Road Trip Across the USA!
(Brace yourself... It's a long one!)
As you all know, Steve and I hit the road for a great adventure this summer in New Jersey! We decided to drive our car this year because Steve would need it to get to work everyday. Steve spent about a week planning out exactly everything that our road trip would consist of. He was so excited for everything he had planned! The only catch.....
It was going to take us 9 days to get there!!!!!
I almost died a little bit when I heard this. But I had faith that he knew what he was talking about and that we were going to have fun no matter what! People looked at us like we had a screw missing in our head when we told them it would take us 9 days to drive 40 hours. But we were determined....
I had never driven anywhere east and was sooo excited to see the country! little did I know that anything east of the Rockys is pretty much the most ugly pieces of land America has to offer. But enough about the sights, lets talk agenda here people!
Our trip started bright and early on Monday morning as we said bye to rainy Salt Lake looked forward to the road ahead of us. With the car filled up with (wet) luggage, treats to last a week, drinks already cool in a cooler, and our new ipad itching to be played, we knew nothing could stop us! Our first day we made it all the way to Cheyenne Wyoming. :) There wasn't a whole lot for that little town to offer us, so we really didn't do much except hang out at our hotel.
The Second day we drove from Cheyenne to Omaha Nebraska. Now I am one to never complain about a new adventure, but Nebraska has got to be the most boring state in the US! No cows, trees, windmills or towns to look at on the way! nothing but flat ground. Ha boring! But we still kept ourselves busy. We were staying in Omaha because Michelle's (the girl who we are living with here in Jersey) Mother lives in Omaha. That is where she was originally from. We had never met her mom but she was such a sweet lady! She made us dinner and made us feel right at home. We told here there was a church history sight in Omaha and wanted to check it out. Her friend Terry and her tagged along to check out Winters Quarters with us. They aren't Mormon so it was a new experience for them.
The Third day we drove from Omaha Nebraska to Rockford Illinois. The reason why we stayed in Rockford is because our friends Kim and Sky have a sweet mom that lives there! Kim was dying for me to stay with her mom and was a little sad she couldn't tag along for the ride. We had such a great time with her mom though! She also made us dinner and took us on a walk around the neighborhood. Her name is Coleen and is a seminary teacher for the local high school. She is such a funny lady and can totally talk your ear off!
The Fourth day we took it a little easy. We only drove from Rockford to Chicago which is about an hour drive. We wanted to see the city because neither of us had been before! As we drove in we got the same dirty feeling you get driving into New York. We kept thinking how small it was! (Some New York brats we are) The city is actually pretty big, but a lot of the buildings were covered by sad rain clouds! We got to see a Cubs game that day, they lost but it was still fun! We then walked all around Chicago to see what it had to offer. The miracle mile shops were great and so was the Navy Pier! It was so quaint and beautiful. The lake Michigan is right on the edge of Chicago and is HUGE!!! I had no idea how large it was. When we looked off the edge of the pier it literally looked like the ocean! We could not see land anywhere on the other side. We of course had to get some of Chicago's finest deep dish pizza to compare to our resident favorite thin crust. I really enjoyed it but Steve is still a thin crust man!
The Fifth day we spent driving from Chicago Illinois to Dayton Ohio. Now here is the part when our fast trip becomes extremely slow! My sweet husband spent his mission in Columbus Ohio from 2005 to 2007 and hasn't been back to see the people of Ohio since! I feel like I should let him take over to tell you all about what we did but he is leaving it up to me! So we spent the first day in Dayton, which is like an hour away from Columbus. He served in this area for a part of his mission and became attached to the Lewis family. They were out of town this weekend but still let us stay at their home for the night! So generous. It rained most of the time we were there so we didn't do much. Steve showed me all of the little places he went and took me to a diner he loved called the Buckhorn Tavern. He was dying over the steak and said he had been dreaming of it for the past 4 years! haha He also took me to this gas station called UDF (United Dairy Farmers) to get some ice cream. I was a bit of a skeptic because I thought ice cream from a gas station sounded gross but it was AMAZING! We got a kind that was called Blue Moo cookie dough and tasted like heaven. It was of course blue, with a cake taste and huge pieces of cookie dough! Very delightful. We also visited another friend he became close with named Dave Laycox. It was so nice to put faces with names and to see where Steve had served for so long!
The Sixth day we drove to Columbus from Dayton, which is only an hour drive. We were now driving to see the Tyler's. Steve says this couple made his mission all worth it. They are the sweetest people ever! He helped Dave come back into the church while helping his wife Nancy become baptized in the church. Steve loved them so much that when the time came for them to be sealed in the temple, they came to Salt Lake and they stayed with Steve's mom Jane! (They kept talking about "Sister Fuller's" dinner she made them and how great it was! Even though she is technically Sister Brown :)) We stayed with this family for three days! We chatted the night away that first day. Nancy was so much like it was crazy! Her and I could talk crafts all day long. We went to church with them on Sunday and it was stake conference. Steve recognized a lot of people there and said it was so great to see everyone! We also hung out with the Hovermale's quite a bit too. I met them last summer when they came to New York for a short visit. They have the most beautiful three boys ever! Such a great family.
On the Third day in Columbus we took a trip north to see Kirtland and a little bit of Amish country. It was about a 4 hour drive north so we had to start early. We went to Berlin, which is the largest population of Amish people in America! We went to a cute little chocolate shop that the Tyler's just loved and then it was on to the cheese! Steve and I were starting to think that we shouldn't be wasting so much time on cheese but were shocked when we came upon Heini's Cheese Chalet. We walked in to find over 100 different kinds of cheese all on display with a sample calling our name in front of them! There was every kind imaginable. Now we are not cheese freaks and don't fall all over cheese but this was not your ordinary cheese! It was Amish made! haha It as so good. We tried everything at least twice! There was also this crazy fudge kind of cheese that Steve says gives you diabetes as soon as you eat it. It was so good! Our favorite flavor was blueberry cheesecake. Mmmmm :) I took a picture of the sickest looking cheese called Moon Cheese.... It was green.... :S
After the Amish tour we headed north to see more church history sights. We first took a pit stop in a city called Hiram Ohio. This was home to the Johnson farm where Joseph Smith had stayed for a period of time. We had the sweetest elderly mission couple give us a personal tour of the home! (It was cold and wet so not a lot of people were out that day) We heard the most amazing stories about that home! There was only one nice bedroom and the Johnson's gave it to Joseph and Emma when they came to stay for about 20 months. This was the house where the story of him being taken from his home while he was sleeping to be drug out into the night and tared and feathered. To then preaching a lesson on forgiveness just the following day. It was so moving to see the actual room where he slept. Steve and I had never been to a place where Joseph Smith had actually been present and it was so amazing!
We then made it to the final destination of Kirtland. We first toured the temple. It isn't owned by our church, but owned by the Community of Christ church. We watched a small video about what they believed happened with the temple and it was a very odd movie. Nothing felt warm and comforting while watching it and I felt so bad for these people who believed so strongly in it! The temple was super neat but didn't feel spiritual in any way. It was just a building. Because it isn't dedicated it is just a building. You could feel the history and could imagine the most wonderful things that took place there, but you just couldn't feel it. After we toured the temple we went to more small history sights. Two younger sister missionaries took us on a tour of a small village that was built around the time of the temple. There was a little store owned by Newel K. Whitney. He also let Joseph stay in a room above the store and that was actually the place where the school of the prophets was. It was so amazing to feel the difference! We watched a little mock up video of what would have happened and I immediately felt the spirit! When we got to go into the room of the school of the prophets I couldn't even hold back the emotion. I just knew Joseph Smith had been there and what the sisters were telling us was true! It was such a neat experience and we learned so much about our churches history.
After our touring that day we drove just a few hours outside the Ohio border to a city called Clearfield Pennsylvania. That is where we made our last and final stop! It was raining (big shock there) and all we did was stay in our room. We were so anxious to drive the final leg of the trip the next day!
This is just some random pics of the view from my window!
By now it is the Ninth day and we are sick and tired of living out of our suit cases! We woke up early and got a head start on the drive ahead. I have never seen anything more beautiful than Pennsylvania! So lush and green! Rolling hills of nothing but the thickest trees ever! Not to mention it was a bit misty rainy so it was kind of like a Hawaii effect with how beautiful it was! We finally crossed the border and were in New Jersey! We couldn't even see the city while driving in because the skies were terrible! But we didn't care because we knew we finally made it!!! We were so ready to unpack and finally call something home for a day or two!
The view of the city from our Jersey side!
It was such a long trip when you look at it as a whole. But we had so much fun seeing the country together and keeping each other entertained the whole way! We aren't too excited about the trip back home and know it for sure wont take 9 days to do it! We are just glad we don't have to really think about it for another three months! We can't wait to see what New Jersey brings and hope it is just as much fun as last summer was!