Northwest-Midwest Road Trip

Last week I (and the boy) went on the longest road trip I have ever taken- Vancouver, BC to Darwin, Minnesota.  And while the world’s largest ball of twine is of course reason enough to visit Darwin, we were also there to visit some of the boy’s family and friends (and cows) as well.

We drove south from Vancouver to Everett, WA, then went East through Wenatchee State Park and stopped at Leavenworth for lunch. That would be Leavenworth, the random German town in the mountains.  If you assumed (like me) that it must just be a town settled a hundred years ago by a bunch of eccentric German settlers, you’d be wrong. Apparently it was just an old logging town that the inhabitants decided to German-ize just for the heck of it (and probably bring in tourists). Can’t imagine what that town council meeting might have looked like (“you want us to do whatt???”).

We had lunch at a Latin restaurant called South. After sitting all morning in the car, I didn’t feel like eating anything too big. So I just had the ‘House Salad’ (romaine hearts and creamy house dressing with guacamole, mexican cheese, salsa fresca and tortilla chips), while Ryan had the ‘Pulled Pork South Style Sandwich’ (with chipotle mayo and cabbage salad). There was also a ‘salsa bar’ inside- one of us was significantly more excited about this than the other. Everything was delicious though. Nothing like eating Latin food in a fake German town in the USA.

After that we drove and drove and drove……east through Washington, passing through Spokane and going over the border to Idaho, stopping once to pick up a few groceries. We kept driving and finally stopped for the night to camp near the town of Wallace in Idaho. We camped in a classy RV park next to a bar on the outskirts of town. The bartenders kindly let us make our ‘dinner’ on one of their patio tables. Nothing like the combination of tomato ‘bisque’ soup and orange yogurt (eaten with a plastic fork) to round out a day on the road.

After a night of lightning storms lighting up the tent, we woke up early to continue on. The RV park actually had showers we could (have) use(d)…but showering two days in a row is practically a road tripping sin. After scoffing at the habits of a more hygienic folk, we left and soon reached the border of Montana, and headed south. I quickly mastered the art of making peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches on my lap, with minimal crumbs (although I apparently got peanut butter all over someones CDs…).

Later, after my delicious car sandwiches were no longer sufficient, we stopped in the town of Ennis, Montana for a spot of lunch. We ate at the appropriately named “Ennis Cafe”.

We split a bison burger, cause I had bison on the brain. It seemed regionally appropriate. Yellowstone National Park was only a hour or so away, and I was dead set on seeing bison. Just to be clear- we ate the bison burger before we encountered any…..

Is this cruel?? Sorry for eating your mom…..

And yes, we saw bison in Yellowstone. Hundreds of them. After missing the Old Faithful Geyser explosion by exactly a minute, our luck was feeling low. We were probably in the park for over an hour before we saw anything. And if it wasn’t for a lucky (depends on whether you are asking the driver) wrong turn, we wouldn’t have seen any at all. Bison watching got intense. Camera at the ready, head snapping back and forth every few seconds. “How on earth do you expect me to make a sandwich and be on bison watch at the same time?!?” might have been uttered. Then we turned the corner and……..

Bison everywhere. Grazing all over the fields…and the roads, causing traffic jams where ever they went. Now content, we drove east out of Yellowstone, through Wyoming. We passed through the beautiful Buffalo Bill state park, as well as some less than inspiring landscape…

We stopped in Greybull, Wyoming to grab some food just before 9pm. One of the only places open was ‘CC’s Pizza’ so we stopped there for a bite. At 9pm all the lights outside went off, and a feeling of doom crept over the town. We were told it signalled the 9pm curfew for young people, and that the cops would soon start patrolling. Figuring it was a good time to leave, we asked how long it would take to get to the Black Hills…we got a look of horror in response and ‘your not driving all the way there tonight are you?!’ Oh yes, we were (correction- I would sleep half the time). They warned us about the deer in the mountains and we were on our way. We arrived at the Devil’s Tower in Eastern Wyoming sometime after midnight and set up our tent in the pitch black. We soon woke up to realize how nice our camping spot actually was….


After walking around the Devil’s Tower in the morning, we continued on, driving into South Dakota and through the Black Hills. We stopped in Deadwood, South Dakota to try and find breakfast….which was extremely difficult. Deadwood is this really cool old cowboy kind of town, with all these historical bits, but it was almost impossible to find somewhere to eat. There were saloons, gambling, lady mannequins in the windows and plenty of bars…..but no food.

We wandered around for a long time and were about to give up when we spotted ‘Lee St. Station’.

We ended up having a delicious breakfast.. I had biscuits and gravy (and bacon)- something I always wanted to try, and it seemed like the appropriate place.

We got on the road again, passing by Mount Rushmore, and then driving straight across South Dakota- making a few more car sandwiches along the way. We entered Minnesota in the evening…staying at a friend’s in Pipestone overnight, and continuing on to Darwin in the morning….we eventually arrived on the farm, and had a great actual visit…raking alfalfa fields, climbing silos, catching fish…..


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