Road Trip with Olivia

Olivia and I just finished a three-day road trip — driving from Kent (Ohio), to West Chicago (Illinois), to Rapid City (South Dakota), to Estes Park (Colorado) — and my heart is happy.

I love the wide open spaces of the American West. I love visiting interesting places. I love connecting with old friends. And I love spending time with my family. And this trip combined elements of all these wonderful things!

In Chicagoland, we got to spend some time with our friends: Mike, Tania, Michaela, and Nate. We got to stuff ourselves silly with Italian Steak Sandwiches and Chocolate Cake Shakes from Portillo’s. We got to see the original wardrobe that inspired C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. We got to tour the beautiful campus of Wheaton College. It was lovely.

The second day of our road trip was the longest, by far. We blazed westward (and a little bit northward) at 70+ miles per hour for about 12.5 hours. But we got to experience some interesting things along the way…

Like the SPAM Museum in Austin, Minnesota…

And a quaint little hamburger stand, where the burgers were made of crumbled beef (kind of like a taco on a bun)… And, of course, just the glorious vastness of the Great Plains themselves… And to top it all off, we enjoyed a sweet reunion (and delicious, homemade dinner) at the end of the day with our friend, Bill.

After a good night’s sleep in Rapid City, we finished the last leg of our journey with a quick stop at Mount Rushmore…

We drove through Custer State Park, which may be one of the best natural areas in North America (in my opinion), stopping every now and then to scramble up on some rocks or take pictures of wildlife just outside the windows of our minivan…

And then we finished with some adventures on the two-lane highways of Wyoming, before finally arriving in Colorado. Olivia impressed me with her willingness to try the weird hamburgers and take the slower-but-more-scenic routes. It was a really special road trip together.

And now, we start work in Estes Park! Olivia will be working in the Housekeeping Department of the YMCA of the Rockies; I will be staffing the Collegiate Mentoring Program, which develops some of the vocational ministry workers from the Collegiate Church Network, who in turn develop the college students participating in the Leadership Training program out here. We’re both pretty excited about the work aspects of this road trip, too — and we’re hoping to bring the same spirit of adventure to the rest of the summer out here, as well.

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