How was your Saturday? Mine was pretty unique.
I woke up in the middle of a crazy thunderstorm at 5 am. I say the middle of the storm because I was on the 24th floor of the JW Marriott downtown New Orleans, Louisiana. The storm was literally all around us. It was a pretty wild wake-up call for me and my family of 5. The lightning flashes and cracks of thunder were biblical. I was starting to think God or Al Roker was sending me a personal message to get in my ark.
Pack It Up. Pack it In.
We had already planned to begin our trek home to Milwaukee, Wisconsin yesterday. But the storm, which was still ragin’ like a cajun a couple of hours later meant that there was no reason for one last stroll through the French Quarter. Because not even Tom Benson’s Boogie umbrella would have done us any good in NOLA yesterday.
On The Road Again
At 8:30 am our Ford Expedition was fully loaded and we were pulling out of the hotel. The weather was wild and added to the mystery of just how far we would be able to travel in one day. The navigation system told us the full drive, without stops, would be 1032 miles straight north. The adventure was on.
Our first stop was in Kentwood, Louisiana for a bathroom break and fuel. It took me 3 fuel pumps at 2 different gas stations to find any gasoline. There are plenty of great places to stop for a bathroom and fuel. Kentwood is not on that list. #DoNotRecommend
Mississippi: The 4 I’d State.
Soon we rolled into Mississippi, like Tina Turner, or CCR. The state was lovely and green. Jackson was bigger than I imagined. I wondered where Deion ‘Prime Time’ Sanders lives. (Probably on some prime real estate.) I thought about Kid Rock screaming, ‘I feel like Jackson, Mississippi!’ But I couldn’t get a feel for what that would feel like. So we kept rolling.
We skirted around Memphis and saw downtown as we crossed the Mississippi for the first time. The Bass Pro Shop Pyramid dominates the Memphis skyline. It’s like Tennessee’s version of the Statue of Liberty. (Give me your crankbait, your plastic worms, your red and white bobbers…)
The Middle Passage
We grabbed lunch in West Memphis, Arkansas and my wife Dawn took over driving duties so I could grab a quick nap. I tried not to giggle when the girl working at Arby’s kept referring to the gyro (sandwich) as if it was part of a gyroscope. Dawn drove us through Northeast Arkansas, the Missouri Bootheel, and across the Mississippi again into Cairo, Illinois. Which meant we had made it halfway home.
Yes, You Kankakee!
We stopped for another quick bathroom break just north of Cairo, and I started driving again at 4 pm. We had a whole lot of Illinois in front of us. But we were on a roll. And we rolled all the way to Kankakee, where we grabbed Culver’s for dinner at 9 pm. (I thought it would be fun to open a pancake restaurant there called Kankakee Panckees.)
We hit Chicago late enough that there were no issues. But as always, I saw lots of billboards for hair replacement. So if I ever have that problem, I’ll call Brian Urlacher.
Once we crossed into Wisconsin someone hit the fog machine and visibility dropped to near nothing. We had 60 more miles to home. And it appeared the drive would end the way it started, with weather spicing things up.
Home With My homies.
At exactly 11:30 pm we pulled into our driveway at home in Mequon. We made it 1040 miles in 15 hours. We did the whole drive in one day. I had driven 1000 miles in a day several times. (And I would walk 500 miles.) But this was the farthest and fastest of my major road days.
After avoiding the police for 15 hours, just before midnight, as I was cleaning out the car in my driveway, a police officer walked up my driveway and introduced himself.
I assumed he was there to congratulate me and my family on completing our cannonball run. Instead, he told me he had received a report of shots fired at about the time we got home. He asked if I had heard anything. I resisted the temptation to tell him that I thought I heard some Jello shots and maybe a Jagermeister or two in my neighbor Paul and Jane’s house. (He then told me if there really were shots fired you would usually have several calls. So he assumed it was nothing.)
Take on significant challenges. Do hard things. Set goals. Push yourself. See what is really possible. It’s fun to take on challenges with a great partner or your entire family. Extra obstacles like storms, fog, and police just add to the adventure. And they help turn miles into memories. Which is what life is all about.
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