After our Midwest adventures, Amanda and I set out on the trek from Chicago to Bellingham, WA. Her Honda Fit was packed to the gills with her belongings and still had room for me. Impressive.
We left on Sunday and drove to St. Paul, MN, scheduling it so we could make it to House of Mercy for their service that evening. Russell Rathbun is a minister there and has had a big impact on Amanda's faith in recent years, starting with his book Post-Rapture Radio. (I read it on her recommendation and it is great.) So Amanda was excited and a bit nervous to actually meet him. We enjoyed the service (“Polterchrist”) and Russell was very friendly when we talked to him afterwards. He even remembered Amanda from email interactions years ago.
I had made plans for us to spend the night with Josh and Molly Oberheide, but when we arrived nobody was home. I tried calling him a couple times, but no answer. We decided to drive on a couple hours and find a hotel. Josh called us back after we were on the road; he had mixed up which weekend we were coming through. I teased him that ever since they were on House Hunters, they became celebrities and did not have time for us little people. It was unfortunate that we could not get together, but he did get us connected with our mutual friends, the Gullicksons, in Sioux Falls. They were kind enough to let us spend the night. I had not seen them since early 2000s, so it was great to catch up.
On Monday we drove to Mount Rushmore. It was impressive, but somehow smaller than I expected it to be. We drove to nearby Lead, SD where Amanda had booked a hotel primarily based on their claim to have breakfast. This claim was a lie. Sure, they had a juice machine and coffee available around the clock, but “breakfast” consisted of toast with jam. As lovers of breakfast, we were quite disappointed.
Tuesday was our longest drive, to get to Missoula, MT. We made an unplanned stop at Devil's Tower since it was only about 45 minutes out of the way in Wyoming. It was definitely worth the detour. This monolith rises ~1200 feet above the surrounding area and it is stunning. Geology rocks. We also stopped in Billings, MT which is where Amanda's dad grew up. That evening we stayed in a Day's Inn, which had a much better breakfast.
Wednesday was our last day on the road. Eastern and Western Washington are surprisingly different climates. Eastern Washington is quite dry, but once you go over the Cascades it is more temperate and damp — the way I imagined Washington would be. We did not stop much other than at the Columbia River. Road fatigue was setting in and we just wanted to get to Bellingham.
I worked remotely the next two days, but we spent the evenings hiking and exploring Bellingham. I can definitely see why Amanda loves it there. It is laid back (“the city of subdued excitement”), a decent-sized college town, and the traffic is way better than Austin. Not to mention the waterfront, mountains, and gorgeous sunsets.
Saturday was my last day there. On our way to Seattle we stopped at Deception Pass, which has a bridge connecting two islands. It is about 180 feet above the water and has a spectacular view. In Seattle, we walked around the piers and got some seafood before heading to the airport.
It was a wonderful trip. There were so many “oh wow” moments driving through all the different terrains. It also gave me a better concept of how vast America is. When you are used to flying from point A to point B, it is easy to forget how far away things are.