I stayed at the Super 8 in Ogallala, Nebraska and woke up to a long day of driving ahead of me. My next big destination was Chicago and I knew I couldn’t get there from Ogallala in one day but I wanted to drive as far as I could so that the next day I could get to Chicago earlier and have as much time as possible in the Windy City. The only stop I made on the day I woke up in Nebraska was Ash Hollow State Historical Park.
Ash Hollow was a major stopover point along the Oregon Trail. At the park you can walk through a recreations of sod houses as well as ruts in the hills made from years of wagons traveling through the area. I didn’t get a chance to explore everything but I did hike up to the top of Windlass Hill which would’ve been one of the most difficult parts of the pioneer’s journey due to how steep the hill is. I also got to explore the recreation of a sod house which was located right next to the remains of an actual homestead dwelling from the late 19th century.
All I did in Iowa was sleep, I slept in Davenport because that was the closest city when I decided I was too tired to keep driving. I booked a room at the Super 8 in Davenport and headed there. My room there was huge and Im only one person so if you’re traveling as a group this place is a great and affordable option. It was clean and the staff was very friendly.
My time in Illinois was spent in Chicago. The post about my time in Chicago can be found here.
The highlights of my time in Chicago were seeing Hamilton, The Field Museum, the “360 Chicago” views from the John Hancock building, SNOW, and just getting to travel around the city via bus, subway and my feet! All of this and more can be found in my Chicago post which is coming soon!
Oh yeah, the reason for this trip in the first place! I decided to make this trek to visit my sister in Marion, Indiana where she started school in the Fall! My time in Indiana was mostly spent hanging around not doing much of anything but we had a blast! It was my first time visiting her at school so she showed me around the town and her campus. From a world traveler’s point of view there isn’t a ton to do in Marion but from a sister’s point of view it was the best part of the entire trip. Our days were spent cooking and watching reruns of Friends and The Office, the ultimate lazy days. I also happened to be there on a weekend that she had a soccer game even though it’s their off season so that was a lot of fun too! I can’t wait to go back and visit again!
My way out of Indiana took me back into Illinois on my route to Missouri! I spent as much time in Idiana with my sister as I could which meant a late start to driving to my hotel just outside St. Louis at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Glen Carbon, IL. By the time I got to my hotel it was dark and I was exhausted so I decided to eat and get to bed early. There was only one restaurant near my hotel called The Cabin at Judy Creek and I figured I would check it out. The place was decorated like its’ name would suggest, a cabin. The atmosphere was different than what I’m used to but I liked it and the food was great so I was a happy girl!
The next morning I left the hotel and drove about 15 minutes to Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site. I was especially excited about this visit because I had made a special note to visit this place someday after learning about it in one of the first archaeology classes I ever took!
Cahokia Mounds is a 2,200 acre tract of land that was formerly inhabited by the people that are referred to as Mississippians today. It is the most advanced archaeological site north of Mexico. The park has about 80 earth mounds, you can see one of them, Monk’s Mound, pictured above. (Behind me in the bottom right photo.) Monk’s Mound stands at 100 ft. tall with four terraces and covers almost 14 acres. This mound would’ve been the main focus of this prehistoric city. You can learn more about this incredible archaeological site that had me (and my equally nerdy friends that I texted when I got there) feeling extremely nerdy on their website. This stop was definitely one of the highlights of my trip, having the chance to visit a place I had learned about in the class that made me want to be an Anthropology major was kind of surreal.
My time in St. Louis was spent at the Gateway Arch and The Old Courthouse which is short walk across the courtyard from the Arch. I didn’t go up the elevator in the Arch, partially because of time and because it was pretty crowded and I decided to spend my time elsewhere.
The Old Courthouse is the site of the Dred Scott case and has now been turned into a museum where you can learn about the case, see the court rooms as they were when they were operational and learn more about Dred Scott and his lifelong fight for freedom from the South’s inhumane slavery practices that controlled both himself and his family in the mid 19th century.
From St. Louis I drove to Topeka, Kansas where I slept at the Ramada Topeka Downtown Hotel and Convention Center. I didn’t do much in Topeka aside from visiting the Equality House the next morning on my way out of the city headed towards New Mexico. If you are unfamiliar with the Equality House, I encourage you to take a minute to follow the link above and learn more about the work Planting Peace is doing.
You can read about my time in New Mexico and the rest of the American South West in my next post about the third leg of my road trip which is coming soon!