Friday, December 16, 2016

Headed East

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The last few days of the road trip have been endless amounts of driving it feels like, but along the way we have gotten to see some pieces of the country that I doubt many people get to see at all. The first ¾ of our trip was barely any time on the road but the last quarter of our trip has been spent with lots of hours spent in the car.

Before the trip had started we had talked about some of the things that we thought we might want to do and one of those things was go to the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas. The main feature in the museum that initially attracted us to it was that it’s the home to THE Apollo 13 command module. So the night before we went we watched the Apollo 13 movie with Tom Hanks and woke up bright and early before driving into town to walk through the doors just after opening.

Apollo 13
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Once you walked into the museum you got the idea that there was much more to the museum than just the fact that it had Apollo 13 so to get some more information we went to the front desk. By the time we walked away to start our venture we got the full package of the museum, a rocket show, a weather movie, a planetarium show and a simulator ride. Needless to say we were pretty excited. We started the day walking through the museum and quickly realized that we were going to be short on time throughout the day. As we walked through each exhibit starting with rockets in World War II we had to leave throughout the exhibits for each of our other presentations we had planned. By the time we made it to the Apollo Missions we ended up deciding to skip the planetarium and the simulator ride. Luckily we got to see not only the real Apollo 13 module but we got to see the Mercury 1 capsule that was recovered in the ocean, a real lunar module simulator NASA had used and the Gemini 10 without feeling rushed to do other things. I could never write anything that would describe the amount of information we happened to read while we were in the museum. By the time we left they locked the doors behind us and we still didn’t get to finish all the plans we had intended for the day.

After feeling a little bit of pressure to start heading east we spent most of the next day driving. One of the great things about the part of going across the country by car is the ability to drive back roads and along the way you get to see things that I am sure most people don’t. We drove into a town called
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Ralston, Oklahoma. Plenty of the towns that we drove by were obviously at one point a boom town but now in 2016 it was apparent that many of the locals had come and gone. Ralston’s main street had a few buildings in use but one side had large, old store fronts that hadn’t seen customers in years. Joe hopped out to grab some photos while I wrote a postcard and he came back asking if we should eat some lunch in one of the two cafés on Main Street. We walked into Roger and Cindy’s, Ralston Café to plenty of the locals looking at us. We were greeted with friendly faces and smiles and once we had ordered our food, Cindy- the store owner and cook, came over to us and offered to take us into one of the old buildings just down the road. After she told us some of the history of the town (including the bridge we drove over coming into town was the one in the opening scene in the movie “Twister”) Cindy, her daughter and a friend of theirs, plus Joe and myself walked down the road to the old theater building. We walked in to see a small but very cool old theater with all the seats and curtains all left the way they were years ago. A hidden treasure that obviously only the locals know about that we were lucky enough to enjoy.

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We stopped in Tulsa and eventually made our way across the state line into Arkansas. Which marked Joe’s 49th state (only Hawaii is left) so we took a picture to commemorate before driving into a town called Lincoln to stop at the library. We opened the car door and the whole town was playing Christmas music. Needless to say it was very festive! We drove a little farther into the Northwest Corner of Arkansas and spent the night.

The next morning we drove into a town called “Eureka Springs” in hope to see the famous chapel near the town and possibly get some Christmas shopping done. Unfortunately the chapel was closed for a wedding but we did end up enjoying the very cute town. We walked through the shops and bought a couple of things but for the most part just enjoyed the atmosphere and Christmas spirit in the air. We left early afternoon to get another few hours on the road.
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The next day was spent driving towards Kentucky. We drove through Missouri and crossed over the Ohio River to see the Mississippi river just on the other side of a small strip of land. We stopped for lunch in the park and as we were pulling in I saw the sign that said “Cairo, Illinois”. I looked at Joe and asked if we were in Illinois and we looked on the map and were both pleasantly surprised to see that we were! That strip of land we were on was Illinois which lies between the Ohio and Mississippi confluence. A bonus state neither of us were expecting to go to!

We made our way to Lexington where we were going to stay with some friends of ours from the horse world. Trav and Kat let us enjoy a shower, their warm home, Greek food and a comfortable bed. Plus the next day we went to pick out a Christmas tree and help decorate it, which was such a nice treat since it’s been multiple years since I got to decorate anything for Christmas. Kat made a great dinner and once again we got to enjoy wonderful company.

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We said our goodbyes the next day and after just a couple days of a regular bed, a couch and good food we were ready to get to Massachusetts. So with only two possible places on the agenda we planned to hopefully try to get the MA the next day. We drove north to Cleveland, Ohio to the home where the movie “A Christmas Story” was filmed. I was beyond excited, the movie holds a special place in my heart as it’s played on the TV in the background of every Christmas I can remember. We took the tour into the house and learned the history of the home and the movie. Originally the movie was a bust but after being picked to play 24 hours on public TV (because there was no royalties) soon made the movie into a Christmas classic, 15 years after it was made.

We couldn’t totally decide if we wanted to try to drive through the night to try to get to MA or get a camp spot and try to see Niagara Falls so we hit the road to see if we could at least attempt to find a camp area. After not much luck and the roads not being plowed we kept on driving. We stopped at a rest stop to eat some dinner when I was approached by a snow plow driver who quickly informed us to keep on driving as a big lake effect snow storm was on its way. The decision to keep on going was obviously made for us and we drove throughout the night to arrive at Joe’s dad’s house at 4:00 in the morning. The moment we put our heads on the pillows we were out and did our best to sleep in this morning.
A Christmas Story House
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Though we are here before our deadline we are already enjoying the couch and everything else being in a house has to offer. Especially with the sub 0 temperatures outside. The few extra days gives us a chance to clean everything up a little bit in the car before I fly out to Boise on Tuesday.

Joe looked at me today and said “our road trip is over”! In a way it’s true but what is more accurate is that only the first part of our trip is over. After two months and five days on the road we are taking a bit of a break here in New England for the holidays. I will fly back to Boise for eight days to enjoy my family and on my way back I will bring all the ice climbing gear with me. With that we plan to spend the second half of our trip ice climbing around New England and hopefully ice climbing along the way back to Boise at some point. Neither of us are sure how long we will be here but we’re looking forward to a change of pace!

1 comment:

  1. So glad that you have seen such fascinating things in your travels! I can't wait until you make it to Eastport Maine!