Boy, am I tired.
And that's not an understatement.
I'm sure some of you are wondering just where I am; I, at times, wonder that too! I left last Tuesday night on a whirlwind of a trip that has taken me over the most amazing handiwork of God's creation.
My trip started in Philadelphia (routine), continued to Chicago (more of the same routine), but really picked up once my sister-in-law and I started out at 11 PM for a 10-hour drive up to Sioux Falls, South Dakota for my graduation. Once we got out of the Chicago area and away from the interstate, we faithfully followed our GPS down back country roads through Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota. Let me tell ya, those are some flat, flat, areas! But they were also very nice to drive through. Where else do you have the luxury of driving 75 mph legally?:o)
We arrived in Sioux Falls late Wednesday morning (btw, Sioux Falls is the biggest city in South Dakota ~ so we were back to an actual town!) To give you some idea of this grand place in the Midwest, our hotel didn't have an elevator... only stairs. That was a lot of fun dragging the suitcase up two flights of stairs:o). After spending the afternoon enjoying a nice lunch, viewing the waterfalls, and going go-karting (is that a word?), we headed to church for the mid-week service.
Thursday was spent doing "graduation" stuff: practice, luncheon, and then the actual graduation. I was so thrilled to walk across that platform and receive my degree! What a great blessing, privilege, and honor that the Lord gave to me! This was definitely an answer to prayer:o).
Friday morning found us heading out early, early, early in the morning (to the tune of 5 AM!). Since Sioux Falls is only about 45 minutes into South Dakota, we had quite a trip ahead of us to get to the Badlands and Mount Rushmore. Along the way, we noticed how flat the eastern end of South Dakota is, but as soon as we crossed the Missouri River, the mountains popped out from no where. It really was a beautiful drive; I would recommend it to anyone.
It was such a busy day exploring the Badlands, which were absolutely breath-taking. As we walked on the various trails, we were excitedly watching for rattlesnakes... but we didn't find any. We heard some, but I suppose they had better sense then we did in keeping hidden!
We also went to an 1880s town that was set up with original buildings from all around South Dakota. I really wished we could have stayed in the area to explore more, but we eventually continued on to Mount Rushmore. Mount Rushmore is 5 hours beyond Sioux Falls, so we worked it into our travel plans, since we figured we will probably never be out that way again. What we didn't plan on was going to Wyoming to meet up with an old friend of my sister-in-law. Call us crazy, but we travelled the extra 4 hours from Mount Rushmore to Casper, Wyoming. The amazing thing about Wyoming is that it is full of ranches and mountains. You can go 70 miles and not reach a town. I'm not even talking about a town with a traffic light:o). We stopped at this little hole in the wall for dinner (which was the place to be because everybody knew everybody else there!). Once we left there, we drove 90 miles before we finally came to Casper, one of the "bigger" Wyoming towns with a populations of 49,000.
Saturday morning was spent at a horse ranch that was quite literally out in the boonies. I found it quite amusing that a state road was down a dusty, gravel path. That was neat to see the teens show off their horses, but after a while, it was a little much just standing around watching someone ride a horse for hours on end.
The highlight of going to Wyoming was going to a place called Independence Rock. Go ahead and Google it:o). My niece and I climbed all the way to the top - 131 feet in the air. As I started up the rock and saw the steep incline, I headed over to where some large boulders were resting and was just about ready to climb up when my sister-in-law's friend said, "Anne, you might not want to go over there. There will be rattlesnakes in there for sure!" That was enough to convince me to head up the steep slope!
The climb was definitely worth it, although I thought for sure I was going to fall back down the whole rock. When I got to the top, I just stared at all the miles and miles of mountains and plains and thought how good God was to let me take part in His creation. My niece and I sat on top for a while talking about the pioneers who travelled on the Oregon Trail and climbed that rock in order to write their names on it. That must have been quite the sight to behold!
Like anything else, all good things come to an end. We left at 8 AM on Sunday to start the drive home. We would have preferred to go to church, but the morning service didn't start until 11:30 so we listened to some mighty powerful preaching CDs all throughout the day. It wasn't ideal, but the Lord knew our hearts.
If you are ever travelling across Nebraska, be prepared for a l-o-n-g drive. It took us over 10 hours to cross the state (although we did stop for dinner and also visited with a former member of LVBC ~ Pat Baker, for those who might remember her). That state was the longest one I have ever driven through; it's not something I want to repeat anytime soon!
We drove all through the night and 24 hours later made it back to my brother and sister-in-law's house. Just a couple of more days here, and then it's home for a family wedding... the fun never ends:o).
I know this was a long post, but I write as much for myself as I do for readers. Hopefully when I get home I'll be able to post some pictures that will explain all this writing:o).
This has been, by far, my favorite vacation I have ever taken. In addition to being in 5 new states, I also saw some amazing places that just point to the fact that God clearly did create everything. This has been such a sweet trip and I truly am grateful the Lord gave me the opportunity to go.
But I think I'm going to get some sleep now... getting 3 1/2 hours of sleep over 40 hours just doesn't do the trick:o).