Peoria-Bound! (Day 5)

Early versions of The Official Road Trip 2015 Plan listed Chicago as our first official stop. But the week before our departure, worried about making it through Yellowstone before the weather got bad, we decided to postpone Chicago to the end of the trip. Our new first official destination was now the Badlands – but we had never revised our route to reflect the change.

Monday morning, as we took advantage of the hotel’s free continental breakfast, Ryna and I sat down to look at our route and figure out where to stay that evening. I realized removing Chicago from our route sent us right past my sister Bridget’s home in Peoria, Illinois, a stop previously too far out of the way to stop.

Clearly I couldn’t travel past Bridget and her husband Ben’s new house – and, let’s be real, my favorite nephew – without stopping. I shot her a text asking how she’d feel about a last minute sisterly invasion. She quickly responded with an offer of dinner, their guest room, and use of her washing machine — and Ryan and I rejoiced that we had just scored a five hour driving day instead of the eight or nine hour day we’d been planning on.

Our route took us through Ohio and Illinois. It was a boring start to the trip, but of course we knew we’d have to get the “flyover states” out of the way for the real adventure to begin. The relief we felt at arriving at Bridget’s house after just five hours of driving made me question whether we were really cut out for this bi-coastal road trip business!


As soon as we rang the doorbell we were treated to a hilarious house tour complements of my six-year-old nephew Eamon, who was eager to show off the home his parents bought last year. And we were excited to be reunited with Kat (who lives with Bridget) – I told her we had to stop because I just couldn’t bear to be apart from her!

Bridget and Ben already had plans that evening, but she whipped up a delicious Mexican dinner before they left. Then Ryan spent the evening getting his butt kicked by Eamon at Mario Kart and an assortment of board games, while Kat and I watched in unhelpful amusement.

Eamon & Ryan

I did manage to make myself useful by doing a laundry load full of stinky running clothes and wet rafting gear. I also booked our hotel for the next night, scoring a great deal at the Best Western Plus Ramkota Hotel in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (thanks, Priceline!). Finally, after five days of traveling, it felt like the West was within reach!


I’m the oldest of 12 crazy kids and two pretty awesome parents. My love of travel developed during my early years traveling the globe as an Air Force brat. I’m a runner, a writer, and a reader, and I love cooking up good food and cozying up our camper.

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