This way again
I’ve written for this journal for two and one-half years now. That’s a long time.
During these three years I have made two trips to football games in Indiana. This month will mark the third. In writing about those travels to the American heartland I think that I have remarked that as the shadows lengthen one makes trips to the places of his youth with the question, Will I pass this way again? Well I’m asking myself that question again as we head west to Notre Dame once more.
This time it’s Purdue of Big Ten fame that opens another season in Notre Dame Stadium. I recall that my first game in the House that Rockne Built was some 58 years ago. My, my. That game was played in our student days. The boys, and girls now, still sit in the same sections, still stand up throughout the game. They know the players, the plays. Saturdays are their days. They also will never forget.
Some ask, Do you SRQ? This trip we do.
Our friend Phoebe is to stay with her pals, canine and human, at the Beach Vet in Cortez, so we drop her off on the way to Sarasota for our flight to Charlotte at mid-day . The airport is hardly busy. It seems Charlotte’s weather is deteriorating so we board the CRJ 701 early for an early departure. We climb through the cloud layer getting on top over the Gulf coast heading north. Clouds and sun continue over the south. Approaching the Queen City descending through clouds no weather is observed; it’s overcast at 4,000 feet. Charlotte airport is busy – maybe the DNC remnants. We do the moving sidewalks from terminals E to B. Maybe it’s not so cool to SRQ. Pat and I make it with a few minutes to spare for a much larger A321 to Chicago O’Hare. This is scheduled for 2 hours. The summer haze is descending to ground level. They appear to be building a new runway/taxiway at Charlotte in the red clay. After takeoff middle America passes beneath us as we approach Chicago from 29,000 feet. Looks like we will be a few minutes early. The blue of Lake Michigan appears as we line up O’Hare’s runway.
O’Hare is jammed on a weekday late afternoon. We wait in a giant downstairs room for the commuter flight to South Bend, literally over the lake to the east. I spot some of the Irish faithful waiting also. There’s a slight maintenance delay for the E145, for its 24 minute flight. This has been a flying odyssey. We rent a car in the expanded South Bend airport, and drive south to Bremen, Indiana and our favorite B&B out among the corn fields. By the way, the corn looks terrible as a result of drought. Breakfast is great as always on Friday, a day of leisure touring the northern Indiana countryside. The Notre Dame campus is not as crowded before game day.
Saturday dawns bright with blue sky for the visit of instate rivals Purdue, from West Lafayette to the south. We head up to Notre Dame at noon for football – what these trips are all about.
Kickoff weather is 68 degrees and clear. There were no repetitions of the two stadium evacuations we experienced at this time last year. Both teams, Purdue and Notre Dame, look a little rusty to me, definitely not the Purdue of old. The Irish are fresh off a game in Dublin, against Navy. The hype of that experience might not have been the best for our boys. The stadium is full as usual. Two bands, a smaller one than Purdue’s usual, entertain the crowds.
It wasn’t pretty, but then a win is a win! ND 20, Purdue 17. I enjoyed it as always. My seats were better too this year.
It was still light as this game ended. We trooped back to our car parked at St. Mary’s
College, my Daughter’s school. The drive back to Bremen was more crowded with all the folks heading further south to Indianapolis and Louisville.
Sleep came quickly.
Sunday brought ground fog hanging over the farm land. The crowd gathers early at SBN for the short flight back to Chicago. The fog is lifting off. Lake Michigan is still blue beneath us on the ORD approach.
Another United commuter jet takes us all the way from O’Hare to Charlotte on the return. It’s a summer day with puffy clouds as green mountains below mark the transition from Midwest to South. There’s a very long wait in reaching the gate in Charlotte. Peace reigns in that newer airport after the relative chaos of O’Hare.. We take a breather in the U.S. Airways Club. I think I now appreciate the South.
We head for the last leg of this journey, from Charlotte to Sarasota in late afternoon.
Once underway we fly home quickly. We even SRQ’d. The cloud cover approaching the Gulf is heavy, storm-like. There does not appear to be any movement in the clouds. Ominous? We seem to thread our way through them down to our landing, and home.
I’ll have to keep asking myself that question again, I hope.