Well friends, it’s been a while since we last spoke and BOY HOWDY has the scenery changed.
For starters, Sage and I both took a month off between travel assignments to “get some stuff done in Memphis.” Taking a month off of work was a bad idea, not because it caused any kind of financial strain, but because we had no real plan. We hem-hawed around our little house in Memphis lamenting the hot weather, cleaning, but not much else. However, Sage did see fit to get me an early birthday present. See the pic below.
While we enjoyed spending time with family and seeing how much our nieces and nephews had grown in the time we were away, the end of July couldn’t come fast enough. Once you get bit by the bug of adventure, it’s pretty hard to stop. On my birthday (July 23rd), we loaded up in my new truck with Sage’s car in tow and headed off on our first cross country road trip.
While we have done extensive road trips in the past in the Eastern US and Western US, we have never driven from one side to the other straight through Middle America. In the past, we have flown into major cities on the West Coast, rented a vehicle, and driven thousands of miles from there. I’ve also never towed a car on a car dolly before, so that was an adventure all unto itself.
Our first haul was to Kansas City Missouri. Luckily, we had started pretty early in the day because we did have a few issues finding a decent place to stay in that area. The first problem happened when I made a wrong turn into a parking lot and was unable to turn around. Sage didn’t understand why “I just couldn’t back up a trailer.” Unfortunately, this was not a trailer but a tow dolly. If you don’t know anything about tow dollys, it allows you to secure the front wheels of a FWD vehicle to a plate mounted to two trailer wheels. This design allows the car to turn and pivot with the tow vehicle making it a breeze to tow. There is a sign in big lettering on the dolly that says, “DO NOT ATTEMPT TO BACK UP WITH TOW DOLLY” and for a good reason. Sage finally understood this when I showed her how much her car pivoted compared to the alignment of the trailer tires. After a little huffing and puffing, we unloaded the car and tracked around the corner to the Air BnB she had booked a while back.
The neighborhood had the feel of Orange Mound in Memphis, but it slowly approached South Memphis status. Homeless were wandering the streets pushing baskets and shouting at street signs, people sitting in parked in cars on the street blaring loud music, a discreet exchange of whatever in the parking lot of a gas station. We felt right a home.
But alas, our cars were loaded with our entire lives as we moved cross country, so we had to find another more secure place to stay. We went to a parking lot nearby, quickly loaded Sage’s car back onto the dolly, and got back on the interstate. We drove a ways further past Kansas City towards the airport (which is strangely far away from Kansas City proper), and finally found acceptable accommodations. Sage was pleased because Starbucks was about 100 feet away from our hotel.
Back on the road, we made our way to South Dakota. Sage had found an Air BnB that was actually some kind of summer camp. The owners had met us there to make sure we could find the place. But soon after, they left us to our own devices. Being a summer camp, it had a bunch of different cabins, volley ball pits, various large-scale games, a field, and also a central gathering building that had a game room. If you walked to the back of the field, you could hear the rush of water and putter of boats on the Big Sioux River. Staying so close to a river of that size with a recent history of rising far above flood stage was a little unnerving.
The rest of the evening was spent walking around enjoying the twilight, swatting bugs, and watching Sage try to pet a wild rabbit. Sage retired to a comfy chair to watch Dynasty, while I researched weather and the water levels of various sections of the Big Sioux River.
I didn’t sleep too well that evening. There was too much light coming in the windows of the place we were staying, and Sage kept fooling with the thermostat because she “was hot” then 20 minutes later “was cold.” I did a good deal of pacing, ate some mashed potatoes, checked the river levels some more and finally got a few hours of rest. Promptly, at 4 am I jumped out of bed and looked out the window to see the wind had picked up some speed. I took a shower, pulled some jeans on, and began to load the things that we had brought inside back into the truck. Both of the puppies stomping around following me around woke Sage up.
We were able to leave around 06:30. It was still strangely dark outside and the wind was hinting at a storm headed our direction. On the road out of the camp, I noticed that there was a 25-30 foot tall levy to one side of the road. The camp was on the low side of this levy.
A storm was indeed brewing. After we navigated the dirt roads back to paved roads, a torrential rain began to pour. Sage didn’t want to listen to any kind of podcast or “things with talking.” She wanted to listen to “her music.” (And by her music she means the same 50-60 country songs she cycles through on any given week.) So I made the drive towards higher ground in west South Dakota with rain assaulting my road visibility and country music assaulting my ears.
I’m gonna skip forward in time here. Sage has already recounted most of what happened on our trip to where we are. But I will give you a comment or two on the way.
- The Badlands were really awesome and cool looking. There were also a ton of people there.
- Mount Rushmore was kind of meh. You could only get so close to the monument because of construction. It’s also not as big as you think it is. Almost like the Statue of Liberty.
- We did not go to Crazy Horse, I’m sorry.
- Wyoming felt like a place I’d be ok living. A stop at the gas station and everyone is carrying a hefty six-shooter on their hip. Wyoming also went on forever which was kind of annoying. It was an annoying drive. Also, Sage peed on the side of the road in the middle of exactly nowhere.
- East Montana didn’t do much for me either. Rolling hills and such, but nothing awesome in the way of scenery. However, once you get closer to west Montana, that’s where the action is at. We stayed in Helena, MT which is somehow the capital. It seems more like an after-thought than a capital of the state. Sage wanted to eat at Chile’s and for some reason I relented.
- Montana got a lot more mountain-y as we approached Idaho.
- Idaho is pretty much all post-card material. (Especially Northern Idaho along the I-90 corridor.) Coeur D’Alene is all about that lake life and skiing. Would return.
- Spokane is almost the same kind of terrain as Coeur D’Alene, but I’m sure that Spokaners still weekend in Idaho.
- Once you get past the Spokane metro area you see trees and you say to yourself “Oh this isn’t so bad.” Driving further west the trees get patchier and patchier until you are in the Columbia River Basin. These are the plains of east Washington and they suck as a drive. The only cool stuff to look at is giant windmills and buses full of convicts. Did I mention the windmills? They have them out there because it’s windy like water is wet. Makes it real fun towing something in 40-50mph cross and head-winds.
- You know that you’ve got some better scenery coming on I-90 when you start to see Mountains to Sound greenway signs. I was pumped. This was on our last big day of driving.
- Because of endless suburban sprawl, you start to hit city about 2 hours outside of Seattle. There was a bunch of amazing sights to see that we both had never experienced. (This was our first time approaching Seattle from the east.)
- In Tacoma, we almost had a heart attack because we couldn’t get my iPhone to turn on. We rushed to the closest apple store where the situation was quickly remedied by a GENIUS. Apparently, to do a soft reset of the newer iPhones, you have to pretty much utilize all the remaining buttons and press one with a specific pattern.
- We stayed in Silverdale, WA and attended the Whaling Days festival.
- We settled down in Bremerton, WA and began our assignment at the hospital.
So far, it’s been pretty nice. We both like the hospital and everyone is really nice.
However, the drama we’ve been dealing with is unrelated to the hospital.
Some of you already know, but on 8/20/2019 Sage’s car exploded…..
……….ok it didn’t really explode, but it might as well have. It turns out that the issue with her car is a design flaw that has rendered the car unusable at 58,000 miles.
I will have a full post with all those details COMING SOON stay tuned!
PS Sage got a scooter out of the deal so she ain’t complaining.