Fri 4 May 07

09:56 Car packed. Dogs secured. I’m off! I must say this might be the world’s greatest car packing job ever. In the history of the road trip I don’t think anyone has ever utilized the available cargo space more efficiently. I have clothing crammed in every air pocket and boxes stacked within fractions of an inch of the walls. Amazing. As of yesterday afternoon my idea had been a pre-dawn departure (gotta beat Chicago traffic!), but the more I thought about it the more I realized how nice it would be not to feel rushed in the morning. I ended up spending the morning loading up my car at a relaxing pace and sat in the sun in the backyard with the dogs while they played for about half an hour before I left. I think it was the right way to go. Beginning car mileage 62,704.

10:02 US 131, heading South. I guess this is when the trip officially begins for me. Even with the weight, my Focus seems to be humming along just fine.

10:08 Something in the cargo in the back of the car begins to squeak. And keeps squeaking for miles and miles.

10:12 U2 – In the Name of Love. Good song. So long WGRD. Despite my usual annoyance with our GR radio stations I actually ended up listening to local stations until they faded out. Nostalgia I guess.

10:25 After passing car loads and bus loads of the elderly dressed in traditional Dutch outfits I realize that I’m leaving just before Holland’s Tulip Time Festival. I’m not particularly broken up about this.

10:45 First block of construction. Roughly eleven miles. Traffic is moving smoothly though.

12:52 Comisky! I remember when Mary and I went to a game here a few years back on one of their cheap ticket days. We showed up at about the third inning, parked for free, and had much of an upper deck section to ourselves.

13:22 Fuel. One of those roadside vendor islands. Des Plains, IL 203 miles 8.72 gallons $28.68.

15:10 I’m quite impressed by the range of the Chicago sports radio station AM 670. Most days I can get a fairly static-free signal from 670 in GR and now I’ve been able to continue listening well into Wisconsin. It’s a significantly superior sports station to anything we have in Grand Rapids and I’ve been laughly consistently for the past couple of hours (which is a potent method for staying alert while driving). I particularly like the lack of respect for all things politically correct. They joke about recently killed Cardinals pitcher (drunk driving accident) and how considerate of him it was to crash into the back of a tow truck, adding that next time he should careen into an ambulance then roll to a stop in front of a morgue. They call Cardinals manager Tony and LaRussa a “throbbing rectum” and spend fifteen minutes ripping on his personal character. And later they spend thirty minutes breaking down the ridiculousness of Rev Jesse Jackson’s demand for a statue of Ernie Banks (tangenting into a laundry list of obscure 1980’s White Sox and Cubs players who also deserve a statue “Why not Wayne Tolleson?”). Good educated baseball talk. Enjoyable.

17:58 Fuel. Menomonie, WI 315 miles 9.36 gallons $29.00. One note of concern. When I take a peak at my tires the rear tires seem to be worn down significantly more than the front ones. I don’t think this was the case upon my GR departure. (Note: this ends up biting me on day two)

19:19 Metrodome! I think I could live in Minneapolis. Something about it just strikes me right.

20:58 Down pour. I’m kind of glad I decided to take the North Dakota route as I listen to the radio and hear reports of violent storms shredding through Kansas. This rain isn’t any fun, but it beats a Tornado.

21:33 Light rain. Traffic really flying now though. (Brandon, MN)

22:57 Fuel. Moorhead, MN 302 miles 8.88 gallons $27.00.

23:03 North Dakota!

23:42 Rest area for the night.