The big trip to Illinois started by heading to Saint George on May 27th. I know what some of you may be saying, Saint George isn't really on the way to Illinois, and you would be correct. One thing that I've learned after 25+ years of marriage is that neither directional perception nor geography in general are the reasons I married Cari. If you tell her to plan a trip, she will ensure that every detail is addressed, but it may not necessarily seem logical. Just get in the car and go with it.
We had a great time in Southern Utah with David, Anna and the gang, and I was able to get in a few rounds of golf with Evan and Tyler Meyers. Apparently, I have been adopted as an honorary member of the Meyers family. (The reason stems from a little contest that involves 3 putts on the golf course, and the opportunity to pass the "Three Putt Monkey Butt" on to me if I'm a member of the family.) We also managed to get in several rounds of "Hand and Foot" as well as a nice dinner for the grown ups in Las Vegas. We all thought it great to be in warm weather since the Rexburg climate has been unseasonably cool.
Monday, saw us loading up for the first leg of our cross country trek. We drove to Denver and if any of you get the chance, it is one of the most beautiful stretches of Interstate I've ever driven. The Vail, Colorado summit is bracketed by very extreme vistas. Cari had selected a nice hotel for us in the Denver area, but again, it was a little be directionally challenged, as we had to drive about an hour out of our way to get there. On the bright side, I'm not sure we would ever see that portion of Colorado on purpose.
Tuesday moved us through what can only be described as the most boring portion of Interstate. I know it's been said before, but it needs to be said again, what the heck is there between Denver and Kansas City? Well, one answer was found by the Zollinger crew thanks to our unique navigational approach to Southern Illinois. We spent Tuesday night in Manhattan. Although it wouldn't be completely out of the possible for our navigator, the Big Apple would be too far for a single days travel, so we actually stayed in the "Little Apple", Manhattan, Kansas, which is the home of Kansas State University. We got there early enough to get in a round of miniature golf, bowling, swimming and a nice dinner. We also took a drive around the campus, and we were quite impressed with the old campus buildings.
Wednesday was scheduled to get us to Carbondale, home of the Mandi, Jake and Kempton Moss family. Since there were more hours in the day than were needed to travel the distance, I took a detour of my own, and drove to the Liberty Jail and Independence Visitor Centers. Both sites were interesting, and the girls actually admitted that the delay may have been worth it.
Thursday and Friday were spent helping pack up the Moss's and wrapping up last minute matters in Carbondale. For anyone that has not had the chance to spend several hours in a big metal box (the moving truck) in 90+ temperatures and 90%+ humidity, I highly recommend it as a weight loss program. Or in the alternative, you can put your enemy in that position as a form of torture. I believe in World War II prison camps it was a form of punishment known as the box.
Saturday, we headed for Springfield, Illinois, where I discovered that we were in fact driving to no specific destination. Maybe we would be moving into a duplex, maybe a four bedroom house, or maybe a storage unit. Not exactly how I would have planned an arrival in a completely new town, but an adventure none the less. After spending a few hours looking at the cool old house (probably a small fortune to heat and without central air), the duplex that seemed perfect to me, but I'm not the one living there, and the storage unit, the storage unit won out in the interest of time. So, once again, I found myself in the "Box" for another hour, but we eventually got the Moss household offloaded in Springfield.
In keeping with our navigationally challenged travel plans, we then headed to Chicago for the night. About half way there, we got to experience an amazing lightning show, and rain like nothing I've ever driven through. At one point I asked Jake if he thought we should maybe pull off and wait out the storm, but he was confident that it was just a typical storm for the area. However, Sunday morning newscasts informed us that in fact we had driven right through the middle of several tornados. (Houses tipped over, cars turned over, etc.) We Idahoans aren't easily put off by weather. Although, we maybe should have taken time to think better of it when we saw the line of 4 or 5 ambulances in a row headed past us.
Sunday was a travel day, and we made it to Sioux City for the night. Again, a new part of the Country for me, and quite frankly the northern route is much nicer than the Nebraska, Kansas route. Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota in one day.
Monday we drove to Rapid City, South Dakota, a short jaunt by our standards, so that we would have time to visit Mount Rushmore, and Crazy Horse Mountain. Jake and Kempton were the only two that hadn't been there before, and they were both appropriately impressed.
Tuesday had us heading home. Not to pass up an opportunity, we allowed ourselves to get sucked in by the electronic navigational systems, and I'm not sure they did any better than Cari in the end. Every device we had took us through Yellowstone park, over another great mountain pass between Sheridan and Cody, Wyoming. Spectacular, but certainly not the fastest or easiest route to Rexburg from Rapid City. We did see bears, buffalo, elk and beautiful views, and made it home in one piece.
All in all, we spent just over 76 hours driving during a 13 day trip, and we are all still speaking to each other, so I suppose it has to be counted among our successful vacations, and we're glad to have Kempton, Mandi and Jake in town for a few months.
I have high hopes that while Mandi is in town, she can undo the Easter banner that she put on this blog back when it was seasonally appropriate. If not, it will be Easter again in 10 months.