23 June, 2014

The Great American Road Trip

It  all started innocently enough (doesn't every great adventure?); we realized that we only lacked visiting three states of the fifty, when you're that close how hard could it be to complete your life list? We live in North Carolina and the three states we've missed were North Dakota, Montana and Idaho; okay, so that's why we've missed them... this trip was going to take some planning and some time. We decided early on that Hannes would accompany us on our journey. So, at the end of May, we loaded up the car with the pup and all of our paraphanalia (including my Quilter's Travel Companion, a state-by-state quilt shop directory), and we were off; westward bound.
We decided that we wanted to get a lot of the early cross-country miles behind us so the first couple of days were long ones, mileage wise. We saw scenes like this forever.
On day two we discovered Culver's in Iowa. All I can say is "yum". You know when you've ordered something called a Butter Burger and fried cheese curds as your side item for lunch that it's not going to be good for you; but, I assure you, it was a delicious treat. My waistline is very glad that we don't live in the midwest; my tastebuds are in total disagreement.
We were in the St. Cloud, MN area shortly after lunch that day and this was my first quilt shop stop. Gruber's was amazing, the statement over the door is not an exaggeration. This one is truly a destination shop. Entering through a lobby area these doors greet you straight ahead; the lobby is filled with small tables and chairs for sitting and eating, the shop operates a cafe off to the right of the lobby offering a menu of soups, sandwiches and pastries. Imagine; shopping heaven with food!  This shop also offers an overnight, fully equipped retreat center on the top level of a separate building across the parking lot.
I was overwhelmed, you can't say I hadn't been warned. Being in that state inhibits my shopping ability... I left with only a small bag containing a few fat quarters and a pattern. I was going to have to develop a better strategy for future quilt shop stops!
On the first of June we left Bismarck, ND and were headed in the direction of Theodore Roosevelt National Park when we encountered this metal sculpture alongside the highway with an invitation to detour and see more sculptures along a stretch known as "The Enchanted Highway". We got off and drove as far as the first one, a few miles away.
This was the second of the sculptures, it was worth the detour!
Theodore Roosevelet National Park is a treasure! I had never really heard of it before we began our trip planning and wondered what we'd find to explore in North Dakota. The wildlife is varied and beautiful.  There are amazing vistas, too, of the Little Missouri River. I was captivated by the roaming herds of feral horses.

We were treated to some up-close (to the car) Bison as well.
We drove north as far as we could in the park and were rewarded with a sighting of a Pronghorn running across a clearing, this was a first for us! TRNP a gem of a park.

At the end of this day we overnighted in Glendive, MT; bringing our state total to 49.
Stay tuned for another installment featuring more parks, quilt shops, food and animals across the good ol' USA!

Life is Good!


Janet O. said...

Wow, that is some quilt shop!!
I totally understand the overwhelmed feeling. In my family, after having read Watership Down, we refer to it as being "tharn".
Can't wait to see more of your trip--and to learn how close to my stomping grounds you came.

Brenda Hanes said...

We drove the Enchanted Highway on a road trip a few years ago! Hard to believe one man did all those sculptures. I've been to 49 states! Hope your trip was as great as ours was.

Janet said...

Love a good road trip! We just returned from one ourselves! Can't wait to see where else you've been.

I've been a fan of Culver's ever since we lived in WI. And now they just opened one about 5 miles from here, on the route I take to and from the gym!!

(Sorry I've not been good at blog commenting lately. For some reason my browser has been fussy :( )

AnnieO said...

Nice beginning to your trip! My parents just came back from SD, Wyoming and Montana. Alas, no quilt shop stops to report:)

jude's page said...

Sounds like you had a great trip, I love to "travel" on blogs and see the other side of the world. My computer has been rather fussy lately also and not been able to comment on blogs.

Quiltdivajulie said...

Don't the vast wide open spaces amaze your senses?!?! Eager to hear (and see) more of your road trip adventures!

Marie said...

What a great trip for you,I have been to Grubers and love that store. My dearest friend lives in St. Cloud on Big Lake and she took me there on our last visit,I too was very impressed. Glad you all had a good trip and are home safely. Hugs, Marie

Beverley said...

Many thanks for the photos Mrs Goodneedle. Keep them coming because I can't ever see me getting to those places sadly. It's an education.

Laura said...

Fun beginning to your trip! And I LOVE Culver's! It's one of the things I miss that now that I live in northern California instead of the midwest!

45th Parallel Quilter said...

We have a couple of Culvers in Northern Michigan (Traverse City) and LOVE their Butter Burger baskets ... dangerous to the waistline though ... YUMMY!! A different flavor of ice cream every day, too! The pictures are wonderful; it just confirms my steadfast belief that we live in the greatest country in the world ... we are SO blessed by God! Safe travels!

lleblanc_nd said...

So nice to hear the positive comments on North Dakota (my home state). Love Grubers and Culvers. I hope you had a chance to see the Medora Musical.

lindsey said...

Fantastic photos and always great to find a quilt shop on route :)

Carrie P. said...

Oh, fun! I enjoyed our trip to CA a couple years ago. One day I want to visit all 50 states. I have a lot to see. I look forward to more photos of your trip.
Your grandkids sure are getting big.