A 10-hour drive for a burger

It was a very expensive trip just to get a hamburger.

To be fair, that is not what it started out to be. It was going to be a fun adventure, but it turned out very different than we expected.

In April, the band I am in was asked to play a show in western Iowa. It was a long haul – almost 400 miles – but the band agreed. It was at a great place with a large stage, so we were excited to make the trip.

Also, gas wasn’t nearly as expensive as it is now – thanks, oil companies – so even though we knew overall it would cost us money, it wasn’t too bad.

So, we set out for our trip later in the morning on June 10. We had a van for the equipment – the drummer’s work van, actually – and another vehicle to carry other band members and overnight bags. Yes, we would have to spring for hotel rooms too.

It was a beautiful morning, and we were in high spirits. We were really looking forward to the gig and playing for new people. Sure, it was a long drive but worth it. We filled up the equipment van to the tune of about $180 and headed out.

It was a great day, a little overcast but warm. We chatted away as we drove two in one vehicle and two in the other. About every hour and a half we would switch. That gave us a chance to gab away with everyone in the band.

As anyone who has driven to Galena on U.S. Route 20 knows, it can be a traffic nightmare. It is a lovely area, but it can be packed with cars and this day was no different. We sighed in relief when we crossed into Iowa and stopped to eat.

This is where the expensive burger comes in.

I have only been to Five Guys twice – the first time nearly 20 years ago. This was the second time. As everyone knows, the food is excellent, but it can be pricy as they use all fresh ingredients. We decided as this was a special trip, we would splurge.

Two burgers, fries and two drinks? About $40. I felt like Elon Musk dropping that kind of money on fast food. But again, we figured it was worth the cost.

Back on the road and full, I got into a great conversation with a bandmate about his history, how he grew up. I have known him for years, but we never really had the chance to talk about this stuff. It provided real insight into who he is as a person. I appreciated the time to get to know him a bit better.

As we rolled west, the clouds cleared and the day brightened into near perfection. We made a stop in Iowa for gas and didn’t even grumble. We had less than two hours before we would be there, check into the hotel and then head over to the gig. Bonus: We were playing with a band from Omaha, Neb., that we knew and had played with before. We were looking forward to seeing our friends.

Then the bottom dropped out.

We got a call from the manager of the third band, the one who booked the gig, who told us the place had cancelled the gig. Apparently, the sound man couldn’t make it.

We had driven for hours and had spent a lot of money just to get this far. To say we were crushed is an understatement. We so wanted to play.

After a quick discussion, we decided to just turn around and come home. So not only did we have to pay a lot in gas money, we also cancelled our hotel reservations too late. This little outing came at a real price.

But as we drove back and talked, I realized I wasn’t angry. Disappointed? Sure. But I got to spend what turned out to be a 10-hour drive for an expensive burger with my friends. We had great conversations. We got to know each other even better.

We were alive, and together and sharing this adventure. That is what I will remember about that day. Not the cancelled gig or the money for gas. I will remember what was really important.

Brad Jennings is the editor of the Ogle County Life.


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