the gift shop and did the first of our ‘penny impressions’. We collected 11 before our journey was completed!

Once we were finished at Mt Rushmore we headed east to the infamous Wall Drug where we had lunch and wandered through the “whole bunch of nothing” that is Wall Drug. (see pics on Flickr – soon) The signs along the way really are about all there is to see… But I loved Bekah’s very concerned comment when we entered Wall Drug: “Mom, they don’t like animals here…” Guess she’s not used to animals’ heads mounted on walls!!

Following Wall Drug, we went back the way we came and then some to the town of Deadwood. Memorable things about this city? It has been restored to it’s glory of yesterday due to the large profits that are turned from all the gambling that is legal there. It may be its old glory, but it wasn’t our favorite place since smoking was allowed everywhere! Also, to take the kids to the restroom at the Harley-Davidson store you have to go through the casino, the bar, and through the gambling lounge complete with cashier – and bars on the windows. Interesting indeed!

In our quest to find a place to eat a “family dinner”, we did stumble upon the No. 10 Saloon and got to see a re-enactment of the story of Wild Bill – though we never did get to order dinner. The story was fascinating, portrayed by J.T. Rockwell and several audience participants. (He later encouraged us to rent the HBO series “Deadwood”, in which he had a role.) It was in that very saloon that Wild Bill was shot. Hmph! Who knew?!

The kids with "Wild Bill" in Deadwood, SD

The kids with "Wild Bill" in Deadwood, SD

There was so much more we’d hoped to see while in SD: Bear Country, gardens around the “Rapid”, and Presidential statues on the street corners of downtown Rapid. It was memorable to enter into Rapid City at night. Very similar to dropping down into the San Fernando Valley in CA where, after being in nothingness for miles, suddenly you come upon a valley filled with lights. I was not expecting that in the middle of no where; I mean South Dakota!

Midwest Trip: June 20, Day 2

Our second day of driving was intentionally short so we could begin our sightseeing and not have to spend so much time in the car following a long day yesterday.
Bekah & Jordan are packed up and awaiting Daddy's loading

Bekah & Jordan are packed up and awaiting Daddy's loading

We started off with a morning swim while Willie got some work done (bummer!), and then loaded up for the first time and headed to our first stop of Little Bighorn Battlefield. This was a fascinating and somber memorial. It was at this place that Col. Custer led the 7th Calvary Regiment (a veteran group) against with the Lakota-Northern Cheyenne Indians, led by Sitting Bull, in an attempt to force them back onto their reservations. This battle is also known as Custer’s Last Stand, as it was here that he fell. Custer planned a 3-pronged surprise attack, and declined to bring gattling guns feeling that they would slow the attack and also feeling that his calvary could handle anything they met. He was very wrong. The battle lastest only two days, June 25-26, 1876, but many lives were lost between the two groups. Custer’s regiment lost 52% of its men.

Following our time at the Battlefield and looking at all the beautiful land that has been preserved and still inhabited by horses, we dropped down into Wyoming so we could see Devil’s Tower on our way to Rapid City, SD – our final destination for the night.

Wyoming was beautiful and full of old west charm. We stopped in city of Sheridan and enjoyed a trip thru history as we drove down its roads. We finally had our lunch at 4:00 at a walk-up Dairy Queen along the main street. It had been there for 52 years. Such neat history. There were also things that made us chuckle, such as the Drive-thru liquor store!

Oneo fthe first things that struck me about Wyoming was just how beautiful it was! The green of the land contrasted with the red roads and blue sky was truly amazing. The clouds ended up moving in for some showers as well as lightning and rainbows in the distance. We hit our first rain in WY, but it allowed me to see and photograph a truly picture perfect scene – looks like a postcard…

A drive through Wyoming

A drive through Wyoming

Devils Tower turned out to be further off the beaten path than we were willing to drive when we finally approached it at 6pm, so we caught glimpses of it in the distance and then moved on into Rapid City, SD.

Bekah proved time and again that despite the fact that she labels herself as “shy”, be it rest area playgrounds or pools, she can make a friend anywhere she goes in a matter of minutes.

Tomorrow? Mount Rushmore! Can’t wait!!

Midwest Trip: June 19 – Day 1

Ready to roll

Ready to roll

We left home at 4:30 this morning, with the goal of reaching Moses Lake by breakfast (191 miles). It was dark for just a short while  before the sun started rising over the Cascade Mountains which made it difficult for the kids to sleep.

Sunrise over the Cascades

Sunrise over the Cascades

We had Denny’s for breakfast and were able to use the coupon I’d gotten for signing up online for their ‘club’: 20% off our entire bill. It was motivation enough for us to eat there! The most exciting part was when the Dept. of Corrections bus pulled up outside the window – gave us a little something to chat and giggle about, particularly when the driver came off the bus and ‘hid’ at the front for a smoke.

Breakfast at Denny\'s

Breakfast at Denny

It wasn’t long before we needed a potty stop and started looking for a Rest Area. Jordan got good at spotting those blue signs! This stop was at a pretty spot on Lake Sprague is Eastern Washington:

Sprague Lake Rest Area

Sprague Lake Rest Area

Our next stop was Spokane for gas, then we actually made it to Missoula, MT for lunch – albeit a late one. We lost an hour as we entered Mountain Time, and had the priviledge of crossing the Continental Divide. It was something that sounded familiar to Willie and I as significant but we couldn’t recall why. Thanks to one of the many tour and state books I’d brought we learned that along I-90 at 6,375 feet elevation, the Continental Divide is the point at which the rivers and streams on the west side all flow into the Pacific Ocean, and anything on the east side of the Divide flow into either the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. Traveling it made it so much more real. Particularly with a fisherman on board who is fascinated by water!

We then made it to Butte for our next gas stop, and as the sun was setting we ran across Prairie Dog Town. We had been told about this spot by our friends, The Hunters, and despite the late hour we pulled off I-90 and followed the brown signs to a field filled with mounds, holes, and little prairie dogs all over the place. It was amazing! We opened the sliding door (side windows would have been easier!) and slowly drove along the road, oohing and ahhing all the way. We even saw a couple bunnies before all was done.

Prairie Dog Town in Central Montana
Prairie Dog Town in Central Montana
Prairie dog comes close to retrieve a Wheat Thin
Prairie dog comes close to retrieve a Wheat Thin
A cute little bunny roadside in Prairie Dog Town

A cute little bunny roadside in Prairie Dog Town

Once we finished at Priarie Dog Town, there were only a few more miles before we rolled into Billings and the Country Inn and Suites. It was a nice hotel with a nice, warm breakfast in the morning. Everyone was tired when we finally got to our room after about 850 miles on the road for our first day. I don’t even remember if we swam that night!
End of Day 1 - Bekah & Jordan tuckered out

End of Day 1 - Bekah & Jordan tuckered out

Finally home!

Bug Remains from 4 Time Zones & 14 states

Bug Remains from 4 Time Zones & 14 states

We’ve made it home after 19 days on the road. It was fabulous.

I was so hoping to be able to post along our way and upload photos to go along with them, but my memory card is so large that Willie’s laptop couldn’t handle it – bummer. So, slowly, I will start with day 1 and go through our trip – amid the children’s requests and laundry. (Bekah really wants to get the pool out, the car needs to be washed – 14 states and all 4 time zones of bugs on it currently – and the weeds in the garden are awful.)

The last 24 hours have been the most troublesome of the last 3 weeks! Three-fold: 1) Heading in for a potty break yesterday afternoon, Bekah opened a steel door right over the top of her big right toe and ripped half the toe nail off. Oh, it was awful. Blood everywhere and a really tough girl screaming in pain. Thankfully, I had the 1st aid kit in the car; unfortunately, the ice pack was faulty. Willie ran in and got ice from the truck stop, as well as some ibuprofen. (Wish there was an instant spray that stopped the pain!) It bled off and on for many hours, even leaving a small pool on her sheets this morning. 2) When we finally entered WA, we made it out of the pass and to the Columbia River where we were warned of high winds. We were about halfway across the bridge when something sounded terribly wrong on top of the car with the car topper. The car was being blown around even worse than before -seemed like we had a sail on the top of our car. The plastic car topper sounded open, and at 70 mph and high winds, that’s not a good thing. Willie slowed so we could pull off to the side as soon as we crossed the bridge. A car pulled along side of us and motioned to the roof, telling us that the topper was open. The ‘good’ thing was that they didn’t tell us any bags had fallen out. An inspection of it showed that the front hadn’t latched, allowing the wind to catch the front part and actually ripped it open since the back did latch. There is now about a 15″ tear in the heavy-duty plastic car-topper that we borrowed for our trip! UGH! 3) When Jordan woke up this morning (barely, I guess), he fell down the last 5 stairs, landing on his head on the hard wood floors. He was acting so weird – stunned – that I wasn’t sure what he was going to do. Seize? It was too weird to second guess, and, hearing the words of my fire fighter friend in my head ‘If you ever have a question, call us, that’s what we’re here for’, I opted to call 911. Aid car to the house. After about 30 minutes of Jordan coming back more to himself without further incident, they gave us the option of an ambulance transport to Children’s or for us to take him. They thought he should be checked out by his specialists due to his complicated history and shunts. They also said I should call the pediatrician and see if he could ‘pull some strings’ to expedite some things in the ER. The pediatrician said we could just to our typical watch of Jordan following a fall: nausea, vomitting, lethargy, that kind of stuff.

Ahh, welcome home…