This is a true story. All of it. You can't make this up. Well, you could, but you know, I didn't.
"Finding a famous needle in a Wisconsin Haystack"
"I fought the law, and the law BELIEVES they won."
I'll start this from last night. Last night I was doing the math. Now I'm no roadtrip slouch, I know how to do them well. So when I red Tom's journey was beginning today, I figured I might be able to pull off finding Tom. I mean, he's passing through my town. My stomping grounds. I know how to work the roads out here. So time to spring into action.
I posted last night my pseudo-bribe of buying him lunch. I meant it, and I was ready to do it too. This morning, I did my thing. I got out the huge roll of butcher's paper we have in the garage. Got out the Sharpies, and made my signs.
I made one sign, "Welcome to Wisconsin", and another that just said "TOM KAYE / AO*WI EXIT 3A" This would be my road sign, the other being my car sign. Ok, it worked. I dried up one sharpie doing it, but I had my sign. Look a the clock, 1 PM. I'm right on schedule.
See, I know Tom would be passing through my hometown around 2:30 to 4 PM, depending if he'd been caught in Minnesota or not. (AKA : Land of 10,000 Petersons...) I do roadtrips by time, not by distance. LaCrosse to Chicago 'burbs is about 5 hours. No miles, it's about 5 hours. So I looked at the I-90 map, checked the mileage, cross-referenced it to Tom's post saying he was leaving 11 AM CST… and that put him in LaCrosse between 2:30 and 4. That's workable.
So time to make it work. Stop at K-Mart and get some duct tape and some masking tape, for the signs. Then drive out to the airport. I didn't realize how windy highway overpasses are until I got there, so I used the tape to reinforce the edges of the sign. After doing that, I held up the sign to the chain link fence, and ripped tape to attach it.
That's when the police car showed up.
I was waived over, and I realized I was nose to nose with the chief of police. He asked me what I was doing. I showed him the sign, told him it'd only be up until 5:00 or so, tops. I explained I was trying to get the attention of a friend, and I didn't have a cell phone to call him, so the sign was a shot in the dark idea to try to get his attention
After a little more fast-talking, telling him exactly where I'd be and showing him the sign wasn't anything foul or obscene, he decided it wouldn't do any harm to leave it up for a few hours. "But if we get any complaints about it I'll have to take it down." he said. I told him that was more than fair.
And, in a few minutes, the sign was up. Now on to part 2.
I was set up for a stakeout. Minifridge in the car, loaded with Dew. Stack of paintball mags. Pringles. CD player with the newest from "Blue Man Group". I'm ready for a stakeout. I get my sign ready, and here comes another police car.
Apparently, he was called by the Wisconsin State Patrol. THEY said the sign was "Dangerous". Yep. Paper sign is dangerous. And they were talking about taking it down. So I told the officer that I would do it. Drove back out to my sign, and took it down. Some old lady on the bridge asked me what it was all about, I told her, and she shook her head. Nice to know that I'm not the only one who thought it more than a little ridiculous.
However, while I was taking the sign down, someone honked under the bridge. I didn't see who it was. Was it Tom? Was it someone pulling my chain? Had to make sure. Jump into the car, and head for the highway. Exit 3A, nothing. Ok, so now I'm debating to myself. Now what? My sign idea is toast. I thought of going on the side of the road with the sign and holding it up, but my luck had already been pushed pretty far as far as the police was concerned. But I wasn't about to give up.
Time to try something rather rash. I decided to drive into enemy territory. Minnesota.
My logic is actually not too off. If I drive against the direction Tom would be going, if he hadn't already passed me I'd pass him, and I could turn around and make a run for him. Ok, all good, but in the drive out I realized it would be almost a lost cause. What would the odds be to actually do it?
Then I saw a brown SUV zoom past going towards LaCrosse. It had a topper on it, matched Tom's color, and had Illinois plates. Ever heard of the five stages of grief? I went through them all in ten seconds.
1-Denial- "NO WAY! NO WAY! You can't get that lucky."
2-Anger- "DANG IT! I missed him!"
3-Bargaining- "Ok, if I turn the boat around I can catch up to him."
4-Depression- "There's no way I'll ever catch him. He's gone."
5-Acceptance- "I'll try it anyway, hopefully he'll stop for gas."
Ten seconds flat. So I hit 61, found a place, and turned around. If nothing else I might get lucky. I know most of the gas stations in a 60 mile radius along I-90, and LaCrosse is the best stop (assuming he didn't stop in Minnesota.) So I had three choices. Exit 3, where there's some gas stations. Exit 4, where there's gas and fast food, or exit 5 where there's some of both.
Drove past 3, didn't see it. And got off at 4. Pulled up to the light, and looked at the good 'ol Kwik Trip, and there was the brown SUV with a topper and Illinois plates. I think I almost caused an accident swerving into the turn lane, but I got into the righ tturn lane, made the other right, and pulled into KT. And there was someone under the car, looking for something.
I pulled up. "Tom?"
He looked up. "Oh, hey Tyger! What's up?" Needle found, haystack ransacked. I guess that the trip out so far was kinda long, but it was all ok. Talked with Tom a while, all was cool. The gal in the car with him didn't recognize me until I showed her the ears. "I KNOW YOU!" she suddenly said. "You're that guy from Shatner game!"
Got a pic with Tom, all cool. And before you ask, I did come through with my promise. Tom looked like he wanted to get back on the road, but I did get him lunch. I gave him a tube of Pringles. Hey, if I though he had the time I would have taken him to Fridays or something! Really! I mean it!
So now I have a warp feed, in blue. Tom suggested I put it on my Phantom, and I can think of a way to do it too. I'll see what I can put together and make look good. Either that or I'll go to plan B, I have a line on an F/X Micromag. I think I could do one hell of a 'bodging' job. Heh, start with the feeder and work down. Not like paintball has never had that happen before...
And now, in the next few days, I'll add my new sig too, now that I've done something sufficiantly AO-like (Stalking down Tom Kaye on the highways of Wisconsin like a ravenous animal counts...) now I think I can wear the new badge on the posts :
I'll work on making it a transparent....
http://www.tyger.us/pubimages/AGD/ has a few other 'tom' pics in it, but those three are the fun ones.
(edited by Tyger to repair post, some smiles that shouldn't have been there have been removed.)