Quick background: My brother and his fiance planned to get married in the Nauvoo, Illinois temple on June 12th. Nick and I are not rich enough to fly anywhere so we went with my parents, Ben, and Candace. They were nice enough to give us the backseat of their minivan and pretty much pay our way there. In order to make the 4000 miles a bit more enjoyable we took a lot of random detours, saw a lot of the "biggest ________ in the world" type things, stopped in every state that was on our way (Candace really wants to visit all 50 states in her life), and went to Chicago for a few days.
Day 1: Thursday June 5th 2014
Drove from Sandy, Utah to North Platte, Nebraska.
10 hours 665 miles
I'm fairly sure that we did nothing but drive that day. When Candace and I researched things to do between here and Nebraska there wasn't much. We did watch the first two Harry Potter movies (we had a goal to watch all eight on the trip). Oh, and we stopped and saw Historic Fort Cody (which was across the street from our hotel).
|2 headed cow in Fort Cody|
Day 2: Friday June 6th
North Platte, Nebraska to Council Bluffs, Iowa.
4 hours 285 miles
After checking into our hotel in Iowa, we drove back to Omaha, Nebraska in order to go to Jones Bros Cupcakes and check out the night market and the statue park.
|Pioneer statue park|
|Park Across the street from Night Market|
Day 3: Saturday June 7th
Council Bluffs. Iowa to New Buffalo Michigan.
7.5 hours 515 miles
This day was a little bit more exciting. First thing in the morning we got up and drove to the Winter Quarters temple. Mom and I did initiatories and Candace, Dad, and Nick did baptisms. While waiting for them to be done with baptisms, Mom and I went to the visitors center. We met a very nice sister missionary who mom gave a tour to. Once we were on the road again, we saw a Volkswagen spider in a random field. We saw the Maoi Dude (which looked way cooler on-line than it did in person). The maoi dude was described as an Easter Island like head with a chill expression on his face. What the internet did not tell us was that he is the mascot for a small neighborhood park.
|Winter Quarters Visitor Center|
|Bug statue at the wrong park|
|The Maoi Dude in all his glory|
Day 4: Sunday June 8th
New Buffalo, Michigan to Chicago, Illinois
1.5 hours 70 miles
Went for a walk next to lake Michigan, it looked like the beach. On the way to our hotel we stopped at a singles ward and went to sacrament. We then drove to our hotel, we were on the 11th floor or something, and followed Nick to find food. We ended up in a skyscraper called the Water Towers eating at Wow Boa. We then wandered around Chicago a little it. Late that night we ended up at Gino's pizza for dinner with Mom's family. That place had the best pizza crust I have ever had.
|My Favorite Building (right by our hotel)|
Day 5: Monday June 9th
We went to all the places that Candace really wanted to see. Navy Pier, Millennial Park, and the Willis (Sears) Tower. We had dinner with Candace at a Thai Restaurant that was quite delicious.
|The View from the 103rd floor of Willis Tower|
|The box that sticks out of the Willis Tower (Sky Deck)|
Day 6: Tuesday June 10th
It poured all day. Nevertheless Nick, Candace, Ben, and I rented city bikes which we used to get ourselves to the planetarium and Chinatown. We had more pizza for dinner with moms family.
Day 7: Wednesday June 11th
Chicago, Illinois to Nauvoo, Illinois.
4.5 Hours 270 miles
Stopped at Sam's Club on the way to buy post wedding food. Saw the fireflies on our night time walk through old Nauvoo. Got our own room for the first time on the trip. Missed Candace :) Moms family stayed in the giant house with us.
|Outside Brigham Young's House|
|Candace Peeking in the Red Brick Store|
|Joseph Smith's Grave|
|John Taylor's House|
|The Nauvoo Temple|
Day 8: Thursday June 12th WEDDING DAY
Wedding, wedding lunch, then explored Nauvoo. Nick got a ring and a brick. Both of which really excited him.
|Outside Nauvoo Temple waiting for Spence and Hannah|
|Spencer's camera sock|
|Wedding lunch waiting for Spence and Hannah|
Day 9: Friday June 13th
Nauvoo, Illinois to Rochester Minnesota (by way of Wisconsin)
5 hours 290 miles
Got the house ready to leave. Went to Carthage Jail. Helped Grandpa get his plane tickets reserved. Tried to look at the moon, couldn't find it.
Day 10: Saturday June 14th
Rochester, Minnesota to St. Cloud, Minnesota.
2.5 Hours, 150 miles
Took a very scenic route. Went to the mall of America. Spencer and Hannah's wedding reception.
|Mall of America Lego Store|
|Mall of America Amusement Park|
Day 11: Sunday June 15th
St. Cloud Minnesota to Murdo South Dakota (via North Dakota)
8 hours 500 miles
Ended up at interesting hotel where they gave us breakfast out of a chuckwagon....
Day 12: Monday June 16th
Murdo, South Dakota to Gillette, Wyoming (via Mt. Rushmore)
7 hours 400 miles
The Badlands, Wall Drug, Mt. Rushmore, the president city, and the water park hotel.
|Bad Lands South Dakota|
|The Jackalope at Wall Drug|
|Samples of the presidents on every block end|
Day 13: Tuesday June 17th
Gillette, Wyoming to Sandy Utah
8 hours 535 miles
Drove and drove and drove and drove.
Stuff that stands out :)
1. Nick and I had the pleasure of rooming with Candace at all 10 hotels. Candace did my hair for both Spencer's wedding and reception. She hung out with us in Nauvoo and both days in Chicago. We watched Runaway Bride together and played at the water park. We are all super tight now.
2. On day 2 in Chicago, everyone under 25 in my immediate family, opted to use the city bikes that were stationed all over the place to get around. It seemed like great plan to make it to the many destinations that we mapped out. However, we did not count on it pouring. We rode the bikes in mild rain to the planetarium several miles away from our hotel, locked the bikes up and went in. When we got out, the bike station we had locked the bikes into was broken. That left us a little bit stranded considering it was raining buckets. We pulled our dollars and caught a bus halfway to Chinatown. We managed to get new bikes at a nearby station and rode another few mile. When we got to Chinatown, we had a really delicious meal and wandered around hoping for the rain to stop. It didn't and Ben was slightly crippled from all the blisters he had gotten the day before. He called and begged mom to drive the 5 miles from the hotel and pick us up. She agreed because she is a good mom. We waited in a bizarre underground food court. We split a smoothie so that I could use the bathroom. No money no bathroom etc.
3. Over two days Nick easily ate his own large deep dish pizza (there were a lot of leftovers).
4. According to Nick and Ben, the mall of America was not exciting cause they couldn't find a sword shop.
5. The water park at the hotel was so much fun. It wasn't huge or anything but I think I went down the water slides at least 30 times. Mom went with us. It was so much fun to be able to play and act like a kid.
6. The Thai place we ate at in Chicago was tiny and below street level. Nick, Candace, and I had a delightful meal and I got to watch Candace try green curry.
7. We watched all eight Harry Potter movies on the trip. I feel like Harry traveled the country with us.
8. We all stood in the line at Spencer and Hannah's wedding reception for the whole two hours. It was a good opportunity to get to know Hannah's brothers as well as a lot of people who know and love Hannah.