Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 4 – West Des Moines, Iowa to Grand Rapids, MI – The End of the Cross-Country Journey

Day 4 found us waking up in West Des Moines, Iowa, looking forward to a final 8.5 hours in the car. Our first stop was Caribou Coffee. I had never had Caribou Coffee, so the change up from Starbucks was a welcomed difference.

After the caffeine fix, we realized there was a Whole Foods not too far away, so we hurried over to get ourselves some provisions for the day so we could work on the Fast Food Overload from the three days we had already spent in the car.

We are pretty sure the Whole Foods was a new addition to the city, but to us, a much welcomed one. We made our way to the deli counter and ordered our sandwich. During the course of our conversation, I had told the guys behind the counter that we had 8 hours to drive, but it seemed like nothing compared to the 26 we had already driven. And then, much to my surprise, when they handed me the sandwich, they told us it would be free of charge. They said they figured we must be super tired after being in the car that long, that the least they could do for us was give us a sandwich to brighten our day. It was a such a great surprise to start off our last day. I know it might not have been much to them, but for two people who were slowly going loopy due to transfat overdose, the gesture went a long way.

So after some good coffee and Midwestern generosity, it was back onto I-80 and full speed towards Michigan!

We had about three hours of driving to do from where we stopped until the Illinois border, so I kept myself busy by driving Jason crazy with my singing. Again. He now really hates the Rihanna song. Along with Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake”. I can’t say I disagree with him on that one. I am sick of hearing that song too, although every time it comes on the radio, I find myself singing right along with it! It’s pretty safe to say the same goes for Call Me Maybe.

Being in the car for that many hours, through that many states, I started to realize how absolutely lucky I am in growing up in California. You might think I would say the weather, the scenery or maybe being an hour for wine country – but honestly, it’s because we, as Californians, are so lucky to be sheltered from political ads both on the radio and on tv. Through Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa and Michigan, we have been audibly and visably assaulted by political ads – one after another. I guess I just never realized the full of extent of it until you realize that is all you hear between Rihanna, Katy Perry, One Direction, Bieber, Romney, Obama, Windstar GPS, Maroon 5. I am just glad there is less than a week until elections.

Iowa was pretty. It was cool to see all the farmland from the freeway, as well as the numerous types of tractors there are in the fields.

After Iowa came Illinois – our new home state!

Illinois looked a lot like Iowa. Flat and full of fields. The clouds were gorgeous – although after three days, we were getting used to open sky with impressive cloud work.

Today was the first day that we weren’t driving in blue skied sunshine. We were extremely fortunate with the weather we had over our 2,290 mile drive. On Monday, October 22, the day we were supposed to leave, San Francisco had massive rainstorms which means massive snowstorms in the Sierra Mountains. Additionally, this meant that we would be either chasing or be chased by the storm as we moved eastward. As luck had it, leaving just one week later, on October 29, allowed us to have a pretty and weather free drive across the United States. We were worried about the effect that Hurricane Sandy would have on the weather as we got closer to the east coast, but luckily for us the weather from that storm didn’t come west of Ohio.

We stopped an hour or so into Illinois to get some gas and eat lunch.

We were so happy to not be eating a cheeseburger or fried chicken! Truth be told, we ate our sandwich in a Walmart parking lot. All I will say is that we had a great people watching spot from the car, and we had some great lunch time entertainment.

After lunch it was Jason’s turn to drive – which meant it was my turn to sing-a-long to the radio without worrying about my car dancing sending us out of control and off the side of the freeway. We were REALLY sick of the radio by this point, as well as listening to the three albums on my ipod we could both agree on – so I used an app called Songza on my phone and put on the best radio station. EVER. And by best I mean this station was called “Top 100 Worst Songs Ever”. It was just a musical journey through awful from there – Cottoneye Joe, Welcome to Miami and the song that finally made Jason threaten mutiny – My Humps by the Black Eyed Peas. Although I am pretty sure I entertained him for the minute and a half he allowed the song to play.

After getting oh so close, yet still oh so far from Chicago, we continued on into Indiana.

The way that I-80 took us, we sadly weren’t in Indiana for that long, but what we saw looked a lot like Illinois and Iowa.

And then, it was the home stretch!

We had made it to America’s High Five! Michigan!

After 2, 290 miles, we had less than two hours to go. The feeling was amazing but at the same time, we were still in the car listening to Rihanna. We were ready for a break.

At 7:00 PM on Thursday, November 1, 2012, we pulled into the driveway in Grand Rapids, Michigan, officially ending our cross-country venture. What an adventure. There were boring times, there were fun times. I thought our three-week trip to Europe helped me learn even more about Jason, but I really think a long car trip with someone helps you get to know them even better than that.

I think if you can survive four days of driving with someone for 8 plus hours a day, after living in your parents’ house with them AND a three week trip to Europe including 2.5 weeks in a country where no one speaks English – you can pretty much be confident in your decision to spend your life with them.  

I am not quite sure when I can officially call myself a Midwesterner. I’ve been told I have to at least make it through a winter here first. I’ve also been told it has to be more than a year. I am looking forward to the new challenges in life I have to face, settling in a new place, finding a new job, making new friends, meeting the old.

Our journey across the United States may have ended, but our life in Chicago is just starting. I am so excited to share this all with you.

I am Landon Modena-Kurpinsky, and I endorse this message. 

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