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The Almost 5,000 Mile Road Trip

July 31, 2022

Another Way for week of July 22, 2022

The Almost 5,000 Mile Road Trip

Remember the song “500 Miles Away from Home” popularized by the band Peter, Paul and Mary?

Crossing the grand Mississippi River

My husband and I went on a two-week road trip driving almost 5000 miles together: surely an exercise in marital companionship! We drove more miles than we ever imagined when we first started planning it, and overall had a wonderful trip. Although it certainly had its, umm, moments.

When you embark on a long journey, you learn to be flexible and go with the flow. We joined my sister’s family, which has grown a lot over the years, and also visited my husband’s cousin in Omaha, Nebraska who has been fighting cancer for several years.

An amazing gang–mostly my sister’s family plus boyfriends, girlfriends, grandkids and great grandkids. And two sweet dogs. My sister and I are kind of in the middle of this photo, she with a hooded sweatshirt and me with a flowered top.

When we finally got to our first four-day destination in Estes Park, in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, it was supper time. We were hungry, but I knew we needed to buy a few groceries for the first couple days at the cabin we’d rented with one of our daughters and her husband (front row, left). I’d brought lots of staples but we needed some fresh things.

McDonald’s was loaded but a very nice couple gestured that we could join them at their table. Complete strangers. Spanish-speaking couple but very proficient in English, which felt really welcoming. After wolfing down our hamburgers, we hurried to the nearby Safeway and were blown away by a checkout line that was half-a-basketball-floor long. I sent my hubby to get in line while I dashed madly up and down aisles to find what I thought we still needed. Once we actually got to our cabin I was flustered and exhausted as we unpacked our van.

But that first Safeway line was nothing compared to the jammed-up store two days later when I helped one of my nephews get the grub he needed for the dinner he was in charge of that night for approximately 35. I volunteered to help him since his wife had been unable to come but she coached him over the phone regarding her yummy goulash recipe. The line at the store that night, at approximately 5:30 p.m., went half way around the perimeter of the store—a very big store.

Nephew Bob (second row, third guy from left, red sweatshirt) has the amazing ability to be chill: I would have been frantic that we were still in the store at 5:30 p.m. and he still had to cook a huge amount of food. I noticed there were a lot of other men in line at that hour. Supper went well-despite the rainy evening where we had to move the meal inside to one of the larger chalets rather than the outside picnic area.

Rocky Mountain National Park on Trail Ridge Road, up past the treeline and plenty of snow on July 4.

After the family get together, our destinations as a couple were the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone (Wyoming) …

The Tetons, including a glacier that stays year-round, and a lake that had to be drained to send water back to Idaho for their potato crop!
Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park: the rainbow was a bonus!

… Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monument (South Dakota); and some other more minor but interesting attractions we found along the way, such as the Buffalo Bill Dam near Cody, Wy.

Last, we also hit the Wisconsin Dells (far right photo) and “Witches Gulch” which we’d heard much about. Then it took two long days of driving from Wisconsin to get home to Virginia. Though tiring, my husband was very happy to have seen as much of the country as we did. [We marveled at the thriftiness and resourcefulness of South Dakota farmers who made hay (3rd photo) in the median strips and shoulders of the marvelous (but endless) Interstate 90.]

I had never been to the Tetons or Wisconsin so those two items on my bucket list were very special—especially the Grand Tetons. They were well worth the drive and I’ll never forget their towering presence right up from the ground—and the glaciers that were still apparent in the middle of July.

My favorite lodging however was in the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone that I had surveyed in awed silence as a 13-year-old, wishing so hard that we could stay in the Inn. But back then, we were camping in a small travel trailer. So my childhood wish finally came true many decades later–even if it meant going down a hall (like older dorms!) to go to the bathroom and shower. But most importantly for us as a couple, our time together gave us space to have conversations and share thoughts that we rarely take time for at home.

The incredible and historic lobby of Old Faithful Inn that I fell in love with as a teenager.

Just don’t ask me how much “fun” we had trying to drive through Rockford (near Chicago) without getting on a toll road. Next time, we old country folk are going to have to purchase one of those EZ passes rather than fight modernity!  


What was the best road trip you ever took?

What was the worst?

Or, what’s on your bucket list?

Or other thoughts or memories? Comment here or send to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. What a GREAT trip!! Thank you for sharing it with us. I especially love the bonus rainbow at Old Faithful. God’s glorious beauty is breathtaking!

  2. I felt the same way about that bonus rainbow: certainly a wonderful reminder of God’s faithfulness to us. It was the second rainbow of our trip. The first one appeared at a time I needed it also: right after we drove into Estes Park Colorado, a rain was finishing up. We were fatigued, hungry, and I knew we needed to buy groceries as shared in my blog post here. We came out of the Mickey D’s and there was a beautiful rainbow, almost double. I took it as God’s promise of presence with us. Always. Out west. Back at home. Wherever. Thank YOU for allowing me to tell this extra little story. 🙂

  3. Road trips are tiring, especially if they combine visiting family with sight-seeing. We have visited all the high points you mention, but we were younger then and had more energy. Your descriptions are very vivid, and I especially like the line: ” a checkout line that was half-a-basketball-floor long.”

    My first memorable road trip was the one I took with a girl friend Joann, the year after I began teaching in the 1960s. I blogged about it, of course. The photos seem quaint now because we were dressed as plain Mennonites. The value of that trip was in broadening my horizons generally, and (though I didn’t realize it then), introducing me to the Far West where my husband’s family lived.

    You have crafted a wonderful piece of family history. Thanks, Melodie! 😀

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the checkout line visual. I well remember the road trip you wrote about, with a girl friend, as a young teacher. You were brave too! My secret wish for this trip might have been to have our children/spouses and grandchildren to join us, but they are a little young for long drives!!

      My eyes were opened in a different way to how huge and amazing the U.S. is. The vistas went for miles, no houses (really) in sight. We felt like we were back in the old West. My husband commented more than once about imagine riding a horse or covered wagon through that countryside, perhaps averaging no more than 20 miles a day. Thanks as always for your comments!

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