Road Trip 2011 – Part 5 – Heading Home

Day 5 – Talk about a low energy day. There's one more scheduled sightseeing stop on the 702 mile par 5 with a dog leg to the right that we have remaining.

The Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. The corn palace is really just the community gym/auditorium. But every year, they decorate the outside of it with corn. It's pretty neat, actually. Unfortunately, there was some kind of street fair going on, so we couldn't really appreciate it in totality.

Detail of the front of the building Front of the building
Wednesday with the the Corn Palace mascot. An example of how they do it in a "paint by numbers" sort of way.
Yeah, they look like dots. Sorry. See, like I said, street fair.

But my favorite picture from Mitchell is this one:

You see, my wife is… well… there's no way to put it… she's UNIQUE. (And I love her for it.)

The prairie sun had been wrecking havoc on her skin. She'd gotten a sunburn on her arms, and her hands had started to swell. So she cowering from the sun between two parked cars before "dashing" to the Corn Palace for pictures. And later, she donned a hoodie and a pair of winter gloves to battle that evil glowing orb.


But seriously, isn't she the most adorable thing you've ever seen?

As the morning drive continued, we crossed into Minnesota, where they were putting those prairie winds to good use.

RT-05-Windmill-01 RT-05-Windmill-02

As the morning turned to afternoon, we passed two signs that symbolize Minnesota.

RT-05-SPAMWe passed up the Spam Museum. I love the stuff, but the rest of the people in the car? Not so much. RT-05-Welcome-Ceylon-01And the people responsible for sending Al Franken to the Senate are also prepared to roll over for our cybernetic overlords.

I kept looking at the estimated time of arrival at home on the GPS (we call him "Croc" because we chose the Australian accent), and realized a few things:

  • It was possible to make it home that evening.
  • That time did not factor in lunch, dinner, or stops for gas.
  • I didn't have it in me to make it home THAT evening.

So at a rest stop in Minnesota (thank you Whiskey Marie and the rest of Minnesota for solving your budget crisis that closed the rest stops earlier in the summer), Cora and I made a deal. Same deal as yesterday, only this time we MEANT it. We would find a place around 6:00, get a room, have a nice dinner, and re-freakin-lax for a few hours.

Crossing the Mississippi into Wisconsin, we set our sights on Tomah, WI as our destination for the evening. It was perfect. We'd get there around 6:00, we'd have about 4 hours of driving in the morning. And we could make "Kindergarten Cop" jokes all night.

(I also was thinking of "Troma", home of the Toxic Avenger movies.)


I loved this barn that I saw as we drove. I grew up on and around farms that had old red barns like this, and Wisconsin is "Old Red Barn" central.


And since it's August, they must be getting ready for snow.

At the hotel, we asked the desk clerk for her advice on a place to eat. She gave us a 10% coupon for the Ground Round. I wasn't expecting a whole lot of the Ground Round. I knew the name, but was thinking it was like the Sizzler (cheap steakhouse) or something. The food was surprisingly good.

After a relaxing night, the next morning was a snap. As we crossed the Wisconsin/Illinois border, I think the sign said, "Welcome to Illinois. Pay up." Ah, the toll road. A sure sign we are entering the Chicagoland metro area! Planning ahead, I'd taken my IPASS transponder with me, so I at least was paying the normal rate, not the double rate for cash. Every mile closer to home, things got more and more familiar, and changed from: "I drove up here once for a wedding" to "I used to go to that mega-cinema when it opened."

RT-06-WaterI know it's hard to read, but the question is, "Why are there all the hazardous material signs on a GE.COM/WATER truck?" RT-06-OHare-01

Our path took us past O'Hare, and Cora got a fabulous series of pictures.

And finally, we were home. 2,233 miles, 8 states, 4.5 days, and 58 gallons (or so) later, we were home.

After unloading the car, we did what everyone wants to do when the get home from a vacation.

We fell upon our beds and took long, solid naps.

Random bits from the road:

  • We checked off the different license plates we saw on the road along the way. Rarest (and about the last new one we got): Rhode Island The strangest one we didn't get: North Dakota. We drove thru all the neighboring states, and were within 100 miles of the state once. 40 US states and 6 Canadian provinces.
  • I wish we'd fueled up before leaving. Our stats are a little off, but basically, we got almost 39 mpg and paid an average of $3.71 a gallon, about $0.09 a mile.
  • Would I do the drive again? Absolutely! Totally worth it. I would do it a little differently. Maybe plan in out as a 5.5 day trip. Taken a whole day at Yellowstone, then a travel day. Then a whole day @ Rapid City/Rushmore/Crazy Horse/Wall/Badlands. But totally worth the trip.
  • Wednesday, while I didn't talk about her much, was a total trooper. Can't remember one tantrum, snit, or whine-fest from the back seat the whole time. Yeah, she listened to her iPod a lot, but she was also looking out the windows, taking things in, and she really got into the license plate game.
  • Cora. Was. Awesome. Cora does not like to drive in city traffic, but give her an open interstate, and the gal can drive.



Scope said...

Blogger, you suck today. First, you don't post things even though they are scheduled, then you don't animate my pictures of the airplane landing!

Cora said...

*punching my fist into my hand and glaring at Blogger menacingly*

Cora said...

Trust me, people, the animated plane Scope made was AWESOME!!

Anonymous said...


Also, that picture of Cora hiding in the shade between those cars is priceless and awesome.

SkylersDad said...

I have really enjoyed this series! Great photos and you all passed the travel together test.

So. Cal. Gal said...

You don't get to know a person by living with them...you get to know the real person by traveling with them.

I'm glad you all got an A+!