Please follow along as we travel to Glacier National Park in Montana, the Canadian Rockies, Mt. Rushmore, and more.
“I am setting my alarm for 4:55 and if anyone wakes me up before then, I am not going on this vacation!” – Mallory, last night.
With departure set for 5am, Mallory had an aggressive schedule. I respected her wishes, but finally checked on her at 5:03 and she was asleep. Vacation fail.
We pulled out of the driveway at 5:24. Before we even make it out of the neighborhood, Marissa asks if anyone is using the phone charger. Welcome to the world of vacationing with two teenage girls.
It was a beautiful Saturday morning in northern Oklahoma as we made our way west. So gorgeous I may have let the speedometer get away from me. Twice in the first three hours, I got pulled over for speeding. I am not a person that drives 15 miles over the speed limit! Fortunately, I was given a warning both times. The Kansas officer remarked that he had already pulled over a family going to Yellowstone. Good for you, buddy.
We pulled into Goodland Kansas a little after Noon Mountain Time. We stopped at the oversized Van Gogh painting (sitting on the largest easel in the United States), then a picnic lunch at a park. Steph made “Cousin Beth Sandwiches”, or maybe otherwise known as Hawaiian Roll Poppy-Seed Sliders. They were outstanding.
As we were unloading the car for lunch, Stephanie asks Marissa if she needs water in her water bottle and Marissa tells her yes. So Steph pulls the gallon jug of water out of the ice chest and lugs it over to the picnic area. Once we get there, Marissa realizes that Stephanie had filled up her water bottle before we left so it was still full. “Well that sucks! I pulled that water jug out for no reason.” She was plainly irritated but the rest of us found it very amusing. Every little thing after that resulted in a “That sucks!” comment.
“Where are the Doritos?” – Stephanie
“They’re right here.” – Steve
“Well, that sucks!” – Mallory
Stephanie got behind the wheel as we left Goodland, and we did not stop again until we made it to the Wyoming state line. It is important to document our arrival to Wyoming with some pictures at the border.
From the state line, it was just a few miles to the Wyoming Visitor Center. Their Southeast Visitor Center, just south of Cheyenne, is absolutely stunning. I am disappointed I did not take any pictures of the outside. The inside told the story of the state and also the various things to see and do in Wyoming.
Mallory took over behind the wheel as we left the visitor center and drove us all the way into Casper, where we are staying tonight. In fact, Marissa joined her in the front seat, so the old folks got to enjoy the backseat.
We felt pressed for time, so we did not do any touristing, but we did drive right past the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo grounds, which is the oldest rodeo in the country. The outdoor arena was massive for a rodeo facility.
We arrived at our hotel after 15 hours of driving. How did we handle it? Well, during the last 30 minutes of the drive, the girls were belting out Frozen songs at the top of their lungs. I’d say they persevered.
I checked us in at the Quality Inn, and Sherri the front desk agent impressed the hell out of me. She really sold me on their breakfast the next morning, told me that I looked great after being on the road for 15 hours, and let me know that this hotel is the #1 rated Quality Inn in the country. She was amazing, as is the hotel.
For dinner, I had picked out a restaurant called J’s Pub & Grill, which was rated highly on Trip Advisor. We asked our new friend, Sherri, what she thought about it, and she said it was her favorite place to eat in town. Boom.
We were able to snag a table outside at J’s. Even though it was in the 80s, it feels much cooler than that here. A slight breeze, and Casper Mountain looming in the background. 3 of us got Bison for our dinner, and Steph & I enjoyed some local Wyoming beer called Speed Goat. Wyoming is the best state in the union in case you have not figured it out.
After dinner, we drove over to Kelly Walsh High School to watch the Troopers Drum & Bugle Corp practice. The Troopers are part of the DCI organization, which is advanced marching band consisting of musicians and guard members approximately 16-22 years old. They audition for one of many DCI groups, such as the Troopers, and come from all around the world to rehearse their show for 14+ hours a day. The groups go on tour for two months of the summer, traveling the country in charter buses and competing. Mallory knows a couple of the members, as they are rising seniors at Union High School. It seemed obvious that we should check this out since we’re in Casper, where they are based. In fact, I am writing this blog right next to the soccer field where they are practicing.
While we were driving our 983 miles today, the rest of the family is on Day 2 of Northern Exposure. KK, PK, Scott, Erin and Ellery spent their first night in North Platte, Nebraska, and are spending tonight in Billings, Montana. Their (relatively) leisurely pace has allowed them to make plenty of touristing stops. I would have loved to keep their schedule, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Some of their highlights have included:
Orphan Train Museum in Concordia, KS, and the Arch in Kearney, NE on Day 1.
Chimney Rock in Nebraska, Register Rock in Wyoming, and the Battle of Little Bighorn Memorial in Montana on Day 2.
While they were at the Little Bighorn, PK struck up a conversation with a man named Paul from Czechoslovakia. He drives a semi-truck in the US now, and hustled to reach the memorial before it closed. He grew up in Czechoslovakia and had learned about the battle in school. In fact, they had a song they sang in school to help them learn about it. PK said he got a little teary eyed while standing at the memorial.
When we walked back into the Quality Inn lobby on our way to bed, Sherri jumped out and asked us how everything was. It was amazing, Sherri, just like you!