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Day 8: Leaving on a Jet Plane. Or Are We? October 29, 2006

Posted by Bill Carroll in Extreme Farewell Tour, Uncategorized.

Saturday, October 28, 2006
Somewhere over the Great Plains on American Airlines
7 PM

The way I know it’s time to go home from a long trip is when I hit the last pair of clean underwear, and that happened this morning. Fun as this has been, it will be great to get home to see what it looks like. Mary will probably have remodeled the house in the years I’ve been gone.

Judith picked the hotel for us for South Bend, and I’m sure she knew that the Hampton Inn was next door to…what, class? Did everybody get McDonalds?

Despite what I said about her all-natural compost bars yesterday, Marisa has really gotten into the spirit of the XFT and took one for the team this morning, eating parts of an Egg McMuffin with no cheese. Unfortunately at breakfast this morning we were shut out again. I’m trying to maintain faith. Hang in, Bill! Refuse to lose! Yeah, I know. Sounds a bit hollow to me too.

Today’s schedule has been a challenge from the very beginning. Originally, we were leaving from South Bend to Minneapolis-St.Paul, but we decided to add a stop at the Chicago Section’s event on Saturday morning, then fly out from O’Hare instead. Great plan…until a huge fire in downtown Chicago closed off the entire area where the event was to be held for four days. It was too late to move it, and nothing could be done, so it was cancelled earlier this week. I’m really sorry we missed it.

Ford ExplorerInstead, we decided to make a stop at the Science Spooktacular in Elkhart, which is about 15 miles further away from Chicago than South Bend. This put us under time pressure with a 12 noon flight. We were there right at 9, did a fly-by and hit the road. It was windy today, and piloting the Explorer was like driving a billboard. It fought me the whole way.

We drove safely, but there was no grass growing under the Queen Mary. Along the way, I saw a makeshift sign in a corn field: “Leprechaun Hunt, October 6.” It made me wonder: if you actually shot one, could you eat it? And if so, are they tough to clean? I thought it odd to be having a Leprechaun Hunt that close to Notre Dame. Probably a USC alum. And if I happened to be the Notre Dame mascot, I might make myself scarce that night.

What’s in the player: We changed the rules this morning and sampled three or four cuts of various things. The Best of Strawberry Alarm Clock, psychedelic music of 1967 and 1968; Love Riot’s “Killing Time;” “Birthday,” by the Association—once again from 1967—containing a couple of hits and a few really interesting songs and harmonies; some new songs from Jenny Bruce; the Carole King “Living Room Tour”, an acoustic retrospective recorded last year and “The Who Sell Out” a strange 1967 album—is there a theme here?—that contains “I Can See for Miles” and some licks that would eventually reappear on “Tommy” which was recorded the next year.

Trash in the TrunkWe had just barely managed to fill the Explorer’s back seat with trash as we pulled into O’Hare…only to discover that United had cancelled our flight, and they had rescheduled us on one that would have had us missing the event in St. Paul. We negotiated our way onto an American flight just an hour later, and went to security.

Remember the dreaded SSSSS on an airline ticket we discussed last Sunday? Marisa caught one of those in Chicago and got full scrutiny. Tear apart the luggage, x-rays, wands, ion mobility spectroscopy on a computer wipe sample, pat down…they didn’t bring out the dogs for a full sniff search, but that’s only because the dogs were on break having a smoke. At about this point I’m remembering that she told me on Friday that she’d been having bad travel luck lately, and with the number of events and flights cancelled the last two days, I’m starting to believe her.

Marisa at Chili’sNow it was lunch time, and while there is a McDonalds in Terminal 3, I saw the look on Marisa’s face and gave her a break. We both enjoyed the salad at Chili’s as a refreshing change. If the $5 Million is won at O’Hare, I’ll just have to shoot myself.

The only problem was: this later flight in ate up our time in MSP and put us right up against her outbound flight—we would have about 15 minutes at the event, then back to the airport. When we landed, we were prepared to run, but checked the departure board. Marisa’s flight out was delayed and we would thus have some time at the event at Concordia University.  Finally a glitch that worked our way.

And what an event it was. Ten universities developed ten displays summarizing chemistry in the ten decades of the Minnesota section. They dressed in period costumes and were quite versed on the science. There were about ten companies exhibiting, and lots of hands on activities for kids. Marilyn Duerst, who was the general chair, did a great job.

Concordia is an interesting place. While it has 1000 traditional students, it currently has only a chemistry minor, one chemistry professor—Dave Blackburn–and only one person majoring in chemistry. Nathan Burrows is a senior who augmented his Concordia coursework with transfer credits. He has been President, heart and soul of the Science Club, and will go to grad school next year.

Minnesota Local SectionNathan introduced me and I presented a Salutes to Excellence plaque to Section Chair Joanne Pfieffer of Century College in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Section.

By that time, we needed to move on and Dave whisked us back to the airport. I said goodbye to Dave and Marisa (who was going to a different terminal).  Just like that, the Extreme Farewell Tour was over.  Sitting on the airplane now, I can exhale and reflect.

Looking out the plane windowSome closing remarks are yet to come.



1. Christine - October 30, 2006

Bill, I’m sorry to see the tour come to an end. It was so enjoyable to watch (from a distance). Thanks for all your hardwork and energy!

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