Spending some time contemplating the map, I've realized just how far out of my way it is to go from my place to the North Shore through the Twin Cities. This means I'm strongly inclined to go straight through Wisconsin to Duluth on one leg of the trip. The following itinerary makes the most sense for me:
Saturday, May 19: EFRC a day early, finish packing.
Sunday May 20: leave Illinois early, spend the night in Duluth.
Monday, May 21 - AM Thursday on the North Shore, spending the nights wherever I wind up.
Thursday, May 24: dinner in the Twin Cities, evening conversation and hopefully some music (but not all night), spend the night.
Friday, May 25: breakfast, possibly early lunch in Twin Cities; travel to Des Moines, visit Neal Smith Wildlife refuge, dinner (late?), music/hang out.
Saturday, May 26: depart Des Moines area lunchtime-ish, spend night in my own house.
Sunday, May 27: EFRC like normal.
Monday, May 28: relax and recover from all that.
If you are in the Twin Cities or Des Moines areas, please let me know your thoughts. If you'd like to see me as I pass through, but this schedule really doesn't work, but my being in Des Moines Sunday and Minneapolis Monday would, let me know. I'd prefer the first schedule, because I think Des Moines is a better place to be looking for a place to stay Friday night of Memorial Day weekend than somewhere in the middle of Wisconsin. There's even an outside chance that I could hit Des Moines on the way up, and Minneapolis on Friday night on the way home, but since I'd have to drive all the way back home on Saturday, I couldn't do justice to it being a Friday night.
If you'd like to have me for a house guest, let me know. I am fine with staying in a motel, but I've been scolded by friends before for staying in a motel in their city.
I'm really hoping for a small music party Thursday (or Monday if it works out that way) night, if someone would be willing to host on my behalf. This, much more than a place to sleep, is the indulgence I'd beg from someone. Except that I think I know the folks involved well enough that they couldn't pass off getting together for music as an imposition.
The other thing I'd like to do is have a good dinner that night -- not a super-expensive one, but hopefully a special place, not a chain that I could eat at in Champaign. I'd like to solicit suggestions of restaurants.
I'll be contacting key people by email shortly as I move into the serious planning stage of this trip.