Holy moly! This road trip was all in response to a manic moment on my part. Feeling stuck and stagnant due to loss of travel plans, COVID, and pending jobs that are taking forever made me a little crazy. Hence, the road trip.
We drove out east across the great state of Montana and stopped in Ingomar, home of the historic Jersey Lilly saloon. The whopping 14 people who still live in the once bustling town are proud of their neck of the woods. The Jersey Lilly began as a bank in 1914 known as Wiley, Clark and Greening Bankers. In 1933, Clyde Easterday established the Oasis Bar in the building. Later, Bob Seward took over the bar in 1948 naming it the Jersey Lilly after the bar of the same name in Langtry, Texas. It is currently owned by Boots Kope and June Nygren, who we had the pleasure of meeting. Whit’s parents frequented the same bar in the past and recommended it. The bathrooms are quite famous for their decor.
We continued east to Grand Marais, Minnesota where we boarded a sea plane to visit Isle Royal National Park in northern Michigan.
We then headed to the Canadian border to Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota.
Then we drove along Lake Superior’s shoreline to Friends of the Apostles National Lakeshore in Wisconsin.
We crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa before turning around due to inclement weather. We then headed through Illinois to Indiana to visit Indiana Dunes National Park.
Next up, Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio.
We weaved through the backroads of West Virginia before crossing into Virginia to reach Shenandoah National Park.
After visiting a winery outside of the park, we crossed into North Carolina to visit Asheville.
We then crossed the North Carolina- Tennessee border in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
After buying some Tennessee moonshine and whiskey, we headed north to Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.
With a few bottles of Kentucky bourbon in hand, we headed south through Alabama and Mississippi stopping at a few Civil Rights monuments along the way.
The last national park stop was Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas.
The last few days of the trip were endlessly long drives through Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and finally back home to Montana. Thankfully, Whit thought of everything to make our trip as comfortable as possible. She found a 12 volt rechargeable cooler for our food so we didn’t have to refill on ice, bug netting for the windows so we could let in some breeze, and a rechargeable mini-AC unit for the hot nights in the south. Those van-lifers got nothing on us!