Our vacation started on a muggy Saturday morning. We loaded up my grandma’s van, pulled out of the driveway and headed west. We were making our annual pilgrimage from our house in Waukesha, Wisconsin to my aunt’s house in Everett, Washington. We’ve been making this trip, through five states, ever since I was about seven. My brother, who right now is seven, has been making this journey since he was a few months old. The other passengers on this trip were my mom, dad, and grandma.
Now back to the vacation. The first day out we traveled through Minnesota and made a stop for lunch at a Country Kitchen in the small town of Nodine. The temperature was a balmy 98 degrees, but with the humidity and lack of breeze, it felt more like 108. We kept on driving through flatlands until we were greeted by the jackalope right outside our hotel, The Thunderbird Lodge, in Mitchell, South Dakota. The room was set up with three queen sized beds which was nice for everyone except me. Seeing as I had to share the bed with my little brother. (He’s a squirmy little kicker at night.)
The next morning we woke up at a reasonable time, gathered up all of our things and made way to the dining room. One of the best experiences of all road trips is the continental breakfast. I was looking forward to pouring my waffle batter on the hot iron spinny griddles that hotels are noted for, but to my disappointment there were only frozen waffles. Everyone else enjoyed various cereals and breakfast bakery. By 9:30 we were off again with the temperature already at 89 degrees – a little warm for the morning if you ask me.
It took us three hours to get to the infamous Wall Drug of South Dakota. The main attraction is the “town center” sort of thing. It’s set up to look like you’re right in the old west with traditional store fronts and restaurants – best place to go if you’re looking for a fantastic home cooked meal. What my brother looked forward to the most though, was the mechanical T-Rex they have set up. Every twelve minutes a whole bunch of smoke is set of and hazard lights start blinking and the dinosaur roars and roars with these blazing devilish eyes. After my brother got to experience the dinosaur we were on the road again at 2:17. We drove through rolling hills and sporadic rain showers until we arrived at the Best Western in Buffalo, Wyoming later that night.
The next day’s end destination was Ruby’s Inn (of Max and Ruby’s as my brother used to call it) in Missoula, Montana. We took a leisurely and more touristy drive, stopping at the Little Big Horn Monument to expand our knowledge of history. We arrived just in time to hear ranger Tom give his speech on Custer’s Last Stand. And it was honestly very interesting, not at all like a usual history class. After that we stopped at the Custer’s Battle Field Trading Post and had an excellent lunch of Bear Paw Indian Tacos (words cannot explain how excellent they were). Due to our stops we checked in late at our hotel and missed out on the swimming pool.
The next day, our last day of travel, was our prettiest day of all. We dove through hills and climbed up mountains until we finally arrived at my aunt’s house around 7:47. We unpacked the van for the last time and swarmed into the house happy that we were finally home.
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