Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Visiting Iowa, Part 1: A Non-Stop Drive

Yeah, you read that right: We drove straight to Iowa in 30 hours, stopping only for gas and letterboxes. Oh, we also added extra time so that we could set foot in a new state. These things are more important than sleep, right? :)

Below: Leaving Tucson: Thursday, May 22 at 10:40am

I think we made "tentative plans" to drive back to Iowa "sometime in the end of May" after coming back from Christmas. It wasn't really till around Mother's Day that we knew for sure that Curtis could take time off from his summer project to go visit. We weren't sure how long we'd get, but we told everyone we'd leave Friday the 23, drive straight there and arrive Saturday the 24th. When we left, we were thinking would could stay until Friday the 30th.

Here we go! Ready for many, many long hours in the Yeti. 

Me - so excited! Why? Because we're leaving a day early and are going to surprise our families!!

When we found out we weren't doing anything on Thursday, we decided to just leave and show up Friday night without telling anyone. This is just the kind of thing I love to do, but since we live so far away and have such a set schedule with school, we don't really have that ability. So when we got the chance, we ran with it!

I enjoyed getting all sneaky with texting our moms. When we left, I sent them both a message saying "I'm going to be driving later, pray that I 'get it' so we are able to come home as fast & safe as possible!" What they thought I meant was that I was going to be learning to drive stick shift in Curtis' truck…what they didn't know was I had a crash corse with Curtis and Mitchell the night before, and I actually meant I would be driving on I-40 throughout the night. That was my sneaky way of asking for prayer for safe travels. :)

Sky & mountains around Benson, AZ. It was in the 90's when we left.

When we left, we experienced weird weather in a short amount of time, all while the sun was shining. First rain...

Then dust storms!

We saw these little dust storms all along the side of the road between Benson, AZ and Deming, NM. We were fine and didn't think anything of it, but later learned that they became severe and caused fatal accidents and road closures along the very road we traveled. It was another reminder of how good God's protection is and that He's involved in every detail of our lives - He gave us the opportunity to leave early to protect us!

Entering New Mexico. About every hour, I would write down where we were and any special highlights from the last hour. This was all part of my grand scheme for surprising our families. :)

More dust storms, all on the side of the road while we were passing by.

4 hours in, 1 letterbox found, still excited!

Approaching Las Cruces, NM, with the Organ Pipe Mountains in the background. 

Stopped at a rest stop for a box.

We found our 4th Whispering Giant statue, #54. If only we could have added another 6 hours to our trip, we could have seen 3 more! Oh well, next time. ;)

Driving by White Sands National Park/Missile Range

Taking Highway 54 North to I-40

Starting to lose daylight...

Listening to our "mix CD" from Joel a.k.a. Eduardo and Dave Ramsey from the Jorgensen's to keep us awake and entertained.

Goodbye sun, we'll see you in Oklahoma!

Night driving on I-40 …Taking pictures just to "document" the whole thing. :)

Leaving New Mexico - Hello Texas!

We pulled off at the first rest stop in Texas, and I took over the driving. Not only was this the first time driving in a year, it was my first time driving outside of Iowa - Not counting the 2 driving lessons I had in Arizona. I was shaking with excitement and nervousness…but thankfully driving a stick shift on an interstate is just get up to fifth gear and stay there for a couple hours! I drove 100 miles to Groom, Texas. We stopped for a box, then Curtis took over for a few hours.

Entering Oklahoma!

Curtis' moth while getting gas in OK, right after OK City. I took again over from here!

Here comes the sun! I've been awake 24 hours now and am still going strong!

Can't say the same for Curtis though. :) PS I promise I did not take my eyes off the road. It took several attempts to get this picture.

Then Curtis woke up to enjoy the sunrise with me, and get more pictures.

Proof: I drove :) And we get pretty silly after so many hours awake and on the road!

The exit to this lake was called "Lotawata". You don't say!

Last few miles of OK, Curtis took over at the last rest stop.

Welcome to Arkansas! Our first time in this state, and the reason we added time on to our trip. It was worth it. :)

Took the scenic route up, down and around the Ozark mountains.

It was then, about 8:40am, (6:40 AZ time) when I texted our moms and said "We're on our way!" Which is true, we've just been "on our way" for 20 hours now.

However, after that my phone died. I had Curtis' phone to talk to them on all day, but was a bit worried they could catch on because who doesn't charge their phone before a long car trip? Thankfully, they didn't ask about that. When they asked what our ETA was, I would say we thought the whole trip would take 30 hours but I would "keep them posted". 

Stopping for an Arkansas letterbox: Necessary.

Our "we've been to Arkansas!" Picture

We learned that drivers here are insane. I held on for my life. Thankful that our "scenic route" before that was much more quiet.

Oh, and I told Curtis that I really wanted to see an armadillo in the wild. I hadn't seen one before, and it was only fair after having to see my first rattlesnake. Well, we saw 4 armadillos…all dead on the side of the road. But those still count, right?!

Welcome to Missouri!

Whenever one of our mom's would text and ask where we were, I referred back to my list of where we were each hour and would answer "At 2 hours in, we are…" That's not technically lying, right? 2 hours in we may have been crossing in to New Mexico, but we are definitely in Missouri now!

To keep Curtis awake, I asked him lots of questions on the history of different Arizona counties. I didn't feel very comfortable driving through Kansas City on a Friday afternoon!

Starting to see familiar sights of the Midwest… :)

Finally in Iowa!!

One last letterbox and we're on the last leg of our trip. The only traffic jam we ran into on our whole trip was in Des Moines. Is it just me, or are the interstates there just always under construction?

At this point, I texted our moms and casually asked what they were doing tonight. I told them that when we arrived, we would stop by Curtis' house and say hi to his family, then spend the night with my family. Then my mom told me that my sister had her room all ready for us. It's always good to be prepared like that. :)

After being awake for 36 hours, I was still very giddy and excited. The same can't be said about Curtis!   We did just what we said we would, and stopped by Curtis' house, then mine. I'll never forget the looks on their faces when they saw us…after all, they thought we were "in Texas, 13 hours into the trip"! 

Seeing them all again made the long trip totally worth it! We finally got a good night of sleep, and the next morning Curtis found out he didn't have to be back as soon as he thought - which was a pleasant surprise for everyone, including us!

And all of this was just the beginning to a week full of adventures. :)

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