My vast beast of a truck was full by 11 a.m. Saturday.
I could have hit the road to be in Madison by 6 p.m. Sunday, home on Monday. It would have saved money, of which there is little left.
But I had to stay to see my beer-drinking buddies in Bloomington -- and it was worth it.
This is an odd little family who gather round beer but who come from every angle of life, education, religion, career. It's not about the beer.
They know each other and care for one another.
And, let's be honest, it is a little bit about the beer. This is no sober Hallmark movie of the ewek.
When I first started at the Herald-Times I wrote in my column I would start writing pieces at Upland Brewing Company at 3 p.m. on Sunday. It was a way to interact with readers. I was shocked and pleased to see a group of people, one of whom greeted me with a copy of my column.
"They're here for me," I thought, filled with no little ego.
Well, they gathered there every Sunday for at least a decade and I had crashed their party.
I wrote there for a while until my publisher asked me to stop being so beer-centric. Imagine that. A boy from the Wisconsin Northwoods being a lover of brews.
I kept writing my columns but from home yet these folks had become friends so I continued joining them.
They were all locals and all brilliant in their own way. I came to think I was accepted only because I'm a high-end smartass.
We parted for a while at the beginning of the shutdown and then I was laid off and bouncing around. I had started using The Tap on the square in Bloomington for its Wi-Fi access where I could milk a beer for a long time while applying for jobs across the nation.
One Sunday, sitting at The Tap, Dennis walked in. He's a burley old man, a brilliant carpenter by trade and one of the best-read people I've ever met. He asked to join me.
Person by person, the group became reborn over the coming weeks and months until I left to take my awesome job in Hayward.
In town this weekend to collect my stuff, I could have saved money by leaving Saturday but I had to see my little beer-drinking family.
I staved off full on bawling but certainly, as folks left one by one, I had some misty eyes as we hugged.
Not goodbye but I'll see you in the spring after Wisconsin thaws.
Peace and beer-drinking buddies unto all of you my brothers and sisters.