“Don’t drive it,” they said. “You’ll never make it,” they said. Well dammit, we drove it. Crazy? Yes. Foolish? Yes. But in just over six days, Lauren, Baxter, and I conquered 3300 miles and eight states en route to the wedding of our bestest friends, Chris Walsh and Sarah Domenichetti.
The truth is, Lauren and I were astounded by how many people warned us against driving, but there were good reasons for it. First off, if we flew it would cost more. Secondly, we would have to find a sitter or boarding for the hound. Thirdly, I wanted to be able to stop off and make a rare visit to the Glanzer family. Fourthly, it was an excuse to hit up another baseball stadium on the drive home. Fifthly, we could pack as much as we wanted. Sixthly, I like road trips.
We left straight from work at 4:00pm on Wednesday, and I drove us all night until stopping at a Motel 6 in Salina, Kansas at 2:40am. That was the part people were most concerned about, but it wound up being the easiest leg of the trip. For some reason I was just alert as can be and could have probably driven all the way to Vermillion in one sitting. But why arrive in Vermillion so early? Everyone would be at work or in school. So we crashed for a few hours, then headed for Lincoln, Nebraska where we had lunch with Lauren’s very pregnant friend Shayna and her husband Ari. We braved rain and road construction through northwestern Iowa before arriving in Vermillion, South Dakota at 3:30pm. After checking into the hotel, we headed over to my sister’s house for the second birthday party of her youngest kid, Colton. Mom, Dad, Alex, Ann, Hadley, and Adrienne all ventured south from Carpenter/Willow Lake, and the whole Krogman clan was there. After food, we hit up the Holiday Inn swimming pool and I tossed the children around wildly… turns out that’s not the only exhilarating exercise I’d get on the trip.
The next morning we drove to Minneapolis and arrived far later than anticipated due to massive road construction on I-35, rerouting us through New Prague and Northfield. I dropped Lauren off at her nail appointment in New Brighton, then hauled ass back to south Minneapolis to Tim and Kate’s house to unpack, change clothes, and haul ass back through heavy traffic to pick up Lauren and go to St. Paul for the wedding rehearsal and dinner. Only I made a crucial mistake. Tim and Kate were still at work when I arrived, so I released Baxter and the Rosoks’ dog Eli into the backyard to play while I unpacked. Several minutes later I realized they were nowhere in sight. That’s when I saw Kate’s note saying there’s a hole in the backyard fence. Already sweating profusely and in a very tight pinch for time, I went sprinting after the dogs as they ran towards busy Lyndale Avenue. Thankfully Baxter stopped and I carried him home and threw him in the house, then went after Eli who I had momentarily lost sight of. Thankfully he caught sight of a rabbit and came back in my direction where I snagged him and threw him inside. Anyway, I managed to get dressed and got on the road.
That’s when I really started to notice the “thump thump thump thump” of the front tire on the passenger’s side. Flat? Nope. Still drove smoothly. But something was wrong. Oh well, I’d have to deal with it later.
The wedding rehearsal went fine and we all headed over to Mancini’s in St. Paul for dinner. It was there that I broke out my special presentation I’d been preparing for weeks. I wanted to do something special for Walsh, and thought of a great idea. Using random snippets of audio from our old podcast, I spent hours splicing together an imaginary interview with Walsh that supposedly took place a couple years ago, telling about how Chris met Sarah, and Chris’s future plans for his wedding day. The crowd laughed hysterically, thankfully. I had previously envisioned it completely bombing.
Saturday was the day of the wedding, but that damn car was still acting up, so first thing bright and early I headed over to Midas and had it inspected. Sure enough, it was a broken wheel bearing on the right side and a broken axle on the left side. I’m not sure if it was a result of my driving on the trip up, or if it would have happened sooner or later regardless, but I am just thankful it happened at an opportune time and place, and not when we were on the interstate in the middle of nowhere. $808 later, I was off to the wedding in St. Paul for pictures.
It was a great ceremony on a picture-perfect day, and although many tears were shed, everyone kept themselves together and Christopher and Sarah became husband and wife. I gave a real best man speech later that night, which also drew some high praises from people I spoke to. I, for one, was ready to dominate that open bar after the dog and car issues. We all had a merry night, and Lauren and I stopped off at historic Mickey’s Diner for a late night snack before cabbing it back to the Rosoks’.
Sunday was our one real day of R&R on the trip. After bidding farewell to the newlyweds, I spent the afternoon watching football and drinking brandy with Tim and his brother Andy. That night we visited Lauren’s family for dinner.
Monday we hit the road bright and early for St. Louis. I knew it was out of the way, but it was our one chance to visit a new baseball stadium on the trip. After a smooth journey down to St. Louis, we left Hound in the Drury Inn and walked over to the ballpark. The Cardinals beat the Nationals 4-3 in a fairly uneventful game. Busch Stadium was pretty dang nice and picturesque, definitely one of the nicer stadiums I’ve seen. I was a little turned off by their high concession prices, however. Target Field is still #1 in my opinion. When we returned to the hotel, Baxter had escaped from his crate and pissed all over the bed.
Tuesday was the day I dreaded: 900 miles of driving from St. Louis to Austin. Lauren drove through Missouri, I took over throughout Oklahoma and northern Texas, and by 10:30pm Lauren had returned us safely to our home.
Baxter was a terrible passenger. He hated every last fricking second of that trip, aside possibly from running around the Krogmans’ backyard. He shook, he shivered, he panted, he paced in the car. He yelped, he barked, he whimpered in the hotels and houses. He didn’t eat, he didn’t sleep well, he didn’t drink much water. Basically, he should have been left at home. But how were we to know; I thought he would have fun!
As for choosing to drive… car problems aside, it was fine, but it amounted to about 50% of our vacation time spent on the road from one point to another. If we were to do it over, I might still drive, but I’d leave the weekend before and come back right after the wedding to get those extra “buffer” days for travel. Here are the number of hours I slept each night: 4, 5, 6, 6, 6, 7. And then we got home and I stayed up to watch Sunday’s episodes of Breaking Bad and Dexter, giving me another night of less than normal sleep.
But, despite the trip being a whirlwind from start to finish, it was a great time. The Walshes threw a heck of a wedding and I was happy to be able to be a part of things. I posted a ton of photos on Facebook so head over there for pictures, I’m too lazy to post them again.