Better late than never, right?
Our honeymoon was, without a doubt, the best vacation of my life. Probably because I was incredibly ecstatic to be married to Brian, and we also got to see (arguably) his favorite place in the country: Montana. Obviously I was excited to see it, too, especially after hearing stories about it from Brian. Some couples have to really think about where they want to go for their honeymoon, but for us, it was never really questioned.
Since the day I met Brian, I knew how much he loved the west. Some of it is probably because he loved his job (fighting wildfire) while he was there, but he truly fell in love with Montana while living there. After seeing it myself, it’s not hard at all to understand why.
I think a part of me will always feel guilty that I’ve pulled him away from Montana, but I know Brian was ready to “settle down” and be more stable in his life. I’ll never forget when he told me (not long after we started dating), he just wanted to live in a place long enough to go through a bag of flour. It was absolutely a case of perfect timing when we met, but I hope that we can continue to take trips out west every few years. It’s such a big part of his life and world, and now I’ve fallen in love with it, too!
(P.S. A lot of this will be boring to read through, but I want to have it written down so that I can have it in my memory forever!)
Day 1: Thursday, July 4, 2013
Where we were: Downer’s Grove, IL (just outside of Chicago)
What we saw: Friends! We drove up to Chicago late Wednesday evening (the 3rd), and the intention was to stay and then leave the next day for the Dakotas. The next day we woke up excited to celebrate the 4th. I love the 4th of July, but for some reason I’ve always struggled with what to do. Most of my friends are married with kids, and so we can’t really do much that evening. It worked out perfectly because Brians’ (and mine, now!) friends were all together and had the day off of work. There was a parade through town right in front of Sarah and Russell’s house, and so we spent the day eating and drinking with everyone. Secretly I wanted to stay and celebrate with everyone, and when I asked Brian about it, turns out he did, too! So it couldn’t have worked out any better. To top it off, we ended the evening with Bekkah’s homemade ice cream. I don’t think I’d had homemade ice cream before, and….WOW.
Where we ate: Sarah and Russell’s/AJ and Bekkah’s – BBQ food! Also beer, bagels, Oreos, and homemade ice cream (WOW).
Where we slept: We spent the evening of the 3rd at Sarah and Russell’s, and the 4th at AJ & Bekkah’s
Favorite thing about today: Fun with friends, fireworks, beer, and homemade ice cream!
Things to remember for next time: Get coins for tolls 🙂
Day 2: Friday, July 5, 2013
Where we were: Wisconsin, Minnesota (First time!), and South Dakota (First time!). We covered over 800 miles on the road today!
What we saw: The next morning we woke up bright and early (around 5…early for us!) and got the show on the road. And on this day we saw lots of plains….man oh man. It was beautiful, but it is a LOT of the same thing. And this is a coming from an Indiana girl 🙂 Southern Wisconsin reminded me a lot of Indiana, actually. We passed through where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in South Dakota (!) and ended the day in the Badlands.
The Badlands were just as cool as everyone said they would be…indescribable. Everyone in our country should see this! The landscape is so varied there….it’s almost trippy. In one of the pictures below, Brian really had to convince me to get out there. I mean, it was pretty high up! But like so many things already in our marriage, he managed to convince me.
Wall Drug was very cool, too. Again, MUCH bigger than I expected it to be! I think my favorite is all of the signs along I-90 heading out through the plains. There are so many signs for this place, it’s unbelievable. And knowing the history behind it all…well, that just makes it even cooler.
Where we ate: We packed some deli sandwiches and leftovers from the BBQ at AJ and Bekkah’s. Oh, and I had my first “f’real” shake!
Where we slept: Camped in Badlands National Park
Favorite thing about today: Stopping at Wall Drugs and seeing the Badlands
Things to remember for next time: The eastern (and middle…) part of South Dakota is pretty boring, but totally worth it.
Day 3: Saturday, July 6, 2013
Where we were: Started the day in the Badlands and ended it in Bighorn National Forest (in Wyoming). We covered just over 250 miles today.
What we saw: After camping in the Badlands for the night, we decided to head to Wall Drug for breakfast (and our free ice water! MANY of the signs along I-90 talk about their free ice water…this was obviously a huge deal in the 1930’s when bottled water wasn’t a “thing”). After Wall Drug, we headed west towards Wyoming. On our way we saw Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills.
Mount Rushmore is way cooler than I thought it would be! We see it in movies and on TV all of the time, but it is SO much more impressive in person. Everyone needs to see this, too! The Black Hills also surprised me….absolutely gorgeous. I had no idea the landscape around Mount Rushmore would be so impressive. I kind of thought it was just – plop! – in the middle of nowhere. Which, it kind of is, but the Black Hills in and of themselves are gorgeous. I would definitely go back here to see more and hike/explore.
Where we ate: Breakfast buffet at Wall Drugs –> surprisingly pricey, but pretty good. This filled us up for awhile and we snacked during the day. Dinner was at camp.
Where we slept: Camped in Bighorn National Forest (Wyoming)
Favorite thing about today: Driving through the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore
Things to remember for next time: Driving up to Bighorn Forest is a littttttle scary. (It’s funny that I made note of this on only the 3rd day of our honeymoon – it was just a tiny taste of what was to come in Montana, where they don’t believe in guardrails, the roads sometimes can only accommodate one car, and my jokester husband was always willing to freak me out. 🙂 )