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Great road trip

GAYS MILLS - I had a 4000-mile week last week. For a guy who usually only puts on 50 miles a week, or maybe a hundred, it was above average, way above average, and in a lot of ways.  

Several weeks ago, my friends Jerry and Alice Boehm contacted me to see if I had any ideas on how to get a car here from California. They were buying a car through Jerry’s brother and wisely using the network method to get it home. And, it worked out well for all of us. I still have some connections to California, relatives living there and so forth. I let the thoughts and possibilities percolate for a few days and then volunteered to go out and get the car myself.

My trip would be multi-purpose.  A.) I would help my friends with the car of course. B.) I would see some people in California I wanted to see. C.) I would break up the winter a little bit, even though it hadn’t started yet.  D.) I would eat quite a bit of good Mexican food.  E.) I would have a chance to practice the harmonica on the long ride home. Oh, who am I trying to kid? It would be a cheap road trip and a lot of fun.

The arrangements were made quickly and easily. After scary visits to a couple of airline sites on the web where the prices would have been deal breakers, I found a great one-way price on Orbitz. Orbitz is a fine travel website that I had used before and will use again. Federal regulations prohibit me from telling you how cheap the ticket I bought was but let’s just say that I got to California for about 50 cents a pound. Any cheaper and I would have been asked to either help with the luggage or serve drinks on the flight. 

The cheap flight came at a cost and that cost was having to be at Chicago O’Hare Airport by 11 a.m. on fly day. This is done easily via the commuter bus that shuttles people from the UW Madison campus directly to the correct terminal. These buses are classy and comfortable, speedy and safe. Alice got me to the bus stop and Deb, the bus driver, wheeled a nearly full bus from Madison down to Chi-town.

One improvement I noticed on the toll way since my last trip to Chicago was some kind of sensors that read a sticker on the bus’s windshield. That meant we didn’t need to stop and pay tolls every so often. That whiz bang technology eliminates what I always thought was a terrible, mind-numbing jo–toll taker.

I had two interesting seatmates on the plane and the time flew by as we winged our way west. You know that old theory about it being so easy to talk to talk with complete strangers you find yourself with on a plane? It still works.  George, the retired banker from Detroit, and Vince, the Vermont college student, made the reading material I’d brought along into extra baggage. I never got to it and the four-hour flight seemed like two.

I dressed light for LA but was still overdressed when I arrived.  Shorts and sandals would have been silly in Chicago, but were appropriate for the 80-degree temperatures that met me in the sunny southland. That was unseasonably warm for them and it has since changed. They don’t pack away the summer duds like we do, but keep them handy for such warm spells.

I supposedly arrived in time to beat the rush ‘hours’ traffic. It still looked like a lot of traffic to me. Of course, I was coming from Crawford County. Where were all these people coming from and going to? Leroy Lathrop, my dad’s cousin, met me at the airport and assured me that we were in good shape. At least the six lanes of traffic that we joined kept moving faster than the 7-15 MPH that it goes during the daily afternoon/evening crunch, which lasts from 4 to 7 p.m..

Catch up talk with relatives over some fine Mexican food made for a nice ending of a good travel day. Between the 4 a.m. wakeup that day and a two-hour time change, I was more than ready for some shuteye.

To be continued.  Next week: the train, the car and the ride home.