Yes. We road tripped in the statistical dip, before the covid cases shot up, and we were so lucky to do so. We had planned our route: 2 overnights, plenty of driving, and occasional stops along the way to stretch our legs and see some sights.
We started in Wisconsin with a mammoth of a drive and we had read that the next few days could be filled with thunderstorms, so we weren’t sure what to expect. Our first big stop would be the Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa (new state for me!). We knew the adjacent museum would be closed but the hike itself ended up being lovely, rainy, and with a nice view of the Mississippi river! Iowa started out surprisingly hilly and honestly quite beautiful. That driftless section in NE Iowa would be one I daresay would re-visit!
Then we continued on our way to Kirksville, MO, where we would be spending our first night. We hit lots of heavy rain and made a random stop at the American Gothic house, driving through dirt roads and along cornfields rather than on a major highway! Once we crossed into Missouri, the rain ebbed and we were able to get some nice farm-to-table grub for dinner. The night ended with us extremely tired– I think I even fell asleep while watching Harry Potter? (Which never happens!)
We left early and impatient to get on our way. Tristan took the first driving shift as I struggled to wake up, and the boring roads of Missouri didn’t help. Long stretches of highway with overwhelming amounts of roadkill. MO DoT get your act together! We made a couple of stops but nothing was special, more of spots to stretch our legs. We wandered through one cute little town and for the first time felt some heat (in the 80s or so) and asked each other if this is what Texas would be like.
Then just like that we were in Arkansas and driving through the Ozarks. Gorgeous from the highway, these rolling hills of woodland were immediately place on a ‘come-back-here-asap’ list. The day had gone quickly somehow and we had reached our Day 2 destination in Fort Smith, AR.
My best friend from childhood (who I’ve managed to keep in touch pretty well with) now lives in Fort Smith after bouncing around the U.S. for years. He’s an athletic trainer who has spent the past few months isolating with his new puppy and learning to brew beer so he was delighted at the prospect of human contact. We stayed up late catching up (it had been nearly two years since we’d last seen each other) and grilling brats. Not a bad end to our second day!
We woke up early, this time in anticipation. How was it already moving-in day?! We said goodbye to my friend and stepped outside- WOAH HUMIDITY. That was something new for us. We opted for a take-out breakfast rather than more food snacks and it filled us with energy for our final day. We drove through Oklahoma’s beautiful hills of the Ouachita National Forest before we started to hit some flatter land. Then, the Texas border. Yet, it was still green. There were still trees. Why did I expect flat expanses of dry land and tumbleweeds, because that’s not what NE Texas is.
About an hour to go but our legs were restless so we stopped for a quick walk in a Nationally Preserved area. It was hot, low 90’s I think, and the sun was beating down on us but the need to stretch our legs was too much. And yet? Still green.
Finally we made it to our new apartment and spent about an hour unpacking. Somehow, we had managed to fit the lives of two people into the back of a Subaru – but of course, no couch, tables, or bed were included so we unrolled our sleeping bags and pads and spent our first night on the floor. We’d made it!