Wood Family Goes West 2020: Day 1

Today was the first day of our two week adventure with our family through Western U.S.A amidst COVID-19. Would you like to take our road trip with us? You can let us navigate the travel restrictions, mask-wearing regulations, and break up the sibling fights. Hop onto our virtual-luggage rack and sight-see with us.

The 5:00 AM wake-up call came early for these sleeping babes.

We’ve been planning this trip for nearly a year! Originally, we were driving from Georgia. When airline prices continued to drop, we changed things up a bit and decided to fly. The kids would have less time in the car each day and we could shave two days off of our travel time. We took a two leg flight–from Atlanta into St. Louis and then into Omaha.

At the Atlanta airport waiting for boarding to begin.

I would never have attempted this if my kids weren’t already expert travelers and airport navigators, but I felt like a Rock Star by the time we boarded the first plane. I don’t think my kids touched a thing that they weren’t supposed to touch. We had drilled. I had my “COVID kit” of masks, hand-wipes, and travel towels. We wiped down all the touchable surfaces on the plane. I took the little kids one at a time to the restroom so that I could monitor easier. Kids are really so adaptable; they didn’t even complain about wearing their masks all morning.

When we fly this is the typical set-up. Edwin, Mont, and Lillian sit together and Kevin, Morgan, and I sit together.


After hopping in our rented Ford Expedition in Omaha, we headed North to our first official stop, the Missouri National Recreational River. We made it 12 miles from the airport before we had to stop for lunch and bathrooms. McDonald’s. It was closed to dine-in customers so we picnicked in the grass out in the parking lot. (It was pretty much like Georgia’s McDonald’s. They even had Sweet Tea.)

I just realized that we are totally coordinated with the truck in the background. Happy accident!

Driving through Iowa, we marveled at the black dirt and the enormous tractors. Hay bales line the sides of the highway amidst miles and miles of corn. We entertained the idea of Kevin getting a pilot’s license and becoming a crop-duster and buying a bunch of land and becoming farmers. Edwin didn’t appreciate our dream…so we abandoned it.

On the bridge over the Missouri NRR


We reached the visitor’s center for the Missouri National Recreational River in Yankton, SD just 15 minutes before it closed. The park ranger was gracious with his time! He loaded Lillie and Morgan up with a coloring book and stickers. I got my stamps for my National Park Passport book collection. We watched a movie with the older kids in the lobby showing the highlights of the history of the Missouri River.

missouri nrr
We picked up our goodies at the visitor’s center and took advantage of the clean restrooms!

The ranger gave us directions to a bridge a few blocks away that we could walk across to observe the river.  Needing to stretch our legs from a long day of travel, we took his advice. This bridge was so cool! It was a “love lock” bridge. It had locks all over where people had inscribed memories of loved ones. I had never seen one of these before; Edwin and I were fascinated by the untold stories.

Edwin and I found a mysterious adventure in the locks on the bridge.

We drove on to Sioux Falls and stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown on the river. We had two adjoining rooms–Edwin and Mont got the queen beds in one room, Kevin and I claimed the king bed in the other, and Lillie and Morgan shared the pull-out couch. We have a great view of the water from the porch off of our suite.

Mont said that he found the perfect spot.

Walking around downtown to find dinner, we were delighted at the city’s Sculpturewalk. There are over 60 sculptures dotting the downtown area. These sculptures are generally traded out annually, but the process had to be adapted this year. We found an Irish Pub for dinner–delicious food and great service. Bangers and mash, anyone?

2 Comments on “Wood Family Goes West 2020: Day 1

  1. Loved going on your trip with yo’all. You’ve already seen so many interesting things. Keep the great pictures coming! Have fun, it’s a once in a lifetime trip. You will never be the ages you are now and you will probably never go to the same places again. Enjoy!


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