Friday, November 12, 2010
No Planes No Trains Just An Automobile
This Blog entry is my submission to the Sportsman Channel and Outdoor Blogger Network writing contest.”
Well, it's Black Friday today and (while you are all out shopping for deals) I am partaking in my own special way, sitting on the couch with black sweats, a Chicago Blackhawks sweatshirt and a good cup of coffee (black). A rather nasty sinus headache and cold has put a damper on what was to be a great Thanksgiving Holiday weekend.
Twice each year, for Easter and Thanksgiving, my wife Shirley and I travel south from Elgin, IL to the town of Red Bud IL, to visit Shirley's brother and his family. Red Bud is a small and mostly quiet town about 35 miles outside of St. Louis, MO and around 325 miles from Elgin. A great place to visit for an outdoorsman like myself, since Red Bud is located near the town of Baldwin and the Kaskaskia River State Fish & Wildlife Area. However, in the 11 years I've been traveling down here, I have never made it over to Baldwin and had a chance to tangle with any of the superb fishing that is available there. If I don't start feeling better soon, this trip will again end without a cast. Cappy is not too happy about that!
We started the drive on Wednesday, late in the afternoon, but a little earlier than usual. The trip takes about six hours or so, depending on how many times we stop. Traffic was quite light, for the busiest travel day of the year, and getting out of Chicagoland was easier than in the past. As we made our way south we encountered some extremely heavy rain, frequent lightning and gusty winds. A few times I thought about pulling over to the side of the road, but we pushed ahead. The worst spots were the underpasses, where the water was not as deep, then plowing back into the deeper water after clearing the overpass. We hydroplaned one of those times and I was a bit more cautious after feeling all the wheels of our Chevy Trailblazer leave the road.
The good news was that we never saw a car travelling the wrong way on the famed stretch of I-55 from the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles. A classic Thanksgiving movie where Neal Page (Steve Martin) tries to get home for Thanksgiving in a snowstorm. If you have never seen the movie, this holiday weekend (and after reading this blog post) would be a perfect opportunity to take the time to see it.
As we drove through the city of Bloomington IL, I was reminded of a snow and ice storm that hit the area, during one of our trips to Red Bud. The traffic wasn't moving at all and Shirley and I decided it would be safer to get off the interstate after seeing multiple cars and semi-trailers in ditches. We saw an eighteen wheeler off in the distance, that was traveling southbound. I figured the road wasn't plowed and the snow cover would give us better traction than the ice, so we opted for the next exit ramp. It was hands clenching the wheel the entire way, but I liked the fact that I didn't have to be concerned about any other cars hitting us, because the road was nearly empty of vehicles. When the road cleared we made our way back to I-55 and contnued safely on our way.
It sometimes makes me wonder why we go through so much, for a little time to spend with family and friends around the holidays. Wouldn't it just be easier to stay home, mail a greeting card, and say that we're not coming this year? Could we save the money from the traveling expenses and buy that new HD TV that I want for Christmas? Those thoughts have crossed my mind, but when you walk through the front door, and are greeted with hugs and smiles from family or friends that you care so deeply about, it makes all the effort in going to see them, worth more than anything in the world. The gift of family and friends is truly the most special part of the holidays, and if I would just start feeling better, I might even get them to share in that special holiday fish or two.