Oh boy, where do I begin?! We made it to the Midwest and back! We had so much fun, of course. We are fairly exhausted, of course. And now I will blog about it, of course.
We flew into Tulsa, Oklahoma last Tuesday and rented a car to drive the rest of our route. First stop: Joplin, Missouri. We met up with quite a few of my family members for a yummy dinner to celebrate my Grandpa’s 92nd birthday! I still can’t believe he’s 92! Especially the way he gets around – and his sense of humor is still in tact. He’s a pretty sharp guy. It was great to see everyone else too. I wish we didn’t live so far apart.
They following day, my dad and uncle wanted to give us a tour of Branson, Missouri. It reminded me of a really strange Las Vegas. There are no casinos or anything, just a bunch of shows. Singers, violinists, comedians, you name it. We took in some lunch (fried green tomatoes!!) and an IMAX movie and then drove down the strip. I really thought Branson Landing was beautiful. Lots of trees and a big lake and an old train station. Good stuff. We got back pretty late in the evening and then stopped by my brother’s place to visit his little family.
The next morning, we were off and running (well, driving) up north. We stopped for a couple hours in St. Louis, Missouri and that was great. A very cool little city. I hear it has the highest crime rate in the nation, but you’d never know from looking at it. Of course we were in the tourist areas to see the Gateway Arch and the Mississippi River. But still a perfect place to stop and stretch our legs.
Then the drive continued to Chicago, Illinois – probably the highlight of the trip for me. I absolutely loved Chicago. Like love-at-first-sight love. We stayed in the Loop at the Hotel Sax. Up until now, the Palms in Las Vegas has been my favorite hotel. But Hotel Sax wins by a mile. I couldn’t believe we got such a great price on it! It was awesome. And the bed! Oh, the bed… Might have been because I was so tired of driving, but this bed was comfortable. Aaaah. When we first arrived, it was already pretty late so we had dinner and immediately hit the sack. Believe me, we made up for it the next day. We saw so much in just a short amount of time – Michigan Ave, Navy Pier, Millennium Park, Sears Tower, Art Institute & the John Hancock building. Plus we walked everywhere, so we passed by a lot of landmarks as well. And don’t get me started on the food. If you have never had an authentic deep dish Chicago pizza, put it on your list of things to do before you die. If you can get it at Pizzeria Due, even better. Seriously, so good. We had a little thunderstorm before we left and walked a few blocks in the rain. I won’t lie, it was kind of romantic.
The next morning, we had a great breakfast and then off to Ashland, Wisconsin. The drive was beautiful, with lots of trees and lakes. And the skies were always so pretty! Everywhere we went, I noticed that. The drive was a little long because there were not a lot of places to stop. We were sort of going to the middle of nowhere. The husband has a cousin who lives out there and they were kind enough to let us stay with them and show us the area. They have a view of Lake Superior and their closest neighbor is 1 mile away. It’s really quite amazing. One of my favorite things to do was drive over to a local dairy and eat fresh ice cream sandwiches! I don’t know anywhere in L.A. that you can do that. We also checked out a little town called Bayfield. It was so pretty with big houses on the water and had these cool little shops with candy and fudge. Oh, and the famous Wisconsin Cheese is famous for a reason. We tried a cranberry cheddar? Who comes up with this stuff? Genius.
After just a couple days in Wisconsin, it was time to head home. The closest airport was in Minneapolis, Minnesota (about 3 1/2 hrs away) but that drive seemed easy after all the long distance driving we had done the few days before. Besides, we got to cross one more state off the list. The flight home was a little rocky and long, I spilled ginger ale all in my lap, and the shuttle ride from the airport back to the house seemed to take forever. We were just so ready to sleep in our own bed! We finally made it home around 1:30am and concluded the trip with a high five and sleepy time.