Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Road Trip Revue (Minus the Singing and Dancing)

We survived our road trip! It was a ton of driving, but it was also a ton of fun. Here are the highlights:

Day One: Utah and Colorado

We spent most of our first day on the westernmost end of the I-70 corridor. We passed some spectacular scenery in southern Utah, but since we're so used to it, we didn't think to take pictures:( Suffice it to say we saw huge sandstone towers and really cool canyons carved out of rock.

The landscape through Colorado was very different. For the most part, we stayed within sight of the Colorado River the whole time (which makes sense, since the river would have taken the path of least resistance through the mountains). The drive through White River National Forest was especially stunning. I took this shot several miles into the gorge. (The river itself is off to the right.) The freeway was split like this the whole way and cut through man-made tunnels several times. We've never driven on a cooler road.

The resort town of Vail was definitely the ritziest stop on our trip. We pulled off the freeway to get gas (not our best idea, as it turned out to be the most expensive gas for several hundred miles (if not the whole trip)), but at least it gave us a chance to snap this east-facing shot of one of the chalets. It looked even better up close.

Not far past Vail, we topped the Rockies and headed back down the far side. I took this panoramic just past the summit. (As you can see, we weren't really on top of the Rockies, but we were up as high as you can get on a major interstate.)

We stayed in Denver that night, where I got to eat dinner with Kate and breakfast with Tara the next morning. Unfortunately, none of us thought to take pictures, so you'll just have to take my word for it:)

Day Two: Kansas

Western Kansas was exactly as boring as I thought it would be. I didn't take pictures of any of the cornfields we passed, but I did take this picture of what is probably the only tree west of Wichita. I especially liked the clouds in the background. I've never seen as many low-lying clouds as I saw on this trip; they were often so low that I could watch us pass underneath them. They are, in my opinion, precisely what clouds should be:)

By the end of the day, we were in Kansas City, where we waited in line for fifteen minutes at Oklahoma Joe's. (From what I understand, this is actually A REALLY SHORT WAIT for the privilege of eating the best barbecue on the planet.) This is Honey Bear's ribs-and-pulled-pork dinner. I ordered the brisket, and it was DIVINE. I'm already planning my next trip to Kansas City!

Day Three: Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana

We spent the night in Kansas City, then toured a few historical sites the next morning. Back in the 1830s, many of the early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints settled in and around present-day Kansas City. As clashes between Mormons and native Missourians grew more intense, the governor issued an extermination order, and mobs (as well as certain regiments of the Missouri militia) forced the Mormons to abandon their homes and belongings. In addition, Joseph Smith was arrested and incarcerated in Liberty Jail. The jail was torn down a long time ago, but based on old photos and journal entries, the Church has been able to reconstruct it on the original site. This is the front door. (You'll notice the walls were four feet thick to keep prisoners from escaping. Actually, the jail's construction was pretty innovative for the time: two feet of rock set with concrete, one foot of loose rock that would shift if someone tried to squeeze through, and one foot of solid timber.) Joseph Smith and five others spent roughly five months in the dungeon during the winter of 1838-39. The dungeon was bitterly cold and not tall enough for Joseph, who was just over six feet, to stand upright. Interestingly, the jail was later deemed unfit for human condition and turned into an ice house. They kept the ice in the dungeon, where it stayed frozen year-round.

Because we spent so much time in Kansas City, we didn't have time to stop in St. Louis. But I did get to drive over the mighty Mississippi (and the Missouri and the Kansas--so many huge rivers!), and we did pull off the freeway long enough for Honey Bear to take this picture of the St. Louis Arch. (The sign to Chicago totally made me think of Liesl. Too bad we couldn't have taken a detour!)

We also stopped at an Amish restaurant somewhere in Indiana, but when we quizzed the waitress, she admitted that neither she, the cooks, nor the owners were Amish. Apparently, one of the owners' parents had been Amish, but even though they still used the same recipes, it didn't feel quite the same:)

Days Four and Five: Kentucky

We arrived in Richmond late Saturday night (or early Sunday morning, depending on which time zone you're in) and spent a leisurely Sunday catching up on sleep and going to church. This is a picture of the house where we stayed. It was built sometime in the nineteenth century, making it the oldest residence I've ever slept in. (All of you Europeans can stop laughing now.)

We flew home Monday evening, but not before stopping at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. For some reason, I'd never bothered to find out where in Kentucky they held the Derby, so I was happy to learn it was only a ten-minute drive from the Louisville airport. I'm not a gambler, but I've always loved watching the three races in the Triple Crown (probably because my mom always watched them when I was a kid). Honey Bear took this shot of the grandstand on the walking tour of the grounds. We were standing in the secondary winner's circle just off the track, the one they use for every race BUT the Derby.

And that was our trip! I added five new states to my have-visited list (Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky), ate some pretty great food, and saw a lot of cool things. I've never really liked road trips, but that's because I've always been more focused on the destination. On this trip, it was all about the journey.


Jenilyn Collings said...

Okay, I admit it, when I saw the picture of Liberty Jail, I thought it was a miniature door. Those walls are so thick! Are you allowed inside?

Unknown said...

Okay cool road trip. My family's 2010 road trip to several of the Southwest's National Parks was the inspiration for my son's and my novel, Mason Davis and the Rise of the Storm Makers. And ever since then, we've turned our other road trips into novels too - or at least those ones are still either in revision or being written.

Thanks for sharing the trip posts. I didn't know about the one National Park. I'll have to research that one now and maybe take a trip. We did the Colorado Rockies National Park this year.

Donna Tagliaferri said...

Lovely trip, I am so glad you posted it. I wrote a snarky blog today after reading victors Jackson's post. See what you think.

Tara Dairman said...

We really did meet! I swear! :) Seriously, I don't know why it didn't occur to me to bring my camera. Serious oversight!

I'm drooling over your Oklahoma Joe's picture, and the place where you stayed in Kentucky looks adorable. I've never been to Kentucky, but now I'm tempted! Glad you had a safe and fun trip.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

No, Jeni, you're not allowed to go inside. They didn't reconstruct the back wall, though, so you can at least SEE inside.

Karen, basing your books on family trips is a wonderful way to preserve those memories. Also, the White River National Forest is just a forest, not a park, BUT it's the most-visited national forest in the country (or most-played-in or something). We saw, like, a dozen rafts doing the whole whitewater-rafting thing while we were in sight of the river. It looked like fun!

Thanks for the link, Donna! It's so frustrating when people write misinformed posts.

Tara, you should totally check out Kentucky (and stop by Oklahoma Joe's on your way:) ).

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

You drove through (and visited) my mission. I was at the Independence Visitors' Center. What a fun trip!

Krista Van Dolzer said...

We stopped at the Independence Visitors' Center for a few minutes. That must have been a cool mission, Kayeleen!

Jessie Oliveros said...

You drove right through my hometown. I'm from Kansas City, and my parents and sister and brother live there still. My husband is a huge Oklahoma Joes fan. My son used to be obsessed with Liberty Jail. I think it was the wax figures. He thought they were real.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Jessie, I think it's fantastic that your son was once obsessed with Liberty Jail:) And KC seemed like a great place. I actually told Honey Bear at one point, "You know, I wouldn't mind living here someday."