Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tales from the Road Trip: The day I was a mutant freak and—taa-daa!—the day we made it back home

Our fourth day of the Road Trip, Scope, Wednesday, and I awoke in Oacoma, South Dakota. Remember Oacoma? No? Where the millions of mayflies swarmed all over us and watched us all Peeping-Tom-like through our motel window? Yeah, that’s the one. You got it. In fact, I wrote a little song about Oacoma. Mm-hmm. Wanna hear it? Yeah? Okay. (Don’t worry, you’ll get the tune.)

Ohhhhhhhhhh-acoma where the bugs come swarming in your face
And as they pass
It sure sucks @$$
’Cuz those little pervs go for second base

Well, that’s all I’ve got so far. It’s a work in progress. But anyway, back to the story….

Those millions of mayflies that had violated us like perverts in the parking lot the night before, well, they were all dead now. They were all sprawled out on the ground around the motel doorways like giant, grotesque welcome mats.


(Sorry, had to borrow that picture from Google. I was too busy standing there like a dummy, torn between my utter revulsion at the sight of that many dead bugs and my euphoria that, hey, the little things couldn’t crawl all over me anymore—score!—to bother taking a picture, but it looked just like that shot there, I swear.)

There was a maid on corpse duty outside the motel, sweeping up all the mayflies into massive piles as we hauled our bags out to our car. Every step we took made a sickening swishy kind of muffled crunching sound. So freaky.

And speaking of freaky….

Have I ever mentioned I’m a mutant? No? Well, I am. There, I said it. I don’t know why, but my skin is extremely sensitive (read: overdramatic to the point of ridiculous, Jim Carrey-ish proportions) to lengthy sun exposure. Even with sunblock. If I’m in the sun for long periods of time, sunblock or not, my skin swells up painfully. And after sitting in the sunny car and loitering around 95 degree sightseeing spots for three days straight, my skin had had enough of me and my audacity.

Thus, when I woke up Thursday morning, I discovered my hands and arms had started to resemble inflated rubber gloves overnight.

Not good. At all. I knew from past experience that it could easily get waaaayyyyyyy worse if I didn’t take it seriously, and that if I didn’t stay out of the stupid sun until the swelling went down, I would find myself in the ER, which was SO not on our sightseeing list!

So, how does one stay out of the sun on a sunny Summer Road Trip, hmm? By wearing winter gloves and a hoodie all day, that’s how!

And by hiding in the shade in between cars when one is feeling too much like a freak to wear one’s winter gloves and hoodie out in public on one of the hottest days of the year.

(As if hiding in between cars is somehow less freaky than wearing gloves!)

(*rolling my eyes*)

(Moving on….)

We only had one big sightseeing adventure on our list for the day: The Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD. It only took us about an hour to get to Mitchell.

When we arrived, they were setting up some sort of street carnival right outside The Corn Palace, which was kind of annoying because it made getting pictures of the thing kind of difficult. But I did my best (whilst hovering in the shade between the carnival booths).

We didn’t bother going into The Corn Palace. It was just the outside we wanted to see. And I have to admit, I don’t really get it. Mmm…. nope. Not at all. The purpose of The Corn Palace is…. what exactly? I’m just not sure. Okay, it’s kind of cute and silly and there’s nothing wrong with that, but…. no, I still don’t get it. Sorry.

We walked by a few little stores (on the shady side of the street), including one that had a real Snoopy Snow Cone Machine in the window! WHEEEEEEEE!!!!

I wanted one of those SOOOOOOOOO BAD when I was in third grade…. until my friend, Nikki, got one and I realized what complete and utter slave labor it was to grind up ice cubes with that little plastic handle for 20 minutes—and that’s only if you're doing it with psycho killer rage! If you’ve got a gentler touch, my friend, forget it! The ice will have melted, evaporated and rained down over Switzerland by the time you’re done!

20 minutes of grueling work just to get the world’s dinkiest little snow cone, when I could go over to the freezer and make a big, fat ice cream sundae with a mere spoon in 20 seconds flat instead? Umm…. no thanks. (C’mon, Snoopy! What’s the deal?!) But still, slave labor whining aside, I got a kick out of seeing the snow cone maker in the shop window.

*nostalgic sigh*


We hit the road and along the way we passed a sign for Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home.

Once again, my inner third grade self quivered with glee! Slap my behind and call me “Nellie”, I was in Little House on the Prairie-ville! Yeah, baby!

We saw a funky cow pasture with huge random sculptures in it.

And then soon we were saying goodbye to South Dakota and hello to Minnesota.

I had never been to Minnesota. I’d heard the stereotypes (that they talk like Bob from That 70’s Show and that they are all super duper uber nice) but how come no-one told me they welcome Cylons there?! What the--?!

(That’s a little TOO nice, if you ask me!)

And how come no-one told me the sky in Minnesota looks just like the wallpaper in Andy’s room in Toy Story?!….

….And that there are stick-bug-ish, alien-looking windmills slowly spinning in nearly every direction you look?!

(Personally, I suspect they’re Cylons, Eeep!)

We stopped at a little rest stop, so we could say we actually touched the Cylon Minnesotan ground.

Then we drove on…. while Wednesday took pictures of her spiffy socks in the backseat.


We crossed the Mississippi River….

….and then—hey, looky!—we crossed the border into Wisconsin, just one itty bitty State away from home!

Now, we COULD have made it home to Chicago that evening, of course, but we would have been pulling into the garage at about midnight or later, and we were already tired from driving on next to no sleep for the last four days, so we decided we would only go as far as Tomah, Wisconsin and get ourselves a well deserved decent night’s sleep and then make it home the next day refreshed instead of thrashed. Yeah, we were almost to the finish line, but we really needed the break! So, off we headed for Tomah. Along the way we saw some dude hovering in the sky with a parasail powered by a MASSIVE fan….

….and we saw this guy who was all ready with his snowplow for the first snowfall of the season. IN. AUGUST….

(I know it’s Wisconsin, but seriously, dude?! It’s over 90 degrees out!)

We made it to a motel in Tomah—there were no perverted mayflies there! YAY!!!!—and the lady at the desk gave us a coupon for dinner at The Ground Round just across the street….

….so that’s where we had dinner (which was delicious!) and then we hit the sack.

The next morning, Day 5 of our Road Trip, we had breakfast at the motel. Wednesday and I split a waffle just like we did at all the other motels during our trip. (Minus the icky dead hooker motel in Montana—eww!)

Then we headed for home on the same road we started our trip on back in Seattle, I-90 (which happened to be Siamese Triplets with I-39 and I-94 at that point; weird.)

We passed a lot of signs for cheese, ‘cuz—hey—it’s Wisconsin and all.

(Pffft! “Fireworks and cheese”—that kills me every time! *snort*)

And then we started seeing signs for Chicago!

In next to no time, we left Wisconsin behind and crossed the border into Illinois….

….aaaaaaaaaaand, right on cue, Illinois immediately held out it’s hand and said, “pay up, punks!” by hitting us with a toll booth.


I-90 is free to drive on the whole 2000 miles from Seattle to Wisconsin; won’t cost you a penny. However, the second you hit Illinois—BOOM!—I-90 morphs into a toll road, and you have to pull over and cough up cash every few miles or so, or invest in an I-PASS transponder, as Scope did.

As our I-PASS wasn’t mounted in the car, I had to hold it up every time we drove under a toll scanner.

(Yep, still wearing my gloves.)

(And, yep, that’s my iPod hanging from the sun visor, playing The Chipmunks or something awesome like that through the radio as we drove. Poor, poor Scope.)

We hit a bunch of road work….

….and then another toll booth.

We passed by O’Hare Airport….

….and then another toll booth.

And then when traffic got claustrophobic and ugly and made us wanna start punching unicorns, we knew we were home! *le sigh*

We exited I-90 and wove our way through the side streets.

(Hey! Watch it there, Grandma!)

And then within minutes we were parked in our garage.

(No, those aren’t our bikes. We share the garage.)

(And, yes, I blocked out my license plate. That way, hopefully, none of the Wyomingites I offended in my two previous posts will be able to successfully hunt me down and drop an Acme anvil on me.)

(*fingers crossed*)

And soon I was opening our front door with my big, giant, swollen, mutant balloon hands (ewwwwwwwwwwwww)….

….and then we were introducing our pet frogs to their new home in Chicago!

For those who are curious, the frogs are happy here in their new home and are doing well. Wednesday is THRILLED to have her pet frogs back after living without them for a whole year. Yes, my swollen hands are totally back to normal now. No, we never got in any fights or got sick of each other during our five days in the car together; Scope and Wednesday were WONDERFUL! And, yes, we are still looking for a buyer for my car, but hopefully that will be resolved pretty soon.

All in all, it was an AMAZING trip! It truly was! I am so glad the five of us (don’t forget the frogs!) were able to share the experience together. We saw some spectacular things and we took roughly 2000 photos during those five days on the road…. which is the reason why it has taken so darn long to blog it all; soooooooooo many photos to sort through and edit! But I’m really glad we were as snap-happy as we were because now it will be UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE for us to forget the adventures we had on our trip across America.



MONEY SPENT ON GAS TOTAL: $212.57 or $239.60, depending on whether or not you believe the first fill up counts.
LICENSE PLATES SEEN ON THE ROAD IN WA: 15 (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Alberta)
LICENSE PLATES SEEN ON THE ROAD IN ID: 3 (Nevada, West Virginia, and Quebec)
LICENSE PLATES SEEN ON THE ROAD IN MT: 9 (Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and British Columbia.)
LICENSE PLATES SEEN ON THE ROAD IN WY: 6 (Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, and Ontario.)
LICENSE PLATES SEEN ON THE ROAD IN SD: 6 (Georgia, Missouri, New Jersey, Tennessee, Manitoba and Saskatchewan)
LICENSE PLATES SEEN ON THE ROAD IN WI: 4 (Indiana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Virginia)
LICENSE PLATES SEEN ON THE ROAD IN IL: 2 (Mississippi and North Carolina)
US LICENSE PLATES WE MISSED: 11 (Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, Vermont, and Washington DC…. although, we did see a couple of those in parking lots, but Scope said they didn’t count because they weren’t “on the road”. New Hampshire, I’m looking at you and shaking my fist menacingly!)

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© Coracabana


Shana said...

What fun. Glad the frogs are happy in their new home!!

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking about the 9 hours I spent in the car with my kids two weekends ago...I'd probably kill myself after 5 days. Maybe when they're older.

Dr Zibbs said...

They should name that huge corn cob "Cobby"

*drafts letter to corn cob place*

SkylersDad said...

Great series, and sorry you swelled up like that. Kathy had the same problem after moving here from Seattle, you get better after your gills finally close up...

Scope said...

Skydad - She claims her brother has the same thing, and he moved to Tuscon, AZ! He must be swollen up like a tick ready to pop 99.44% of the time!

And I love the fact that we took an average of about a picture a mile over the trip.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Thanks for those reports from the road. I feel like I was tied up in the trunk the whole time and beaten with a frozen stick of butter when I was insolent. Huh? Who writes this stuff? Once again you entertain. In my next life I want to be you.

So. Cal. Gal said...

Maybe the Corn Palace is SUCH a big deal in S.D. because there's nothing else there?


And it sounds like you liked MN. Better than Wyoming? Then again, why wouldn't you? ; )

I remember a trip to CO with a brother that was SO much fun! A good road trip really does depend on compatible companions.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

I've been away from the computer for a few days now and I had to get my ass over here for the latest road trip installment. I am DEDICATED. :) You didn't let me down, girl. No ma'am.

LegalMist said...

Awesome! And welcome home. :)