Our last night on the road was spent at a Holiday Inn Express and it was definitely not the consistent experience I’ve come to expect from the HIE. Still, we just needed a place to sleep and gear up for the last, and longest, day on the road. No places to stop, no booked tickets to hustle towards, just the open road and home (and our cats) waiting for us at the end.
With about 8 full hours to go and not a lot to do, I figured it would be a good time to think about our trip and capture some of the magic moments (good and bad) while things were still fresh. I think without documenting, much of what is experienced is lost in the memory swamp of the human mind.
We hadn’t realized how many states we’d be driving through when we planned this little trip, so going back through it was kind of neat. As it turns out, we made it to eight states. In this order:
Nebraska (Home to I-80 East)
Iowa (I-29 South)
Missouri (Through Kansas City and St. Louis)
Illinois (Stayed the night in O’Fallon)
Kentucky (Cut through the westernmost part of the state briefly)
Tennessee (Stayed the night in Nashville, and 3 nights near Pigeon Forge)
North Carolina (At the southernmost point of Smokey Mountain National Park)
Then back up through Tenessee, Kentucky, and into Indiana (for Dinner in Evansville)
Back west across Illinois (Stayed the Night in Mount Vernon), Missouri and up north through Iowa, and back home to Nebraska.
One could debate if the route we took through Kansas City ever dipped us into Kansas, but I don’t think it ever did. Jim said that was OK because he’d rather have the number of states we drove through to be an even number. Ha!
We crossed the Missouri River, the Mississippi River, the Ohio River, and the Green River (all multiple times). I actually did not realize before this trip that the Missouri river dumps into the Mississippi at St. Louis. I knew it didn’t wind all the way to the Gulf of Mexico but I didn’t know where it went.
In our 7 days, we visited 3 national parks: The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Smokey Mountain National Park, and Mammoth Cave National Park and put about 2400 miles on Jim’s Kia.
His favorite or most memorable part of the trip was the house we stayed at. He absolutely loved it and as “impractical” as it was, said he would build a house like that someday on the top of a hill where you could enjoy sunrise and sunset every day. Sure thing Darlin’. 😉
I’m actually not sure what my favorite part was. We did so many neat things. The arch tour, the cave tour, the rooftop bar in Nashville, the two days driving around the Smokey Mountains. It was all pretty cool.
I asked Jim what his least favorite thing about the trip was and he declined to answer, saying he didn’t want to think about that.
If you ask me, I would say the anxiety I felt driving towards destinations where we had tight timelines. I really did not like the pressure we put on ourselves to do so much. Hindsight being 20/20, I would not have booked the tickets at the times we did or tried harder to leave earlier so we had more wiggle room. We also got into a bit of a disagreement about driving on the way home and that’s no fun either.
All in all, it was a good trip. We keep saying our next vacation will be somewhere tropical, but we’ve been saying that for about as long as the pandemic has been going on. Perhaps the next big one will be the one. Not sure when that is, exactly, as I don’t think we have the rest of 2022 mapped out yet. Probably because as long as there is a risk from Covid, planning anything too far in advance is just not practical. I guess time will tell.
Well… that’s a wrap for this SMA Road Trip. By tomorrow, we’ll be returning to our regularly scheduled programming.
Peace and Love,