To plan a 24 day road trip incorporating 21 states and close to 8,000 miles is not easy. It’s fun. But not easy.
The hardest part of the whole thing was figuring out how to delegate our time. If we’d had unlimited time (and money) this wouldn’t be a challenge. I could easily travel across America forever and stop everywhere. But, unfortunately, that’s not our reality right now. Maybe one day…
If you’ve been following along you saw us travel through the South pretty quickly. Then we spent time in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. We arrived at The Grand Canyon and headed north into Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. Finally we traveled across the state of South Dakota. (Catch up on all those travel journals by clicking on the various links.)
When we got to Day 19 in our planning phase we realized we still had A LOT more ground to cover, and not many days to do it.
And then there was baseball.
If you want to know the REAL reason we hauled tail through five states in two days…it’s baseball.
Unlike many of our other stops, the team schedule leaves no wiggle room. On the front end of our trip all of the teams were away. We missed seeing the Rangers and Diamondbacks (though we did see the Rockies!) It was a huge priority for us to get to as many ballparks as possible on this trip.
So we made it happen despite an insanely crazy itinerary.
In my last post I shared that we left the Ingalls Homestead (on the morning of Day 19) in the rain. We managed to find coffee- eventually- and enjoyed a very quiet morning. I woke the kids up to take a picture at the Minnesota state line and shortly after we arrived at Pipestone National Monument.
I think I mentioned somewhere (maybe) that we decided to pack in a series of a million duffel bags. It eliminated our need to carry in tons of luggage at each hotel. However, it left us little wiggle room to switch our wardrobe around. I was pretty bummed that it ended up raining on the day we wore our cute shirts. We took off our raincoats for one quick second to take this picture…
The hike at Pipestone was gorgeous. Since no one else hikes in Minnesota in the rain we pretty much had the place to ourselves. The quiet walks gave us a lot of time to talk. We had some great conversations with the children about different beliefs and customs of various Indian tribes. It was a great learning experience for all of us.
The rain finally let up a bit right when we finished our hike (go figure!) I managed to find us some dry clothes and we headed towards Iowa just as the sun started to peak through the clouds.
Our afternoon in Iowa was pretty casual. We ate a huge, late lunch. And then made our way to LeMars, the Ice Cream Capital of The World.
Funny story, I really struggled to find an activity in Northwest Iowa. It took a lot of google digging and asking recommendations from friends. When I found out that the Ice Cream Capital of the World was located on our route, I was ecstatic. We pride ourselves on our love of ice cream and we always check out local ice cream shops during our travels.
We arrived in LeMars. It was a cute town and the Blue Bunny Factory Ice Cream shop offered a delicious selection. And yet, Mary Grace was NOT impressed. I think she was expecting a scene from Willy Wonka or Candyland. Personally, I thought it was great. It’s funny to hear kids expectations when traveling.
We made our way to Omaha for the evening- arriving in time to relax at our hotel, but not tour the city. (Another side note: earlier this year Mary Grace was shocked to learn that Omaha is a real place. She grew up hearing the Peyton Manning reference, but didn’t realize it had any meaning. We had to revisit that story with her as we pulled into “OMAHA, OMAHA!”)
Day 20 started out EARLY with a lot of ground to cover!
We took Miller to see the College World Series stadium (Ameritrade Park) and we visited the Louis And Clark National Park area. Omaha has an awesome bridge- The Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge- that crosses the Missouri River into Iowa. Much to my disappointment, this was the only state sign picture we got for Nebraska.
We also visited Kenefick Park to learn more about The Union Pacific Railroad and see two of the most famous engines.
After seeing the trains we had to rush off to Kanas City to get checked into our hotel and make it to the Royals game. Most of our drive took us through Missouri, but we did briefly cross into Kansas (hence the five states in two days!)
Here’s an interesting fact that I didn’t know before planning this trip. Kansas City is about 99% Missouri, not Kansas. In fact, ALL of the major things to do in Kansas City are actually in Missouri. We had to work really hard to find something to do in the state of Kansas (which we did on Day 21 so it will appear in my next post!)
Checking into the Marriott in Kansas City was a huge disaster that turned into the biggest blessing!
The lobby was insane (a conference had just let out when we arrived) and there were a lot of people trying to get to the Royals game. Our kids were being uncharacteristically charming (I’m kind of kidding- they really are good kids who know how to make conversation with adults and behave in nice settings.) Anyway, when the hotel employee found out we’d been traveling the country for almost 3 weeks they upgraded our room to the Penthouse Suite!
It was so ridiculously nice that we had a hard time tearing ourselves away to get an Uber to the game!
I’m glad we did, though, because it was a blast!
Another funny story- I had a total blonde moment when I packed for our trip. For whatever reason I was thinking the Royals were purple (yes, I realize the name “Royals” should have been a big enough clue!) Anyway, I even had a conversation with Brent about Miller and me not owning purple shirts…clearly, he wasn’t listening (shocking) because he never corrected me.
Anyway, when we grabbed our clothes to change before the game (keep in mind, we only brought in a small duffle of pre-planned clothes and the rest was in our car) Brent wanted to know why I packed purple for himself and Mary Grace. I explained that THEY were the lucky ones in team colors, and Miller and I got stuck in blue because we didn’t own purple.
I really thought his head was going to pop off. Whoops! And most hilariously, I got TONS of compliments on my “perfect” Royals dress all night…and here I was disappointed I didn’t have the right clothes for the game. Ha!
Arriving back at the hotel super late with tired kids made us so incredibly thankful for our room upgrade! We were able to get both kids showered at the same time because we had 2 bathrooms! Such a luxury after 3 weeks on the road!
I’ll pick up with Day 21 in my next post when we explored more of Kansas City!
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