This past August I was very privileged to join son Corbin on a trip west...something I had never really thought I would do, however he opened my horizons to new territories. This was his third trip in the same summer, but each time he drove it, he went a different path. He wanted to show his mom sights she had never seen, and he had a few on his bucket list to check off also.
Corbin and Susan were moving from the mid-west to California for Susan to take a new job assignment. His first trip out was for them to drive their packed car and find a place to live. The car was left behind with Susan, and Corbin flew back. The second trip was for his father to join him and drive a U-Haul truck, transporting their household goods across the country. When the truck was unloaded and returned, Paul and Corbin flew back.
After that trip my husband had to leave for a month long job assignment out of the country. Rather than leaving me sitting home alone, Corbin asked me to join him on his third trip west, using a rental SUV and hauling the rest of their belongings out to California. Corbin loves to travel, see the sights, see the states and their capitals, hike the trails, discover new things. Therefore each trip he made, he took a different route. He sent me an itinerary ahead of time so I knew what I had to look forward to. We also discovered unexpected sights along the way.
In preparing to write this blog, I went through over 500 pictures I had taken along the way. What a wonderful reminder of our trip! Don't worry, I'm not going to post all of them!! But from here on out, there will be pictures. The landscapes were too beautiful and magnificent to capture in a small picture. Cameras/phones cannot do justice to God's awesome creation and His ever changing scenes He's painting on the canvas of our world. I've often thought how the landscapes just across this one country of ours are so vastly different, and yet God has created a world, a universe, the whole of existence and punctuated all of it with beauty and awestruck wonders.
Father God, I thank you. I am humbled by your Supremacy over all creation. Yet you honored me this past summer by giving me time alone with my firstborn on a road trip across this vast land to see the wonders of your hand. The time we had together was precious to me, a mother. That meant even more to me than all the sights and beauty I beheld. However, you gave me both! You are so worthy of my praise!
Now...here's the story of my trip west:
Day 1: My friend Chris dropped me off at the Kalamazoo Amtrak station for the first leg of my journey. It would be a three hour train ride into Chicago. I had packed conservatively, knowing there was not much room in the rented SUV for luggage. I also wanted to be able to handle my own luggage for the parts of the trip I would be alone. When I got on the train, it was packed. The only seat I could find, someone was taking up two seats snoozing...so I had to wake her up. Nice way to start, disrupting someone's nap!
When the train pulled in I had to find my way up through Union Station and out to the curb where Corbin was waiting for me, and we were off! We got on I-55 and headed south. Our first stop was in Joliet, Illinois, for lunch. Now, when I stop in Joliet for lunch there is only one place I want to go...RAX!!! There are only about 3-4 of them left in the nation, and one of them is in Joliet. I love their BBC (bacon, beef, and cheese). Arby's just can't make them like RAX. But, sadly, I don't know how much longer they will be in existence. I have a friend who lives in Joliet whom I have asked to stock his freezer full of BBCs should RAX go out of business.
We headed down to Missouri, crossing over into St. Louis. Our family lived in that area until the boys graduated and went their own ways. (Then Paul and I moved over into Highland, IL, and then up to Michigan a couple of years later.) The first overnight stop, Friday night, Corbin and I stayed at my other son's house in Missouri. The only picture I took at this stage of the trip was one of Corbin and Kevin in fierce competition in an electronic game of basketball on Xbox. I remember the days when they used to play it outside in the driveway! The good ol' days, right?
Day 2: Corbin and I took off first thing in the morning and drove down to southern Missouri to visit another family member, going down I-44 a portion of the way. Part of this trip was Corbin's last opportunity to say good-bye to some relatives that he might not see again for a while after he moves to California.
We arrived at "the ranch" at noon, just as Pam and Terri and gang were getting ready to go out canoeing. They had forgotten we were coming, so I'm glad we didn't miss them! Corbin decided to join them for the rest of the day on the river. I opted to stay at the ranch, but I wasn't alone by any means! They had four horses, two roosters, six hens, five dogs, three cats, and 3,000 flies. I entertained myself with HGTV and read and took a nap. In the picture below of the three of us, the one with the long hair is Pam, Paul's sister. We spent Saturday night at Pam and Terri's house.
Day 3: Today we would begin our trip west, for sure. This side trip south to visit relatives only made for a "fuller" trip. We saw things we would not have seen otherwise! For instance, we decided to drive by Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home in Mansfield, Missouri. The "Little House on the Prairie" was my mother's favorite television show, so for her sake I wanted to see the place. It was Sunday and the home was closed, but I took a few pictures from the distance.
I love looking at houses, so I'm sorry the home was not open that day. Leaving there we gassed up in Springfield, Missouri, and then traveled north on US 71. Our next surprise stop of the day was in Lamar, Missouri, the birth place of Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president of the United States. He succeeded to the presidency on the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt while in office. Here are some of his quotes:
It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.
I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it.
America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.
Currently America is under assault, and fear is no doubt very prevalent in the lives of many. I found this third quote of Truman to be quite timely. (I am personally surrendering my fear to Jesus Christ in exchange for His peace and providential care.)
Corbin and I took time to walk through the house and grounds of Truman's birth place, even though he only lived there the first ten months of his life. I found the home to be simplistically nice.
The reason we wanted to stop in Topeka, Kansas, is because Corbin is trying to stop by every state capital building in the United States. Nice goal to set for one who loves to travel!!
Topeka was also our next gas fill-up. We stopped by a McDonalds so Corbin could get on Wi-Fi, and I could get a chocolate sundae!! What's a Sunday without a sundae? Ah...I hope I don't tell you all my weaknesses!
When we started out traveling together, Corbin told me that if I kept him talking, I would not have to drive. That sounded like a win-win situation for me...as I don't like to drive that much, and I LOVE to be in conversation with someone...especially a SON!!! We had one rule...we had to be honest with each other. That is no problem for either of us...honesty being at the top of our ethical values.
I decided I needed a back-up plan in case we ran out of things to talk about. Therefore we made several stops at Walmarts looking for a Trivial Pursuit game. I had forgotten to bring mine with me. Since it appeared Walmart did not carry the game, I did a Google search and found out that Target carried them. It was already after dark, and I didn't think the store would still be open on Sunday, but it was, and they had ONE game left! This was in Lincoln, Nebraska. Aha! I had my "keep him talking tool"! I would read the questions and I figured Corbin would know about 90% of the answers, and perhaps even the questions would create conversation for us...which they did.
We have now finished three days of our journey. Our travels thus far have taken us through Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and into Nebraska. Corbin had already been to the capital building in Lincoln on a prior trip so we headed west from Lincoln over to Kearney on I-80, checking into our motel around 11 pm. Long day, lots of stops. We had so much pizza at lunch that we didn't need a supper stop. We just wanted to climb into bed and get a good night's sleep.
I did not realize how long this blog would be, but I can see I will need to break it up into segments, more than one blog post on my trip west. So this seems to be a good place to end the first segment, Days 1-3.