Happy Monday, everyone! It’s definitely starting to feel like fall here in the North East–we went from 80 degrees last week to 60 degrees over the weekend. Definitely sweater weather!
But we’re not here to talk about fall–today I’m doing a little recap of one of our summer adventures. We had so much fun this summer, you guys! And if you follow me on Instagram, you know that one of the first things we did was….
Go on a Road Trip!!!
If you read Friday’s post, you know that our family will be moving back to Hawaii later in the year so it was important for us to visit our extended family before we headed off to the islands. So about two weeks before Zach’s block leave started in July, we decided to scrap our plans for a staycation and start planning an epic road trip to Montana! (Those of you who have followed along for a while might remember Montana is where Zach and I met and almost all his family lives there.)
July 3rd was our six-year anniversary and it just so happens this year it fell on a Tuesday, the same day Zach and I got married. It seemed like fate to celebrate six years of marriage in the same exact spot we started our lives together!
DAY ONE – June 30th
We started off our trip bright and early on the 30th (and by bright and early, I mean 2 in the morning). We made pretty good time and stopped at the New York/Pennsylvania border at about 7am for some breakfast. It was around this time that we realized something that could really only happen to us. We’d left a day early. Yep, only us. It turned out for the best though as it gave us an extra day to explore Yellowstone Park.
Our plan for the first day was to drive to Des Moines, by nightfall. With a 20-month-old. Go ahead, you can call us crazy. It was a little bit of slow-going through Indiana and Illinois (so many fields, so much traffic going 60 mph) but we finally got to Chicago.
We stopped at Culvers for dinner and enjoyed one of their frozen custard desserts. So delicious! By 6pm, Zach and I were both running on fumes. Once we crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa, we decided to stop for a nap. Well, Zach napped. Erin decided to boycott naptime so we burned off some energy running around the Davenport, Iowa rest stop.
After about an hour, we headed back on the road, just in time to add a few more miles in before a rainstorm stopped our progress. See those clouds in the picture? Apparently, Iowa has some pretty epic storms. Since there was a flood warning and the highway was already pretty much flooded, we decided to stop at a rest stop for a few hours instead of pushing on to our hotel. Worst sleep ever, you guys. Trying to sleep in a car during a thunderstorm with a man who snores and a baby = no fun for mama.
Thankfully, by morning, the rain had subsided and we pushed on.
DAY TWO – July 1st
More driving! Nebraska may or may not be the most boring state to drive through. Ever. And I’ve driven through South Dakota. This day of driving went pretty smoothly and we got to Rock Springs, WY by 5pm.
We stayed at the Hilton Homewood and I definitely recommend it if you want to stay close to the parks. All three of us were exhausted after two days in the car so we ended up falling asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.
DAY THREE – July 2nd
The morning of the second we drove up to Jackson Hole, Wyoming which is at the southern entrance of the parks.
We stopped at the visitor’s center to get our FREE annual National parks pass and headed off to the Grand Tetons.
Of course, we had to stop for family pictures on the way.
We got to Billings in the early evening and surprised Zach’s mom, who had no idea we were coming! The whole trip was amazing but it was definitely worth it just for her reaction!
DAY FIVE – July 3rd
Woohoo! I honestly can’t believe we celebrated six years of marriage this year! To commemorate, we went back to one of our favorite date night spots–the Beartooth Pass. It’s a gorgeous drive up into the start of the Rockies.
It was also extremely cold!! And windy, if you can’t tell from the state of my hair in this photo!
The view can’t be beat though! The rest of the day was spent visiting all of our favorite places around town, going out to a family lunch date, and then meeting up with Zach’s mom for dinner before heading to our hotel.
DAY SIX – July 4th
One of the things I loved about the Billings area when I lived there while Zach and I dated was their Fourth of July celebration. The town comes alive for Independence Day with a parade and a fireworks show that touts itself as the largest in the state. To be fair, it wasn’t as grand as either of us remembered but it was still really fun and we got to spend all day introducing Erin to her aunt, uncle, and cousins which was the best.
One of the things my mom-in-law loves to do with her grandkids is bake with them so I love that she was able to bake with Erin while Zach and I were at the fireworks. Erin had such a fun time hanging out with Grandma T and her kitty!
DAY SEVEN – July 5th
On the fifth, my sister-in-law suggested going to the zoo with all the kiddos and we had the best time ever. This was Erin’s first time at a zoo and she was absolutely taken with all the flowers and animals.
Especially the goats. Girlfriend LOVES goats.
Since it will most likely be awhile since the whole family is together again, we decided to take some family photos in the evening and I honestly want to frame every single photo of Erin and her cousins.
Erin and Lexi (pictured above) especially had such a fun time together. When they met, Erin instantaneously bonded and it almost made us all cry. Our short time with family definitely made me wish we lived closer so family get togethers like this could be a little more often.
The whole gang!
DAY EIGHT – July 6th
Our last day in Montana was spent just hanging out with family before heading back onto the road again.
Since we were planning to stop in Minneapolis on our way back home, we headed the South Dakota route and got to Mount Rushmore just before sunset. And just in time to take photos of ourselves in front of our states on the Avenue of Flags and see the monument lit.
We stopped for a few hours to rest at the South Dakota/Minneapolis border.
DAY NINE – July 7th
This was probably my favorite day of our road trip. We headed back on the road after a few hours sleep and headed to Minneapolis.
We got to Mall of America just in time for lunch. We got lunch at Shake Shack and then headed off to the stores.
You know your officially parents when you go to Mall of America and you only buy things for your kiddo! I’d been wanting to get Erin her first American Girl doll since, well, the day I found out she was a girl, so our first stop was the American Girl store. We got her one of the Wellie-Wisher dolls and I think we were both super excited about it.
Then it was off to the Crayola store we went!
We may or may not have gotten a Crayola tin with almost 200 crayons. For Erin, of course. Not at all because we’re really two kids masquerading as adults.
Once we were done with our shopping, we headed to downtown Minneapolis and our hotel. We had plans to explore the area before heading to bed but sleep won out once more.
DAY TEN – July 8th
At this point, Zach and I realized that at heart we are true home bodies. When we checked out of our hotel and headed back on the road once more, we realized just how much we wanted to be home. We ended up driving straight without many stops for the whole day, hence no photos from this day.
Except for this one–this statue of Sacagawea was so huge and really gorgeous with the setting sun behind it!
We drove straight through the night and got back home in the early morning of the 9th. It was so amazing to be home again!
Have you ever gone on a road trip? Have you ever been to any of the places we visited on this trip?