Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Once upon a time, in a small town in South Dakota

We spent the 4th of July at Mount Rushmore. It's all well and good for an impressive Facebook status, but to be honest, the park wasn't our favorite. There was no going off the paved and commercialized trail--not even a little bit. (It seemed like every other stone on the path was "sponsored" by one "freedom patron" or another.)
While it poured rain, we watched a film that emphasized the featured presidents' commitment to individual liberties. The irony wasn't lost on my eight year old. "Sooo, we're celebrating freedom, but they don't give us any freedom and make us stay on the same little trail the whole time?"

Still, I'm glad we made the stop. The mountain is a colossal work of art, and it was amazing to learn about the craftsmen and master artist behind it. And you know, the whole patriotic Facebook check-in thing doesn't hurt either. 

Photo credit: The 8 year old
An old filling station in Lead
We were planning to go back to Rushmore that night for fireworks, but they had stopped doing a fireworks display in 2012. (Our timing was impeccable.) So we headed to the small mining town of Lead in search of food and fireworks.

The town was quaint and inviting, yet rough around the edges, with a vintage toughness and tenacity to it. We made friends with some biker chicks in the line for lemonade, and then settled in for the fireworks.

My favorite part of the 4th of July would've been the same whether we'd laid out a blanket on a grassy patch in an Ohio parking lot or stood on a pier in Maine or fought through the crowds at the national mall in DC. It was when, in a small town in South Dakota, my kids leaned in (one on my lap, one under my arm), looked up, and marveled at what they'd later describe--before dozing crooked-necked in their car seats--as the "best fireworks ever."

Sunday, July 28, 2013

North to Alaska, the Rush is On

I'm not gonna lie. I wished some moments of my life away. The South Dakota moments, to be exact. Someone please tell me how Pa and Ma Ingalls didn't fall apart entirely on their way to Dakota Territory, because I'm pretty sure the covered wagons didn't come equipped with DVD players.
Pretending to be pioneers for about 5 minutes before resuming the begging for more screen time
Fording the Mississippi
After crossing the Mississippi, our first notable stop was the Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota. The signs for Wall Drug line the highways for at least 200 miles. These also happen to be just about the only signs you see for hours, which of course creates a desire to stop and see what all the fuss is about. So we stopped, along with the whole realm of humanity traveling on 1-90.

We hurried out of the 93 degree parking (baking) lot and into the AC. Who cares what time it is or whether we've had a proper meal all day, it's time for root beer floats!

The kids stopped to listen to the mechanical cowboy band sing "North to Alaska, the rush is on", and I felt a surge within my spirit.  

We're doing this. We're really doing this. We're moving to Alaska.

North to Alaska, the rush is on
This is the first post of  my feeble attempt to chronicle our two week journey from Ohio to Alaska. Much more to come. Also? I still don't have a chair. All hope for comfortable seating is still 8 days out, currently floating somewhere in the Gulf of Alaska. Now that we've been without our belongings for over a month, I can say that minimalism certainly has its advantages. It's just that the general enjoyment of sitting for any length of time isn't one of them.

Family selfie. After we'd finally made it to Rapid City, near Mount Rushmore

Sunday, July 21, 2013

We're home

I wrote a hundred pages in my head on the 12 day, 4600 mile, 83 hour drive. I blinked in a thousand images, willing my eyes to remember the way the lakes glistened below the glaciated mountains, the way the clouds and sun painted every shade of green and purple shadows on the hillsides.

This might explain why my head feels on the verge of exploding. I wish I could stick an SD card in my ear and just hit "download." But really, everyone knows you're not supposed to stick stuff in your ear. So there goes that idea.

We made it home. That's the first thing, the most exciting thing, and probably what I should have led with. We beat our belongings here (by what will likely be three weeks), and so we eat our cobbled together meals sitting criss-cross-applesauce on the kitchen tile. Even without a single piece of furniture, this house is a hundred times more pleasant to me than the cramped and restless hotel living of the past two weeks. I love it here. I love the house. I love the neighborhood. I love the trails around the corner. (I'm told the bears love the trails too, but more on that later.)

I haven't been able to write or to run very much for the past few months. I'd love to get back to doing both, as I feel enormously out of shape. My form and rhythm feel awkward, and what once felt effortless now feels forced. But I'm going to force it, the writing especially. However, before I begin writing hours upon hours in the land of the midnight sun, it might be best I have a chair first. (Sitting criss-cross-applesauce isn't my favorite.)

I'll be back soon with more pictures of the journey and maybe some commentary. In the meantime, I just wanted to tell you all that we made it. We're here. We're home.