Just a quick one today, because I've been running around like crazy for a week and now I really need to get going up to Brainerd. I had an appointment here in Woodbury this morning, and now I'm waiting on the mail carrier because Barbara has something arriving this morning that I really need to be here for, to make sure it's secure, but after that I'm backtracking over a lot of the same roads I was on yesterday, then continuing on to Brainerd.
It's Thursday now, but this week's fun began on Monday when the consensus was reached that the guys in the rig, the guys in the Explorer, and (and this was the big "and") Tim and Krista in the motorhome were all aiming to make it to Woodbury on Tuesday night. We had offered to feed the whole gang with a big old Minnesota spread of steaks, salad, baked potatoes, and more but it's not easy moving a race team and any little delay (even one on the road) can throw everything off, so Dave and I waited until Tuesday morning before we leapt into action.
When we got the green light that everyone was rolling and they all thought they'd be here by 5:00, Dave got busy making runs to the grocery store while I headed over to our local butcher shop and had them carve me a dozen 6-ounce filet mignons from the tenderloin. By early afternoon we were getting updates from the road, and for a while there it looked like all three vehicles were going to arrive at the same time, but it was Travis driving the big rig who got in first.
I'd reserved three rooms for the group, over at the Holiday Inn Express, but the bigger issue was parking and maneuverability. You just don't hop into an 18-wheel transporter that's as low to the ground as ours and "just drive to Woodbury". Everything has to be plotted out, including the turns. We had a sporting goods place go out of business near here (coincidentally right across the street from the hotel) so the giant lot out in front of it is always empty, but I still had to find a route to get in there for Travis. He spotted it right away, and made a perfect landing right along the edge of the lot. The first eagle had landed. It was Travis, Dave, and Travis' girlfriend Jill in the big rig, and Tim and Krista were coming in right behind them.
The motorhome is smaller than the transporter, but it's still a monster when it comes to neighborhood streets, so I gave them directions to get off I-94 at the Woodbury exit, and then told them to call me after they turned left on Valley Creek Road, which would take them to our place here. Unfortunately, they missed that turn and ended up in a sprawling new subdivision with winding streets and street names that all sound the same, in that cute suburban way. We were on the phone and it seemed like they were getting deeper and deeper into the abyss, so I hopped in my car and drove about a mile to where they were, but the streets are all so curvy you can never see very far. Krista was on the phone to me, and every street name she'd say I was always one behind them, or one street over, or just around the corner. I finally caught up at a stop sign back at Valley Creek, so I shot around ahead and they followed me here.
After they hung out here for a bit, just to meet Boofus and Buster, they followed me over to Dave's house and parked the motorhome in his driveway. He had about two feet to spare between the tail and the garage door, and the nose of the bus was right on the curb, but it fit and that's all that matters!
Finally, the guys in the Explorer made their way into Minnesota, but no one knew the way to Dave's house so I went back out to the hotel and picked up Travis, Jill, and Dave while the other guys followed. Whew, that's what you call logistics!
Dave and Nichol (along with son Justin) put on a fantastic spread, and we ate like Kings! It was really well done (not the steaks, they were perfectly done), and appreciated by everyone. Bravo! Thanks Team Jacobsen!!!
Once dinner was over, one of the guys was talking sunglasses with Dave, who just picked up SPY as a sales account, and that conversation immediately turned into an epic session of trying on different styles. Dave brought his sample boxes out, and everyone must have tried on 20 pairs. All the guys ordered a pair or two, and everyone went home happy.
On Wednesday morning, everyone was rolling by 8:30 for our first display stop, at the Circle K in Shoreview, where the entrance road into the station is being rebuilt by the city and is currently made of dirt and gravel. Travis has become a magician with the transporter though, and he got it in there perfectly, while Tim parked the motorhome over across the way in the Target parking lot. By 10:00 sharp, we had the car out, the rig in position, and everyone at attention. Great work by the guys.
The Circle K wrap had just gotten finished on Monday, so the car had no other decals on it and Tim thought it really needed them to make the display look right, so instead of standing around chatting or taking Krista and Jill to lunch, I got all of our decals out and started slapping them on. I finished just as the display was over, but I did get to take a break long enough to enjoy one of the free hamburgers the station was giving away to the fans who attended.
And speaking of fans who attended, the Shoreview display was one of the best I've ever been a part of. Considering how messed up the road next to the store was, the fans just kept coming and coming, and for three hours we never had less than a couple dozen people there, as wave after wave would pull in to see the car and meet Tim. Great stuff.
Once it got to be 1:00, it was time to load up again and make our way up to Elk River. Shoreview is a north side suburb of the Twin Cities, kind of right above both Minneapolis and St. Paul, and right on the outer loop I-694. Elk River, though, is a stand-alone town about 25 miles away, outside the loop on the northwest side of town. There was much great discussion about the best way for Travis and Tim to get the big vehicles there, and the challenge began with the fact the on-ramp to 694 right by the Circle K was closed, so they had to head east one exit to get turned around. There's construction on 694 too, and it gets pretty jammed up, but the alternate routes all had their own challenges, ranging from lots of stop lights to tight turns, so I jumped in my car and went on ahead on 694, as the lead scout for our platoon of vehicles.
As soon as I got to the construction zone, it did back up a little but I never came to a stop, so I called back and told them to take the highway. It was the most direct and the best route, and it ended up working like a charm for everyone. I was the first one to the Elk River store, but a few minutes later the full caravan (big rig, motorhome, Explorer, and a couple of cars full of Circle K people) came rolling up the big road right in front. This place was tight as well, but after the Shoreview stop Travis was up for anything and he had the rig parked right out front, so that the thousands of people who drive by every hour on Rt. 169 couldn't miss it.
Travis arrived first, and got the big rig parked in Woodbury
We had another great turnout, with a lot of interested people stopping in for photos and autographs, and then everything went back in the box once again, and off they went to Brainerd, straight up 169 past Mille Lacs and then over to the hotel there.
Erica Moon has been reading this blog since Day 1, and is a huge Wilk fan. She lives a bit northwest of Elk River, but she was there as soon as the display started, and we got a pic of her and Tim standing by her car, so that you can see her license plates. Check that out in the gallery!
Now, I need to get packed (hopefully with the boyz noticing) get the mail (hopefully with Barb's package in the mix) and get on the road. Brainerd, here I come!
I'm staying at Cragun's Resort again, right on Gull Lake, and Barbara is hoping to make it up there by Friday evening. She was in Vail for the first part of this week, at a conference (about business, not about high altitude, although it took its toll on her and others, as it always does there) and then she flew to Boston yesterday for more work. I hope she can get up there, but as tired as she is I also worry about her making the drive if she's too exhausted. Better to be prudent than remorseful (or something like that...)
Hey, remember my buddy Jeff Finger, who used to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Colorado Avalanche? He and his dad are planning to be at the race on Saturday and Sunday, so that will be great. I haven't seen Jeff for a couple of years, but we stay in touch via text messages all the time.
Shorty Shannon will not only be keeping us fed with his great food again, but he's also going to be racing at Brainerd! Way to go Shorty!!! He bought a Super Gas car, ready to go, and will be making his National Event debut in it this weekend.
Other than that, the big thing is to go some rounds with the beautiful Circle K car. That's the real mission here. We need to secure our playoff spot and just about the only way to do that is win rounds, baby. I think the Circle K car would look GORGEOUS in the Winner's Circle. Just sayin'... Winner's Circle - Circle K. It just sounds right.
Thanks to everyone who came out to the two displays, especially all the great folks who took the time to shake my hand and say high. Lots of blog readers in Minnesota! Now, I gotta go...