As it typically seems to play out, I had anticipated the moment when we drove away to be filled with lots of heart-wrneching emotion, but as reality likes to do, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. In fact there wasn’t a grand crescendo, road tripping music didn’t start playing in the background, and I didn’t find myself hanging halfway out of the car window to get in one last goodbye.
We just sort of…left.
I can only assume that my reaction was the result of spending month after month dwelling on the simple fact that we would inevitably be leaving. There were no ifs, it was going to happen, and I think I spent all of that time accepting it. When it finally arrived I felt ready.
From Memphis we had a good eight hour drive to get to Kansas City, MO. The drive really didn’t feel that long. We stopped a few times along the way, once in a massive wind storm (it was no wonder to us that Dorothy’s house blew away after that), to let the dogs out and grab a bite to eat or coffee.
By the time we arrived in KC and got checked in, changed, and back out to find a place to eat dinner, it was around 9:00…on a Sunday night, which unfortunately meant practically everything was closed. I was very disappointed as the area we were staying in, called Old Westport, was filled with progressive restaurants and adorable streets. We were so wishing we had been there just the night prior to see it in all of its glory. We did manage to find one bar and restaurant open and still serving food, so we plopped our tired booties down for a local brew, a flatbread, and a delicious salad.
The next day we only had a three and a half hour drive so we decided to take our time leaving. Unfortunately it was a Monday, morning, and hardly anything was open till at least lunch time. We took the dogs on a long walk and then ate an early lunch at the Vietnamese buffet down the street.
Where I may or may not have eaten my weight in rice pudding…
Seriously that stuff was amazing. Topped with a little coconut milk it was a mildly sweet pudding of deliciousness. I don’t think I had ever even tried rice pudding prior to that experience but I am already in search of a good recipe because I MUST have it again!
|Day 5 of driving and the dogs were starting to tire of being on the go|
Three or so hours later we were in Omaha, NE. We found the opposite of our expectations to be true in regards to KC & Omaha. We really loved Kansas City and wouldn’t have minded to visit again, but we had expected it to be pretty small and not very interesting. On the flip side we had higher hopes for Omaha and were pretty disappointed. Besides a small area called Old Market, there wasn’t a whole lot to see, and the city felt pretty depressing.
But we didn’t at least enjoy the Old Market area.
We walked around for a bit…
Visited the local Upstream brewery for drinks…
Then dined on some famous Omaha steak and a salmon cake before calling it a night.
The next morning, on our short three hour drive, we crossed the South Dakota line on our way to Sioux Falls.
|Yep, don’t care about South Dakota. Are we home yet???|
We checked into our hotel (a Homewood Suites, which is an AWESOME line of hotels if you are ever looking for a decently priced place to stay with lots of amenities), then went straight downtown for lunch.
Homewood not only provides free breakfast, but also free dinner (AND beer and wine) and since we had been spending lots on eating out we decided to take them up on it and went out for lunch instead. After browsing a few menus we landed at Crawford’s Bar & Grill for lunch where we ended up meeting the owner who filled us in on all things South Dakota.
After lunch we wanted to check out the falls that gave the town its name, and get a long walk in for the dogs.
They were beautiful…
but it’s always surprising to me what becomes such a big attraction in some places when our hometown has places that make this look like nothing, scattered throughout the area. It definitely made us grateful for the beauty that surrounded us growing up.
Back at the hotel we took part in cocktail hour, ate dinner, then lounged in the jacuzzi before hitting the hay.
Our arrival to Ellsworth was just hours away!
If there is one thing to say about South Dakota, it would be that there is A LOT of land. Prairie land. As far as the eye can see. In every direction.
Oddly enough, being surrounded by this sea of land made me feel both claustrophobic and vulnerable all at the same time. I never realized how much comfort I have found in being surrounded by mountains my whole life. I felt as if a twister could swoop through and carry us away any second, and there was no where to go, no where to hide…just open land.
On our route to Ellsworth we were to pass the infamous Corn Palace, the original Wall Drug (home of the 5 cent coffee), and the rustic beauty of the Badlands. So we visited them all.
First up was the Corn Palace. Made famous because it used to be constructed of corn, today’s version is a little less…corny. In fact only like half corn on the outside. Can’t really say it was worth the 15 minute side trip from the interstate.
Next was Wall Drug. We had actually been told not to waste our time, but with just a five hour drive to go for the day, we had time on our hands and “when in Rome” er South Dakota, why not right?
We had our five cent coffee donut (which we later learned Husband could have gotten for free being an active military member!), took a few pictures, and got back on the road.
We had two interesting experiences from here. One involved finally giving into the fact that there was no other eating establishment available besides the highway gas station diners every few miles, so we stopped and Husband made a meal of an Indian Taco??? The other was a quick stop at a ghost town looking gas station. As I got out of the car to use to restroom (read: port-a-potty) I noticed some white things moving out the corner of my eye. When I looked I saw prairie dogs. Tons of prairie dogs! White prairie dogs, that were a lot smaller than I had imagined, and not nearly as scared of me as I thought they should be. I even managed to score a few photos of them.
Our final tourist attraction of the day was the Badlands National Park. A $15.00 admission fee got us through the gates and we spent the next half hour winding through the roads that curved in and out of the breathtaking pillars. They reminded us of wet sand castles that we made when we were little by dribbling it through our fingers.
We saw prairie dogs, antelope, and deer.
And then we pulled up to the gate of Ellsworth AFB, otherwise known as home 🙂