Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Damn Trees

Surprisingly, we're still on schedule on our road trip out to Wyoming. We've hit every distance goal, even with eight-hour days and a two-year-old. E's been surprisingly good. We get a couple of good hours out of him in the morning, take a run-around-and-yell break, get back in the car and prop him up with a portable DVD player when he gets fussy and he's good for the rest of the trip. We've been taking short breaks about every two hours to stretch our legs and let him burn some energy and one big break during the middle of the day to really let him get out of the car.

What we haven't done so well is to stick to our no-eating-out policy on the drive out. Part of it is that we've had late starts a couple of days (although we got a great start on Monday), and opted to roll through a drive through instead of losing time. We've also only camped one of three nights so far. The first day we got a really late start and decided to push on to our planned destination (St. Louis) instead of setting up camp before the sun went down. Sunday, we actually made camp. We had rolled through a storm about an hour before we got to Branched Oak State Park in Blue Springs, Nebraska, but by the time we got there, we figured it was pretty safe to camp. The sky was clear and we had just enough time to set up camp before dark. We were wrong. We got our tent set up quickly even though it was our first time using it since buying it last week. The problem was that storm caught up with us and rained down water and fire on us. One lightning strike had that flash-crack-boom that let you know the bolt probably connected on the other side of the lake from our tent. Not cool. E slept through it all, but K and I had a little trouble sleeping until the worst of the storm passed. We had planned Monday night as our hotel night because it was our last day before camping in a tent for more than a week straight. Honestly, I'd kind of hoped to camp tonight after having to stay in a hotel on Saturday night, but we decided to keep to the schedule.

The schedule turned out to be a good thing this time. The hotel we chose was a mile from a brewpub in downtown Cheyenne. While K put E to sleep, I drove down there and had my first ever beer from Wyoming and ordered K a club sandwich because we'd missed supper. The sad part was that she was asleep before I got back home with it. The other sad part is that I've had over 2,000 different beers, including beers from every continent except Antartica and I'd not had a beer from Wyoming until today. I still haven't had a beer from North Dakota, South Dakota, or Arkansas, but those places suck worse than were I live, and I plan on removing South Dakota from that list when we visit the Bad Lands and Mount Rushmore on the way home.

Best part of the trip so far: E being really good for a two-year-old and getting to see my wife get excited about visiting the Arch in St. Louis, something I'd done years before but she'd never seen in person. Sid, if you're reading this, I'm collecting post cards like I said I would, including one of the Arch. I just haven't sent them out yet.

Funniest part of the trip so far: Boner Cemetery in Illinois. I guess those are the ones that even Viagra can't help.

Worst part of the trip so far: Every time E asks to go home, usually when he's sleepy or just woke up. I know he'll forget about it as soon as we get moving or start doing something, but it hurts my heart a little every time.

Biggest recommendation of the trip so far: We bought a Big Agnes Big house tent just for this trip. Our other two car-camping tents were either old enough not to trust or Wal-Mart specials not to be trusted for two weeks in a tent in possibly bad weather. The Big Agnes is pretty big. It's a six-person tent, so we have plenty of room for our queen-sized air mattress, E's sleeping area, and our gear, but I can almost stand upright in this thing. Reviews mentioned it did well in strong winds and during our thunderstorm Saturday night there wasn't even a drop of water on the inside of the tent. Also good news, the tent breathed well even with the rain fly on and all of the windows zipped up. It never got stuffy or stale inside.

Biggest disappointment of the trip so far: I was starting to think that the Great Plains were a myth. We didn't see a landscape that wasn't covered in trees between the fields until we were within view of Wyoming. In other words, you could drive through the nearly-treeless landscape of far-west Nebraska and Wyoming in less than a day before you got to the Rockies and more trees. Also, I live in a slightly more densely populated place than most of Nebraska (or so it seemed) and yet there's a lot more wild areas where I live. Farm fields where I live are fairly small and really outnumbered in acreage by forests, both planted and wild. Most of It seemed like almost every inch of Nebraska was one giant agricultural field. By the time you got the west half, you weren't even seeing houses, just fields.

Photos will have to come later. I didn't have time to hook up the camera today and get them uploaded. Considering the fact that we'll be in Grand Tetons or Yellowstone later today, I doubt I'll get a chance to upload any photos this week. Sorry.


A Free Man said...

That's an ambitious and impressive trip with a toddler in tow - my kudos and sympathies. And there are more than three States that suck worse than yours - Mississippi springs quickly to mind. And South Carolina. Florida for that matter.

Jacob said...

Hey, at least South Carolina has Charleston, a pretty sweet town.

Courtney said...

Didn't you pay attention to Mickey's e-mail? The park is called Grand Teton National Park. Teton, singular. There is one mountain called Grand Teton. There are no Grand Tetons. Figure that shit out before you get here, please.

Naylz said...

The Great Plains that you long for, Jacob, (as so beautifully rendered in Dances With Wolves) were all but completely obliterated in the Dust Bowl era right around the Great Depression days. After that environmental "3-mile Island" the Great Plains were claimed by the booming and newly industrialized Agra-business industry. There are a handful of small and scattered national parks in the west/mid-west region that have maintained that 1850's look and feel of The Great American Plains. I believe that most of Dances with Wolves was filmed in the Dakotas.

Julie said...

That's so sad/sweet that E misses home when he's sleepy. Wonder if he will grow up to share your wanderlust?

Calamity said...

You asked for it.