People said there's nothing to do in Iowa. They said it and we believed them. What idiots they all were.
We stumbled across the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, Iowa. Some time in the early 1900's, Father Paul Dobberstein promised Jesus that if he survived pneumonia, he'd built a shrine made completely out of rocks, minerals and crystals. Spoiler alert: he survived (if you want to avoid spoilers, don't go on the internet, man).
He spent 42 years building the shrine and today it is the largest collection of precious stones found in one location. In fact, it is estimated to value $4 million dollars. To put that in perspective, that's more than Celebrity Apprentice's Omarosa and 30 Rock's Judah Friedlander have combined.
(Editor's Note: though 4 million dollars is quite a large sum, it's only a 10th of Frankie Muniz's net worth. I guess it should really be called "Malcolm In The 1 Percent," huh? What's happening to America's middle class, guys?! Open your eyes, America. Real Eyes Realize Real Lies).
With walls made out of agate, amethyst, azurite and more, we found nearly all 60 of our colors here.
They said there would be nothing to do in Iowa.
... What rocks were they smoking?
We were in the most beautiful place in South Dakota: The Badlands National Park. It was stunning. Everything was cloaked in a soft yellow light. Deer were prancing around. Honest to God, it was a God-Damn Lana Del Rey music video. Honestly to Lana Del Rey, it was godly. It was hard to take our eyes off of it.
THANK GOD / LANA DEL REY CUZ WE SURE AS SHIT WEREN'T GONNA LOOK AT EACH OTHER.
...See, none of us remembers why now but we were all in a fight. Tess vs. Maggie, Maggie vs. Ceil, Ceil vs. Tess. It came to a fever pitch when we shared an appetizer trio at the local bar right outside the park.
We pretty much ate our microwaved appetizers in silence and, I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a T.G.I. Friday's commercial, but that is no fucking way to eat appetizers. Do you know how awful it is to bite into a mozzarella stick that still is frozen in the center and have to silently chew it because you’re friends are being equally as icy?! IT’S TORTURE!
We got back to the camp just in time for the most beautiful sunset we've ever seen.
Jesus! Pop a Midol, Mother Nature! I'm trying to be passive aggressive towards my friends which is really hard to do with such aggressive beauty in my face.
We ended up all separating. I won't say who did what exactly but one of us went for a hike, one of us ran off with some cute Israeli boys with man-buns to listen to music and drink whiskey and one of us wandered around looking for enough cell service to look up if there was an ACTUAL T.G.I Friday's around. (PS: if you're wandering around the Badlands and you see a mirage of a Friday's, is it technically called a CGI Friday's? Can someone get Michael Bay on this? He owes me one. He'll know what I'm talking about).
In all honesty, The Bad Blood National Park was so spectacular and vibrant, it's something everyone should see in their lifetime, no matter how stubborn and pig-headed their loved ones are.
In the end, we all made up and THIS IS NOT A STOCK IMAGE I SWEAR.
Our journey to the eastern border of Wyoming was an arduous one. It took a full six hours across what Ceil called "Bleaksville, Nothingz County." (Please note: Ceil absolutely cracks herself up when she says this. Her game-changing jokes like this are what makes a six hour journey feel like only a five and three quarters one).
Why such a long journey? We were on our way to see Devil's Tower.
In the 11th hour, someone, I won't name names but it rhymes with Tessa, asked, "How long are we really going to look at a rock for?"
Outraged, Cecilia and Maggie quickly fired back at Rhymes-With-Tessa, saying things like "it's not about the destination; it's about the journey!" and "Live a little! When are you ever going to return to Bleaksville, Nothingz County?!"
We even told her that in addition to its being a total geological anomoly and a sacred ground for several planes tribes including the Dakota and Cheyenne, "this rock muthafucka is the muthafucking rock in 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind." None of us has actually seen this movie but, one day, Netflix might add it to its streaming catalog and that would be very, very important to us.
So we looked at the rock.
We really, really looked at it.
But somehow, Ceil ended up in a child's sized swimsuit and we ended up just taking pictures of ourselves per usual.
Because I (Maggie) made fun of Ceil's sense of humor earlier in this post, Ceil says I have to finish this by giving her a compliment and, according to her, "it can’t be how good I look in a child’s bathing suit." You know what I have to say? She's got the heart and courage of a lion.
Look what we found:
Look WHO we found:
This is gonna be good, guys.