We made it home on Monday afternoon, September 7. Curtis and Charlotte were reunited, and we were finally together as a family of 3 again!
We had 2 full days of being in Iowa before we planned to hit the road again. In those 2 days, we really just focused on spending time with our families, because we know it won't always be so easy to get away and come for a visit!
We spent one whole day with Curtis' family, helping prepare the house to sell and saying goodbye to Curtis' childhood home. The next day we spent with my family - my grandparents came for a quick visit, and we met with our dear friends and mentors, Ken and Marsha. Besides all this, we worked on consolidating and packing what "few" things we had brought with us and preparing for our trip.
We left on Thursday morning, September 10. Here we are, trying to get some last pictures, but the puppies would have none of it. ;)
And off we went! The first day was our longest drive - 12 hours to Cheyenne, WY. It probably could have been shorter, but we decided to take highway 30 through Iowa and all the way to Grand Island, NE, for the sake of new roads! No matter how you go about it though, Nebraska is a big state, and it will always take forever to drive across it!
Happy to be traveling together again! Charlotte quickly decided that the front row was the place to be. It didn't matter that she had all the space she could want in the back, because we had my mom's fresh, homemade cookies in the front...
We stopped around Ogden, IA for a letterbox, and were not disappointed - the carve was fantastic! Charlotte also enjoyed wandering freely down the quiet gravel road.
I think it's impossible for us to drive through Nebraska without a severe thunderstorm going on. I won't complain, at least the clouds gave us something interesting to look at. ;)
We enjoyed watching the sun set just before we made it to Wyoming. Usually, when we do our Iowa to Arizona/Arizona to Iowa drive, our goal is to get it over with as fast as possible - which typically means either drive straight through, or maybe pull over to get a couple hours of rest before continuing on. However, we had some extra time for this trip, so we decided to take advantage of it and take our time getting back.
Last May, we set a record time of driving straight to Iowa in 27 hours, stopping only for gas and letterboxes. This time, we now have a record for the longest time to make the journey: 10 days. 10 wonderfully peaceful, relaxing, adventurous days making our way across Colorado and the gorgeous Rocky Mountains.
The only reservations we made were for the first night in Cheyenne. After that, we wanted the trip to be as flexible as possible, just doing whatever we felt like each day and going between camping or hotels every night. We hadn't ever done a trip like this, so we tried to keep an open mind. Of course we also had Charlotte with us, which limited what we could do wherever we went. But between advice from friends, letterboxes, and Pinterest finds, we thought we could find enough to do to take up a week. It was a new adventure, and we were more than ready!
But first, a good night's sleep in a hotel. They gave us a room with 2 beds. Charlotte approved.