Carpenter Girls Head West

3,000 miles. 11 states. 5 days. 3 girls. 1 trip.

You can say that we were a bit tuckered after the trip, but it was so worth it.

On Friday, August 31st, my sister, my cousin and I headed west. The ultimate goal was to see Mount Rushmore, but the west has so much to offer that we planned for extras.

The first day, we drove through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin (then back to Iowa for the night). We saw some gorgeous landscapes and had amazing God talks after visiting a super creepy shrine.

We fueled up on coffee at this adorable train-station-turned-coffee-house in Urbana, OH. If you’re ever there, check it out! They have so many incredibly delicious coffee concoctions!!
A gorgeous sunrise greeted us as we set out. This snapshot was taken at the Coffee Depot, while the sun yawned just out of sight.
That creepy shrine…
Wisconsin is a masterpiece.
This hilarious plaque can be found in Decorah, Iowa. These people are my kind of people.

Since we spent the majority of Friday just driving, we made sure to check out museums and stretch our legs a little on Saturday. Before we even hit the road again, we stopped by the Norwegian museum in Decorah. Since I found out a year or so ago that my ancestors were vikings, it was really fascinating to learn about Scandinavian history. Those peeps were heroes, friends. Well.. after they stopped killing everyone. *cough*

Even with another museum and several side-of-road photo shoots, we managed to dash into Minnesota, then cross the great and gorgeous expanse of South Dakota.

This is the smallest sailboat to cross the Atlantic. It was manned by two Norwegian brothers who migrated to America. Unfortunately, after their successful trek, one of the brothers returned to sea and was never heard from again.
We stopped off in Austin, Minnesota when this place popped up on my GPS (much to our disbelief and great delight)! The place was fairly smelly, but it was a lot of fun to race each other in canning fake spam.
My boss told us to detour from 90W for gorgeous sights when driving through South Dakota. We took him at his word and were rewarded with stunning views that a camera simply cannot capture. This was just one of several pull-offs for photo shoots. Also, the roads there are pink. PINK.

We awoke dark and early on Sunday and the girls chilaxed at the hotel while I went to the nearest Urgent Care (which was 30 minutes away). Unfortunately, I was suffering from a mild-turned-excruciating toothache that just got to be a bit much, so they set me up with some antibiotics and painkillers.

Once that dullness was out of the way, I returned to the hotel to get the gals and we headed out for the main event. Mount Rushmore. And of course, we were feelin’ fairly celebratory. Especially since it happened to be Bre’s (the cousin) birthday. It was her 18th to be exact! What a way to celebrate, eh?

Just. Wow.
We got some weird looks when we asked someone to take this picture. But it’s pretty cool (even though I was having a braid-hair day), eh? Left to right: Sarah, Bre, me.
Sometimes I dance. Okay. Always I dance. Especially on mountaintops.

Side note: Rushmore was about 20 minutes from our hotel and the round trip officially tipped us over the 3,000 mile marker.

After seeing jaw-dropping creation – both the original masterpiece of God’s handiwork (I mean the surrounding landscape when you’re up there will leave you in tears) and the ambitious sight of man’s sculptiwork (I realize this is not a word), I dropped the gals off for lunch in a nearby tourist town. The town boasted a very Wild West vibed boardwalk that made you feel like you’d stepped back in time. While the gals feasted (well, ate some rushed food because the place was a zoo), I napped in the car (the drugs were easing the pain enough that I was finally able to catch some shut-eye). Tummies filled and eyes sandy, we headed back to the hotel to relax, and gear up for the two-day trek back.

The next morning, we hit the road and didn’t make it far before we found a new experience to try. Less than twenty minutes from the hotel, we passed a helicopter tour business. As we continued down the road, we fell into discussion about how much we’d like to try that in the future and the need to plan such an occasion. Ever the ENFP and game for spontaneity, I asked the gals: “Why don’t we just do it now?”

They both agreed immediately and called the moms to make sure it was okay while I made a u-turn and rushed back. With parental consent granted, we walked up to the doors of the.. CLOSED business. We were ready to wait though, as our hearts were now set on a bird eye view of the Black Hills. To our great delight, we didn’t have to wait. One of the employees came to the door, ushered us in (30 minutes before open, mind you) and had his coworker describe the tours to us. We selected a 20 minute tour that would take us around the nearby area and over to the Crazy Horse monument. The initial employee coached us on safety, checked with the pilot and took us straight out to board. We were getting premium treatment and we were ecstatic.

Sarah and I insisted Bre get the front seat since it was the day after her 18th birthday, and I snapped a shot of Bre and Sarah in the copter just before boarding. You can sense the excitement we all felt.
The views up there were.. well there aren’t words. If you ever get the chance to experience a helicopter ride, please take it. It feels entirely safe and surreal the entire time.

 

The Crazy Horse monument will be the largest sculpture in the world once it’s complete. They’re currently working on his pointed hand (see left), and will then tackle the horse head beneath him. No one was working while we were there (it was Labor Day after all), but there were several abandoned vehicles that help convey the sheer size of this sculpture.
Of course I took a copter selfie. It’s what you do, okay? Shut up already.

With the adrenaline rush of the helicopter tour fueling us, we hit the road hard and made our way through Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and most of Kansas.

Fort Laramie’s historic site still hosts the skeletons of structures from the first settlement in Wyoming. With an insanely gorgeous landscape surrounding these ruins, we felt as though we were time travelers come home. Well, until it got itchy and hot and we wanted out.
But still. I mean just look at it.
Up next was Nebraska. There we stopped to see Courthouse and Jail rocks, famous landmarks that pioneers used in the age of the Oregon Trail.
My personal favorite was Chimney Rock. Not featured are the signs warning us not to leave the sidewalks as rattlers have been spotted. Bre and I had a lot of fun terrifying Sarah with this knowledge.
This is the last picture I snapped of our Wild, Wild West adventure. And it is also breathtaking. Yeah, we were basically starved for air by the end of the trip.

We crashed hard on Monday night. Er.. we fell asleep. There were no crashes on the trip.

Anyway, we hit the road for the final leg of our journey on Tuesday and made a beeline through the remainder of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. We were crunched for time (Bre had school the next morning) and a little bum-sore after that many miles in Ronnie (the car), so we didn’t make any stops outside of gas stations and restaurants.

All of a sudden, we were home.

And we were already craving our next adventure.

The route we took; the most fun we’ve ever had.

Post-Script: Yes. I drove all but two hours. Sarah filled in for me some so that I could nap a little on Monday as laying down felt a lot better on my tooth than sitting up.

Carpenter Girls Head West

We Encountered the Ark, Beauty and the Beast, and My Boyfriend with His Squad

Hey guuuuys. Long time, no see.. again. This time, I am with excuse(s)!

Shortly after my last blog post, I got to experience the joy that is wisdom teeth extraction. I barely escaped with my life (this is only 50% a joke). Ensuing was a night in the ER and a lengthy recovery process (still ongoing). I’m feeling rather lazy on the topic, so if you’re interested in that comical-though-terrifying escapade, I’ve included a screenshot of my Facebook status that narrates the adventure.

I’ve been soooo busy, and the weekend before last was the something-better-tasting-than-a-cherry on top! My family and I went to Kentucky to have an Ark Encounter.

Let me just say- what a wow factor that thing has. When you’re driving up to it, it’s not terribly impressive. When you’re walking under it, holy-cannoli. And to think that a boat this big was built way way way back in the day? Wow.

The weather that day was perfectly-arkish, as you can see. I’m not sure if that thing can actually float, but it sure felt safe.

While we there, we got to see some goats fighting (mom thinks they were playing, but I dunno man) and Sarah and I crossed camel-riding off the bucket list. I learned that camels can live to be 50-60 and that the little (massive) guy we were riding was a mere baby 7-year-old.

Also, all that swaying you see the actors doing when riding in the Mummy movies? That ain’t no joke man. You can get seasick on the back of one of those bad boys!

When we arrived back home in Ohio, the gals and I went to see Beauty and the Beast, where we ran into my boyfriend and his squad.

ignore the exhausted-looks-like-i’m-dying vibe.. it was a long weekend and fibro was still being a jerk about the whole wisdom tooth thing

Let me just say, that movie was AMAZING. And if you’re hesitant to go see because of the “gay” stuff everyone has been saying about it, well I better see you boycotting Amazon, too, because there’s plenty of “gay” stuff there, and that’s all I’ll say about that (fibro brings the feisty out of me, sorry y’all).

Oh, actually, I will say that if you’re worried about bringing your kids, they’re getting more gay exposure from the TV shows you’re watching than the three 2-second (is it even gay?) scenes in the movie, but do be warned about the violence for the really little kiddos. There’s a pretty nasty.. crunch… towards the end.

(Please disregard the sarcasm with which I’m treating the Beauty and the Beast boy-cotters. I just think they’re being silly.)

crap quality cause theaters have terrible lighting.. sorry…

Now that I’m feeling a little better (emphasis on little), I’m really hoping to get blogging more often again. I’ve got a quite a few posts up my sleeves and I’m sure itching to share. 🙂

We Encountered the Ark, Beauty and the Beast, and My Boyfriend with His Squad

TBT: My 21st Birthday Trip to Philadelphia

In honor of “throwback Thursday” I am finally getting around to telling y’all about my October trip to Philly. Shame on me for not having this posted sooner.. but maybe it’ll make for an entertaining Christmas Eve read? Maybe not. We’ll see. 😀

I went to celebrate my 21st birthday because apparently that’s a big deal or something (I jest- I know it’s a big deal). A road trip to one of my favorite cities with some of my favorite people seemed the perfect plan, and boy oh boy was it!

We saw and did so much in the three day trip that it would take an entire book to relay it, so I’ll just write about the highlights. Lucky for you (but mainly for me), one of my best friends is a professional photographer (check out her blog!!!) so we got some really great shots of memories I’ll never let go. 🙂

magazine-cover-moments
We hit the streets, coffee in hand. Brittany ran ahead to take this picture that I like to refer to as a Vogue moment.. It’s not really Vogue.. but that’s what I think of when I see it, so deal. 😉
liberty-bell
Our first stop was the Liberty Bell. It was with great frustration that we later learned the reason we weren’t allowed to touch it was because some stupid tourist tried to finish breaking it open ten years ago. Ugh. Even though the roped off area was busy with onlookers, it’s still a striking and awe-inspiring moment to gaze on this piece of history. 🙂
There was this really cool brick window cut-out thing outside of the liberty bell exhibit, so Brittany and I decided it was the perfect time to snaps some photos. Megh and Kelsey decided to jump in, too. We're not sure what was happening in picture left, but picture right is what we were aiming for. :D
There was this really cool brick window cut-out thing outside of the liberty bell exhibit, so Brittany and I decided it was the perfect time to snap some photos. Megh and Kelsey decided to jump in, too. We’re not sure what was happening in picture left, but picture right is what we were aiming for. 😀

independence-hall

standing-on-abe

funniest-tour-guide
Our next stop was Independence Hall where we met the literal funniest tour guide in tour guide-ism history. I wish I could remember his name.. Probably would have if I had posted this back in October… *sigh* Just stepping foot in these amazing rooms where American history officially began was enough to inspire tears. I had the chance to Robin Hood on the very spot where Honest Abe raised the American flag, which was cool. Oh, and that door lock was sweet so I made Brittany snap a photo of it. 🙂
Megh and I were OBSESSED with touching anything we could touch that a founding father may have come in contact with.. We may have even gotten in trouble for entering a staff closet to touch the original stone on a building... but shhh, don't tell mom. ;)
Megh and I were OBSESSED with touching anything we could touch that a founding father may have come in contact with.. We may have even gotten in trouble for entering a staff closet to touch the original stone on a building… but shhh, don’t tell mom. 😉

 

We were already a bit sore in the feet, so we decided it was time to hire a horse drawn carriage. It's such a beautiful way to tour the most amazing historical city in America (at least in my opinion), so you have to try it if you're ever in Philly. Our horse, Vick, was actually famous after making appearances in several TV episodes and a movie.
We were already a bit sore in the feet (not really, we just like horses), so we decided it was time to hire a carriage. It’s such a beautiful way to tour the most amazing historical city in America (at least in my opinion), so you have to try it if you’re ever in Philly. Our horse, Vick, was actually famous after making appearances in several TV episodes and a movie.
We visited Christ Church which was established in the 1700s and is still used for weekly services to this day. This is the church that was attended by the founding fathers! We met this really nice guy who loved our love for the history of such a beautiful church, so he gave us exclusive access to the platform (where Megh and I touched something George Washington touched). He also let me step foot in the very first public lending library in America (which is now a supply closet... heh heh). :D
We visited Christ Church which was established in the 1700s and is still used for weekly services to this day. This is the church that was attended by the founding fathers! We met this really nice guy who loved our love for the history of such a beautiful church, so he gave us exclusive access to the platform (where Megh and I touched something George Washington touched). He also let me step foot in the very first public lending library in America (which is now a supply closet… heh heh). 😀
This is our group (pictured left to right: Kelsey, Brittany, Meghan and Me) sitting in George Washington's pew! Unfortunately these pews aren't original, but that chandelier above is!
This is our group (pictured left to right: Kelsey, Brittany, Meghan and Me) sitting in George Washington’s pew! Unfortunately these pews aren’t original, but that chandelier above is!
Kelsey located this amazing book store across the street from the church, so we went inside and OBVIOUSLY I posed for a lot of pics. It's not everyday you stumble across a used bookstore with such character (takemebackpleaseandthanks).
Kelsey located this amazing book store across the street from the church, so we went inside and OBVIOUSLY I posed for a lot of pics. It’s not everyday you stumble across a used bookstore with such character (takemebackpleaseandthanks).

We also did things like stop by the outside of Edgar Allen Poe’s house and Betsy Ross’s house. We ate a ton of delicious food and I had the very best gluten-free burger and chocolate cake ever. Kelsey and Megh were able to have some really amazing Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches and we all had our mouths stuffed with junk food each night. It ain’t a party if there ain’t junk food.

The trip was short but action packed and I can’t wait to go back to Philly. There’s still so much to see and do!

TBT: My 21st Birthday Trip to Philadelphia