Friday, November 14, 2008

The Epic Journey

Or whatever. It started with my old college buddy, Mike Schwartz. He said, I need to have an adventure or something. Spend about a thousand bucks. Hmmm... "Maybe you're talking to the right person. I have a thought."

I'm collecting state high points (see for info) I noticed a few years ago that the high points of ND, SD, NE, KS, and OK are pretty much in a line running north to south.

Here's the plan. I pick Mike up on Chicago. We hit the state high point of Wisconsin on the way, then head west across North Dakota, and start working our way south. After climbing in Oklahoma, we go south to Amarillo and head back to Chicago on old Route 66, just for fun. We left last night and spent the night in Appleton, Wisconson. We'll see how it goes.

Francine needed another car. Clint's mom had a really nice minivan which he was going to bring up from Florida to sell. The transport was going to cost him $300. I needed a break from the action for a couple days, and I also needed to check off Brinton Hill, the high point of Florida. So instead of waiting for Clint to get the van moved in December, I hopped on a plane for Tampa and proceeded on the world's longest test-drive.

Clint's dad met me at the airport about 2:00 pm. I headed for Brinton Hill at Lakewood Park, FL.

Brinton Hill is located far west in the Pan Handle, approximately straight south from Montgomery, AL. The trip took me through Talahasee for the first time, and then still farther west. Finally, at about 9:55 pm, I pulled into a little park close to the Alabama border, where I checked off the lowest-of-the-high points. At only 345 feet, it's not much of a climb. Just park your car and walk about 75 feet to a stone marker.

Back in the car and head north. The trip home was long, but nice. I listened to the various radio stations. Throught the south, while scanning for radio stations, it's either religious stations or country stations. The people on those stations don't have eyes. They have ahs.

I caught a couple naps along the way, driving until I was drowsy and then pulling off for a couple hours. Stopped at a Waffle House for breakfast at around 5:30. By the time I near Birmingham, I wanted a cup of good coffee, so I got off the freeway and found a Starbucks.

Nostalgia. I pulled around the corner by the Starbucks, and across the street was the hotel I stayed in nearly two years ago, when I made my first seven-continents marathon trip. "Hey! I know where I am! Cool!"

I had met some pretty nice people down there. Justin, the race director. Jill at trackshack dot com. A good friend from Kalamazoo, Brian Molrony, introduced himself to me down there and we spent a while searching (unsuccessfully) for a microbrewery in Birmingham. I ran a fun marathon there.

On northward. In Nashville, I stopped at the Blackstone Brewery for lunch. Shepherd's Pie and a pint of Nut Brown Ale. Nice.

North through Louisville, and a bit more nostalgia. I ran a marathon in a rainstorm there. Slept the night before in the back of my Aztek and watched fireworks over the river. Talked a janitor into giving me a big plastic bag for the soaking-wet-and-cold walk back to my car. Taking my post-race shower in a downpour.

Gas in Indiana for only $1.82. That's less than half of what we paid a month ago. Yet another nostalgic moment--I remember back when gas used to be under two bucks...

As I got close to Fort Wayne, I pulled off for gas again. This spot looked familiar too. Huntington, the site of the HUFF--the Huntington Ultra Frigid Fifty. The longest distance I've ever done, through lots of trails and lots of mud. The 50K there is actually too long. More like 32 miles. Huntington is also the home of former VP Dan Quayle. And they have a massive display of Christmas stuff in this little sunken park in the middle of town that's fun to walk around in.

It was my last stop before home. Finally around 10:30 I got home to the lovely Francine. A beautiful end to a long trip.

and the adventure continues....


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