After many planning meetings, one guy having to cancel and another guy dropping out late, finding replacements in a scramble, we all arrive at 5:30 PM in the church parking lot. Kissing our families goodbye, we hop in the big 15 passenger van owned by “L” and head west and then north. Going are 5 men ranging in ages from about 27 to 47, a 16 yo, a 17 yo, and an 18 yo. “E” takes the first leg of driving. We hit a huge traffic jam in Chicago at about 11 PM. E miraculously picks a route where we are zipping past the traffic jam to our right and separated by concrete barriers. I don’t know how he did it, but he saved us at least an hour stuck in traffic. At about 1 AM “L” takes over the driving and drives until about 4 AM. We are somewhere in Wisconsin stopped at a gas station, it’s here that I first hear the charming “Oooo ayyy” exclamation from one of the nice ladies working the night shift. I know I am in the right area of the country now! It’s also here where I make my first big mistake. I offer to sit shotgun and keep “D” up as he takes the next leg of driving. Foolishly, I believe that a one liter Diet Pepsi will keep me up….actually I am right, it does keep me up, but it’s not the caffeine. You see, I was relatively thirsty and I downed the whole thing. About 45 minutes down the road (no kidding…45 min) I have a full bladder. As you can guess from some of my posts, one of my biggest faults is my pride. And after all of the teasing I have given E over the last 9 months there is no way in H377 that I am going to ask the guys to stop. I’d never hear the end of it. It truly is poetic justice. I deserve it all and as the minutes slowly trickle by, drip by drip, I feel like I am going to explode. Still, I keep up the conversation, trying to avoid staring at the clock wishing it to move faster. My mind races to the first aid kit…no, rats….I don’t have any antibiotics that will treat a urinary tract/prostate infection. Please, D drive faster! I am pondering about the capacity of the human bladder before rupture as signs for Superior, WI come into view. It’s now about 7AM and I nonchalantly ask if anyone would like to stop for breakfast. A chorus of “yeses” is about the sweetest sound I’ve ever heard. Now, the only thing I need to relieve my Hoover Dam is the Golden Arches. It will still be another 35 minutes….that’s 2100 seconds I’ll have you know…before I unobtrusively bolt to bathroom. BTW, I still have yet to pay McD’s for the hole I bored into the back of the urinal. I don’t confess my sufferings to any of the guys until the last night on the lakes. E rolls laughing and vows not to stop at all, even for food on the way home. But, it’s too late. I learned my lesson and had no further difficulties. The rest of the drive is uneventful and we arrive in Ely around 11 AM. A little earlier than expected.
We check into VNO and are staying in the bunkhouse next door. After unpacking we have Mass and then head to Subway for lunch. The weather reports indicate that tomorrow might be a little rainy and windy but it’s supposed to be 75 and sunny the rest of the week. John and Lynn at VNO are very helpful and the bunkhouse was nicer than I expected. We ate dinner at the Boathouse, bought a few souvenirs, played a wild west card game called BANG! and hit the sack.