Tue 7/22: Confusion for Russell (the town, not my little brother)

Tuesday was built around the 8 1/2 hour drive from Denver to Kansas City. No offense to our flatland friends . . . there wasn’t a whole lot of excitement heading east on Hwy 70. Because the scenery was one endless stretch of soy bean field, we found a way to make our own fun. Belting out Toby Keith tunes, laughing out loud to the stand-up comedy of Jim Gaffagan and Josh Bleu, and narrating the people and cars whizzing past in somewhat of a distorted Southern accent gave us the energy needed to muscle through.

One fun fact is how the people of Russell took to my milk allergy request. After filling up with gas, we headed across the street to fill up our tummies with a little Sonic love’n. While I am not a fan of slushies (of which Sonic has 25 different flavors) my heart did skip a beat at the sight of a Caramel Java Chiller. Prior to confirming my selection, I asked the faceless intercom worker if the Caramel Java Chiller contained any milk. After two follow-up questions confirming my desire NOT to have milk in the Chiller, the faceless wonder said “ok” and provided us with the total.

It should come as no surprise the sheer delight I felt as the Sonic worker handed us the goods. A quick look into my Chiller and anyone could see the vortex of milk that frothed from within. After reiterating that we were hoping for a Chiller without milk, the worker promptly responded, “Oh, there’s no milk. Just ice cream and whipped cream.”

Perhaps, in the tiny town of Russell, ice cream and whipped cream comes not from cows but from milk-free trucks.

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Mon 7/21: Fore!

We arose on Monday to the sun shining brightly across the mountainous terrain. A perfect setting for our Green Knight Western Golf Outing!

Off to Red Rocks Country Club we went with clubs and Norby in tow. Upon arrival, we were immediately welcomed by incredible hospitality from the entire Red Rocks staff. Over the course of an hour, nearly 20 alums rolled up to join in the course fun. Norby even tried his 4-fingered hand at the driving range and, surprisingly, caught a few good strokes into the range pond. Who knew Norby was such an athlete?!

While the Denver community was warm and welcoming, the scenery more than stunning, and the weather conditions absolutely pristine, the highlight of the day had to be our chance meeting with twin baby fawns. Complete with spots and knocked knees, the fawns were cooling themselves in the shade of a tree on hole 12. We were allowed to get within a few feet of the darlings before they hopped up to join their mom for a cool drink in the creek. What a treat!

Several alums had the special honor of receiving a driver-filled scotch bottle for the quality of their play. Our very own John Sabo, class of 2007, won the men’s longest drive. Coincidence that Sabo planned this event? I think not.

After 18 holes of golf, our alumni bunch set their sights on the clubhouse for some much needed refreshments and nourishment. All in attendance delighted by the words of inspiration from President Kunkel, who shared several campus updates, among which was the Gehl-Mulva Science Center, the Schneider School of Business and the renovation to the Mel Nicks baseball complex. We even had the special treat of thanking Carl and Carol Vogel in person for their significant financial support of the baseball renovation project. THANK YOU!

Lastly, a very sincere thank you to Mark Condon, class of 1979, for the incredible hospitality at Red Rocks Country Club!

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Sun 7/20: Sunday Fun Day

Seven alums joined together in body and spirit for a mass at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. The pristine white marble highlighted by seemingly endless stained glass windows made centering oneself in the presence of God an easy task.

Following mass, we headed down the street for brunch at Sassafras. Creamy blackberry shakes, sweet praline pancakes, cajun catfish, fried green tomato omelets and hearty homestyle American fries littered our table. Keeping par with our other dining experiences, this meal surely did not disappoint!

Sunday afternoon afforded us some extra time to explore the scenery of Colorado. We made a quick stop to Silverthorne Outlet Mall for a gander through the Croc store (a Sabo favorite), the Carter store (for the impending arrival of Baby Riebe) and the Nike store (for the athlete in Norby).

A stones-throw westward and we found ourselves in the stunning community of Vail. With pocketbooks tightly tucked away, our eyes enjoyed some serious window shopping. Another fantastic meal at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant and we were headed back to Denver with hopes for a good night’s rest before our big Western Golf Outing the next morning.

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Sat 7/19: Seeing Things in C-Springs

As the bright sun rose over the Rockies, we again hopped in the car for a quick trip south to Colorado Springs. Before heading to our evening alumni event, we wanted the opportunity to check out the surrounding city. With laces tightly strapped, we headed out for the Garden of the Gods, one of C-Springs most beautiful attractions.

Garden of the Gods Park is a registered National Natural Landmark. Imagine dramatic views, 300′ towering sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of snow-capped Pikes Peak and brilliant blue skies. We were in total awe! What’s more, the day started at a balmy 95 degrees with beautiful sun. By the time our hike concluded, we were getting pelted with sleet! Mountain weather can turn on a dime, a concept we certainly witnessed first-hand.

Our day concluded with another great alumni event, this time held at Bristol Brewery. This event was particularly interesting as the brewery is located in the former Ivywild Elementary School. Due to low attendance, Ivywild was forced to close several years back. An entrepreneur with great foresight purchased the large historic building and converted it to a brewery, bakery, restaurant, gift shop and banquet hall.

A stroll through the little ladies or gentleman’s rooms and you’ll see pictographs of the ABC’s, factual illustrations of dinosaurs and helpful reminders of a multiplication table; colorful remnants of iconic grade school learning.

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Fri 7/18: T.G.I.F. (Tigers, Giraffes, Indian motorcycles, and Fun!)

Friday was built around travel, though we did our very best to delay the necessary journey into Colorado as long as possible.

With our stomachs full from a hearty breakfast and the truck full with all our belongings, we set off for the highly recommended Omaha Zoo. Over the course of 2 1/2 hours, we snuck by snakes, rolled by rhinoceros and marveled at monkeys. Our afternoon of animals even included a breeze through the aquarium and Creatures of the Night exhibit.

After a later-than-normal truck stop lunch, we hit the road once again with high hopes of busting out the remaining six hours to our destination. The motivation lasted all of 2 miles at which point we were side-tracked by the convergence of dozens of classic cars in the parking lot of the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument. What is a road trip without random stops along the way?!

Quickly enough, the dozens of cars that initially caught our eyes turned into hundreds. Participants and onlookers alike gathered in droves to experience the annual Cheyenne Classic Car Show. As luck would have it, we stumbled upon the pre-show (the pre-pre-show happened on Thursday evening), planned from 4-9:00 on Friday evening.

Many beauties caught our eyes, especially a 1948 Indian motorcycle with an even more beautiful story. The owner of the bike, emblazoned with an Indian motorcycle cut-off shirt and matching tattoo to boot, purchased the bike for $100 when he was just 14 years old. The seller, a elderly widow, explained that her husband rode this bike during his time in Germany as an Army officer. He had the bike disassembled and shipped to his home in the U.S. only to pass of a heart attack a short time later. Sadly, he never again road the bike that had given him so much joy. His widow simply wanted the bike to get used, and get used it did. The current owner put many hours of sweat-equity into that bike. As the youngest of 10 children, the owner appreciated any opportunity to spend with his father. Rebuilding the Indian motorcycle became a cherished hobby for him and his dad; memories made even sweeter now that his father has passed.

Around 5:30 p.m., we hit the road once again to bust out the remaining uneventful drive. I must admit, we were quite grateful to (finally) be greeted by the Denver city lights!

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Thu 7/17: Feeling Down-home in Downtown Omaha

Fifteen SNC alums traveled from far and wide to join us for the alumni happy hour at Brix at Midtown Crossing (this is especially significant as we have a total of 20 or so alumni, parents and SNC friends in the entire state of Nebraska)! Dan Matuszek, class of 1986, hosted us at his classy establishment. We were given prime balcony seating overlooking the vast expanse of Turner Park.

As luck would have it, our alumni happy hour coincided with the much-attended Turner Park Jazz on the Green. Nearly 12,000 people flooded the community park to take in the tastes and sounds of the city.

The night was particularly exciting as the event kicked off with paratroopers diving from from a plane, and concluded with a patriotic fireworks display. Music continued into the night as a solo artist set up shop on the Brix balcony. What a perfect capstone to a great day!

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Thu 7/17: A Diamond in the Rough (of Dubuque)

For children of the 80′s, the young at heart, and those who enjoy a classic American tale, here’s a history lesson for the Field of Dreams as taken from the welcome sign (why recreate the wheel when it was so well done!).

The Field of Dreams has affected the public in a way seldom matched in movie history. With it’s themes of family ties, faith, second changes and the special relationship between baseball and the American people, the movie has, in just a few short years woven itself permanently into the fabric of life in the United States. This is the story of the movie many said wouldn’t work, and the baseball field in the corn where they were proven wrong. What is especially gratifying is that so much of the magic is still here today, the green grass, the red dirt infield, the unforgettable farmhouse with it’s cozy porch swing and picket fence, the bleachers with a carved heart that proclaims, “Ray loves Annie.”

After the Dubuque area was chosen for shooting there remained the matter of choosing a farm. Hundreds of farmsteads had been considered in late March when director Phil Robertson arrived in town to make a final decision. When on a tour of possible sites, the Lansing farm came into view from behind a hill, Robinson reportedly shouted, “That’s it! That’s my farm!” He then leaped from the car, jumped the fence, and headed on into the field, literally making plans on the run. The Lansing farm was indeed the chosen site.

Filming at the farm was not scheduled to begin until late June, but preparations had been under way since shortly after this farm was chosen. Work on the farmhouse, which figures prominently in the movie, including taking out a few interior walls to give it an open airy feeling and to make room for the cameras and crew while filming. On the outside, the porch was extended to accommodate the porch swing that is so strongly associated with the movie. Bay windows on the west side of the house were added so that the ball field could be seen from inside. A coat of gleaming white paint gave the house a fresh new look.

Owner, Don Lansing, was relocated from his house to a camper trailer on the other side of his property as it would have been difficult to remain in his home while production was under way.

Thanks to the sacrifice of Don Lansing and the foresight of Phil Robertson, this iconic story became a reality. The entire experience was made even sweeter when Norby, while steadily gripping a Louisville slugger between sweaty palms, tried his hand at some infield pitches. Even though a home run wasn’t in his future, Norby and the fans alike gained a new appreciation for America’s favorite past-time.

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Thu 7/17: A Miscalculated Cup of Jo

Following a few hours of rest, we wiped the sleep from our eyes and headed out for coffee at a downtown Dubuque cafe. Much to our dismay, the Naughty Dog Cafe closed for business one week before our trip. Sonuvagun! This dog lover was especially disappointed as the Naughty Dog Cafe provided tasty treats for humans and dogs alike.

After a quick recalculation, we found ourselves at another downtown cafe, the Manna Java. Several cinnamon rolls, lattes and diet Cokes later, we were off!

With a few extra hours to spare, we decided to take a small detour. When driving through rural Iowa, why not stop at the site of 1989′s greatest cinematic achievement: The Field of Dreams.

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Wed 7/16: Let the Good Times Roll

At 1:36 p.m. on Wednesday, July 16, we rolled out from the comforts of campus and onto the road ahead. The suburban was packed to the gills with luggage, SNC apparel, snacks and of course our good pal, Norby the Knight. With legs out-stretched, we rode in style and even caught a couple sideways glances from our sweet SNC decal-decked windows.

As lush rolling fields guided the path, we made our way to the first stop on the road trip, a happy hour at Glen Erin Golf Course. Many thanks to our Janesville alums for stopping by to toast to all things new and unchanged at St. Norbert College. A special thanks to John Okray, class of 2006, for hosting!

Following the event, we hit the road once again in preparation for our breakfast event in Dubuque. Needing a little fuel for our internal fire, we pulled off in Monroe, WI, for a late night dinner run. Imagine our surprise when fellow Subway patron, Andy, picked up the tab for our group. After some protest, Andy simply said, “Pay it forward.” Wow. Communio in action!

With a little more spring in our step, not only from the 6-inch Subway melts but also from the selfless generosity of our new roadie friend, we pounded the pavement to Dubuque. Around 10:10 p.m., as we hit the hotel pillows, we quickly fell into dreams of Sugar Plum Norbies dancing in our heads.

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