Work Tour of Texas and Wisconsin for Easter

I was originally looking to write two blog entries on this. I guess that since it was just a weeklong road trip that covered about 3700 miles, I just decided to do one covering it all. The whole week meshed together and was kind of a blur anyway.

This week on my Work Tour of Texas, I went to Lubbock. It’s close to 400 miles from Austin, so I was in for a long road trip. I got on the road on Monday, a day after I had driven 400 miles back from Lafayette, Louisiana. It definitely did take the whole 6 hours to get there. It was an interesting drive because I had the Crown Vic again and didn’t have cruise control. My right leg definitely got a workout!

On the drive there, it was apparent that our energy economy is in transition. It’s one thing to read that Texas leads the nation in both oil and wind power production. It’s another thing to see it in action. In certain areas of the road, if you looked either left, right, or straight ahead, all you could see oil wells and windmills.

I’d definitely love to be the guys owning that land. They have to be making a fortune between selling the mineral rights for the oil and also renting the land for the windmills. Additionally, you’d see cows grazing or crops growing. I bet a few of them even had cell phone towers. That’s definitely a productive use of land and I bet the land owners are making money hand over fist.

Since any oil that is not pipelined is sent by train, you can see the tracks that run right next to the road and windmills to transport the oil to the refineries.

What isn’t sent by train is sent by truck.

Monday I got to the office in the afternoon. It was pretty much put my head down and get as many things done as possible, especially since Wednesday I needed to leave as soon as possible to get back to Austin so I could then drive up to Wisconsin. After getting some work done, I got to the hotel. The room wasn’t too bad overall but the bathroom definitely stunk like some people were trying to smoke something in there. The crazy thing is there wasn’t a vent in the bathroom. I guess that’s what that stuff does to you.

I quick checked Google Maps and found that there were a few places within walking distance of my hotel. This was nice, as the last places I stayed at required me to drive a ways to get some food. I didn’t feel like going to a sit down restaurant so I settled for Jason’s Deli.

After eating I noticed that there was plaque in the room regarding taking stuff from the hotel. The people who thought it was a good idea to smoke stuff in the bathroom must have also thought that hotel was a free garage sale or something.

The next day at work was busy overall. The room I was in didn’t have windows but later in the afternoon, I started to hear some booming. After a while of this, I looked outside and it was raining pretty good.

Raining seems like a common theme on my Work Tour of Texas. The only place it has not rained out of all the locations was San Antonio. I guess the weather didn’t matter because in the little time I had between sleeping and work, I was working on my MBA homework. Luckily there was a Walmart also next to the hotel so the next night I got some food and chowed down as I did my homework.

An ironic thing is Lubbock is nicknamed the, “Hub City.” That is also Marshfield’s nickname and I was headed there later that day. When I went to the hotel parking lot to get the car that next morning and go to the office, I saw a major coincidence.  Right next to the company car was a van had parked next to me that had Wisconsin plates!

I then went to work and was able to hit the road back for Austin at around 11:30am. I got back to Austin about 5:30 and dropped off some stuff as well as finished some paperwork. By 6, I was back at my apartment to load a few things into my car and head up to Marshfield. By 6:30 I was out the door to drive another 1300 miles. My brother Coltin was also coming up so at least I’d have someone to drive some of the way while I rested at bit. I had pulled into the closest parking spot by my apartment and when I was about to pull out, I noticed that the car I parked next to also had Wisconsin plates!

It’s definitely ironic when you see 2 instances of this in 2 different towns 400 miles apart in Texas on the exact same day you plan to go up to Wisconsin. We then hit the road and I drove until our first gas stop in Southern Oklahoma. I made sure to get past the possible stop and go traffic of Fort Worth since my car is a 5 speed and Coltin hasn’t really driven a manual much. I made sure he got onto the interstate and into 5th gear and then I fell asleep. I was very tired so I slept through some rain and heavy wind in Oklahoma and Kansas.

When we hit Missouri, I took over driving. It was definitely raining very hard. By the time we hit Iowa, Coltin was falling asleep and I was ready to fall asleep. I took a little detour and pulled the car off at a wayside. We both slept for an hour and then I drove the rest of the way up to Wisconsin.

Coltin had to go to the bathroom so he told me to pull off at the nearest exit. Ironically, we ended up at a gas station I always end up at, Dudley’s Corner. When I plan out gas stops, I usually wait until the car gets between a half and quarter tank.  I then start looking for a station that is close to the interstate. On a previous road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska, I ended up at Dudley’s Corner twice, once on the way there and once on the way back.

When I’d come back from Wisconsin and was heading to Austin, I’d always end up there. Obviously my car gets the same gas mileage and I drive the same speeds on the same route so that’s about to be expected that there’d be a little consistency in where I would need gas. After a while, I just started making it a regular stop since I seemed to always randomly end up there anyway without planning.

Ironically, Dudley’s Corner does not even have a sign. It’s basically this random hole in the wall gas station\truck stop that I always end up at.

By the time we were in Minnesota and got close to the Wisconsin border, we could see there were still some frozen springs by the rocks.

We finally hit the Wisconsin border.

We got there about 3:30PM. I knew time was going to be limited, so I made sure to get oil and a filter prior to coming up. Once we got up to Wisconsin, I knew my car was going to hit 195,000 and would need another oil change. We got to my parents’ house and then unloaded the car. I let the car cool for a little bit and then changed the oil on it to get that task out of the way. My parents then got home shortly after and we visited with them.  We went out to eat and then I headed into town to hang with my friends. The next day I had a few errands to run but I decided to drive around and take a few pictures so I could compare them to the last time I visited. It’s kind of crazy how much stuff can change in a month and a half! The last time I was up was in Mid-February.

For some reason, I think some guy is living in the mall parking lot but this gives a good reference:

This is the difference on Lincoln Road:

The final comparison is Lincoln and N:

I was going to visit George’s landing where I drove my car off the boat landing onto the ice and out to my buddy’s ice shack, but it was closed. It definitely blows peoples’ minds down here that you can drive a full sized vehicle out on the ice. It would have been cool to show the difference a month and a half makes since it would have been open water around there now.

I also decided to visit the biggest body of water in Marshfield, the Upper Pond at Wildwood Park. I have heard Marshfield is the biggest city in the State of Wisconsin not on a navigable body of water.

What made Marshfield was being the “Hub City” for the trains coming through. It usually takes 10 minutes to get across town unless you get caught up by a train (which I did).

I then went back home and we visited a family friend. On the way there we stopped by the cheese factory I used to work at in high school so I could take a picture.

After visiting, I headed into town to have lunch with my buddy Jake. Marshfield only has a few local places so we decided to stop at Chip’s, which is a local hamburger joint.

I decided to get a Champ burger and cheese curds (It’s Wisconsin, you have to get cheese curds).

Of course you need to dip those cheese curds in ranch.

Surprisingly another local place is Lamar’s BBQ, which is right across the street from Chips. It actually has pretty good BBQ and could hold its own to the stuff I eat in Austin. One main difference as you will see by the sign is they serve cheese curds with their BBQ.

Later Jake and I stopped out by my buddy Dustin. Dustin told me to drop by the next time I came back because he was at the Pabst brewery and found something that reminded him of me. It was an inflatable Hamm’s beer can. I used to drink Hamm’s all the time because it was $1 a can at the bar.

We BS’d for a bit and then headed out. Dustin works for his dad and they sell a ton of Humvee tires and other stuff. It was cool seeing some of the tires lined up.

Jake and I drove around a bit. We also went to Marshfield’s second biggest body of water, the Lower Pond. Both ponds are at Wildwood park and probably a third of a mile apart. As you can see, the sign pertains to a few months ago.

After I hung with Jake a while, I dropped him back off and headed to visit my grandparents. I first went by my Grandma. I had to put the new registration sticker on my other car that I do not put even close to the miles on as I do my focus. Since I’m leaving it in Wisconsin, I’m keeping it registered in Wisconsin. The way people drive around Austin makes me nervous to bring the Cougar down since it is a true Eliminator and in 1969, they only made 2250 of them. There are less than 425 known left in existence per the Cougar Eliminator Registry.

I then visited a while and took a short nap. After that, I visited my other grandparents. Shortly after that, I was on the road for a 40 mile drive to Wausau to celebrate my buddy Jonny’s birthday. I stopped by a gas station quick to get something to drink and decided to snap a picture of the gas station counter. Since I work for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and their job is to enforce the liquor laws of Texas, it blows their mind how different the laws are, especially compared to Wisconsin. As you can see, booze is right on the counter.

You can even get a bottle of booze and a bag of cheese curds.

When I arrived in Wausau, we started pregaming before we hit the bars. I brought some of the liquor from my Mexico trip and found that the liquor had a governor on it.

The flow sucked with this governor on it so with the help of a flat head screw driver (also shown in the picture), I was able to remove it. We had a few drinks and then walked downtown and hit up a few bars.

We had a designated driver that took us back to Jonny’s apartment. We stopped by Topper’s pizza and got a few pizzas for the after bar at Jonny’s. I swear we had half the pizza ate by the time we actually got to Jonny’s . The next day I woke up and then headed back. The family decided to have Easter on Saturday instead of Sunday at my parent’s house. I made it back and then visited for a while. When people started leaving, I decided to go upstairs and take a nap. After I woke up, I decided to get something to eat. I, of course had milk with it. As I mentioned in my first blog post about going to Canada we also have bagged milk in Wisconsin.

I then headed into town and hung out with another group of friends. After that, I headed to a fire at my buddy Mike’s place, as it was also his birthday. I stayed there until about 11:30 and came back home. My intention was to get up early and hit the road but I decided to sleep in until about 8:30 so I could get 8 hours of sleep. I hit the road around 9:30.

Wisconsin also has a hand in the oil production that I showed earlier. The sand in Wisconsin is perfect for fracking purposes so there is a huge industry around it. Here is where some of the frack sand gets processed and then shipped via rail.

Normally if I start at 6 in the morning, I can drive 18 hours straight and make it back by midnight. Since I left later, midnight got me to the Texas Welcome Center. I decided to sleep there and got a good 8 hours of sleep. I then proceeded back to Austin. Traffic was pretty dense and there were some interesting wrecks along the way. I was happy to get back as tomorrow I hit the road for Arlington (Dallas) on the final stop on my Work Tour of Texas.

Now it’s time to enjoy some of the cheese and venison sausage my parents gave me.

To see more of my adventures, click on the map! Or if you prefer to see a list of more blog entries, click here.

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