LaCrosse, WI, 28 December 2009
And it did, eventually. The stay in St. Louis included couple of dinners (Almonds, Trattoria Marcella, Luciano’s Trattoria, and a lunch at Lesters – separate report forthcoming) and a loat of rain led up to the traditional Christmas Eve dinner at FOJTE’s consisting of assorted cheeses and meats, little bits, and sparkling wine preceding a lovely dinner of mushroom soup, salad a la Beth, the traditional lasagna, some asparagus with sesame seeds (as I remember), and assorted desserts. Oh yes, and there was wine, and more wine, and did I mention there was wine?
Christmas day dawned gray with even more rain, and I started obsessing about the trip next day, watching “Holiday Blizzard” reports on the weather channel, watching white blobs rotate around our intended destination of LaCrosse, WI.
But prior to that we gathered at FOJTY’s family digs to celebrate Christmas with them and TE and wife also joined us. Since we were going to “do presents” we didn’t do a sit down, but sort of a grazing table. A great selection of food, cheeses, charcuterie, veggies with hummus and tapenade, some of the heavenly Straub’s chicken salad, chicken skewers, toasted rav, mini stuffed potatoes, too many choices. And, of course there was more wine. there's always more wine...
Speaking of which, were given a fine bottle by a friend for "the boys" to enjoy..
Which indeed was by all the Flutter Boys (Y and E)note, by prior agreement we all relaxed the DFD code for the evening..
We finally parted after a piece of MFO’s traditional apple pie (hey, Christmas is all about tradition, right?).
Back in the motel, my angst began to mount as more weather reports from the upper Midwest used words like paralyzed and hazardous. Shall we go? Wait a day? Yes, no, yes, no…Finally in the end (with some gentle encouragement from MFO) we decided “…… it”, we’ll start and see what happens. More white knuckles.
All was well until somewhere north of Bloomington, when those little white flakes began to coagulate and my heart rate went up.
The rest of the day was spent negotiating increasing and decreasing amounts of snow on the road. It probably never got really hazardous, just enough to keep you alert, wondering what the next mile(s) would bring. But, we plodded on. As we got just a little north of Madison, the sun shone briefly, pavement was clear and we thought we were out of the woods. Yeah, right. clouds came in again, and snow began falling as did the sun. It’s amazing how darkness adds another level of concern. We began seeing cars in ditches (hopefully those bas---ds who wanted to show off how fast they could drive), and the average speed dropped below 45 mph, everybody staying in line. We got off at Baraboo for gas even though we were only about 100 miles from Lacrosse at the time. Getting back on the highway we were greeted by rotating blue and red lights, where a bunch of cops and wreckers were engaged in extracting two cars from the ditch. 35 mph. we then saw more lights a mile or so later and were ushered into a single lane on a bridge so as to avoid the Jeep Cherokee that had it’s front considerably shortened by the bridge abutment. Okay, that’s enough!. Off next exit, U turn, and back to Exit 92.
We, along with several other of our fellow travelers were holing up for the night. We were smart enough to select a Holiday Inn Express. The room was good, except for “the facility”. It was the smallest toilet that I’ve ever seen in my life.
Without getting too graphic, as we were all trained in the use of a toilet, one must be able to get certain parts of the anatomy positioned so that the toilet is useful. We’ll just say that that involved a certain amount of effort with this particular model--"no, but i designed the bathrooms in a holiday inn last night..."
Okay, enough of that. On the good side, we were equipped with wine and left over food that provided a wonderful refuge from the storm, allowing words to soften and nerves to unwind and let the damn snow/ice/salt do what it would.. Tip - how to live on the road: (ALWAYS bring your own glassware!! Nothing ruins a bottle of wine like drinking it from Styrofoam: – ahhh, hints of plastic with cellophane overtones!)
Next morning the Wisconsin road crews had done their work, and we were able to complete the journey in relatively calm conditions.
And there was no doubt which state we were in
Oh yes, my first meal in Wisconsin was a Butterburger yesterday..
For which I really didn’t have to be
predicted low for tonight - 4 degrees