leaving De Pere for New Orleans

Today was fun. We’ve got 32 people making this trip to Louisiana. So we’re taking 7 cars. Two cars left early this morning and are going to spend the night in Memphis, finishing the trip tomorrow morning. The rest of us left the Our Lady of Lourdes parking lot at 10:00am and are driving straight through. What a send off. My entire family was there, along with my Mom. Everyone was hugging and kissing and saying good-byes. It sure is special to have my family’s support.

Paul Albers towed an enclosed trailer so we had plenty of room to bring whatever we needed. So I loaded up my duffle bags and sleeping bag in the trailer, keeping my geek briefcase to carry with me in the car.

the ladies in my lifeMy Mom is the greatest woman in the world! Sometimes she still treats me like her little boy. She asked me if I have clean underwear. My wife also made sure I had the case for my glasses, since I won’t be wearing them while working. Kinda cool to have these great women looking out for me. I gave them and my three daughters a kiss and headed over to the car.

Dick, Rick, Dawn & meI’m riding with Rick & Dawn Crabb and Dawn’s dad Dick Collar. What a fantastic trio. I had not known these folks before this trip. I had just met Rick’s brother Jim on a weekend mens retreat back in September. It’s cool to have been members in this parish for almost 10 years, and to still get to know people I’ve never met. At first, it was strange knowing that the three of them are family and I’m not. But it didn’t take long for us to start to get to know each other and I felt comfortable very quickly.

The first day of driving was quite interesting. Leaving from De Pere, we headed south to Madison, and then down from there to avoid Chicago. We had lunch in Rockford, IL. After lunch, we switched drivers and I rode shotgun, which means that I’m now the navigator. This is big stuff man, I now had to stay awake and figure out where we were going. Well, not long after leaving Rockford, I was awoken to Dawn’s concern about being on the wrong highway. Crap.map of Rockford, IL Some time during my snoring, we got to the I-39/I-90 split, and went the wrong way. We had expected to be heading into central Illinois by now, but we were instead heading into downtown Chicago. The best we could do was to continue into Chicago, and pick up I-57 south from there. No problem. We did fine, though we spent a few bucks more in tolls than we had originally planned.

speed limit 65I took over driving on I-57 south at a rest stop at mile marker 269. Having Wisconsin plates, you have to be careful on Illinois highways. Well, there were two state patrol cars in the median and I blew past them going 74 in a 65; they didn’t seem to care so I figured we were fine, and we were. I drove about 300 miles on this shift and I was off duty around 9:00pm. We had made up some time.