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118 miles to go

XprizeRoadTrip Flickr photo albums and YouTube videos

Seeing the town of New Ulm in one day is easy to do. But escaping their Bavarian Blast and throwing ones self into the Xprize is quite another: laundry, packing, correcting insurance claims, crafting a blog, buying black pants to fit in with the Edison2 team, grabbing final supplies, locating an affordable means to get around a two mile oval racing track, and getting my car washed by a Catholic school dancing team…

New Ulm didn’t show up in the rear view mirror until well after 2 p.m.

In 2007, I worked a storm in Chicago and spent a day downtown when I finished. That day, I looked down from the deck of the Hancock tower, then the Sears Tower, then Hancock again and saw a frozen river of automotive metal on I-90 from 6 a.m. until long after dark. I remembered thinking the only time anyone could navigate that concrete channel would be late Sunday night.

Last night at midnight I snaked past the Hancock tower at full speed. An hour earlier, a toll booth operator pointed at the velcro on my windshield and yelled, “Your window man!….your window!!”  It was then that I discovered the Chicago toll transponder I dumped in the passenger door three years ago was still working.

I shoved it back onto the velcro. The I-Pass transponder, still loaded with three-year-old money, lifted toll barricades for nearly a hundred miles. The surface of I-80 went to hell after the Skyway Toll Bridge, but the jazz on the radio made up for it. Midnight became 2:30/3:30 eastern, and I grabbed a hotel room in South Bend. It was nearly five before I finished uploading media for the blog.

At 8 a.m. I went down for breakfast and found it packed with girls and teenagers. They were in South Bend for America’s Youth On Parade where 5000 baton twirlers descend on the Notre Dame campus nearby. For the last hour they’ve been outside my window, practicing on the lawn.

Just now the boom box thumping over them finally stopped. I lie down, desperate for more sleep. Housekeeping knocks at the door. A bar calls about a gig this week. The room phone rings about a late checkout. The catastrophe company calls, asking if I want to go back to Minnesota (that storm west of New Ulm did heavy damage).

Fifteen minutes of peace. The alarm goes off.

I’m not sure how tired the Edison2 team will be today after the long haul to MIS and technical inspections on three cars. But after twenty-two consecutive fourteen-hour days at full throttle, running insurance claims and running short on sleep, I know I’ll be right there with them.

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