Getting OUR Griswold On: Day 9 – Home, Sweet Home

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.

One Last Dose of Kitsch

We were both up this morning around 6:30. As difficult as it was to pull the plug on a truly fantastic trip, we were both ready to hit the road.

It was a chilly 36º when we left Austin, MN…and didn’t warm up much all day. The clouds thickened and lowered as we drove west, and my weather app showed rain in South Dakota.

Nearing the border, we passed through the town of Blue Earth, Minnesota. Tara spotted a sign for a Jolly Green Giant statue. “Wanna stop?” she asked. Music to my ears. There was still a bit of adventure left in my wife, after all!

Stop we did. It wasn’t hard to find the fella.

Built in 1979, the Jolly Green Giant stands 55.5′ tall. He’s an homage to the local Green Giant cannery, which produces carrots and corn in Blue Earth.

What can I say? We’re suckers for roadside kitsch. Especially large statues. We can add this guy to our collection.

Is it Winter or Spring?

Sure enough, as soon as we crossed into South Dakota, it started raining…and continued, on and off, the entire way across the state. Meanwhile, the temperature hovered in the low 40s, and a brisk wind was blowing. The few times we had to get out of the car to gas up or hit a rest area, we damn near froze to death.

Moody clouds over the middle of South Dakota.

This was in direct contrast to our drive east across the state the afternoon we left. The temperature that day was in the mid-80s pretty much the whole way, until the sun went down.

This just sums up the weather throughout our trip: it’s like we experienced two distinct seasons. The first half of our trip was hot and humid; the second half, cold and damp. In other words, a typical May in the Midwest.

In Oacama, just across the Missouri River, we stopped for lunch at Al’s Oasis, a roadside restaurant that has been in business since 1919. It’s got that classic Old West vibe inside: all rustic wood, wall-mounted animal heads, and wagon wheel chandeliers. I loved it. Tara and I enjoyed the salad bar—our second one on the trip. Whoever said salad bars will be extinct after COVID is, quite frankly, wrong.

Finally…finally!…we arrived home around 2:45. Sydney was very happy to see us.

And the neighborhood looks a LOT different than when we left, just a little over a week ago. Everything has greened up, our lilacs are blooming, and leaves are opening on the trees.

Guess it really is spring, after all!

The Final Tally

The 3,000+ miles is impressive…but man, we spent nearly 54 hours in the car. That’s a lot of driving!

Kinda the point of a road trip, I suppose.

Traveling During a Pandemic & a Few Final Words

Traveling during the pandemic wasn’t ideal, but it also wasn’t as difficult as I’d feared it might be. It helps that both Tara and I are fully vaccinated. Also, every other state we visited was much more strict than South Dakota. Masks were mandatory pretty much everywhere, and honestly, that’s something we weren’t used to. We wear ours, but it was weird to see 100% compliance everywhere. Rest areas, hotel lobbies, convenience stores…all required them. I often had to make a return trip to the car because I’d forgotten to grab mine.

Everywhere we stopped, there were plenty of precautions in place. Sure, a few exhibits were closed—hands-on sections in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Spam Museum, for instance, and free samples at places like Young’s Jersey Dairy and the Metamora fudge shop—but those were minor inconveniences more than anything else. By and large, it was business as usual.

We talked about things we’d have done differently during the trip, and for the most part, we planned it out really well. There’s very little we’d change; I think the sole exception would have been heading into Cincinnati after Metamora that third day on the road, rather than going straight to Yellow Springs, our home base for three days. Only because Cincy was a lot closer to Metamora than Dayton, so we could have maybe planned a visit to Amish country or toured the Ohio State Reformatory with the extra time we had. But then we wouldn’t have met up with our blogging friend, so really, I can’t say we have a single complaint.

In fact, we had so much fun, we are already tentatively planning another road trip in the fall of 2022. This one will give us more time in some of the places we discovered along the way, like the Amana Colonies in Iowa, and an opportunity to see other sights we missed. We’re thinking another loop around the upper Midwest, but not as far as Ohio; we’d focus on Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan. Probably late September or early October, so we can catch the fall foliage. Granted, this is all a year and a half away, but I am already excited for our next adventure.

I don’t know that I would blog every day from the road again; as much as I enjoyed sharing the trip with y’all, going through photos and writing posts every evening after a full day of exploring cut into time I would otherwise have spent relaxing. Case in point: our first night in Ohio, Tara luxuriated by taking a bubble bath while I was pecking away on the laptop. Maybe the better solution is to write every few days, or do a big summary when I get home.

In any case, thank you all for following along! I appreciate the comments and hope everybody can make their own travel adventures in the very near future.



Categories: Travel

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29 replies

  1. A giant green man is the perfect way to end a road trip vacation… very retro. Well done!And while I appreciated the real time blogging, I can’t say I ever do the same. Of course I take an average of 3,000 pics per trip so it’s takes me a long time to sort through them. Glad you’re home safe and sound.
    👍

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds like a great time. And Michigan is a fantastic destination for the future. You guys would love the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. Everyone needs to see the Weinermobile in their lifetime!

    While I appreciated your travel log, I personally enjoy time away from the internet when I’m on vacation. Posting after you get home is just as fun!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You have the right idea. I will definitely not be blogging from the road every day again. But, I’m glad I at least have this great record of the trip saved for posterity.

      Thank you for the Michigan suggestions. I’m starting a file! Let me know if you think of anything else that’s a must-see.

      Like

      • Definitely Frankenmuth, specifically Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland. It’s the biggest Xmas store in the world. There’s an ornament for everything. I’ve never been, but know lots who love Traverse City, but it’s awfully far north.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Every time we drive to Utah, we pas through Baker and the World’s Largest Thermometer. I think it’s tacky as hell, but at least it’s useful?

    No free samples?! Boo. Especially on no free fudge samples. I understand the mask restrictions, they make sense for the type of water droplet/ airborne virus transmission that COVID excels at, but the rest is all hygiene theater.

    I had the opposite experience with masks yesterday–we our son had a soccer game in Orange County (land of white supremacist groups, COVID-deniers, and folks who stormed the Capitol). Even though it’s mandated at soccer games by the league, not a single Orange County parent wore a mask. Buncha rude, entitled jerks, modeling entitled behavior for their white sons: “Watch me, Chad, and learn that you don’t have to follow the rules if you don’t like them!”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That statue is 50 feet taller than me. Yikes. 😳

    The weather in Toronto mimicked Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota…and franky I’m fed up. But the sun is trying which means the same for SD, right? Soon it’ll be a/c weather.

    Enjoy your Sunday and don’t forget to call your mom. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m glad you had such a great time. I enjoyed following along, far behind, and in clumps, but whatever. I got here. I did the vicarious thing, and it was fun.
    Sydney is a beautiful cat. Are you sure she’s happy with you? That butt toward face pose looks a little passive aggressive to me. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t blog while on vacation for that very reason. I think I’d come to resent blogging if I felt I had to do it on vacation. Good thing for me it’s just a hobby and not a jobby!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. BTW, I’ve lost track. Does this Sydney pic make up for my recent CM AND Dot’s Pretzel’s pic? (The pretzels were a bonus.) I think we’re even again. I’ve recently discovered some FAB-ulous chips I’ll have to write about. Still waiting on a post about the Subway corporate response…

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve lost track, too. We’ve had cat and snack posts flying around willy-nilly, so let’s just call it even.

      Kinda forgot about the Subway corporate response when I got caught up in the road trip!

      Like

      • Completely understandable. That dude makes for a great party story. I shared your story of the guy in the grocery store giving you a thumbs up for your military sweatshirt, when you thought it was for obeying the floor arrows. Ah, great stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I enjoyed reading about your trip and think you ended it perfectly with the Jolly Green Giant. I’m also happy to find out that traveling was easier than you expected. We want to do a road trip sometime this year and you give me hope. Sydney is pretty.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That IS a lot of time in the car. But, hey quality time spent, right?
    I love the Jolly Green Giant and I love that you guys stopped to see him. Also, it sounds like a cool place to brag about living: Where do you live? I live in Blue Earth.

    I bet the kitty was ready for lots of loving once you arrived back home. Glad it all went well and you had a nice time.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Have hugely enjoyed reading about your trip- I used to love visiting the US pre-Trump! May come back once the pandemic is over.
    I have to say though that I think the US approach to “controlling” Covid says a lot about why it’s still raging there whilst it’s under control in the UK (no deaths at all yesterday) – which is not to say I blame you for your trip, a couple of people make little difference – I’d have gone as well!

    Like

    • I don’t blame you for staying away during the Trump era. I was half tempted to leave myself!

      As for Covid, cases are way down nationwide…and yesterday, the CDC updated their guidelines to say fully vaccinated adults don’t need to mask up anymore. Thank god! I just wish they’d released that before our trip.

      Like

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