Sunday, November 29, 2009

Duluth and Back plus a football 31 Hours.

Good Evening internet-users.

About 4:30 this morning I returned home from what may the most unique trip I have ever taken. Some friends of mine were making the trip to Duluth, MN for a NCAA DII Football Quarterfinal game, and I decided to tag along for the experience.

The trip started from Allendale, MI at exactly 9:30 pm Friday night. From there were travelled to Zeeland, then South on I-96 to Chicago. Once in the Chicago metro area we kept to the outside of town, following 355 to 88, and then North on 39/90. We cut through the dark, flat emptiness that is central/upper Illinois and into Wisconsin, a state I have flown over a lot, but had never driven in. We cut through Beloit, up around Madison and past the Dells. We stopped in Eau Claire to switch drivers at 4:30 am CST. After a brief, unplanned delay we kept surging North, a little road-weary by this time.

Around 7:00 am CST, as the morning sky was beginning to lighten, we spotted the lights of Superior, Wisconsin on the horizon from our elevated vantage point. Soon, the ridge/hill that Duluth is built into came into sight. We crossed the causeway bridge and explored a little bit before catching breakfast downtown about 8am CST. A nice tailgate at the University of Minnesotta-Duluth and then the game. We beat UMD 24-10 in a great defensive effort.

About 4:30 pm CST, we pulled out of town and started back South into Wisconsin. That's when the three of us who were not driving passed out for an hour. We were pretty tired and the cold, sunny weather had exposed our weariness. As we plowed South through the Badger state, darkness fell. About 6pm CST we pulled into Eau Claire and went into town. We searched for good food in Eau Claire online and found Mogie's boasted a nice looking menu and tap list. My are they good at what they do. One of the best burgers I have ever had, including a nice craft beer. Small, quiet, old-fashioned smoke-free sports bar. Very nice work Mogie's!

Just after 7 pm CST, we got back in the car with me at the wheel. I took us down close to the Dells before someone else wanted to drive. After we got to Madison I know I fell asleep until we hit the suburbs of Chicago. I awoken to find we had missed the turn for 355, and would need to get on 294 South. We were hoping to avoid the heavier inner-ring traffic, but oh well. We rolled through Chicago metro about midnight, and re-joined I-94 into Indiana, and back into Michigan. Just before 4am EST, we pulled back into a foggy Allendale. I didn't get back to my home in GR until about 4:30 or a little after. I promptly stumbled in (on 2 hours sleep in 1.5 days) and fell into my bed.

A great roadtrip with driven undertaken mostly at night. We got out really cheap due to our schedule and not needing a hotel, but it really gives you a beating. If you have a few people who can rotate driving, it's good, esp. when you have a laptop with power connection in the car for interactive navigation. I'm not good at sleeping in a vehicle unless I am reeaally tired, so plan in advance if that sounds like you. Also plan on caffine and energy drinks.

We also almost learned the hard way that freeway speeding tickets in Wisconsin START at $200. A kind, understanding state trooper in the dark, emptiness of Northern Wisconsin just wanted to give us a reminder.

The Lakers of GVSU now face Carson-Newman (Tenn.) in an NCAA Semi-Final game this coming Saturday, Dec. 5th at 3:30 pm EST, in Allendale, MI (Lubbers Stadium). I HIGHLY encourage you to go to the game, although if you can not make the contest you can catch all the action in lovely HD live on ESPN!

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