I was rummaging around in the recesses of my computer and I came upon my notes of a vacation that we took a couple of years ago that I want to share.
Hubster is a drive-a-holic and our vacations are road trips. This one we were especially looking forward to because for once we were going to take our sweet time and visit what we could including a drive around the northern edge of Lake Superior in Canada. Unbeknownst to us, however, the gods of the universe had other plans and by the time all was said and done, we had hit a deer, helped part of the family pack up to move, and visited Canada at Niagara, all the while driving 6466 miles through 30 states. Oh, and that was all in two weeks.
For those of you who need a little help in figuring out the logistics of all this driving, it was roughly the same as driving from Washington DC to Los Angeles, California, back to Washington, then back to Topeka, Kansas.
First we left Central Texas and went north to Oklahoma and into Kansas and up to North Platte Nebraska.
Still taking our time we next went to Wind Cave National Park where we saw some bison just laying around.
Then we went on to Black Hills National Forest, Mount Rushmore then to Rapid City, South Dakota.
Somewhere in there we drove through a honey bee farm. The bees were flying around everywhere. When we stopped later I checked out the grill of our truck and there were bee carcasses all in it. Yuck.
After that, north to Spearfish to Sundance, Wyoming and on to Devil’s Tower.
Then back to Belle Fourche, South Dakota which is the geographical center of the US. There we saw a little sign that said Hawaii entered the United States in 1788. Really? I wonder what history book they read.
After that we went northwest out of Belle Fourche and into Minnesota. We drove a couple of miles into the state then turned around marking that state off our list of states to visit. Hey, it was not a full visit but now I can at least say I have been there.
Did you know that in these northern plains states the snow barriers look to be about 15 feet tall? We saw smaller versions of them when we drove through Colorado a few years back but seeing these real tall ones hammered home just how much snow these places get during the winter. Makes me grateful I live in the south.
Here’s a picture of one. It is kind of blurry because I could not get Hubster to stop so I could take a better one.
We went back to Belle Fourche then north to Dickinson, North Dakota. From there we turned east toward Bismark then Jamestown. When we left Jamestown and headed east toward Fargo, the gods had had enough and were ready to stir things up.
Me: What was that!
Hubster: I don’t know. Maybe a deer. All I saw was a dark blur.
We pull over and get out. The front right corner of the bumper was crumpled but the headlight was still working.
Me: Oh my god.
Hubster: We have to go home.
Me: What? No!
Hubster: We can’t continue like this.
Me grumbling as we get back in the truck.
Hubster: We have to go back to Jamestown. We have to tape this up so it doesn’t fall apart on the way home.
Enter the cheap duck tape.
We spent a miserable night in Jamestown. The next morning all was quiet as we started again toward Fargo where we could take the interstate south to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and points south.
It rained. And rained. And rained. Buckets and buckets of rain. All that rain matched my mood.
Hubster: Maybe when we get home we can go somewhere in the car.
Me, still in a funk: I guess so. I just don’t want to spend the rest of my vacation stuck at home.
At Watertown we stopped to check the duck tape. It was falling apart from all the rain and the driving.
Hubster: This isn’t going to work. We have to get some more.
Enter Industrial Strength Duck Tape.
He taped everything back up and we got back in the truck. More rain, rain, rain.
We stopped in Sioux Falls for the night at a Micro Tel Hotel. This hotel lifted my spirits, because I had never seen a hotel room like this before and it actually made me laugh. The furniture was dorm room quality and there were mirrors on every bit of available wall space. I mean EVERYWHERE. Well everywhere except the ceiling. If they had one there it would have been time for another hotel. Now every time we see a Micro Tel, that’s what we think of. (Psst. Bad image dudes. You probably should do something about that.)
The next morning we looked at the new duck tape and behold, it was holding up! No rips, tears or coming off the truck.
Me: Look! It’s not coming up.
Hubster: You’re right.
Me: Do we really have to go home now?
Me trying everything I can not to go home yet: Why don’t we scoot over to Ohio to visit your family before we go home?
Hubster after examining the duck tape some more: Ok. We can do that.
We headed east toward Minnesota. At some point in time we took a road south into Iowa for a couple of miles then turned around, marking that state off the list. We also saw some llamas hanging out. I wonder if they learned that from the bison we saw in South Dakota.
We worked our way east and south toward Chicago where we drove around the west side then around the southern tip of Lake Michigan.
We made our way to Lima, Ohio and stopped at my sister-in-law’s house. It was a good thing too because her daughter was packing up to move back to Florida and Hubster’s brothers needed a lot of help packing the furniture in the vehicles. Hubster, the take charge man he is, jumped right in and pretty much took care of everything.
We stayed with his oldest brother, who incidentally is old enough to be my father (Hubster is the next to youngest of six), for another day or so and checked out the duck tape again. It was still holding up. No rips, no tears, no pulling away from the truck.
Me: Do we still have to go home?
Hubster: No. I think we can make a new path.
Me doing the happy dance: So where to now?
Hubster: Umm, how about east?
From there we went through Ohio and into Pennsylvania, then New York. We visited Grand Island and Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls is simply amazing. The falls are so big that the mist can be seen from miles away.
After we left Niagara we got in line to enter Canada. We drove around a little and stopped to eat at the Hard Rock Café. Our visit Canada was not what we planned but, nevertheless, we made it.
Coming back into the US, we continued east through Rochester, Syracuse and Troy, New York. At Troy, we went east into Vermont to Brattleboro, to Keene to Peterborough, New Hampshire.
From there to Manchester to Hampton. Turned north and scooted into Maine. Another state to check off the list. Time to turn around.
We went south to Newburyport, Connecticut, made our way around Boston, Massachusetts, then to Providence, Rhode Island. East to New London to West Haven to the New York City area.
We took the outer loop around New York City and connected with the toll road in New Jersey to Delaware. Contrary to what I have heard, New Jersey is not all yucky looking. The road we were on actually had beautiful lush foliage and undeveloped mountainous terrain. I was pleasantly surprised.
We continued south to Washington DC and then east to Strasburg, Virginia where we turned south on the highway that straddles the backbone of the Appalachian Mountains. This was one of the most beautiful parts of the country I’ve been in. I tried to take pictures but it was nearly dark and none of them turned out. Sorry guys.
We stopped in Bristol, Tennessee for the night. The hotel we stayed in had three, yes three, queen sized beds and a little kitchenette. It was the largest hotel room I’d ever been in. Good thing it wasn’t Nascar weekend or we would have been sleeping in our truck.
The next morning we went over to the Kingsport area and south to Spartanburg, South Carolina where we knew we were back in the south when we found grits on the breakfast menu!
From there we went southwest toward Atlanta, Georgia where we drove by the house I lived in for three years when I was a child. We almost couldn’t find it because it had been so long and all the roads had changed but we did not give up and finally, there it was. And it was tiny. Real. Tiny.
From there we went around Atlanta then to Birmingham, Alabama to Tuscaloosa then to Meridian, Mississippi. Turned south to Hattiesburg, to Slidell, Louisiana where we took the road that went north of Lake Pontchartrain to Baton Rouge. Again, it rained and rained and rained. I felt like I was in a monsoon.
Wait! The duck tape! I forgot about it! How does it look? We checked it at Baton Rouge and there was no change from South Dakota. Yeah! Fist pump.
From Baton Rouge we went to Lake Charles to Houston then to Central Texas and the house. Whew. I’m plum tuckered out.
And there you have it. How duck tape saved our vacation.
But there is something else and I think this was the most important part of the entire trip. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. If it were not for that deer and the industrial strength duck tape, we never would have made our way to Ohio where the family sorely needed help. I am sure they would have managed just fine without us but it would have taken them much longer to do what they needed to do so I am glad we were there to lend a hand.
What about you? Have your vacations started off with one plan in mind then end up completely different?