Friday (October 1st)
Great interviews at Regis Jesuit in Denver and extraordinary hospitality from my friend Jason to put me up (I am very high maintenance). I spent two nites at Jason’s new apartment. Very nice. Great interviews with Jason, Lindsay (a teacher at Regis), Craig (Theology teacher), Missy, Dan and Mike (2 juniors at the school), and Noah (admissions director for the school). Interesting set-up for the school. There are actually 2 Regis’ one for boys and one for girls and never the twain should meet for classes. I guess it works ok. Nice place and friendly people. I stood out in the hallway in between interviews and listen to Jason teach his class. Of course I made faces at the kids closest to the door, the teacher couldn’t see me. He is a gifted teacher. The kids were listening intently…which is more than I can say about my kids when I was in the classroom. The day was topped off when we went to dinner at the Anderson’s, AnneMarie and Ryan with their kids Grant and Ginger. We sat in the backyard and covered most of the important topics of the day…I think. Anyway, they were very gracious to me and Ginger even drew me a picture. When she becomes famous, it will be worth something.
Saturday (October 2nd)
Jammed towards the Colorado state line and Nebraska. Before we crossed into Nebraska, we stopped so we could watch Jason’s nephews (2 of the three triplets) play pee-wee football. It was towards the end of the game so we only saw a few plays. I did meet Jason’s older sister. Then it was off to Sidney by back roads. We arrived in plenty of time to watch the OctoberFest parade. It was great. Homegrown floats with no frills but a lot of enthusiasm, marching bands and classic cars. Everything you would want in a local parade. I was told that the town’s population is around 6,000 but during OctoberFest it swells to nearly 20,000. The parade never got boring with something new coming around the corner. I’d take this type of parade over the Rose Parade anyway. Good fun.
It was at the parade that I first met Vern Beyer, Jason’s father. They are very similar, they are both salt of the earth. Both are very easy to talk with. And both have a bottomless pit of great stories. After the parade we all went to Pizza Hut for lunch. This is where I met a gem of a women, Kathy, Jason’s mom. Her sister, Barbara, was also there. Great family. Great senses of humor. That evening we chatted laughing quite a bit. Vern took Jason and me to the Octoberfest tent thing down in town. Pretty cool I must say. Vern told stories of events that took place on the farm over the years. One of the best stories concerned the theft of one of his rolls of hay. These things weigh up to 12 hundred pounds and are stacked in a pyramid three or four bails high. After a rain, Vern goes out to check on the bails to see if they’re OK. He notices that one of them, the top one, is missing. Right below are tire tracks. It looks as if the thieves just rolled the bail right off the top and into a pickup. I guess the crooks weren’t too smart because all that Vern had to do was to follow the tracks to catch the guys a few miles away.
Sunday morning (October 3rd)
Quiet peaceful rest at the farm last night. Jason and I went out to look at the stars in the huge canopy of sky. We actually saw the Milky Way stretching across the moonless night sky. It was spectacular. It’s hard to see it when one lives near a city like I do. I slept soundly with the quiet of the country.
Early we went into town to attend 9 o’clock Mass at St. Patrick’s church. Very nice indeedy so. Then to Granma Jo’s coffee shop on the main drag for breakfast. I sat next to Jason’s sister and across from a train engineer. Needless to say, since I am a train-geek, I bent his ear on what it is like to drive a train. He hauls coal between the Wyoming coal fields back to Nebraska. He is the one who told me about the “Golden Spike Tower” in North Platte, where I am now. I visited the tower and watched the largest switching yard in the world operate. Even though it was Sunday, it was going strong. What a trip.
To Jason, Vern, Kathy, AnneMarie and Ryan and everyone else I have met these past few days, thanks. Now I need my rest, I’m going to try and hit Kansas City tomorrow.
And so it goes…