It started out like any other normal day. I woke-up, I looked at the clock, I brushed my teeth, went to the bathroom, ate some breakfast and drank some coffee.
And from there the normal day ended.
Because after those things, we loaded up our station wagon with all of the things we own that are not somewhere on a truck, drove away from our rental home in Tennessee and became homeless vagabonds, headed to Alaska for a whole new life.
It felt exactly that epic in the moment. And then we started driving and the epic-ness kind of stopped there, and was replaced by things like trying to keep my kids from fighting in the car and taking a bathroom break at a gas station in Missouri.
But here we are in Kansas — five states and about a 12 hour travel day after stops that I’ll talk about in a second. We camped at Clinton Lake State Park, a nice campground that could do a better job cleaning their bathrooms.
So what did that day look like? Here’s snapshot:
First we said goodbye the house we have lived in for four years. “Everybody say ‘Bye house!’” … I cried, kind of a lot.
We stopped at this little gem of a rest stop in Illinois. Thank you, Illinois, for having a playground here. I love you. Sincerely, this mom of a Huck.
And here’s where the park stamp thing comes in. Now, you’ll recall that I’m
mildly obsessed with the National Park Cancellation Stamp program. Because it’s amazing — read about it here.
But I didn’t know about this program when Luke and I visited the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, what you might know as “the arch,” in St. Louis, Missouri on my first trip west back in 2007. And so I thought “oh hey, I will get my stamp this go-round.”
Or not. First, Google maps took us in giant circles around the monument because it was very confused by road closures. Then, we decided to ignore technology and guide ourselves, which resulted in us illegally parked in a church parking lot next to the monument. Luke voted that he stay there with the guys and dog (and car) and dig out lunch, while I go forth to find my stamp.
So, I went forth. And I did not find my stamp. The whole place is under major construction and, after I had power-walked the permitter in search of some kind of entrance to some kind of National Park tent, I found a little park ranger who told me that I should “follow that path back” (that I had just power-walked – sigh) and go up a few blocks to “the old court house.” … and there I would find that stamp.
Guys, I’m just not that dedicated. Or, maybe I’m actually just traveling with a 4-year-old and I know what is reasonable. So – mission aborted.
Back on the road, we made it first to a gas station outside St. Louis and then at a rest stop where people were serving cookies and water in the name of Jesus. (I liked those people).
Our final stop for the evening was Kansas City, Missouri, to spend a little time with our college friend and Luke’s road trip buddy Dakota Witt, and his parents.
Lo these many years ago, in the summer of 2004, Luke and three buddies, including Dakota, took a six month road trip all over the U.S. seeing things and crashing on college friends’ and relatives’ floors and couches. At the time I jokingly called it the “wife tour,” although only one out of four ended up marrying someone they visited on the trip — and they didn’t even visit me at all. (I wasn’t in the running for “Wife for Luke” at the time.)
Those aren’t the kind of friends you lose touch with. Those are the kind you take 2.5 hours out of your epic life-trip to Alaska to see over dinner. So that’s what we did.
We ate at a restaurant that delivered our food by elevated toy train and then trekked about .75 miles up to the National World War I Museum and Memorial, where they have a stamp. …
… Which was under lock and key, since it was after 5 p.m.
Can a girl even win?! Nope.
But we did get some incredible views of the Kansas City skyline and spend some time seeing the memorial, which had early that day been the location of a huge Memorial Day ceremony.
Back on the road at about 6:15 p.m., we drove up to Clinton Lake State Park, pitched our tent, roasted some marshmallows, did a live video on Facebook, drank a beer (or two) and watched the sun set over the Kansas fields. It was great.
Today? We’re Colorado bound — and I have high hopes for a stamp or two there.
See you in Loveland, Colorado … and keep up with us on the journey over on our Facebook page.