What a day today. We left town this morning at 10:00, right on schedule. We started by having my daughter Randy take a picture of the four of us by the truck. Holy cow, was that hard. It was -10 degrees outside. This year, Iâ€™m riding with Denis VandenHeuvel, Rick Steeber and Dave Brooks. Denis is one of those guys who Iâ€™ve seen in church for a number of years but just never met. Well we met on last yearâ€™s trip and became instant friends. Itâ€™s great to connect up with him again. Dave is another guy who I met last year. Heâ€™s a hard worker with a great attitude, fun to be around. Rick is a guy that Iâ€™ve known for a number of years. I think we might have originally met at an AITP meeting, Iâ€™m not sure. His daughter and my daughters were on the West De Pere High School Pom & Dance Team together for a few years, so my wife and I have spent a lot of time with Rick and his wife these past few years. They are kind of nutty, so weâ€™ve always enjoyed spending time together. And of course Iâ€™m already missing having my Aunt Pat along. I wish she could have been there in the picture with us.
Weâ€™ve got 8 cars going this year. Three left earlier this morning, they are going to spend the night in Memphis and finish the drive tomorrow. We left at 10 and the other 4 cars left at noon. We met up with those last 4 cars in Bloomington, IL to watch the Packers and Giants in the NFC Championship game. Since we arrived in Bloomington a couple hours ahead of the rest, we scoped out the bars and restaurants.
We first stopped at The Pub II, right by Illinois State University, but they were packed. Buffalo Wild Wings by the airport is just as packed. Then we found J. Buckâ€™s, a restaurant also by the airport, owned by Joe Buck, the FOX Sports NFL broadcaster. Perfect. Plenty of room, lots of TVs. But then the woman told us, â€œjust so you know, weâ€™re closing at 8:00 tonight for an employee party.â€ With a kickoff time of 5:30, that just wouldnâ€™t work. So, we drove around a bit more and ended up at Hooters. They had plenty of room and Ron the manager and Samantha the waitress took good care of us. But the game just wasnâ€™t fun to watch. The Packers never got it together. No passing game, no running game to speak of. Useless penalties. The Packers lost 23-20 in overtime. Brett Favreâ€™s last play of the season was an interception, which setup the Giantsâ€™ winning field goal. So the 27 of us left Hooters a bit dejected.
Since Pat didnâ€™t come with us, we only had 4 people in our car. And since Paul Albers had six in his car, Janice switched over to our car. So now weâ€™re five, cruising down I-74 through southern Illinois.Â Iâ€™m in the back seat writing my blog on a laptop I borrowed from St. Norbert College where I work. Iâ€™ll look for wireless hotspots throughout the week to upload my ramblings.
Since I mentioned the car, I should also say that weâ€™re riding in a 2008 Chevy Suburban, donated to us for the week by Casey Cuene from Broadway Automotive. Denis works at Broadway, and Casey found out about us from the trip last year. Caseyâ€™s one of those local businessmen who has the means to make a difference, and he does. What would this world be like without business people like that? Many thanks to Broadway Automotive.