Plenty of Minnesota fans are already in Orlando for the Citrus Bowl. They took a modern invention called the air-plane, and a few magical hours (and several hundreds of dollars) later they had been transported from the tundra to the sunshine.
That's the easy way. It also doesn't provide for much of a story. The hard way, the memorable way, the cheap way: make the 24-hour drive from the Twin Cities to Orlando. That's what Mike Linnemann and his friends decided to do. Here is his first dispatch from their adventure:
I'm Mike Linnemann. While I worked for a stint at the Star Tribune office in college and used to be a Gopher trackster, I'm headed to Orlando, right now, for the bowl game vs. some team that cannot understand how to spell their state's name. I figured someone might want to hear about our journey. We're playing against a team that has something to do with a zoo.
I've had a bucket list item to attend an actual legitimate bowl game since I joined college, promising a childhood friend and fellow Eagle Scout, Brent Oja, who was a football manager at the time. He went to a few with Kool Aid Maroney and spoke of late night stories and super action fun times during late December. During this past Gopher tackle football season, I called Brent often and mentioned a bowl game idea but his doctorate plans interfered and I sat without a partner. I talked to my wife, but as she'll be in Las Vegas for the first time, for over 72 hours days after the bowl game, and she was out, too.
I found two college buddies, one of whom was an immediate yes and the other, who was dependent on driving as a cost-saving measure. As I've driven to Boston with my then girlfriend, now wife, and countless trips with parents as teachers during the summers, AND gas being cheaper than a bag of Goldfish Crackers, a drive was in order.
We decided to drive through St. Louis and Hotlanta on the way down, and perhaps a selfie with Elvis and a quick trip to a Big Ten school on the way back. Both trips are twenty-four straight hours.
This is an update, until now with things learned already:
*My wife loves murder mystery books. I also appear to enjoy similar themes because Serial was annihilated in twelve straight podcast episodes. It was enjoyable. Not House of Cards good, but who can beat Keyser Soze? Honestly.
*Surge exists again on Amazon. It still tastes terrible.
*Twelve hours of pre-cooked pulled pork with torta sandwiches = USA.
*In Hannibal, Mo., Google takes you through the weirdest places. I may not be alive anymore. Will test pulse at Walgreens in Orlando. See picture below:
*Cold press coffee just clowns on Surge/Energy Drinks. It just conquers imitators.
*Craps is illegal in Minnesota. I remembered when we hit the Iowa border. It's really a shame because the social aspect is pretty great compared to sitting at a Texas Hold Em table, wearing sunglasses indoors, not talking and being grumbly. I should write my legislators a letter on this. Making a google calendar note of this.
*Cedar Rapids is larger than I thought. Cedar Rapids the movie is better than you think. (Editor's note: Beware of speed radar in Cedar Rapids. It turns out we got TWO speeding tickets on the last Great Baseball Road Trip, both going through Cedar Rapids, neither of which we were pulled over for at the time).
St. Louis is best exhibited by this:
*Tennessee at dawn is just as beautiful as upstate New York. Reminds me of being a boy scout and not angry at waking up.
*The South's economy is way worse visually off than the North. (Midwest is dead, stop it.) The most apparent sign? Billboards. They're utterly missing or blank. When I'm forced to visit/drive through Wisconsin, I see fireworks signs occasionally in bursts of twos. I've seen bursts of peanut picking/adult bookstores in sets of five through Georgia.
*Georgia may hit levels of my wife's hatred of Ohio. I counted no fewer than thirty police officers on the side of the road while driving through.