The drive back begins…
Day 13 – July 12, 2018 – Thursday – Bozeman, MT to Dickinson, ND
We all slept in again except for poor Matt who was sent to Granny’s Donuts for the traditional Bozeman goodbye donuts. We all feasted on them along with more of the unhealthy continental breakfast (for god’s sake, even PINEDALE had a selection of fruit at their continental breakfast; Bozeman had a couple bananas and that was the only thing that was remotely healthy). Won’t lie, if you are complementing eating that breakfast with donuts, you probably shouldn’t be complaining about the lack of healthy options.
Zoe got to feed the fish in the koi pond, which may have been the highlight of her trip.
We motored away toward Billings. We got to Billings. It was just as awful as we remember. Also, the smell of refined sugar beets. We quickly motored away from Billings and got on I-94. For the first time ever, we are heading home utilizing the “northern route” through North Dakota, and not the “southern route” through South Dakota. If we drive through that stretch of Wyoming one more time on the “southern route”, we may self destruct and not make it home at all.
Now, between Bozeman and Billings, two notable things happened: 1. Zoe didn’t go crazy because we rearranged the car seats (sorry Noah for having to sit in between your two younger siblings and losing your window seat); and 2. We f***ing got schmucked by yet ANOTHER goddamn rock and now have a second set of starbursts on our broken windshield. I mean really, what are the chances?!?
Anyway, we continued driving on and there isn’t much to report. We transitioned from bear country (restrooms with bear proof garbage cans) to rattlesnake country (restrooms with signs to stay off the grass). We stopped in a tiny town called Wiboux because they claimed to have a rest stop, and they had a brewery that someone on tripadvisor said was top 5 in the Montana (out of 70 breweries – where ARE these 70 breweries??). Matt was deployed in to pick up a few growlers and reports it totally wasn’t scary at all. Some dude in there said he had driven 70 miles to buy his beer (and had 9 growlers and a motorcycle…). We were in the middle of nowhere.
We then motored on to Teddy Roosevelt National Park for our annual picture. For unclear reasons, apparently people don’t randomly stop by the Park at 6 pm at night, which is when we were there. We struggled to take our usual photo until a lady came by and offered. Thank you, friendly fellow Midwesterner!
Anyway, we continued on to Dickinson. We stayed here once before in the most terrifying Comfort Suites ever built. Now we are staying in the crème de la crème of Dickinson, the Marriot TownSuites! Now, Dickinson is still crazily growing, which surprises us, because we kind of thought all that fracking stuff was gone? Based on the bizarre mix of families traveling out west and oil men at this fine establishment, it appears fracking is still going on. The big difference between the last time and this time is that there are several very nice looking restaurants available. None of which we can go to, as we are grimy from traveling and have children. And they are actually too nice for take out!
But apparently both the Marriot and TripAdvisor are in agreement: the Japanese steakhouse is the #1 rated restaurant in town. So after stuffing our kids full of mac and cheese and apples and then playing in the pool, we got bento box dinners from there. Very very good! Go, Dickinson. We still aren’t convinced that our car won’t be broken into overnight, but at least the criminals at this hotel will be slightly higher tier than the last time we stayed here.
Beer of the day: Ole Gus, Meadowlark Brewing, Sidney, MT
Miles driven: 477
Day 14 – Friday the 13th (Woo, scary) – Dickinson, ND to St. Cloud, MN
We didn’t even realize it was Friday the 13th until Sarah was signing the discharge papers in the emergency department! Wait….what? Oh yeah, it was a day.
So we had some delicious continental breakfast for the fiftieth day in a row, and then trudged out to the car. We were kind of dreading today but excited that although this is our fourth time in North Dakota, we have never driven the Enchanted Highway – but today is the day! It is located running north-south just east of Dickinson, and has never fit into our travel plans but today fit very nicely. It is some random country road with all of these gigantic metal sculptures on roadside pull offs. So basically, our dream highway.
We pull off of the interstate where you can see the first one, Geese in Flight. We drove south and found the second one, which is two deer hopping around. There was an interesting maze that the kids did as well. It all appeared to be made from metal that was slightly rusty but felt soft, not sharp. I bet you already figured out what is going to happen…
So we drove to the next one, which was grasshoppers and cattails. There was some playground equipment which the kids hopped on, and we looked for a geocache there that was supposedly hard to find. While Matt and the boys were doing that, Sarah and Z were by the equipment. Next thing we knew, Zoe was laying in the ground sobbing, and there was a metal cattail leaf (the largest cat tail made of metal in the world!) bobbing in the air. Sarah ran over and Zoe’s face was covered in blood. She whisked her to the car, and Sarah peeled her hands off her face, and she had a slightly larger than 2 cm laceration cleanly above her upper lip. And it was bleeding like stink. We had ice and the first aid kit and cleaned it up. Don’t worry, there were witnesses to the disaster as well – some nice people from MN who offered us first aid help as well. We then figured out she probably needed stitches. Perfect. Into the car and we hauled ass back to Dickinson. (PS if anyone knows where the geocache is hidden at the grasshopper statue, please let us know. Also, sorry about all the blood there).
We called our insurance and they said there was an in-network hospital in Dickinson, so off we zoomed. (Let the record show that Krystal from HealthPartners told us this place was in-network). Sarah took Zoe in and the ED doctor agreed is was gaping and bleeding a bit too much for adhesive. While he was in the room (being dogged by a medical student), someone came in and said “they’ll be here in 5 minutes”. After that, all the code blue alarms went off. Sarah texted Matt to hit McDonald’s with the boys, as she thought it would be a while. Also, there was another guy who came in with one cowboy boot on and the other foot was wrapped in a bloody towel and all he told the ED registration people was that he needed stitches. Matt also reported the helicopter outside was being readied for take off and someone else was diverted to Bismarck. And this was a 25 bed critical access hospital in a town of 15,000 people at 11 am! We think they need a bigger hospital.
The staff was lovely and Zoe got to watch Curious George. Sarah was impressed with the ED doc who was nice and did a good job (his parents met in Beloit of all places) – Z got three stitches and she did AWESOME. Afterwards, Zoe got to go the gas station and pick out all the candy she wanted, and go to McDonald’s and order whatever she wanted. So she got skittles and mini starburst and the toy from a happy meal, and that was her lunch. She earned it, as long as she didn’t purposely hurt herself to get the candy (we are 99% sure she didn’t).
Anyway, by the time we left Dickinson for the second time, it was 2 pm. UGH UGH UGH. PLUS we then lost an hour, stupid time zones. THEN we tried to go to our cow on the hill, and there was a country music festival at the damn cow and we couldn’t get past their security. Gotta say, we always thought northeastern Wyoming was a portal to hell for our family, but North Dakota gave them a run for their money today.
We motored on and North Dakota is really pretty, lots of rolling farms. We stopped in Fargo at Culvers for a later supper and we know this is disgusting but it was a rough day, ‘kay? Also we stopped at a gas station in MN that had a playground, where Zoe promptly spent her time frantically climbing over everything and zooming around, almost hurting herself multiple times. Pain = candy? Matt DID buy some jolly ranchers there.
We continued on and got to St. Cloud at 10:15 pm. Our latest arrival ever. We are spent. There was a bunch of guys drinking in the lobby of our hotel and we thought there was a lobby bar, but no, it was just people drinking randomly in the lobby. So it’s that kind of place.
Other highlights from today include finding two decent radio stations, one in MN and one in ND. Until you’ve driven cross country and tried to do that (we were schooled on the book of Deuteronomy yesterday in MT by the radio), you will not know that awesome feeling. Admittedly, one of them was out of Fargo and their motto was “Don’t call and request anything, we play what we want” and it was a mix of any song of the last 60 years. And it was still better than anything else out there. Yesterday’s radio station actually played Ugly Kid Joe. Remember that song? Sarah nailed the year it came out – she was so happy. And today she knew what year Grand Funk Railroad came out with “Locomotion” even though she didn’t say it out loud, she knew it. (Matt has his doubts, but was more amazed that Grand Funk Railroad sang that song in the first place, plus he got some Adam Ant trivia right). WE ARE SO BORED.
Welp, time for more Parks and Rec binge watching, complete with Topper stix! Yeah, we’re trashy. Deal.
Beer of the day: whatever is in the fridge
Miles driven: 534
Day 15 – let this finally end – July 14, 2018 – Saturday – St. Cloud MN to HOME
We struggled out of bed and the kids played in the pool because they had been denied that right the previous night due to our late arrival. We ran by Starbucks and were out the door, speeding onto I-94, where the traffic immediately slowed to a grind and it was bumper to bumper. ALL. THE. WAY. TO. HUDSON. We had intended to stop and see family/friends in the cities, but screw that, the kids were screaming about an A and W (seriously?) and it would have taken forever to get on and off the highway, meet up and get food. So we motored on. We stopped in Baldwin WI at an A and W that actually had table service outside with a waitress and everything. It was fantastic! Then thanks to our stalker app, Find my Friends, our friend Jeff found us – he was 20 miles east and about to pass by on the interstate on his way to the Cities! Oh Jeff, you made a mistake there, our friend. Before he knew it, he too was sitting outside at an A and W watching our children fight over ice cream cones and getting his picture taken with us. Haha! Great to see you!
We drove on, stopped in Cadott at the “rest stop” (Cenex, where we purchased gum for the right to use their rest rooms) and continued on to Wausau for MORE coffee, then finally home. Oh my god this day took forever. We then collapsed.
Funny how these last few days we don’t write much, isn’t it? Because we are so done.
Fast random facts:
- Nebraska is the worst place to drive through traffic because semis play a game there where they very slowly pass each other repeatedly, blocking all the regular cars in the left lane. They have to be doing this on purpose to be assholes. That is all.
- Sarah purchased moon and blue stone necklaces from some lady on Etsy who designed the same one for Christina Applegate to wear in the new Vacation movie. We are not kidding. She wore it every day unless in the water. Because it is a VACATION necklace.
- We will find the treasure. That is all.
Beer of the day: Cosmo, Lemon drop and Central Waters Cassian Sunset – we’re home baby!
Miles driven: 333 miles