Alas, as the Seawolves depart Wednesday morning for Houghton, Mich., this Halloween week, I shed a tear – for the first time since they began making the nearly annual trip in 1993, I won’t be tagging along for the all-day, all-night journey to the Upper Peninsula.
Ah, how I’ll miss that lovely four-hour layover in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, and that swell march to Gate Z-99, or whatever it is, for the connecting flight on a prop plane to Houghton. (Voted by me as “World’s Loudest Flight – Ever’’)
Some years, I drove from Minneapolis, or Green Bay, to Houghton, and I’ll lament missing out on dodging deer in the darkness, slamming on the brakes to avoid the deer-in-the-headlights Bambi while my 48-ounce cup of steaming hot coffee flies from the console of my rent-a-tin-can to the inside of its windshield, and I realize it’s 40 miles to the next available coffee and I’m cruising on three hours sleep. Good times.
Oh, how I’ll miss the two feet of snow blowing sideways over the course of three days. How I’ll miss recalling the time radio man Kurt Haider and I got stuck in Houghton an extra day because a plane had mechanical problems. (Hey, we spent four or five hours waiting in the airport. At least I had a volume of Shelby Foote’s “The Civil War.’’ Kurt didn’t have anything to read, and the Houghton/Hancock airport, which you can damn near spit across, does not, shall we say, overflow with gift shops).
Truth be told – the Houghton trip has its upsides. The folks at Michigan Tech couldn’t be more hospitable and fun to be around. The Best Western Franklin Square Inn features the best cable in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. And the Huskies Pep Band rocks the house at MacInnes Student Ice Arena. And to be fair, one past trip early in the season featured 50-degree weather and splendid fall colors.
Of course, a little Google action shows a forecast of 30 to 40-percent chances of rain and/or snow on Friday and Saturday in Houghton – Enjoy, boys!