Road Trip to the Great Smoky Mountains
Day 1: Minneapolis to Champaign, IL
Luke and I both worked a full day and were painfully behind schedule by the time we finally hit the road. Our plan was to motor across Wisconsin and halfway through Illinois as quickly as possible. We stopped for a few brief moments to get burritos and gas (unrelated to one another) and reached Madison, WI around 11 p.m. Every part of me wanted to call my sister and crash at her place for the night, but that would ensure a brutal drive to Kentucky tomorrow. So we pressed on.
Sometime after midnight and somewhere in central Illinois, the drive started to get pretty hairy. Intense bands of rain washed over us at regular intervals, slowing us to a crawl to avoid hydroplaning. Luke, the more competent night driver, was putting in most of the work behind the wheel, while I provided entertainment value to keep him awake. Eventually, I couldn’t fend off delirium and snuggled up against the passenger side door. Just as the sound of the radio began to fade, I was jolted awake by Luke shouting,“HOLY SHIT!”
I peeled my face off the window and instinctively started scanning the road for the Children of the Corn.
“I forgot my hiking boots!” cried a visibly agitated Luke.
This was a bummer because we planned to hike the hell out of the Smokies. Luke was beating himself up, so I tried to convince him it wasn’t the end of the world to forget to pack your hiking boots for a hiking trip.* This approach flopped. I then reminded him of our old saying, “the only thing you really need to pack is an ID and a credit card.” This approach worked better. The nearest REI was in Indianapolis, so we decided to stop the next day to get some new boots.
We finally pulled into the La Quinta parking lot around 2:30 a.m. I doubt Champaign, IL has ever looked more attractive than it did at that moment. I say this with a fair amount of confidence after having seen it in the daylight. *Luke asked me to mention that he did remember to pack everything else for both of us, including the french press for my morning coffee habit.