Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Road Trip

Moving from California to DC was my first interstate road trip as a driver. It was a lot more eventful than the one my parents took me on the summer between fifth grade and sixth. It was fun to have so many friends to visit on the road- Casey's college roommates in Minnesota and Illinois and my friends of the family in CA and family in Indiana and Michigan. I planted a letterbox at the west end of the 50, even though we took the 80 most of the way. I have my letterbox for the east end prepared but I haven't planted it yet. 

My inexpert reckoning left us with a very short time to spend in Salt Lake City, so we didn't see any tourist things, but we went letterboxing in a very calm, lovely garden. In letterboxing you have to be discreet, so if there are people around when you need to pick up the letterbox you can pretend to tie your shoe, pretend you've dropped something, or pretend you're posing for a picture. Here I am "posing" in some ivy while I dig around for the box, which was lovely. 
After Salt Lake City we went straight to Yellowstone. I painted a ton of postcards for my TransAmerica project and we had a great time. If you go, be suuuuuper careful of wildlife on the road. I don't understand how something as enormous as a buffalo could loom up at me out of nowhere at night, but two managed it. 

 I had a great time seeing all the geothermal stuff. It is really special with all sorts of colors and everything. I bought a moose charm for my charm bracelet and I pressed an old faithful penny and then lost it.
After three days in Yellowstone we drove to Mount Rushmore. Everyone told us it wasn't so great, but worth seeing. I see what they meant. There is no entry fee but they charge $11 to park, but at 10 at night there was no one to take our parking fee.  Even at night, it was quite warm, and hardly anyone was around, so I was glad I didn't see it in the heat and the crowds. After Rushmore we couldn't find a cheap enough motel, so we drove all night until we got to Minnesota and after we couldn't sleep in the heat at a rest stop, the Sunset Inn let us check in at noon. 

Minnesota was pretty fun, considering I had no destinations or plans in mind. I got to see the Jolly Green Giant, I bought a book of Brian Andreas poems, we had hoagies with Casey's Minnesotan who introduced us to beer cheese soup (what), and I dipped my feet in the Mississippi. We went to the giant because he happens to be in one of the towns I'm sending a resolution to (I got NM and MN confused, so I was extra surprised to see Blue Earth on the list of stops in MN.)
We had a good time in Chicago. Casey's friend really knew loads about all the public art and architecture we were seeing. A storm came through and although it was fun to be caught in it, after we were soaked we didn't so much want to keep exploring. 
This was my second time in South Bend, Indiana. It wasn't as hot as I remembered, and it was super fun. My family was so excited to see me, and so gracious. It was amazing to sleep under a handmade quilt after a week of more or less roughing it (I guess that's not fair to our hosts in other states, who were super great and made us feel at home. But it was hand made by our hostess, my great aunt Patty.)

The family has really made the town their own in just 5 generations. I saw our family gravestone, my grandpa's alma mater, the house where my Nana and her siblings grew up and the trees they had to plant as kids. I grew up Catholic, so I felt right at home at the university, Notre Dame. We saw the replica of the grotto at Lourdes, and my great aunt told us that when they built the grotto a spring came up right where it came up in France where Mary's apparition had Bernadette dig. They had to cap it with a drinking fountain. We drank from it, of course.

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