We’ve made it to Minnesota!
Minnesota, I’ve learned, is kind of like the “sleeper car” at the racetrack. You don’t know much about it and you don’t expect much from it and then vrroomm, it revs up and wows you. My knowledge of Minnesota prior to this trip was snow and Vikings. But, it’s summer in Minnesota now and it’beautiful here. Within a few minutes of crossing the state line, we saw bald eagles, the Mississippi river, and several beautiful lakes. Headquarters for many Fortune 500 companies are here, which means plenty of jobs. I’m told it’s a very safe state for women to live, even in their major cities. The common term “Minnesota nice” describes the people who live here well. Everyone has been very friendly. It’s quiet, lush, and pleasant all around. We’re traveling across southern Minnesota today on our way to Badlands National Park in South Dakota.
But, let’s catch up on where we’ve been so far and what we’ve been up to.
We started our trip in wild, wonderful, West Virginia. We had originally planned to start our trip in Connecticut with my parents. But, my daughter Charlotte contracted Covid and our plans went out the window. If you want to read about the trainwreck that was our first day, you can do that here So, we drove through Maryland, Pennsylvania, and set up camp in upstate New York to wait out the virus. We then drove around the Great Lakes (Pennsylvania again, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois).
We made a quick stop at our first National Park of the trip- Indiana Dunes National Park. You are encouraged to do the “Dune Challenge” here by hiking the giant steep sand dunes around Lake Michigan. It is a strenuous trek that is supposed to be a great glute workout. By the time we walked from a very distant parking lot where our rig could fit, we were drenched in sweat. It was HOT. My family looked up at the daunting trails and then out at cool blue Lake Michigan. It was no contest. My kids slipped out of their shoes and started wading around in the lake to cool their feet. We skipped rocks for a little while. I sat in the hot sand in my tshirt and leggings and kicked myself for not digging out everyones’ swimsuits. That would have been fun…
My kids were entertaining themselves by looking at all the interesting smooth stones washed onto the sand. We had drank all the water I put in the backpacks. But, I wasn’t ready to walk all the way back to the hot truck and start navigating the next few hours of our trip. So, I surprised the whole family when I walked right out into the lake. When I found myself waistdeep, I dove under the water-sunglasses, clothes, and all. The cool water felt so good. Used to seeing his mom lounging by pool with a book and a big floppy hat, always saying the water is too cold, Jackson yelled, “Did you go under?!” Yep, baby. I did. This trip has me in over my head, totally. And, it feels so good. I’m learning to let go of my plans and just go for it.
We finished out the day outside of Chicago. We ordered deep dish and gluten free pizza and had it delivered to our rig. We ate way too much and sunk into our beds, ready to see what tomorrow would bring.
It brought a lot of miles and a lot of meat and cheese. We had arrived in the great state of Wisconsin, where apparently people do not worry about calories. So, when in Rome? Eat cheese curds. We bought three varieties and way too many packages of meat sticks. One package was actually cheese-filled meat. Fully leaning into the glutiny, we picked out Midwestern candies we had never heard of; Bing Kings and Buns. And, for good measure, we picked up some others that we were more familiar with. I don’t have to tell you that by the time we parked for the night in Minnesota, we were drowsy and bloated. But, I rallied to try poutine-a Midwest food that I had just heard about. Poutine is fries topped with brown gravy and cheese curds. I know, it sounds kinda gross. But, I like fries. I love gravy. And, well…why not? So, I indulged. I’m not proud of it. But, I regret nothing. They were good.
Today, we are getting in more miles in Minnesota. In case you are wondering, I had a small salad and fruit for lunch. I’m not a machine.
For those who have asked about Charlotte: she’s recovering but still has a terrible cough that makes sleeping at night pretty rough. Daddy has spent a couple nights on the couch so that his baby can have the comfy big bed with momma. We’re all pretty tired at this point and look forward to staying in South Dakota for a while. We’re ready to take a break from long driving days and sight see.
So, that’s it. Nine states so far. Two time zones. Both sides of the Mississippi. I’d say we’re off to a great start.
If you haven’t already, check out our YouTube channel: underanelmtree. https://youtube.com/channel/UCjNp6VVBP2HfFNxbmV7QisQ This where we post videos about our travels and answer questions about life on the road.