My husband and I had never been to Yellowstone National Park, so when we started thinking about a road trip, Yellowstone was at the top of our list. During the planning stage, we learned my sister and her husband would be in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho visiting my nephew for the Fourth of July, so we added Idaho to the agenda… and since we would be so far north anyway, why not include Glacier National Park as well! We filled in the rest of the itinerary with things we wanted to see and do along the way! We live near Kansas City, so here is the route we took:
Packing for this trip was unlike any packing we had ever done! We crammed an entire laundry basket full of cleaning supplies: Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, disinfecting spray, extra tissues, and paper towels. We also took a digital thermometer and plenty of disposable face-masks. To minimize our exposure at stops for snacks, we took another basket full of food and a cooler with bottled water and tea. For hiking in the northern national parks, we took bear spray, mosquito nets, bug spray, binoculars, hiking boots and raincoats. Then, of course, were all the normal items we would need, including clothes for both warm and cold weather – and cameras! Needless to say, the car was full!
We promised ourselves we would stop often to lessen long periods of time in the car – and simply because we could. So, three and a half hours after we left Kansas City, we made our first stop in Lincoln, Nebraska to see the Sunken Gardens – one of the 300 best gardens in the country, according to National Geographic. The gardens were constructed during the winter of 1930-31 as an opportunity for unemployed men to earn money during the Depression.
My husband likes beer – craft beer, in particular – so when we travel we are always on the lookout for local breweries. Whether you like beer or not, a local brewery tends to possess a certain charm and they are often spotlessly clean. We felt safer inside a sparsely crowded brewery for lunch than a fast-food restaurant, so we ate in one nearly every day! That explains our choice of the Kinkaider Brewing Company after our stroll through the garden. A “Kinkaider” is what a settler was called in Nebraska after the Kincaid Act of 1904, which provided each settler 640 acres upon payment of a $14 filing fee. The brewery had a historic hand-carved bar, original framed prints adorning the walls, and a unique and varied menu!
Three more hours down the road we found an original Pony Express Station in Gothenburg, Nebraska. The station was donated to the City of Gothenburg in 1931. It was the perfect place for a brief afternoon break.
We made it to Scotts Bluff, Nebraska – our goal for the first night. Having seen pictures online of Scotts Bluff National Monument at sunset, we wanted to witness it for ourselves. We didn’t have much time for the hiking trails, but we did manage to find a perfect spot to watch the sun sink below the horizon… and it was glorious! We got our pictures, drove through the rest of the park, then headed to our hotel and called it a day.
For those of you curious about accommodations during this virus, I was extremely impressed with the efforts made by hotels to keep us safe. Most had contactless check-in procedures, rooms which had been cleaned and vacant for at least 72 hours, and constantly “covid-cleaned” common areas. Everywhere we stayed appeared to be immaculate, but I still wiped down the frequently touched surfaces and generously sprayed each room with disinfectant. I doubt we have ever had cleaner accommodations!
The next two posts will contain less commentary and more photos highlighting the best parts of our trip: one post on The Grand Tetons & Yellowstone, and another on Glacier National Park and the route home.
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