So...who's ready for a HUGE picture overload?! Here lies the trek out west (: From Monday [8/22] to Thursday [8/25].
First stop: Ohio!
Which was mostly lots of green, green grass. It was a gorgeous day for cross-country driving.
We then [a few hours later] arrived in Indiana...aka the home of the infamous double-toileted bathroom stalls!
Kidding, of course. Just thought that was humourus. Also, no matter how many times you flushed the toilet, the water stayed yellow. Icky.
We were happy to make it this far, but knew we had much, much farther to go [like a whole other state!] until we got to our final destination for the night. We saw lots of windmills along the way.
Lots. And lots of pretty city skylines.
We finally made it into Illinois and drove straight through there, too - passing a city called "Kickapoo!"
Sooner than later, we crossed a pretty, pretty bridge:
Which led us over the top of the Mississippi River!
Totally awesome. Which meant nothing other than the fact that:
We finally reached Iowa! After a brief stop at Arby's for some yummy dinner + curly fries...
we zipped on through Iowa to find the Nauvoo, Illinois Temple...can you see it?
Talk about majestic! We snuck into these peoples' backyards to snag a few pictures...they didn't seem to mind (: and the view was so incredible, it was hard to take our eyes off of it!
Gorgeous. I want to live by a river someday. Maybe.
We stayed the night at a hotel in Keokuk, Iowa, and even toted my two little bikes all the way up three floors to make sure they remained safe and with us through the night (:
AND then we [Dad] found at least 10 ants in our hotel room...he kindly requested another room and this is what they gave us instead of two queen beds:
Can you guess who slept in the pull-out bed and who slept in the king?? According to Dad, I did a full 360° rotation in my bed throughout the course of the night...I don't remember a time when I ever slept in a bed larger than a twin so I guess my little body was just enjoying all the extra space (:
The following morning [Tuesday 8/23] we woke up bright + early to head back over to Nauvoo, Illinois.
Dad + I unloaded next to the gorgeous Nauvoo Temple and I went for a run through the streets of Old Nauvoo while he explored the sights...until my run was cut short due to my being chased by two stray, barking dogs. Needless to say, I'm glad I was running with my cell phone on me and will forever take it with me on future runs (:
After he came to my rescue, we grabbed a quick bfast at McD's and headed back over to the hotel to shower up + check out. Then we headed over to Carthage [which was beyond spiritual and awesome] to the visitor's center and the room in the jail that the Prophet Joseph spent the last few hours of his life. So incredible. Then we headed back over to Nauvoo to explore the sights a bit more clearly, a la a wagon tour!
We saw plenty of cool things along the tour, including:
The home of Patty Sessions [Micaela I totally took this just for you!],
an area that they did old-fashioned pioneer games,
the post office,
the home of John Taylor,
lots and lots of lily pads [that I thought were completely gorgeous-looking] all along the Mississippi,
lots of these pretty purple flowers all over the place,
Joseph Smith's Red Brick Store,
The Smith Family grave site,
The Mansion House,
Sidney and Phoebe Rigdon's home,
and the Lucy Mack Smith home, among others.
Did I mention how breath-taking the Nauvoo Temple is??
After a brief visit through the Historic Nauvoo Visitors' Center [and outdoor garden dedicated to women],
we headed over to the Pioneer Memorial - dedicated to all the pioneers that trekked out west [for real].
Recognize any of these ancestors, Micaela Anderson?
After a longer-than-planned [but completely worth it] visit in Nauvoo [and a few more pictures in front of the temple],
we headed back out on the road again toward our next stop for the night: Sioux Falls, South Dakota. All day was just driving through Iowa, which ended up being one of my favorite states to travel through the entire trip: the scenery was incredible!
Many, many more [huge!] windmills,
and a stellar sunset [and even more monster windmills!] to top off the night.
We spent the night in another hotel in Sioux Falls, and awoke early enough to explore what exactly Sioux Falls was named after...but not after documenting the absolutely ridiculous [and disgusting] amount of bugs that decided to embrace my poor baby blue while we were crossing the Missouri River the previous night.
Yummmmmy. Poor thing. The gorgeous sight of the real Sioux Falls of Sioux Falls was quite the sight to see, as well.
Definitely probably one of the prettiest parks I've ever been to. Lots of green and brown...lovely. After a quick car wash [which actually got all the bugs off!], we were back out on the open road: all the way across South Dakota. Did you know how many sunflower farms they have across SD? Lemme tell ya...a LOT.
SO pretty. The main thing South Dakota is known for? Of course, we stopped at Mt. Rushmore! The first time I had ever seen it in my life (: it was incredible. PS the cowboy hat was an earlier addition to our trip...bought at a gas station in Indiana, I believe. We made a point out of it for me to wear it the rest of the trip (: haha.
What a sight!! It was interesting to walk through the visitor's center and watch a short video about the whole process and learn so much more about this great monument: like how the original plans included a museum in the side of the mountain that people could go inside...which would be SWEET. Too bad there's not quite a budget for that. There isn't even enough of one to finish the side of Lincoln's head...oops. Irregardless, this was the coolest monument I have ever seen in my life. The fact that so many workers risked their lives trying to build this whole thing...it just blows my mind. What a great national monument to have of such inspired leaders! Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln.
We, of course, couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the second-most popular claim to fame that South Dakota has: Crazy Horse!
This is a serious [tourist-infested] work-in-progress...allegedly, at least. This is what it's supposed to look like eventually:
And the two next to each other:
So, they've got a bit of work left to do. But the museum inside their visitor's center was SO incredible and well-done. So many Native American [Dad was corrected for using the term "Indian"...haha (: ] artifacts and other cool things inside like tee-pees and clothing and pictures...just awesome. We ate dinner here and then booked it to our destination for the night in Casper, Wyoming. We originally were going to stay in Cheyenne, but Dad felt prompted to look for a different city and we ended up deciding to stay in Casper instead and shaved an hour off of our total travel time! So that worked out perfectly, for more than one reason [that we would find out the next day].
After a good night's sleep, we woke up, showered up, and got out on the road for the final leg of our trip out west [Thursday 8/25]. Because night fell before we made it into Wyoming the previous night of driving, we really enjoyed driving through Wyoming in the daylight and seeing the impeccable red-rock mountains and other gorgeous scenery.
Thanks to our stopping for the night in Casper [instead of Cheyenne], our route took us directly through some more awesome church historical sights, including Independence Rock...renamed by me as "Armadillo Rock." Because it looked just like the back of this huge armadillo just plopped down randomly in the middle of the desert. It looked so out of place [and definitely stood out], but it was quite the sight to see, and it's clear that this was a good stopping point for the pioneers on their trek out west, since it is very hard to miss.
I enjoyed climbing up it a ways, trying to reach some of the names that the pioneers had inscribed along the side...but it was crazy steep.
You can see some of the inscribed names here, however:
It was way cool to walk all the way around it and witness the immensity of it. It really makes history come alive so much more when you can visit the places you read about.
The next stop [again, RIGHT along our route, because we stopped in Casper instead of Cheyenne, crazy] was Martin's Cove, where in November of 1856 about 500 Mormon emigrants in the Martin Handcart Company were halted for five days by snow and cold while on their way to Salt Lake City, because they started their journey so late [July 28, 1856]. A few days before they arrived in Martin's Cove, the company was met by a small rescue party with much-needed food, supplies, and wagons that LDS Church President Brigham Young had sent from Salt Lake City...if he hadn't sent this party out, I can't imagine hardly any of those people would have survived. I am beyond grateful for prophets and modern-day revelation. You can see Devil's Gate right directly behind me in this picture:
What an incredibly memorable experience. I'm so glad we went this way through Wyoming! Especially so that we could drive through mega-high elevation, a la the Continental Divide. Can you say 6,930 feet??
We enjoyed the rest of our trip...especially because [like every day this week] we had absolutely perfectionary weather and gorgeous skies.
And before we knew it...
We made it to Utah!! I am beyond proud of my baby blue for making it the entire way out here. (:
We made it safely into Provo a while later...aka a four-day, 2,000ish mile-long trip filled with: no car troubles [aside from our bug problem requiring a car wash to help us see through the front windshield], minimal discomfort from sitting + driving so much, lots of memorable sight-seeing and a stellar time overall spent with Daddy singing, talking and enjoying one-another's company. (: Can't wait to make the same trek backwards back east...but not until April, at the earliest!
Thanks so much for helping me make it all the way out here, Daddy. (: Couldn't have done this [or enjoyed myself quite as much] without you!