We went back to my friend's house to say goodbye (and to report back that we hadn't burned their guesthouse to the ground). Then we headed out for the mountains.
The state of Kansas marks each license plate with the county in which it is registered. When we lived in Kansas, we kept track of which counties we had seen, with the goal of seeing a license plate from each of the state's 105 counties. To motivate the kids to vigilance, we promised them ice cream as our treat for completion.
When we left Kansas, we had seen plates from 104 counties. The only county we were missing was Cheyenne County, in the extreme northwest corner of the state. Well, when we woke up this morning at my friend's place, our first destination was Cheyenne County, which was also the final county I needed to visit in Kansas. However, we learned several years before that visiting a county doesn't always mean you see a license plate registered in that county; we drove across the middle of Greeley County, Kansas, in 2009 and saw no other cars at all. So we detoured from the highway through downtown Benkelman, Nebraska, hoping that, since it was the closest "big town" (pop.: 953) to Cheyenne County, perhaps someone drove to town for an early Tuesday morning of shopping. My wife and kids were greatly pleased when we saw exactly that. They had finally earned their ice cream.
A few miles south of Benkelman, we crossed the state line and I visited the final county of Kansas, completing my twelfth state. Then we took a round-about path through northeast Colorado, completing my thirteenth state.
We stopped to see Colorado Highway 52, because the number 52 was an inside joke with my high school friends.
Then we headed farther west, and eventually we could see mountains. We stopped by the construction site of Fort Collins Colorado Temple, then turned north.
Our oldest son, Articulate Joe, has been in love with Wyoming for some time. It seems that his affection is entirely based on the state's name beginning with the same letter as his own name. But Wyoming isn't the only state that starts with a W. He's been to Wisconsin, and he's been to every county of West Virginia. Oh well. Wyoming is where it's at, apparently.
As we approached Wyoming, the sky darkened as if we were approaching the gates of Hell itself. (Which, one could argue, we were.) Eventually, the word's of Louis XV came true: "After Colorado, the deluge." We detoured through Cheyenne to see the state capitol, then headed north to Casper, where we had reserved a hotel room. The downpour was occasionally so severe as to stop most traffic on the road's shoulder. At a gas station in Glendo, Wyoming, I went to the counter with two bottles of Pepsi to purchase, and the owner told me a story about how he refused to sell Pepsi in 1964 because he thinks Pepsi tastes terrible. The implication was that my purchase constituted a personal attack. (I've got a relative who thinks every disagreement is a personal attack. She would probably get along famously with this guy. Except that she doesn't get along with anyone, because she thinks every disagreement is a personal attack.)
We got to our hotel and ordered a pizza. I went to the lobby to await the delivery man, but then my wife texted me that he had come to the room.
Twelve new counties and two more completed states. Our kids have become very adept at sleeping in hotel rooms, just since March, when Screamapilar had to be removed from the hotel in Chicago.