The epic overview

Hello all!
We have returned. Washington  to Washington and back. 7845 miles. 25 days.
I will give a full recording over the coming days and weeks, but wanted to run through the highlights quickly.
Coolest discovery: we can travel in a small minivan for that many days and miles with only mild squabbling.
Favorite state: Montana
Least favorite state: New Jersey
Most surprising state: North Dakota
Favorite city in MT: Bozeman
Favorite town across the whole country: Medora, ND
Hottest temperature: 115 with heat index, Washington DC
Coldest temperature: below 45 (estimated) Gallatin National Forest, MT
Favorite accommodation: Sandy’s house!
Nicest hotel: Hyatt Place by the Dulles airport
Most surprising hotel: Baymont Inn and Suites Des Moines, IA
Worst motel: Thoroughbred Lodge White River, SD
Best campground: Langohr in the Gallatin National Forest
Worst campground: KOA in Kankakee, IL
Best public transit experience: Staten Island Ferry
Best surprise: 1. Finding out the Dude’s sister and brother-in-law were stuck at a hotel right by Dulles when we were there. We got to see them before they returned to Paris.
2. Museum of Modern Art was open on Tuesday in summers. Very shocking!
Worst surprise
1. The $800 worth of repairs in DC
2. The unflushed (very unflushed) toilet in our motel room in White River, SD
Coolest souvenir:
A hook newly forged before our eyes by a blacksmith at a living history museum. Won by Magnus (oldest son)  for answering the test question correctly. What was the  blacksmith’s favorite working temperature for steel? 1800 degrees F.
Most prolific free/odd souvenir finder: Luigi (Youngest son)
Strangest roadside find:
1. A long distance unicyclist on the freeway in northern Idaho
2. A dead top half of a garter snake with 2 live babies inside at a rest stop in Iowa.
Coolest unplanned museum stop: Museum of the Rockies Bozeman, MT
Guiding motto of the trip:
In 10 years what will we remember? That we got there on time or that we got in late and had a lot of fun?
Best boat trip:
Maid of the Mist (Niagara Falls)
Worst boat trip:
Chicago Water Taxi across Lake Michigan (riding backwards on the engine)
Best Beach:
Lake Michigan, Michigan
Best roadside picnic stop:
Theodore Roosevelt National Park rest stop, ND->Bison across the canyon and horses in the parking lot
Fort Niagara State Park. Eating dinner on the banks of Lake Ontario with the sun setting over the lake and Toronto skyline looming in the distance
Thing that brought me closest to the tear: Star Spangled Banner (THE Star Spangled Banner) at Smithsonian American History Museum
Coolest things to see:
1. Hope Diamond
2. The Air and Space Museum
3. Prairie Dog Towns
4. Les Demoiselles D’Avignon
5. Forevortron
6. Family and friends
7. Hundreds of different types of barbed wire on display
8. Opera singer in a tunnel in Central Park complete with crutches
9. Moon rise over Lake Wassota
10. Thousands of fireflies in Illinois
Coolest things we did
1. See Lincoln Memorial
2. Rode subway to Times Square
3. Horse and buggy ride in Medora, ND
4. Drive through liquor store Dayton Ohio
5. Dune climbing at Lake Michigan, Michigan
6. See the world’s largest Holstein cow: Salem Sue New Salem, ND
7. Setting up camp by moonlight on Cayuga Lake, NY
8. Visited the ugliest state capitol (building not city) in the US: Bismarck, ND
9. Bought lunch meat from an Amish butcher in Nappanee, IN
10. Rode the “trolley” in Chicago
Scariest happenings:
1. Car trouble in DC
2. Connecticut driving
3. New Jersey driving
4. Driving directly into a huge and damaging thunderstorm in SD and then turning back to outrun it and finding the only motel for 50 miles to have the office closed. While waiting for the manager, we then heard a siren, possibly tornado!
5. Gas station northern Idaho
6. Gas station Livingston MT
7. Getting lost in Niagara Falls, NY
8. Skinhead campground neighbors, Kankakee, IL
9. Driving north of Chicago
10. Losing Magnus at the Lincoln Memorial

Biggest disappointments:
1. Missing Lego store at Mall of America
2. Jamestown, ND
3. Not finding our campsite-Flathead Lake, MT
4. Field Museum (Sue) and missing MOSI and other museums in favor of that one
5. Not going to National Archives
6. Atlantic City
7. Not camping in Badlands
8. Not visiting Greenwich Village
9. Our motel room in Wildwoods, NJ
10. The heat and humidity from Chicago-DC

State Awards
Awesomest: Montana
Crappiest: NJ
Worst road conditions: NJ and NY tie
Worst road signage: NJ
Worst drivers: CT honorable mention: IL
Most overpriced for time spent ratio: Delaware
Most overpriced food: DC (not a state, but)
Most toll booths: IL
Best rest area welcome center: Wyoming
Saddest rest areas: Montana Honorable mention: Minnesota (closed due to govt shut down while we were there)
Most exciting: South Dakota
State with most sandbags holding water off the freeway: Iowa. Runners-up Minnesota and North Dakota

Most sanity saving device: Audio books
Favorite audiobooks:
Stormy Weather Carl Hiassen
Smoke Jumper
Journey James Mitchener
A Reason for Hope Jane Goodall

More to come. Stay tuned….

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