Other than the fact we were leaving the Sis’s (which made me sad because they’re such good people and we enjoyed our brief visit) I was quite happy to hit the road this morning. Today would see me add two more states to my count of states visited. Let’s jump right into it, shall we?
DAY 35/Event #15
We drove back toward the Twin Cities in order to drive south from there along the interstate. Otherwise we would have driven back roads to our next destination and that was just not on my agenda today. On the Twin Cities front… I remember one time when my niece Danielle, sitting at the kitchen table in my parents’ house, was asked a geography question. What? You never had random questions tossed at you by your grandparents while eating breakfast? I thought that was everybody. Anyway, my dad mentioned the Twin Cities and said “You know what they’re called when referenced together, don’t you Danielle?” Her response? “MinniPaul?” To my father’s credit he spun it back around and said: “No, no, no… SaintyAppolis!” Of course, everyone knows that.
It wasn’t long before we crossed the southern border into Iowa. My whole life I’ve had visions of what Iowa should look like. I was not disappointed. Corn, as far as the eye could see, dominated this rather flat landscape. We needed a diversion. Once again, Roadside America came to the rescue. It turns out that on February 3, 1959, in a cornfield not far from our route a plane crashed killing the four occupants. Along with their pilot, the world said goodbye that day to Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper. We parked on the side of the road and Benedict and I walked the three-quarters of a mile through the corn to a small shrine where we said a prayer before moving on.
Iowa knocked off my list, we entered Nebraska, another state I had yet to visit. My total is now at 42. Not bad. We would not need to venture far into Nebraska since we crossed at Omaha where our event was already underway at the home of Tim, 02, and Leah (Stephens) Coffey, ’03. It’s always a treat to meet another Tim. We’re solid, upstanding, men of our communities. We’re generally well-liked, witty, and tend to be everyone’s best friend. We brew a mean pot of coffee, have beautiful lawns, and smell good too. Unfortunately, our parents tend to still call us Timmy even though we’re damn near 40, Mom! But that’s OK.
Our travels had been delayed by a bit of rain so we got to their house about 30 minutes after they had started. In fact, the rain never really let up. It dawned on me that this is a holiday weekend. That thought hit me when I heard a loud series of booms coming from a neighboring yard as I was ascending the stairs to the Coffey House (Cafe?). At first I thought I was in Beirut (which I am sure is a lovely city with some fine neighborhoods). Then I realized they were fireworks.
Oh right… It’s the 4th of July weekend! I keep having to remind myself of where I am and when I am.
What better fare to go with fireworks and American independence in this most American of midwestern cities than burgers and dogs? So of course we had grilled pork filets, chicken, and bourbon! And why not? Torey (Thornburgh) Cervantes, ’98, greeted us as we entered the kitchen. She and her husband Joe, ’99, had come for the festivities. This is getting to be really fun for me. She reads my blog! I love it. It’s become a routine wherever I go to walk into a room where the people already know me (or the me that I’ve proffered on these pages). She was but one of many people along the way who’ve asked me if I was sick of eating burgers and dogs. The thing is that even if that was all we’d been eating I still wouldn’t be sick of them. What’s not to love about burgers and dogs? It’s summer. We’re grill’n and chill’n. I’m a carnivore. The bourbon? We’ll get to that in a bit.
Suzanne (Kauphusman) Ellis, ’88 and her husband Lou were there. I can’t tell you how awesome it’s been to connect with Crusaders from every era. And what a cool couple these two are. We talked like old friends discussing our families, the trip, the campus of Christendom and how it’s changed.
Along this trip I’ve been setting up live videos for the Alumni Group’s Facebook feed. My aim is to find one or two people who, after a few drinks and a bit of preliminary conversation with me so I can gauge how camera-shy they are or are not, would be willing to go “on air” and give us their thoughts. Observant followers know there are exactly two questions I ask each
- “What is your favorite memory from your time at Christendom?”
- “What is one thing you hope to see from the Alumni Advisory Council?”
The answers to the first question have varied in their sincerity and in their hilarity. Many involve drinking. Hey, it was college and we’re all Catholic here. The answer to the second is universally centered on “events like these”. Well, we’re glad to help get you started.
Some people, I can sense, are a bit too uncomfortable being on camera. Tim Coffey is not one of those people. Didn’t I tell you Tim’s were awesome? We make good husbands and even better offspring. Something in the name. Tim and Leah together are a broadcasting powerhouse! They spoke for just the right amount of time (that is, long enough to say what they needed to say) and they looked and sounded awesome doing it. Before the interview was over, these two looked like they had just suddenly remembered why they fell in love and I think Christendom had something to do with it.
Bourbon? Yes, one of the many amusing characters in Omaha that evening was Dr. Jim Sullivan, Tim’s brother-in-law. Jim has no special connection with Christendom except through the Coffey’s. Nonetheless, he entertained with us all with his humorous personality and wit. More to the point, he brought out a bottle of 132 proof bourbon at the end of the gathering for those who had stayed after. For that, my friend, I am most grateful.
Having met and bonded with a fellow Timothy, which is the ultimate in most awesome boys’ names, I felt satisfied that if all future events were in the hands of a Tim, Christendom’s alumni outreach would be beyond successful. If only the college’s administration were also in the hands of a Timmy. Hang on a moment. Karla is shouting at me. “What’s that? What do you mean it already is?” Somebody thinks she’s a blogger all of a sudden coming at me with facts I should have known before sitting down to right.
Tonight we will drive south to St. Joseph, MO for a night of rest and Sunday mass in the morning.