Brands across America

(On the third anniversary of our drive across the US and our arrival in the PNW, I think back and talk about what it was like on each day of the trip. This is Part 6 of an 8 part series)

January 26, 2011

We hit quite a bit of snow in Indiana, and again in Minnesota and a bit of South Dakota. The bad weather seemed to clear up as we drove over the Missouri River, and was beautiful for the rest of the trip. Yesterday all of our National Park pictures had beautiful blue skies in them. Today as we trekked through the end of South Dakota, cut a corner of Wyoming, and started the slog through Montana, the weather continued to be beautiful.

There was a lot more snow on the ground in Wyoming than there had been in our past states, which just made everything more beautiful. Factories with smoke coming out of their tall spires looked almost poetic in the snow. Hilltops that might be a boring brown in the summer were beautiful white and dotted with green pine trees.

Racing a train

Racing a train

Wyoming is where we first saw real mountains. I had grown up with mountains, or so I thought. But these things in The West were real mountains. They were mountains that people died trying to cross. We ate lunch halfway through Wyoming at a Pizza Hut, which would be mostly forgettable, except for the cute homemade spice holders on each table.

Custom touches in a chain restaurant

Custom touches in a chain restaurant

Why, you might ask, did you eat at a Pizza Hut? This was your only time in Wyoming, why wouldn’t you find a local place? The answer lies in how we planned the trip. Before we left, we gathered up all the food gift cards we could find in the house. We also received gift cards as goodbye gifts from good friends. Those gift cards funded many of our meals across the country. We also took most of the furniture we had and sold it on Craigslist (where we had gotten most of it in the first place). That cash funded our hotel nights, and the rest of our food bought across the country. I think it also funded most of our diesel, too. It’s wonderful having a little Golf diesel that gets 45-55mpg when you let it stretch its legs on the highway for hours on end. So, that’s why we ate at Pizza Hut – it was free.

Montana itself was pretty uneventful, and seemingly much less beautiful than South Dakota or Wyoming had been. I am told this is not true, but I only know what I saw as we drove along I90. I did, however, enjoy seeing the gas stations out in the West. I had never seen Conoco and Sinclair before, and therefore had not realized that the brands in the movie Cars were taken from these classic American brands in the West. Getting used to the brands out here on the other side of the country is one of the main themes of the past three years. I will talk more about that in posts to come.