Larry's Wacky Week

For years, the last ten days before the start of the football season were the most exciting of the year. That was when I could attend every practice and watch the final battles for starting jobs. Then I would usually end the buildup with trips to my two favorite Gator Clubs – Polk County and Orlando – to talk about the season ahead.

Well this year I am speaking in Orlando (Wed.) and Lakeland (Thu.) but the last week was unlike any I've ever had before.

Thursday ----- Get up at 6:00 for a ride to the Orlando Airport to fly to Bloomington/Normal, Illinois on Air-Tran. Believe it or not there was a direct flight and I hate changing planes, which is why I rarely fly out of Gainesville Airport. This turned out to be a brilliant decision when the Volleyball team, flying with ASA/Delta was forced to divert to Macon, sit there for several hours and eventually stagger into Illinois after midnight. I was already snoring by then.

Friday ----- This was easily the calmest day of the trip. I drove around Normal a little bit to get a feel for the town and the Illinois State campus. Seems everyone up here loves vanity license plates. Gators win in three games as expected.

Saturday ----- I drive to Chicago to spend the day with my brother, Phil who is the restaurant critic for the Chicago Tribune. Tough work, huh! We find out that a nearby sporting goods store is having a member of the Chicago Bulls over for sign autographs. So we head over to see none other than Joakim Noah! He was his same gregarious self and more than a little excited about seeing his old TV announcer guy. He is flat out loving Chicago and is ready to get to work. That night we sample a superb eatery downtown at the Tribune's expense and wander around Millennium Park. No vagrants allowed here. Apparently Chicago is using the Rudy Giuliani method of dealing with homelessness (bus ticket and a sandwich).

Sunday ----- Well it's time to head to South Bend, Indiana for Florida Volleyball against Notre Dame. I have plenty of time to spare, or so I thought. The highway (I-80/I-94) is closed and the first warning occurs about 100 yards past the last exit to avoid the closure. It takes an hour and 36 minutes to go two miles and I no longer have time to spare. I find out Notre Dame is now in Notre Dame, Indiana, not South Bend and they are very serious about that. Their volleyball team puts up a good fight, but the Gators win in four. So I drive back to Chicago for an early (6:00 a.m.) flight. However I miss my exit to Midway airport and end up lost on Lake Shore Drive going back and forth (No the airport isn't there!). Finally I give in to my genetic nature and ask for directions. The helpful person did his best to hold back the giggles when I explained where I HAD been over the previous 45 minutes. Eventually I return my rental car (having purchased extra gas) and got to my hotel room at 1:00 a.m. for a 4:15 a.m. wake up call.

Monday ----- I get up and fly to New York City on some airline called ATA. It's affiliated with Southwest somehow but all that matters is that they took off and arrived on time. I wait for the "express bus" to take me to Columbia University for my daughter Jennifer's convocation ceremony as a new freshman engineering student. However I waited for the bus in the wrong place and it went right by me. Undaunted, I grabbed a cab and headed to Manhattan under the care of a Russian cabbie who is not too fond of New York Mayor Michael "that rich sonovabitch" Bloomberg. The ceremony was nice enough with a gonga line of academic speakers half of whom were interesting. I join up with my wife for the 1,000 mile drive home in the van we moved her up in. We get across the George Washington Bridge before rush hour and are way ahead of schedule until I hit my second 90-minute traffic snarl of the weekend. This one was a complete standstill 20 minutes from the end of the Jersey Turnpike. We drive until 11:30, getting just south of Richmond, Virginia.

Tuesday ----- Nothing interesting happened here… just a 645 mile drive back to Gainesville.

That was my six day, five night, two plane, four hotel, two telecast, 15-hundred miles of driving excursion.

So how was your week?


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