The night of February 23rd we actually spent in a small city called Superior, not Missoula as planned. Superior is west of Missoula and I actually missed all the stops which is why we kept going. We had driven from about 7am that morning and didn't stop until about 11pm that night.
The morning of February 24th we got going again around 7am and started to make the crossing of the Bitteroot Range into Idaho. It snowed most of this stretch and into Idaho but didn't significantly accumulate. At Lookout Pass we crossed another time zone and got to do the 7 o'clock hour all over again.
I wish the weather had been clear for both Lookout Pass and 4th of July Pass in Idaho. That is a twisty stretch of I-90 through Idaho but I suspect the views would have been amazing. You can tell how tired and home focused we were from Montana on due to the lack of photos.
We got into home around 1pm. I thought I would wake up rested and energized this morning but actually I woke at 5am, unable to go back to sleep and in bad shape. It has been a slow day...
So what all did we do?! In 13 days we saw 16 states - some more than others: Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, Montana, and Idaho.
The long day by day summary:
Day 1 - February 12 - Friday
Left Washington around noon and made a stop in the Castle Rock area to visit our Grandpa. We spent the night in southern Oregon.
Day 2 - February 13 - Saturday
Left Oregon and crossed into CA. Made a pit stop in San Francisco for some sushi. Stayed the night in Bakersfield.
Day 3 - February 14 - Sunday
Got off I-5 and began our east trek along I-40. Ran out of gas in the Mojave Desert. Experienced our warmest weather of the trip in Arizona at about 75 degrees. Actually pushed hard and made it into Albuquerque, NM that night - which is where we stayed. Of all the road construction we encountered, I believe that stretch from Flagstaff, AZ to Albuquerque, NM had the worst.
Day 4 - February 15 - Monday
Had an easy morning breakfast with a friend in Albuquerque. It made us someone lazy the rest of the day and we were easily distracted. Amarillo, TX turned out not to be the place the billboards made it look, but we enjoyed TX all the same. We actually made it well into Oklahoma that night in which we stayed at the worst motel of the entire trip in Henryetta, Oklahoma. I am sure there are good things in Oklahoma...just not in the stretch we did.
Day 5 - February 16 - Tuesday
We ran from Oklahoma and crossed into Arkansas which for me was one of the more enjoyable states. We took a detour route in Arkansas, avoiding Little Rock and experiencing more of the smaller rural towns. We made it into Knoxville, TN that night.
Day 6 - February 17 - Wednesday
Leaving Tennessee and heading for North Carolina; which by the way is a pretty state and where we started to see more trees. We got into Virginia around 7pm I think and unloaded my moving sisters and had a quick dinner together. Then three sisters and one car left that night to try and put some mileage down on the return trip. The three of us spent the night in North Carolina. We learned that three adult-sized sisters in one room with only 2 bed is just too tight.
Day 7 - February 18 - Thursday
One sister wakes up not feeling too well but assumes it is heartburn or just the stress of the travel which we were all definitely feeling by now. We make it out of North Carolina and as far as Nashville Tennessee, were we stopped for the night when it became apparent she was actually quite sick.
Day 8 - February 19 - Friday
We opted for a slower start since we all had a long night. It was rough travel for the sick sister. The permit driver and I broke up the driving pretty well. We made it out of Tennessee and into Columbia, Missouri. This was probably the more pleasant hotel we would stay in. The town was almost completely booked because of a high school wrestling tournament so it was lucky to get a room at all.
Day 9 - February 20 - Saturday
We decided to take the day. The sick sister needed to sleep and the high schooler and I tried to eat better, rest and work on homework. We saw some of Columbia, especially around the college. It was the most rain we really had encountered since leaving WA/OR.
Day 10 - February 21 - Sunday
Knowing full well that the storm that had formed in South Dakota was going to sweep across our route we still trying to see where we could get. We got as far as Kansas City, Missouri. All my experiencing in Missouri were actually really nice and friendly ones. Good people. Special mention to the Bed, Bath and Beyond employees just prior to Kansas City that let me know what I was up against in driving conditions and helped me make the hard decision to stop for the day. Kansas City really took care of each other and their guests.
Day 11 - February 22 - Monday
We admitted defeat and put the high schooler on a plane to get her home. The other sister was feeling a lot better and we started some serious driving; leaving Missouri, crossing Iowa and getting into Rapid City, South Dakota for the night. The snow was piled on the sides but it was absolutely beautiful and sunny most of this stretch. It was so incredibly cold. I don't know how the residents do it.
Day 12 - February 23 - Tuesday
Decided that darn it we were going to see SOMETHING. Made very quick stops at Rushmore and Devil's Tower that I will never forget. We some some great highway doing these two stops as well. It was again sunny and beautiful but painfully cold. We left South Dakota, went through Wyoming, and into Montana. We stayed in Superior that night because I was not paying attention as I blew through Missoula.
Day 13 - February 24 - Wednesday
Got up nice and early to leave Montana and cross into Idaho. Truly, truly a stunning area of highway. It was rough because the clouds were low and it was snowing but what I could see of it was amazing. An area I would like to drive again for sure. Finally we hit Washington and as my sister put it..."I have never been so happy to see eastern WA." WA didn't disappoint, lots of fog and rain.
It is actually a little overwhelming to look back and realize what I have seen and the driving that was done in 13 days. I am sure that is why I feel so drained today. This trip absolutely wouldn't have been possible without the support of our parents and I am grateful they let the high schooler go. I think of what it would have been like for me to have done something like this at her age. At my age (20 years older) I know that I was really aware of the different ways of life and personalities in all the states.