I have never before taken a road trip like this one. When I was young, my mom and I would fly to Florida every year over the Christmas break, but we never got in the car and drove for days.
My husband, on the other hand, did take many road trips with his family and he has some fantastic memories. I get snippets of what it was like when he tells the boys to stop complaining about being bored:
"Boys, when I did road trips with my family, we had no DVD players and I had to listen to whatever music my father chose". My father-in-law was, and still is, a big fan of broadway music. And now my husband is too. Imagine the eye-rolling going on in the car when my hubby started singing along to Miss Saigon. And that was me.
We planned every stop, had every hotel booked and made a few changes and detours on the way.
We had one day that involved 13 hours of driving, but wound up being a harrowing 19 hours on the road - with some time spent in a ditch in Minnesota.
The day started off in Wyoming where we stopped at Devil's Tower to pay homage to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It is a national monument, by the way, and set in a gorgeous park.
As you pass the gates of the park, if you can take your eyes off the Devil's Tower, the landscape changes from dry, flat prairie to an interesting mix of green, red and yellow. The place is flooded with prairie dogs who will pop their heads up to watching you pass by. There are deer and birds everywhere.
We made our way out of Wyoming and into South Dakota, where we took another detour to see another famous landmark:
Truly, a little underwhelming.
We passed through South Dakota and headed into Minnesota. The plan was to spend 2 days at the Mall of America, but we hit a sudden snowstorm just outside of Minneapolis that sent us spinning into a highway ditch at 1am:
Needless to say, we are thankful we were all unharmed.
But everything happens for a reason. My hubby took the car into a dealership later that morning and we discovered that a) the car was undamaged from the spinout; b) the filter that feeds air into the car was clogged; and c) a water hose was cracked and leaking. If we hadn't had spun into that ditch, who knows where or when the car would have stopped when the hose gave out. There are some neighbourhoods you don't want to be stopped in.
Overall, the trip was a lot of fun. After days of driving, we surprised the boys with a stop in Wisconsin at Great Wolf Lodge. And I was pleasantly surprised to discover an outlet mall across the street.
After a night in Wisconsin, we spent a night in South Bend, Indiana and made our way into Toronto the next day.
I wish I had some sage observations of the trip, but I think this wet-wipe from Famous Dave's in Indiana is sufficient: