An adventure of a lifetime

A twelve day odyssey in our Odyssey aka “The Tucker Bus”.

Mission control for the next two weeks

Eleven states visited.

One vacation day utilized.

Five thousand four hundred seventy four miles driven.

Even more memories made that I hope we all keep during this adventure.

All told including food, gas, lodging, and an ocean side oil change the cost of the trip was roughly eighty seven cents per mile. Which makes me sad because for the last twenty years I always cited cost as the main rational to not just pack a bag and head west.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step

Lao Tzu

Have you ever been at a professional breaking point?

I know I have. Luckily for me that breaking point coincided with the birth of my daughters. Lucky me, right? I turned parenting into my profession. More accurately it’s been a four year professional sabbatical provided solely by my wife. Contrarily for her, our first pregnancy came on the heels of a big promotion at work. A promotion that we both believed would be a great professional opportunity for her. Like most new jobs and promotions at first it was exciting, energizing, and exhausting.

I’ve listened to all of Missy’s work stories for decades and she mine. Although, she is admittedly much better at feigning interest and remembering all the details we tell those closest with about our work lives. I believe her steel trap like memory was one of the many reasons why she would be good in a supervisor role. She listens, remembers, and cares about the people in her life. Sometimes, to a fault.

Last spring her office, like so many others, flipped to remote/work from home at the onset of this pandemic. During that time I’ve had a front row seat to observe her in action in a professional setting. I quickly came to a couple realizations. First, I’m amazed at how much she does know about workers compensation across almost all fifty of these United States. Second, I have been shocked at how much of her time is wasted because of mandatory meetings and unnecessary bureaucracy. Listening to these conversations fully strengthen my understanding of how much middle management is not for me. Over the last 14 months I also witnessed how many of her ideas have been reworded and presented in subsequent meetings by others. Worse yet how many of her questions have gotten swept under the rug. Avoided. For various reasons. Mostly, because they were hard and needed to be run up the chain of command never to return.

We’ve all been there.

Needless to say, she has left that company and we took advantage of her last two weeks to go on this adventure. Me driving. Her, working from the road. To begin this trip I knew I wanted to see two places: The Pacific Ocean and Guernsey Wyoming. In about an hour we plotted a course and began looking at lodging.

Local commutes I can do without. But road trips are different. They are an opportunity to see things you’ve never seen before, and quite possibly see places you may never see again. Missy and I have only crossed the Mississippi River via automobile twice our entire lives. Never was the destination the Pacific Ocean. The farthest west our daughters have ever been is Chicago. Everything we were about to view out the windows of The Tucker Bus would be completely new for all of us. Needless to say we were all very excited.

Power cup? Check.

Power strip? Check.

Cutting board? Check.

Potty chair? Check.

Our essential road trip list

We left on a Wednesday morning. Missy sitting shotgun and working. The girls in the back of the Tucker Bus with about two hundred dollars of non perishable food items stored away in three laundry baskets, another basket with coloring books, markers, various other doodley things, etch-a-sketches, binoculars, sun glasses, two tablets, an iPad, Trish and Bunny Buns. Behind them a suit case for each of us, a fifth filled with Barbies and accessories. Two beach chairs and two more laundry baskets one with beach and pool essentials, and the second with an assortment of odds and ends for use at the two places we had booked since beginning the planning stages only two days before. The first a beach bungalow across the street from the Pacific Ocean in Oceanside California. The next was the self promoted Parent Trap house in Livermore California. We somewhat abruptly ended school but I promised Mr. Tucker that I would use this trip as a chance to teach geography, history, math, science, and social studies.

Day 1

Westfield, Indiana to Yukon, Oklahoma

799 miles

We were off! Ten minutes later just north of 465 I realized I did not have my phone. I turned around at 106th street in Carmel. The trip was off to an inauspicious beginning. The girls and I missed an exit in St. Louis while looking at the Arch and discussing Missouri being the gateway to the West. We also got turned around somehow in Tulsa. The Griswald’s have nothing on us.

We stopped just west of Oklahoma City for the night in Yukon, Oklahoma. We exited interstate 40 onto Garth Brooks Boulevard. The Boulevard named after the most famous of Yukon residents.

Day 2

Westward to Flagstaff

847 miles

During our second day we traveled along and next to Route 66. We found western Oklahoma to be beautiful with it’s rolling hills and miles upon miles of uninterrupted cattle land. Despite the current 20-30 mph north winds pushing at the passenger side of the bus. I took that opportunity to give a mini lesson on different forms of erosion and creation of various land forms. We saw our first tumble weed in New Mexico and stopped at El Malpais National Park to stretch our legs. While there we all marveled at it’s extremely barren fields, cacti, and the midday desert heat. As we walked we looked out towards the sandstone bluffs, cliffs, and canyons that seemed to be calling us to explore. Maybe next time. We didn’t have the gear or time for a desert hike. We jumped back in the bus and after 847 miles that day we landed in Flagstaff Arizona. Depending on our route it may be effected by a wild fire up ahead. Luckily it didn’t.

Woah.

Day 3

The Grand Canyon, The Hoover Dam, and Vegas

340 miles

We awoke in “The Peaks” with the sun and a bit of delirium from two consecutive 10+ hours of driving. We all could have slept longer but part of our socially distant trip was to avoid people as much as we have over the last year. The Grand Canyon was 90 minutes away and we wanted to to reach it as close to it’s 7 am openings as possible. Bleary eyed but excited we exited our second hotel and the late April coldness of the mountains and desert greeted us. I looked at the clock on the dash it was 5:36. The windows had defrosted, the van was reloaded and we were basically right on schedule. The drive out of Flagstaff proved to be the first real blind curve mountain driving of the trip. The sunrise attacking my view from the rear view and side mirrors. I was happy to beat the morning rush and despite being focused on staying in my lane to avoid tumbling down the side of some pretty astounding cliffs I was astounded at the beauty of the Northern Arizona Mountains with its tall pines reaching up to there snow capped mountain peaks.

As we approached the Grand Canyon I couldn’t help but wonder where is it? I know it’s a huge whole in the ground but surely you could see it before you missed it, right? Right. We paid our entrance fee, parked, and the four of us took in the grandeur of The Grand Canyon for the first time together. The morning sun seemed to paint the canyon the same pink, purple, and orange hues that I love to experience during sun rises and sunsets while living in Indiana my entire life. As we leaned in close to the black steel railing without touching anything or getting close to anyone it was an amazingly peaceful experience that I am happy to have shared with the three ladies I love more than life itself.

As far as the rest of the Grand Canyon, I don’t fear heights but I do fear falling. Yes, there’s a difference. There is no way I was a) going to go hiking with a 4 and 5 year old here or b) put them into a cool unencumbered picture to hold onto forever. But, I will go right up to the edge safely with them.

To the edge

On our way back to the van we sat and watched an elk respecting the same safety measures as we all have over last year. The Elk was peacefully nibbling on some of the greenery just off the path. Until some dip shit literally walked right next to it to get a selfie. I was kinda of hoping the elk would nudge, bite, or kick her. Neither happened but the selfie bandit was frightened away after the elk snorted after allowing her to secure a photo.

It was close to 8 am when we got back into the Tucker Bus. Missy and I decided on our way back to the interstate that the next stop for Team Tucker was going to be Las Vegas. After spending the majority of the last two days in the Bus we all needed some space. We found a room at The Venetian for a reasonable price and followed the directions for The Hoover Dam. It was Friday. Missy finished working around 11 and took the wheel for the rest of the 340 miles that day.

I probably enjoy civil engineering more than most. I have always enjoyed the past. Making a stop at the Hoover Dam was a must for me before entering Las Vegas. We got to our room and for the next 15 hours we took in a living room performance by da and dudes hydrated, and rested in sin city.

Day 4

The Pacific Ocean

384 miles

Missy, Stella, and Geri voted one way. I voted another. Having lost the vote we were headed towards Los Angeles as opposed to San Diego for lunch. I try to model good behaviors to my family. Despite losing the vote I slapped a smile on my face for the rest of the drive that day. We were outta Las Vegas by 7:30. The new smell of the West was in the air as we waited for the Tucker Bus outside of The Venetian.

You can’t smoke weed out here

The valet attendants to a group of men standing just next to us

From Las Vegas to Oceanside, California was about a tank of gas. It was suppose to be four hours to LA and another hour and twenty minutes to our first destination of the trip, Oceanside California. Either way I was promised my first In-N-Out Burger and Missy promised she would and wanted to drive today. It was my first day to sit back relax and take in the sights riding shotgun. Ten hours later we arrived at our Beach side Bungalow.

Sit back, relax, and strap on your seat belt

The famous Los Angeles smog and traffic greeted us as we neared the City of Angels. We drove past the Hollywood Bowl and sign. We looked for celebrities. We didn’t seen any. We saw a lot of people who thought they were celebrities. But, that might be my bias talking. The day on the road was already taking longer than promised and Hollywood Boulevard was more like skid row than that of stars, lights, and cameras. Our daughters saw their first adult penis just steps away from The Chinese Theater. The man, obviously a local resident had awoken from his home near Gene Autry’s star to relieve himself about 2 feet off the starboard side of the Bus.

It was about noon on Saturday and everything on google maps was red. We decided to continue making our way west to jump on the Pacific Coast Highway. We had 3 hours until check in. Missy was tired of all the stop and go of the freeway so we decided to take the scenic route along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) to our first destination Oceanside, California.

Bad decision.

We barely caught glimpses of the Pacific Ocean. There were more stoplights per block than any part of US 30 or 41 that I have ever driven. We did cross many streets that were familiar to me from my days listening to rap music. Streets named Crenshaw, Torrance, and even two one and Lewis. We rolled through the city of Long Beach. A city I felt like I knew already because of Dre and Snoop. Driving across them I found these roads to be very similar to the Region roads I learned to drive on. The crushing weight of this deeply industrial area and horrible traffic patterns felt like home. To make matters even worse it was seemingly impossible to get consecutive green lights. As we inched farther south the travel time kept going up. There was no way, even if we jumped back on the interstate that we were going to make it to our first destination on time. Our trip was entering the first crossroads.

Our stop at an In-N-Out cured the overall hangriness of the Bus. It was one of the best burgers I have ever eaten. My only regret was not getting more as this was our only stop of the trip to enjoy this west coast delicacy.

“Should we stay on the PCH or jump back on the interstate?”

Was the question that needed answering.

We stayed the course. It looked like we’d at least have some great views. We embraced improvisation, doubled down, and continued south on the PCH. We continued the slow crawl, through Huntington and Newport Beaches. By the time we got to Laguna beach we decided to pull the plug and get back on the interstate. Which reminds me we still owe tolls.

The Beach Bungalow

still day 4

Between Laguna Beach and our arrival on The Strand the clear blue skies and sun had been replaced by clouds, a slight mist, and a gloomy grayish hue. We had finally reached our destination but what we saw came as a shock to us. All along the ocean there was orange fencing that appeared to make the beach off limits. Further south down the beach there seemed to be an open space for people to enjoy the beach. However from our vantage it was as packed as those in LA and Orange County. So much for a socially distant beach stay.

During all our conversations with the Air B&B people no one mentioned inaccessibility to or limited beach access. There was definitely not a heads up that the beach was under construction. I never really found out exactly what was happening, but the overall consensus was that the beach was being built back up by dredging just off shore and piping in this sludge back into the ocean about 100 feet to the left of the our bungalow. Apparently, this is normal to combat beach erosion. There was also a second story about a homeless person being accidentally killed before this all happened.

We unloaded some of the van and expressed our disappointments. I was not going to waste anytime belly aching about the supposed issues with the beach. Stella, Geri, and I decided to climb up over the pipe, across a small beach area, down a pretty nice incline of rocks with great trepidation, and sink our toes into the Pacific Ocean. We stepped off the rocks onto what we will consider the beach and sunk in about a quarter inch of the sludge spewing from the pipe just south of our location. We walked away from the pipe but the tides were spreading this old sand all along the beach as planned. After a little ways we turned to head home and watched Missy descend the incline with as much grace as she could muster. I could see the disappointment on her face. As we hugged she says she intends to buy a plane ticket and go home.

After dinner the skies clear up, the construction had ended for the day, and for the first time in four days Missy and I had a wall with two windows separating us and our daughters. As they enjoyed Toy Story 3 we sat out front drank and laughed as we recounted the events of the last few days. After calling it quits I set up the murphy bed and laid down to rest. Not 30 seconds in the bed completely gives way and comes crashing to the floor. A perfect ending to the day. I switched spots with Missy on the day bed and laid awake hoping to wake up with a beautiful sunrise.

Day 5

The turning point

It was Sunday morning. The gray, gloomy, glumness of yesterday greeted us the next morning. This is our only full day on the Pacific Ocean and it did not look promising. In four days we had put over 2,300 miles on the bus and it was in need of an oil change and a tire rotation. In the rush to plan, and pack for this trip I opted not to do these things before leaving. The trip was a third of the way over and we all needed a little TLC. I left the ladies at the bungalow to tend to myself and get the required maintenance on the van. As I sat outside 7 day tire and brake I decided the clouds, mist, and strong winds would not keep me, and anyone else that was up for it to do see everything Ocean Side had to offer.

I thought it was always sunny in So Cal?

I got back to the Bungalow and all the ladies were curled up on the murphy bed after having watched a Toy Story 4. I stated my intent on leading a Tucker Family expedition to the end of the pier and back.

“Yes, it will be misty.”

“Yes, it will be windy.”

“Lets layer up and hit the beach.”

We grabbed our masks and our stocking hats and walked along The Strand and until clearing the construction area and the sludge pipe. Luckily it was not on and we walked into the surf, looked out at the surfers, wondered aloud why they keep letting these pretty gnarly waves pass without riding them.

The emptiness of the beach was great, the pier however was the center of the beach this cold gray morning. At the bottom of the ramp to the pier were a few food vendors. People fishing lined both sides of the pier. I do enjoy fishing. I do not fish a lot. As we walked down the pier I keep trying to figure out the gear and set ups of all the different groups. As any fishermen would, I looked to see if anyone had caught anything. At that time no one was on the fish. I’ve never fished off a pier into the ocean. Stella and Geri are infinitely curious. As they asked their questions Missy and I tried answering to the best of our abilities and knowledge. As we walked further and further out onto the pier and into the ocean the wind and mist picked up in scope and capacity. We made it around the old restaurant at the end of the pier and I wondered why this isn’t being utilized and if this walk was a huge mistake. With the wind and the mist now at our backs we saw the first catch of the day. It looked like a small shark. As I tried to make out the various languages being spoken by all the groups I think I was right.

On our way back we stopped to watch a surfer dad teach his two preteens kids how to catch a wave. We were all so swept up in the setting that Geri quite literally got swept up in the waves and did some improvisational body surfing. She was scared to death, so was her mom, I was ready to jump in but wanted her to get up herself. Which she did but not before another wave came crashing down on her. Poor Geri. But Missy was right there to save the day! For me it was funny, scary, and heartbreaking. For Geri it looked terrifying. However, we all clapped and congratulated her on body surfing. Geri didn’t buy it at first but I think now she really did body surf.

The wind was beginning to die down, the mist had stopped, and by the time we got back to the bungalow the sun was out in full force. We put on sun screen grabbed our stuff and posted up as close to the beach as we could. The beach reclamation project must take Sunday off because the rest of the day was free from the relentless sludge and the noise of all the heavy machinery. The tide was coming in so over the next few hours it pushed us back towards the rocks. Then, back above the rocks. Even better because we now had an artificial barrier between us and the rest of the beach goers we were for the most part completed isolated. Next chance I get I’m jumping back on a boogie board.

See the pipe, no sludge this afternoon

We meet a couple Nancy’s

A mother and daughter

There are 23 Bungalows within the Robert’s cottages. For whatever reason I’d say there were only six cottages in use. In front of us and to the right were a mother and a daughter from Escondido. This was the first time the older Nancy had been out of her retirement community since the Pandemic began. She was there with her Daughter, Nancy. The mom had been born in New Jersey and moved out west before becoming a Parent.

The older of the two Nancy’s was excited upon learning what we have done as a family already, and more excited about what we were going to be doing during this adventure. We exchanged many pleasantries over the next twelve hours and took in a beautiful Pacific Coast sunset together on neighboring stoops.

Had they not forgotten to turn their porch light off we would have all slept better. But we wouldn’t have had so much fun referencing Nancy over the next few days.

Hey Nancy turn your damn light off! (Said in unison)

Day 6

I-5, The Golden Gate Bridge and the Tanner House

553 miles

We left Oceanside before the sun even rose for our California cruise. Missy and I agreed to stay on the Interstate. Next time we come out this way we’d like to fly into San Diego and jump on the PCH around Malibu. As far as today, It was Monday, Missy and everyone in LA would once again be working. I had the next six hours in the captain’s chair. We drove north on I-5, we crawled through LA, but as soon as we cleared LA County the traffic was light and the scenery was breathtaking. I was mesmerized once again by the mountains and the names of all the areas I’d never thought I’d ever drive past. Once we cleared civilization the aerial acrobatics of the purple martens in the agricultural valley kept me entertained at each underpass. We crossed the California Aqueduct multiple times. Another great civil engineering feat and opportunity to talk about arches, aqueducts, and the importance of water. The story of California and the southwest continues to be that of water. Access to it, preserving it, and finding more sources of it. It seems they need more water than Owens Valley and Lake Mead are providing. That is of course if you listen to farmer as it pertains to agriculture as I always do.

Before reaching San Francisco Missy and I switched spots. The only other time I have been to the west coast is when Missy and I traveled through San Francisco on our way to Napa Valley about ten years ago. We had been married for a few years and at that time Missy and I were seemingly at odds over basically everything. We weren’t lining up. Nothing seemed to be going right for long. Neither of us were at fault but it seemed like we were talking different languages.

The last time Missy and I were here it was kind of like the first day at Oceanside. Our nerves were fried after traveling across the country, we were at each others throats, I went for a walk to clear my head on the Golden Gate Bridge. I got halfway across when I stopped. Looked around and contemplated almost my entire life, definitely the entirety of my marriage. A whirlwind of thoughts, and ideas filled my head as the bay hypnotized me. The thoughts and scenarios that swirled in my mind are my own funny, serious, dark, scary, and outrageous kinda like always. I turned around and began to walk back to the look out spot. Somewhat shockingly upon my arrival Missy and our Nissan Cube rental vehicle were gone. I sat on the stone wall and after some more contemplation Missy pulled up behind me. She had crossed and recrossed the bridge six times and paid a lot in tolls. We talked, we continued that trip, and our marriage. We continued to struggle at times as a newly married couple. I’d like to think I work on our marriage everyday. I know I have to try a lot harder.

Pointallism

This time, thankfully, the worst part was the wind and the random guy in our picture that I not so discretely edited with my best attempt at pointillism. Much like the Grand Canyon there is only so much to look at. We talked about Alcatraz, the engineering marvel the bridge is, and how a bay works. We loaded up the bus and headed back into San Fransisco to find the Full House house. Which we did despite a self admitted panic attack while driving up and down some of San Francisco’s steepest grade streets by Missy. After exciting Alameda county we had our sights on Livermore, California and the Trap House.

Days 7, 8

Livermore, California

After stopping at Target and a Safeway to restock needed supplies we made our way to the Trap House. We were going to be stationary for the better part of three days. It was time to do some laundry, relax, hang out by the pool, eat, and enjoy ourselves once again. Over the last year one of Stella and Geri’s favorite movie’s has been the Lindsay Lohan version of “The Parent Trap”. A “Ranch House” as billed on Air Bn’b bore a striking resemblance to Lindsey Lohan’s father in the movie, Dennis Quad’s, primary California residence. It was out in the country. To north and east was a thoroughbred horse training facility. To our south was an alpaca or llama farm. I can’t tell the difference between the species. To our west was some type of agriculture farm, no not wine or grapes. However, all those properties were surrounded by vineyards.

My favorite part was the viking oven, the ladies favorite part was the pool. Missy’s favorite part was the slide. The only issue with the house for a defensive guy like me was the sure enormity of the house. Lots of exterior doors and unused rooms gave me some serious anxiety about safety. We ate well. We swam. We relaxed. We feel asleep on the couch while watching tv. I curled up for an afternoon nap. We had amazing sunrises and sunsets. We had long morning, days, and evenings. On the third night we packed it all up and for the first time in 8 days we headed east toward Salt Lake City.

Day 9

The Sierra Nevada’s, The Great Basin and The Great Salt Lake Desert

738 miles

Thursday. Another work day. The one consistent fact of this trip was that drive has been amazing. Today, might have been the best. We escaped California through the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We saw signs for Donner Pass, Donner Road, and Donner Lake. I gave everyone a brief lesson on the unlucky Donner Party who on the promise of a shorter route took the path less traveled, got caught in a snow storm, then became helplessly stranded, the food ran low, the body count began to rise, and then the unthinkable. Cannibalism. Somewhere around 90 people entered what we know call Donner Pass about half made it out alive. After eating their livestock then ended up eating non family members.

The pics do the story no justice

We cut across The Great Basin and The Great Salt Desert before ended up in Salt Lake City.

I think Utah might have been my favorite state to look at out the window. The snow capped peaks resembled very close the Utah Jazz jersey’s from 97 and 98. I briefly smiled thinking about Da Bulls and what used to be on the West Side of Chicago.

Day 10

Big Sky Country and a job offer

478 miles

Missy entered the room with a huge smile on her face.

“That was amazing!”

A company reached out to Missy about an opening they had as a unit manager position. A former account had reached out about this company and recommended Missy for an open position. Only issue was she had accepted a position with another company the day before she put her two weeks in and this trip began. We loaded the car about 8 am. It was Missy’s final day with her current job and she had her exit interview in about a half hour. As we drove through mountains in Salt Lake and headed toward Park City Missy let it all hang out with the why’s in terms of why she was leaving her current employer. I half listened as the grade and twists made the drive somewhat tricky. But, I began to really think this could be a place for us.

Just like that 13 years of service ended and we were headed towards my brother’s place in Guernsey Wyoming to spend as much time with Uncle Ricky, Danielle, Joziah, and Avalyna. It had been over a year since we last saw each other in person and we were all excited to see how much Avalyna and Joziah had grown and changed. The Big Sky and huge Ranches reminded me of the old TV show Bonanza.

A cowboy and his dog

He’s my best friend

Danielle about Ricky

Avalyna and Joziah greeted us at the door of their house and for the next 18 hours we reveled in as much family as possible. It was amazing to finally see my kids play with my brothers kids. Danielle made an incredible spaghetti dinner and we retired to the hotel for the night. As I lay in bed that night I kept thinking about Danielle’s quote about Ricky, “He’s my best friend” that’s all a sibling could ask for from a partner in law.

Day 11

Gurensey, Deadwood, Mt. Rushmore

602 miles

Missy dropped the girls and I off at Ricky’s for breakfast. She headed back to the hotel room to do her least favorite things: take a personality test, then a general workers compensation exam, and do all the other official documents to move on with this new company and their hiring process. She was to begin her new job in 10 days. We didn’t have time to waste. After breakfast it was more of the same from the evening before the kids played, the adults chatted, but we did take time to take a pic for Nana.

Hi Nana!

Our original plan was to see Deadwood, then Mt. Rushmore, and find a place to stay for the night. That’s not what happened. The drive out of Wyoming was great. Sunny with somewhat cloudy skies. As soon as we entered The Black Hills of South Dakota the temperature dropped 20 degrees in like two minutes and a thick layer of fog descended and a serious fear set in that the wet roads would freeze as the temperature dipped to 30 degrees.

Missy was free of any job requirements today and was behind the wheel. She did a great job in some pretty adverse conditions. As soon as we entered camp the fog lifted to reveal Deadwood. However, a steady sprinkle of rain and stream of people filled the streets so we decided to take in Deadwood from the car. Missy and I have watched the HBO series twice. Because of this adventure we re watched the movie and agreed it was a lot better than we remembered the first time. We saw Nutall and Mann’s Saloon #10 the sight where Wild Bill Hickok was murdered by the coward Jack McCall. We rolled past Bullock’s Hotel and saw The Gem. Now, this Gem was not Al’s Gem in any sense of the word. As many fires have tore through the old mining camp over the years none of the buildings I believe stand from the original Deadwood.

We left camp and headed out to Mount Rushmore and have more questions and wants to see next time. The Faces were cool. The girls thought George Washington and Thomas Jefferson looked nothing like Daveed Diggs or Christopher Jackson which I’m cool with because as long as they remember history hopefully they wont repeat it. But they still are trying to figure out how Alexander Hamilton wrote Moana. Seeing that it was only 4:30 local time we decided we were going to end the trip a day early by adding roughly four hundred miles to today’s travels by making it to Sioux City or Sioux Falls in the next five and a half hours. Just before nightfall the rains came in and some single lane interstate construction zone traffic with some awfully tight fits. I hope we come back and see the incomplete Crazy Horse Monument and spend sometime in and around Pactola Lake.

The only night drive

I was astonished how full the hotels were in and around Sioux City and Sioux Falls. Of all the places we stopped at for a Saturday night in eastern South Dakota or northwest Iowa was the most challenging to book. As we got closer to lights every parking lot was full. The late night front desk attendant said it was a big youth soccer tournament. All the hotels in the area were basically at capacity and more I’d say. It wasn’t the amount of people who were all over the hotel. The lobby was pretty full of small groups of teen girls on their cell phones in small groups looking for space I’d assume. The restaurant was even more crowded with parents and coaches talking about the ups and downs of the day, game planning for tomorrow, or similarly looking to be away from whoever was in the room. Kids running through the hallway being kids. It was the fact that it seemed like there were only three employees working this evening. The front desk attendant/house keeping/concierge was one person, the one person tending bar and tables in the restaurant, and the cook.

Day 12

There was no one in line at Starbucks

733 miles

The Finale.

Missy was up before me,

then we agreed,

it’s time to flee. We woke the girls up way before they wanted to be awoken. There was no one in line at Starbucks for a reason. It was 5:45 but no one had shown up yet. McDonald’s and gas right across the street and we were off.

The coffee at McDonald’s was basically undrinkable but we kept driving. The traffic all the way through Iowa on I-80 was awful for all the same reasons it’s awful in Indiana. You should never pass and stay on cruise or be totally oblivious to the line of cars behind you. We switched drivers before we crossed the Mississippi River. I really liked Davenport and Peoria from the car. We tried to recap this entire trip with a few best and worst list once we crossed,

Favorite Memory

Back Home Again in Indiana

Geri: Slide at Trap House because she didn’t actually go into the water

Stella: Playing with Avalyna and Joziah and the beach.

Missy: The bath at the Venetian

Mine: My view.

Least Favorite Memory

Geri: Body surfin

Stella: Sludge Beach

Missy: The high graded streets of S.F.

Me: Only if I missed something : ^ )

Thank you very much to our special neighbors who took care of moo moo’s. Thanks to you we were able to travel these 5,474 miles without feeling awful we left our cat behind. Thank you to the same two people for making our daughters think that American Ninja Warrior is Fox News.

The Grand Canyon. The Hoover Dam. Vegas. Hollywood. Beverly Hills. The Pacific Coast Highway. Piers. Bridges. Basins. Deserts. Oceans. Mountains. Canyons. Ridges. Ranches. The prairie. The plains. Sun. Clouds. Wind. Rain. Earth. Rain. Fire. Fog.

The most amazing part of this trip from a parental standpoint was how well Stella and Geri traveled. Now granted this was by no means our first trip with them. I think we have traveling with kids down to a science at this point. Taking the scenic route more often than not back up to Lake County is a near three hour trip. Cincinnati, just a hop skip and a jump. A few trips to Tennessee. A trip to our Nation’s Capitol and another to The Gulf of Mexico have prepared us all for this endeavor.

I felt like we are old pros living, eating, resting, and sometimes even using the restroom in the Tucker Bus comes pretty natural to all of us. But, living in a constant state of motion for two weeks. Yes, there were eye rolls, deep exasperated sighs, sibling and parental bickering, but all in all the trip was as smooth as possible. They never really complained except when asked to eat yet another peanut butter sandwich. Sure they asked a million questions.

When we set out on this trip I wasn’t looking for anything. Once we were back home and we were able to catch our breath what I found was an even stronger belief that it’s not where you live that is important. It’s who you share your time with that makes it special.

What a trip.

I can’t wait for the next one.

Ken

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