a little 600 mile Sunday drive

Published on: 9/2/2012

One week ago I drove our son's 1995 GMC Sonoma 30 mpg rustbucket 600 miles to and from UW River Falls to deliver furniture to our youngest, a sophomore. School starts this week, but he's been busy the last month with football practice, meetings and workouts. He's been so busy in fact that it wasn't easy finding a good time to visit. Even Sundays and holidays he's in meetings, etc.

I didn't want to wait until the weekend everyone else moves in and he didn't want to wait too long for the furniture. The only day with a small window of opportunity to see him was last Sunday and I was busy: I'd promised to accompany a wheelchair-bound woman to mass.

It didn't look promising. Mass would get over at noon and I'd be on the road by 1:00, or a little earlier if I were lucky. Rain was in the forecast so everything had to be tarped. Nick had something going on at 6:00 and it's a better than a five hour drive. I'd be home by midnight if nothing bad happened.

I got to Merrill Hills Manor early and took a short tour while waiting for Metrolift to pick us up.Was told it's running late but, thankfully, am informed it should be on schedule for afternoon pick up from church. Metrolift comes, but where is the gal I'm accompanying? She had cancelled her ride to mass without getting word to me! I would've left earlier to avoid weekend traffic had I known, but without attending mass my prayers were answered. Leaving two hours early meant not getting home at midnight.

At some point in the trip Nick left a message that he was going to meetings and it would probably be several hours. He was concerned I wouldn't have anything to do. "I guess you can park by May Hall and wait for me."

It's funny, but after 300 milesof trouble-free driving the street in front of the college is under construction and totally blocked to his old dorm, May Hall.

While winding around the maze of a college trying to find the back way to May the phone rings again. It's Nick and his meeting got out early. "Where are you?" He was surely surprised to learn I was right there and could even see me, but I was so lost in the maze of closed roads it took another 10 to 15 minutes for us to meet.

Had a brief visit and made the delivery, but soon turned around to head back so I wouldn't be getting home too late.

Stopped for fuel at Whitetail Crossing in Black River Falls three miles off the freeway. There's five Whitetail Crossing convenience store / gas stations in Wisconsin, all conveniently located on Indian reservations and adjacent to Ho-Chunk casinos. Three of them are less than 4 miles off the freeway on the way to River Falls. The Whitetail Crossing in Tomah, among the cranberry bogs and just a stone's throw from an Ocean Spray processing plant, is actually connected to the casino and is often referred to as the Whitetail Crossing Casino.

My reason for mentioning all this about a gas station is that they virtually paid for my trip, and not because I won big at the casino. (A dollar was all I allowed myself to lose.) They advertise the cheapest cigarettes around and, though I havent had a cigarette in 15 years, I still buy them for someone very close to me. I used to travel to Russell, Illinois, just over the border, for their lower-taxed smokes, but taxes lately are similar in both states. A little internet search and phone call informed me cartons were $9.00 each cheaper on the rez and later learned there's no sales tax either, for a total savings of about $12.00 / carton over buying them here in Waukesha. (Gas was cheaper too.)

The trip went well and I was home by 10:00 p.m. After 600 bone-shaking miles in a pickup truck I was ready for sleep! Of course the phone rang a few hours later at 6:00 a.m. for me to come into work early!