When this was posted as my Facebook status a few days ago, one of my “friends” commented that I had my “cranky pants” on. I suppose it was true, having just completed the 20 plus hour drive from Watertown, SD to Houston, TX for the second time in 10 days. I’d made that trip once before (alone, in January) but even with two people it isn’t a trip to be made by the faint of heart or in vehicles with low gas mileage.
The drive North to South Dakota went surprisingly well, other than the usual obscene amount of traffic in Houston and a bizarre freak-out at a Super 8 (if you ever stay at the Super 8 in Norman, OK, do not, I repeat DO NOT attempt to start the 6 AM continental breakfast at 5:59 AM). My girlfriend and I arrived in Brookings with more than enough energy to head straight downtown and close down O’Hare’s and Jim’s. Brookings was its usual self, full of people I hadn’t seen in way too long, but SDSU looks quite different with all the new construction. The week was filled with catching up, running into old high school friends, meeting the girlfriend’s parents for the first time (eep! gulp!), drinking, Shark Week and a wedding where I didn’t really know anyone. You know, the usual.
All in all, the whole week went pretty well; the cranky pants didn’t come on until the drive home. You see, the wedding was Saturday night and my girlfriend needed to be back at work Monday morning, so we needed to cram all that driving into a short period of time. We left Watertown at about 8:30 PM after the reception dinner and planned to stop in Omaha/Council Bluffs sometime around 12:30 or 1:00 AM. We pulled off the road about on schedule, ready for a short night’s sleep, only to find out that the hotel had no vacancies and according to the night desk guy, none of the other hotels in the area did either. Writing Omaha off as a loss, we got back on the road and proceeded to stop in Nebraska City, Hamburg, Mound City, St Joseph – 11 different hotels in all, excluding the places front desk clerks called to check for us – until we found a Travelodge with one empty room in Platte City just north of Kansas City. It was 5:00 AM at this point and we were about ready to pull over and sleep in the car (energy drinks and gas station coffee can only take you so far). Fortunately the nice desk clerk pushed back the checkout time for us and we were able to get a good morning’s sleep before heading out again around noon.
Now, I love South Dakota, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t know if it’s worth it to make that drive again. The Sturgis Rally (started that week), some Nebraskan rodeo and the Kansas City Chief’s training camp (shudder… yet another reason to hate that team) all conspired against us. The construction on I-29 in Iowa alone made me question humanity’s merits, while the desolate nothingness that is Kansas is enough to drive anyone to madness. What truly frightened me, however, were the billboards threatening a “New American Revolution” (surprisingly, the teabaggers usually spelled “revolution” correctly).
I don’t think we’ll be making that drive again any time soon. We’ll definitely be flying up next time. Look on the bright side – I’m sure the airports will be crazy enough over Thanksgiving that I’ll get to write about that trip too!