Getting out of Vancouver was a trickier business than even the realistic among us expected. The front end of The Beast had to be rebuilt, and then the trailer wiring..... There was the packing, the sorting, the cleaning of cars and houses, the hoisting/tying of the canoe..... with LOTS of standing around by my mom and I while my father did his thing. And then, out of the blue, everything that absolutely HAD to get done, got done.
So my mom and I bit the bullet and left the Great White North.
We got just outside of Seattle the first day. We found a great Inn in Cle Elum WA, and proceeded to pass out after a mere 200 miles of driving. I'd like to think that this day was responsible for us getting into our routine rather quickly and rather well - me in front with my poor underpowered car going up the mountain with my GPS, with my mom following me up in The Beast. One unexpected benefit of my leading: not having to inhale all the black smoke spewing out behind her.. hehe :)
We camped in Butte MT on the second night, and I will forever remind my mom that I am to thank for figuring out how to bring my old IKEA foam futon thingy. Otherwise camping semi-unprepared in 36 degree weather would have yielded a far less sleepful night. I had this futon thingy from IKEA that for some reason I slept on for almost 3 years. It was two pieces of foam that were connected by a thin strip of fabric. Originally this strip of fabric was attached in such a way that when you laid the futon out like a bed it covered the gap and kept the two piece close enough together that it felt like just one piece. However, as expected, over time it had gotten worse at its job, and when you slept on it, you woke up in the middle of the gap. We had wanted to fold the futon in half along this seam and put it up into the inside of the upside canoe on top of The Beast. But when we tried to do that in the parking lot of the storage unit in Bellingham WA, we found that the wider of the two pieces was too big to fit up into the canoe. My mom was ready to say to hell with it, and was prepared to sleep on the ground. This did not work for me. So. I pulled my rotary cutter out of my craft box that was conveniently located in my packed car at this point, cut through the top little seam, and we had a tug of war and split that futon into two pieces. It was so much fun, I highly recommend it for anyone needing some stress release. The skinnier piece went up in the canoe, and the wider piece got folded in half and put in my 'trunk'. And away we went.
Highway 212 from just east of Billings MT to just west of Rapid City SD is one of my new favorite roads. We hemmed and hawed over which route was the most efficient to get to NC, and finally just left it in the hands of my now outdated GPS. And we are extremely happy we did that. This stretch of road is so incredibly beautiful. In an aching sort of empty landscape sort of way. I kept wondering how the hell Lewis and Clark managed to stay sane through the prairie long enough to actually get through to the other side. At 69mph (our top speed the whole way across due to heavy cars and heavy mountains) it was beautiful in a monotonous sort of way - I can't even begin to imagine what it would have been like on foot.
After we got back on the interstate in SD it of course started raining buckets - I didn't get to see the badlands! At all! And I love them! BUT. I did get to stop at the corn palace, and that is always a fun stop. They haven't finished this year's yet, and that made it even cooler, as I got to see the poor guys up in the Genie lift in their rain slickers starting to put up the last bits of the design.
Minnesota was hell. Not because of anything having to do with the state - because that's when the weather started to really get going. I guess they have been having quite a bit of flooding this year in the Midwest, and it was heartbreaking to see the fields of wheat completely underwater except for the very tips of the plants peeping up out of the water. To think of all the farmers that lost their crop this year is just so sad. What DO you do with a field of drowned wheat?
After slipping and sliding across Minnesota and through the northern part of Iowa, going south through Iowa the next day was beautiful. Absolutely stunning. And sunny finally.
Now. If you are ever in Peoria, IL (and why you would be other than the fact that it is 3 in the afternoon and you haven't eaten anything yet after driving all day I don't know) you have to go eat at Sterling's Family Restaurant. This is old school American food. Greasy, tasty, wonderful, and everyone knows everyone's name. I randomly picked it out of desperation for a food destination on the list of things that popped up on my GPS for food options, and wow, was it good. Possibly one of the best Reuben's I've ever had (and I'm picky) and my mom had an amazing spinach feta omelet. So so so good. I'm just saying. And there's a waitress there (Amanda) who literally restored a good portion of my faith in humanity. So. Thanks to them.
There's a great little campground we found out in the middle of Indiana - a family run place that was a joy to stay in - even if all the Harley Davidson people had come in a day early for their big ride and were up all night buzzing the campsites :)
Wine that should have been consumed 6 years ago, leftover biscuit with Jam and peppered salami, butane lamp, and plastic wine glasses. Camping at its finest. For realsies.
Now we must discuss Hwy 52, oh lone reader (how you doing, mom?!). Hwy 52 through the south end of Ohio. It practically goes the width of the state, and is possibly one of the prettiest drives, ever. It also happens to go right through an Amish community, and if my CA plates didn't shock them, The Beast with its roaring diesel engine, BC plates, and crazy right hand drive sure did :) But there is something so beautifully honest about a community of people that still farm the traditional way - something that the more industrialized communities are going back to. Yeah. Dude. People farmed that way back in the day because it worked - for us and the environment. Why is is such a surprise?!
I won't go into details about the remaining few states of the trip - suffice it to say West Virginia and Virginia are prettier than anyone gives them credit for, and crossing over into North Carolina was a welcome, welcome thing. We came down out of Virginia on Interstate 77 at 9 or so in the morning, just as the rain and the fog were both starting to lift (after hydroplaning down the mountainside in Virginia in the pouring rain. Woot!). Stunning. A fitting end to a long journey. I'm looking forward to waking up in the morning to find that the time zone has remained the same, and that I don't have a day of driving ahead of me. Oh. Except for tomorrow. Tomorrow we drive 160 miles east to pick up the trailer. Fingers crossed!