Saturday, November 20, 2010

Home at Last

Notre Dame Fighting Irish logoTo borrow a line from the last line of Tolkien's The Return of the King, I'm back. Home at last. From Champaign to near Cleveland on Thursday, then Cleveland to Maine yesterday. That's not as bad as the trip out, Maine to South Chicago in one long trek. Honestly, I wasn't trying to set any speed records or prove I could still do at (muffled words) years that I could have at half my age; it was more by accident than design. I haven't told you that tale? Well, shame on me.

I left on the Friday before classes were to begin and thought I'd drive until I got tired, stop, and start up again the next day, more or less aiming for Indiana. By the time I got to South Bend, home of Notre Dame University and the South Bend fishing tackle company, I was ready to hit the sack. Finding an available room, however, was nearly as difficult as coming up with the cash called for by even a no-tell motel, one of the "We'll leave the red light on for you" variety. And why was that, you may ask? It was a Notre Dame football weekend.

Did it occur to me to check the football schedule? Nope, and if it had, do you think I would have considered this to pose a problem? Right again. My Boy Scout training, i.e. Be Prepared, failed me -- don't tell any of my former Scouts, please, they'll never let me live it down.

The night manager of a Micro-Tel told me the cold, hard facts of life: the best deal I was going to find would closely approximate Saturday's Power Ball Lottery jackpot and require the license and title to my first born as proof of my credit-worthiness. Off-season opportunities to make a buck were too good to pass up and free enterprise being what it is, the cost of a bed rose accordingly. Having neither won the lottery (yet) nor had a first born with me I could offer as collateral, I headed on to Chicago.

The lights of a Super 8 loomed near the cutoff for Highway 57 South, my lifeline to Champaign, and I took that as a sign. The bed was incredibly comfortable as was its counterpart in the Super 8 my roommate and I shared in Peoria, and four hours later I was sipping coffee and channel surfing the car radio in Illinois corn country, while munching maple oat muffins for breakfast that I'd brought with me for the occasion.

The adrenaline that powered my trip West was a fond memory on the way home. All I wanted was to be bowled over by ninety pounds of Yellow Labrador charging through the door and every "now" I could think of wasn't soon enough. I had hoped to get as far as Buffalo when hunger and cognitive decline, aka sleepiness, took over and I ended up spending the night in what I took for Akron, Ohio. It wasn't Akron, but that story is for another post. It's a good one, though, so stay tuned.

(Public Domain image of Notre Dame Fighting Irish logo via Wikipedia)
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