26 June 2015

2015 Road Trip | Day 1: Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota

My parents and I are hitting the road this summer for a three-week road trip out west. Our main purpose is to deliver furniture and other belongings to my oldest brother, Kevin, who recently moved to Washington for a job. We'll be doing some extra sight-seeing along the way, as well as making stops at other family members' houses. This is the day-by-day record of our 21-day road trip. 

Our journey began in the typical Jones fashion: late. With a desired departure time of 7 a.m., we left at an impressive time of about 7:50 a.m. Though we were a bit later than expected, we ended up making pretty good time to our final destination of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Rain hit us pretty early on in the drive; we went through some areas in a flash flood warning in Illinois. Our dog Bailey was quite excited and anxious in the beginning, but she eventually calmed down, even in the rain, which was a little surprising to me. My dad drove most of the way, pushing forward in the torrential rain and low visibility. I took over for two hours in Iowa so he could nap a little bit before taking us the rest of the way.

We learned in Iowa the definition of "modern." Driving down the interstate, you see signs for rest areas all the time. In Iowa, we saw signs for rest areas, shortly followed by signs for "modern" rest areas. Intrigued by this, we threw out ideas of what we thought was a "modern" rest area, my dad suggesting that modern rest areas have flushing toilets while regular rest areas maybe just have porta-potties. We quickly learned that he was, in fact, correct in thinking that flushing toilets are what distinguish a rest area as "modern." However, the regular rest areas were just empty lots spotted with large, brown dumpsters. For as much traveling as we've done in the past, I have never seen such a thing, such a lousy rest area.

Everything went pretty smoothly today. Until we reached Sioux Falls, that is. We had booked hotels in advance for all of our stops on the trip out, but when we went to check in at our hotel, we learned that we had been put in a smoking room and there were no other rooms available for the night. So, we checked some other hotels nearby to find a non-smoking room that would allow dogs, but we had no luck. My dad was able to find a hotel just a few more miles down the interstate, though, and it ended up being a way better than our previously reserved hotel. This hotel is newer and nicer, and it also turned out to be cheaper. We checked in and dropped off our bags and the dog in the room at around 8:15 p.m. and headed out to dinner.

Before our trip, my mom had researched some restaurants in each of our city stops, for my dad made it a goal to eat at unique, local restaurants in order to get a better experience. We were headed for a place called Wild Sage Grill, which was apparently featured on a Food Network show. We plugged in the address on the map app on a phone, followed the directions, and followed it all the way until it said, "Your destination is on your right." But to our right was an empty building, no restaurant in sight. We looked around briefly, wondering if we had used the right address. Then, my dad checked the address on the phone and chuckled. "Look at what it says under the name of the restaurant," he said, showing the phone to my mom, who then examined what it said under the name of the restaurant. "Permanently closed," she read aloud. Leave it to the Joneses to overlook a major detail like that. So, my dad asked some locals who were walking back to their cars from another restaurant for some recommendations. They were all a bit tipsy and extremely intrigued by the small U-Haul trailer hitched on the back of our car ("You got a U-Haul back there?" "You got everything you own in that U-Haul?"). Luckily, one girl was cooperative and directed us to Tre Lounge.

Tre Lounge is open until "close," as we learned on our way in, approximately 9 p.m. It was a pretty nice restaurant with large, arching booths that seemed like something out of Hollywood. Tre Lounge had a good variety of food on the menu, each entrée ringing in at about $15. Overall, I'd recommend it. It wasn't anything spectacular, but it certainly got the job done well.

We're back at the hotel now, preparing for another long day of driving tomorrow. We're aiming for a 7 a.m. departure again, but we'll see how that goes. I'll also edit the first daily video of our trip to accompany these blogs. Stay tuned.

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