September 6, 2009

Update from the Epic Road Trip
by docsmartypants

Greetings from Wyoming! We’ve been having a lovely trip so far, and I know many of you have been following our adventures on Twitter, but for those of you who haven’t here is a brief rundown of the trip so far:

Day 1:

We dropped Buster off at Josh’s after work and headed west to Utica, New York. Nothing all that exciting happened except that I almost took a fantastic photo of Boston at sunset but then discovered Larry had forgotten to charge the camera battery.

Day 2:

We drove up to Ontario, Canada, to get a look at Niagara Falls from the other side (Larry and I had seen it from the U.S. side before). The border guard was very intense and didn’t seem to believe that we were coming to see the falls. I don’t know what he thought we were going to do, but I assume it was something very sinister. The falls were lovely once we figured out how to get to them, and we got pretty soaked from the mist while we were taking photos. The rest of Canada was pretty dull. All highways look pretty much the same. We had some truly aweful shakes at a Wendy’s and bought some Cadbury chocolates and drove forever and finally popped back across the border in Michigan.

One of our primary Michigan destinations was Erin’s aunt and uncle’s house in Saugatuck. However, I insisted we stop in a town called Hell that I’d heard about on TV many years ago. The bridge to Hell was out, but after a detour we arrived just as it was getting dark. There isn’t much in Hell, but the people were exceedingly pleasant. The woman in the gift shop hand-toasted all of our Hell postcards with a candle. THIS is the sort of service you get in Hell!

After Hell we drove to Saugatuck. It was quite late but Erin’s aunt and cousins were excited to see her, so we went out for drinks at their local bar where–no joke–everyone seemed to know everyone else. It was adorable (other than the smoking), like something out of Northern Exposure. People in Michigan all seem very nice.

Day 3:

Went to brunch with Erin’s family at a nice spot that used to be a speakeasy. I think it was called the Elbo Room. Excellent food. Then we were back on the road and headed to Omaha. This was a pretty dull day. We drove through Michigan, drove through Indiana, then Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. The only stop of much note was Iowa 80, the World’s Largest Truck Stop.

Day 4:

Had waffles at the crappy hotel and watched a fellow guest freak out because he was too stupid to read the wafflemaker instructions and because he spilled milk everywhere. Idiot. Then it was off to Boys Town to see the World’s Largest Ball of Stamps! Very impressive. Next we visited the Henry Doorly Zoo. I have to say that Omaha’s zoo is way nicer than most zoos. It had a very cool Desert Dome and an aquarium section and all sorts of great animal habitats and an annoyingly loud train. The highlight was seeing a woman be attacked by an aardvark.

We left Omaha in the afternoon and headed toward Wall, South Dakota. We got a little turned around, as evidenced by one of our tweets: “Left Nebraska. Entered Iowa. Left Iowa. Entered Nebraska. Left Nebraska. Entered Iowa. All in five minutes.” Eventually we found South Dakota and drove for ten million years.

Day 4 was by far our most exciting. On our way to Wall, we passed a large metal sculpture (like a huge bull’s head) on the side of the freeway. Larry decided to take the next exit so we could try to get a photo and we discovered a sketchy dirt road with a sign directing us to the Porter Sculpture Park. Indulging our sense of adventure we decided to check it out. This place was truly bizarre. Sculptures ranged from dragons and a large goldfish bowl to demons and a psychotic jack-in-the-box. The owner and artist seemed pleasant yet quirky and Erin and Larry and I (once off on our own) couldn’t help but make about a hundred jokes about how if this was a scary movie he’d surely kill us all and turn us into art.

Heh. Yeah. Funny only because he didn’t turn out to be an insane murderer.

Anyways, after the sculpture park we visited the¬†World’s Only Corn Palace. We got to our hotel extremely late–even with the time-zone change–and went straight to sleep.

Day 5:

Went to Wall Drug, the Badlands, and Mount Rushmore. We passed up several quite promising roadside attractions so that we wouldn’t miss our next stop. Larry had been especially excited about this one, the Jewel Cave, but when we arrived there was a sign saying that all the tours were sold out. Stupid holiday weekend. That was very sad. And then there were no cool roadside attractions after that to cheer us up. But we arrived earlier than expected at Devils Tower in Wyoming, so Larry had time to go for a little hike, and Erin and I wrote a few postcards, and we spent a lot of time taking photos of prairie dogs. Devils Tower is very strange looking. I can totally see why they used it in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. We left just as the sun was starting to go down and drove to our hotel in Buffalo, Wyoming (the nicest place we’ve been in so far), which is where we are right now. And now we are going to go have breakfast, so photos will have to go up another time. You can see some of them over at Twitter right now: twitter.com/TheEpicRoadTrip.

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