Luckily, Wicked's plane was late. As per usual these days, I kept getting interrupted as I was leaving. I got into the car with about 30 minutes on the clock to get to the airport and the gate -- about 5 minutes less than I would need to actually accomplish this feat. But fate, as it were, smiled on me, and Wicked's plane, already delayed, came in 10 minutes later than the revised estimates.
This, of course, meant I had time to peruse my AvantGo in my pilot, checking to make sure the directions I'd hastily downloaded actually made it in there. The directions from the convention center to the restaurant we planned on going to made it just fine -- twice, in fact, which meant I had no directions from the airport to the convention center. Raven came to the rescue, answering my frantic phone call and sending me a URL, which didn't quite help, but turns out Wicked had used old fashioned pen and paper to write everything down.
And without further incident, Wicked, his bags and I were in the car and heading north. Although there was a request to stop for food, it was around 3:30, and no one with any sense wants to stop and get caught in rush hour, so we decided to wait until Kenosha, a town about 10 miles north of the Illinois border.
Before we got to the border, we passed by Six Flags Great America, located in the town of Gurnee, right off the expressway. About 3 miles before the ramp, we noticed a sign saying 'flashing light indicates ramp congestion'; I remarked that a lot of people must be headed to Six Flags. As we got to the exit for Six Flags, I was literally flabbergasted: all the traffic for the exit -- which backed up for about 1/3 mile before the off ramp -- was heading west, not east to the amusement park. All of these people were going to the mall! Gurnee Mills is this huge mall that was built on the other side of the interstate from Great America, and that's where all of these people were going at 4 PM on a Wednesday. Mind-boggling.
I recovered, and we continued on our way.
The only way to tell that you've crossed the border into Wisconsin is the appearance of Cheese and sausage stores, fireworks depots, and the 24 hour adult bookstores on the side of the road. As they popped up, I pointed them out to Wigge, and said "Look, we're in Wisconsin."
We stopped at a McDonalds in Kenosha, completely unawares of the adventure that was in store for us both.
We got back on the highway, and not 5 miles north, there was a construction zone; they were repaving the highway, which was at this point a 2 lane thing. So, not wanting to take the Interstate down to one lane, they shifted the traffic pattern over so the left lane consisted of the shoulder next to the concrete median, and the right lane was the original left lan, now nicely paved.
Theoretically, this would be okay. We do the exact same thing in the Chicagoland area all the time; it's banal, routine, no big deal. Not so in the Land O' Cheese.
See, the shoulder had ridges in it, not for the driver's pleasure, but as a wakeup call to the sunday drivers who, full from Sunday brunch would list into the shoulder, and the "brrrrt brrrrt brrrrrt" noise would wake them up. These also used to be used beofre toll booths until drivers threatened not to vote for our elected officials if they kept putting these annoying things in.
Anyway, Wisconsin's Department of Transportation's solution to this problem was to cover the ridges with asphalt or blacktop or what have you. Of course, they covered it with enough surfacing so that not only were the sound producing ridges covered, they made sure the asphalt would not be worn away by the tires running over it by making them into mini speed bumps.
So now, instead of having an annoying "brrrt brrrt brrrt" sound when I drove on the shoulder, my car shook at regular intervals, with a "kathunka thunk, kathunka thunk" sound.
Kathunka thunk. Kathunka thunk.
I, of course, can't get into the right lane, the time being 4 PM on a business day; the right lane was filled with trucks and drivers who enjoy crusing along at a whopping 20 MPH.
Kathunka thunk. *shudder* Kathunka thunk.
The bridges don't have ridges, so we get a few seconds of blissful silence before the litany of Kathunka thunk starts anew.
I'm about to lose my cool, when I start to hear Wicked from the passenger seat sing, "Duke, duke, duke, duke of Earl. Duke, duke, duke of Earl," perfectly timed to the speedbumps.
I totally lost it, and almost weaved into a truck I was laughing so hard.
We finally, after an eternity and a day, got out of the construction zone, and headed into Milwaukee. We got a bit lost, as our directions weren't quite right, but found the Convention Center, and got a choice parking spot at a conveniently broken meter, and headed in to register.