Road Trip 2010 – Planning

“Being here; not getting there”

Carla and I are preparing to embark on our latest road trip. We’ll be heading out of Portland and driving to Chicago and back. I’ve always wanted to drive across the mid west. Most everyone who I tell that to gives me a quizzical look; I imagine I’ll understand those looks by the time we get back.
We know our place is in good hands; we’ve got a house sitter, great neighbors and work on our deck going on. We’ve got a common set of instructions with our neighbors when one or the other of us are gone.
  • “If the party is loud and they won’t let you in, call the cops”.
  • “We aren’t moving. If a moving van shows up, call the cops”
We’ve been planning with various levels of intensity over the past few months. But we’ve had the maps out on the table for a couple of weeks now trying to get a handle on what we’ve bitten off:

To Chicago

We’ve driven through the west so many times that our plan is to get some distance between us and Portland the first couple of days. Once we get out into Wyoming and out of familiar territory we’ll slow down to travel about 250 –> 350 miles a day mostly off the interstate. We’ll be on US 30 a good part of the way out.

We are being flexible, but do have some rough milestones for getting to Chicago. Here is how the day’s shape up
  1. Carla picks me up at work and we head to central or eastern Oregon. We’ll stay at either Pendleton or La Grande where I found a nice trackside motel.
  2. We blast through eatern Oregon, Idaho and most of Utah, stopping at Echo, UT where I80 branches off from I84.
  3. Drive through western Wyoming; planning to stop in Cheyenne. We hope to have a lovely drive watching the sun rise over the Rockies.
  4. Head over to following US Highway 30 to North Platte; I expect we’ll stop often to take train pictures. Once we get into North Platte, we’ll head over to the Union Pacific visitor center. This is one of the largest rail facilities in the world; the visitor center has two viewing decks on the 7th and 8th floor of the tower.
  5. More train viewing as we follow US 30 and 36 through eastern Nebraska to Bellevue (a suburb of Omaha0. Our hotel in Bellevue has excellent view of the tracks and by all accounts a terrific barbecue joint across the street.
  6. We leave Nebraska and cut through the southwest corner of Iowa and into Missouri with a planned night in Hannibal. Is this where Harry Truman grew up?
  7. From Hannibal we have a short drive to Springfield, IL where we’ll take in the Lincoln museum and all the other sites related to my presidential relative.
  8. Back on Route 66! We cut across Illinois on the Mother Road and arrive in Chicago to visit Andrew and Henriët

Chicago – The Windy City / The City of Big Shoulders

We’ll have just a few days in Chicago – first order of business? laundry! 🙂

Some of our planned activities are:
  • The Art Institute
  • A boat ride / architectural tour
  • the Field Museum of natural history
  • Maybe a White Sox game; Cubs are out of town
  • Tour the home of Chess Records
  • A hot dog at Flub a Dub Chub (no ketchup!)
  • Deep dish Chicago pizza
  • 3 great breakfast places Andrew and Henriët know of
  • Maybe some music one night

Returning Home

The focus of the return home are the sites of South Dakota and eastern Montana. We’ll tour the badlands, Mt. Rushmore, and the Little Big Horn memorial. Of course no trip through the upper mid west is complete without a stop at Wall Drug!

  1. We head out of Chicago late morning and head to La Crosse, WI
  2. Pedal to the metal as we blow across southern Minnesota to get to Chamberlain, SD so we can have some fun
  3. Chamerblain to Deadwood, going off the beaten path for a scenic drive through the Badlands of South Dakota
  4. Visit Mt. Rushmore; Wall Drug and what not
  5. Head to Billings taking time to tour the Little Big Horn battle site (the place of Custer’s Last Stand which I remember doing a book report on in the 5th grade).
  6. Billings to Missoula
  7. Missoula to Kennewick, WA
  8. Home
Those last 3 days are a little unfocused. But we are really focusing on our trip motto of “being there, not getting there” The vacation is the trip, not the day or week’s destination. So, although we could definitely do it much faster, we want to really see it and be there.
Let’s see if I can keep up daily or bi-daily posts.

About howardwthompson

I'm a person who likes to travel, read, cook, and eat
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2 Responses to Road Trip 2010 – Planning

  1. Anna says:

    What a great drive, I followed a similar route when I moved to Portland. The badlands are incredible and who can resist Wall Drug? Mt. Rushmore, was almost better from the road, quite touristy inside. Have a great time! We'll see you when you get back.
    -Anna

  2. Howard says:

    I have a correction regarding famous people from Missouri (from a work friend who comes from the “Show Me” state). It is Mark Twain who came from Hannibal, MO. Harry Truman's home town was Independence, MO.

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