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Sunday Night Mailbag: Down and Back, Down and Back

Will I ever get to write about something not along I-94? Is that the wrong question to be asking?

I can finally feel something again.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Northwestern Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve written about it already, but damn, did Saturday feel good.

Friday and Sunday, on the other hand, reminded me of the unpleasantness of graduate school—not the work, mind you, but the mindless, lifeless drive across I-94 in wisconsin.

I actually thought about it the first time when we drove up to the parking lots from the Ukrainian Village on Saturday and saw the Interstate 94 sign. It brought me back to the stories of the Dark Ages that get bandied around: Interstate 94, Northwestern 0.

I-94 has played a disproportionately large part of my life—I’ve never lived more than ten minutes from that road, across three states and four cities. Hell, I’ve ranked for you the best Culver’s on I-94 in wisconsin.

In 1993 the late South Dakota historian John E. Miller wrote Looking for History on Highway 14: part-travelogue, part-history, it describes the themes of South Dakota history through the stops along the way on US-14, from Brookings to Mount Rushmore, with stops in De Smet, Fort Pierre, and Wall among others.

Sometimes I wonder if this isn’t a next step in my life—once I’ve done the writing and teaching required of me for tenure at my regional public university, there’s not something to be said for heading across Minnesota on US-169 or Wisconsin on I-94 or the Upper Midwest on US-10, starting in West Fargo—where I once filled gas in negative-15-degree temps on January 2 on the way to Bismarck—stopping along the bluffs in Battle Creek, St. Paul—where I taught tennis as a young lad—and finally having a reason to take the Badger Ferry across Lake Michigan before ending in Bay City, along Lake Huron. After all, whether it’s Oshkosh or St. Cloud, New York Mills or Midland, goodness knows there are some fun stories to be told.

I never even bothered to explain the first picture: Archie’s on Iowa, somewhere in the Ukrainian Village. The Hamm’s flowed freely, the Malort was crisp, the bartender the right level of friendly and distant. Pretty good pool players, too.

Ask us your questions about Big Ten athletics, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, Malort, or any of my other interests. Or your interests. Or BRT’s interests. We’ll compile them on Tuesday and get you answers by Thursday or Friday.

Thanks for reading OTE.