Banged up on a bang-bang Omaha trip

By Joe B. Coates, Publisher

We’ve all heard or used the expression, ‘I feel like I’ve been run over by a Mack truck’, especially expressing how one feels after a tiresome physical ordeal.  No other phrase can express how I felt last Thursday, when I awoke from my trip to and from the College World Series in Omaha, and had to get ready for work.
Things were going great on Monday when I streaked out of here around 10:15–my newspaper work was done, my staff was handling the rest of what goes on around here on Paper Day and the excitement in my spirit was hard to contain.  I met my friend Mike Smith in Winona around lunchtime as planned, and we headed north on I-55 towards Memphis.
That’s where the trip turned south, so to speak.  
A few miles later Mike’s car limped along, despite his flooring the accelerator.  For two hours, we drove dangerously slow in the right lane until we reached a dealership in Horn Lake around 3:00.  Finally told that it couldn’t be fixed, we rented a small SUV and catapulted our way towards Memphis, about 3 hours behind schedule.
About 2 bridges across the state line, we encountered one of Memphis’ finest, a uniformed gentleman in a police car.  He checks Mike’s license and insurance, said we were speeding.
“Yes officer, we know,” Mike said.  “This is what we are trying to do…” and he went on to explain this early mess that we had gotten into.
The officer, whom we discovered played football at Memphis State in 1979, and who caught the game winning TD against Mississippi State for a 14-13 Tiger win in Emory Bellard’s debut, convinced us to slow down “at least through the city limits,” which is what we did.
Hours later, when MSU was losing 3-1 in the 7th inning of Game 1 to UCLA, we pulled into a hotel west of St. Louis.  For about an hour before that, something just wasn’t right with me.  I felt pretty badly after we had left Memphis–could’ve been something I ate.  Anyway, a mean stomach virus had followed me towards Omaha and caught up to me in St. Louis that long, uncomfortable night.
By Tuesday morning, I was just ready to get there. At 3 p.m., with no further problems on the road, we arrived in Omaha at our hotel.  Naturally, they didn’t have the reservation that Mike had made four days before.  Some 2 1/2 hours later we walked into a room in a hotel about 8 miles west of Omaha, worn down, worn out, almost too tired to care if we even made it to TD Ameritrade Park to watch the ‘Dogs and Bruins battle in Game 2. But, we soldiered on and experienced our first time to ever witness MSU play for a national championship in any sport.  UCLA won 8-0, and they earned it.  We were there to support our Bulldogs, along with about 20,000 other State fans, win or lose.
The drive home took 14 hours, 35 minutes and was thankfully uneventful.  Thursday at work was a blur. I think I finally got my wits and my appetite back by Friday.  
Man, what a ride and a whack by that Mack truck.

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