Our event Sunday in Corrolla, NC was so wildly successful I woke up this morning wondering how we could top it.
Day 9/Lighthouse of Destiny
I also woke up wondering where my glasses wound up. But that’s another story…
Today was a day for regrouping – for taking the lessons learned from last evening and learning how to fine tune these gatherings to make them even better for the next one and for doing what a high school teacher does best in June – relaxing.
Today was also a day for yours truly to weigh in on an actual scale. I’ve been doing an online diet bet that I foolishly started too close to this trip. Amazingly I came in under my goal weight of a half-metric ton.
After a morning spent lounging on the beach with the gentle waves of the North Atlantic lapping my toes – I never venture past my ankles, long story – my son and I decided to visit the sights of the Outer Banks. Just four miles north of our beach house stands the 200 foot tall Currituck Lighthouse. So there are two stories I could tell and since you’ve read this far I may as well tell them both.
A little more than ten years ago when Karla and I first met for the second time (work with me here) she invited me to spend some time with her and a group of her friends at a rented beach house in the Outer Banks. I made the lonely drive from New Jersey on a weekday by way of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, praying two complete rosaries on the crossing, and then wound my way through the scenic if not marshy coastland of eastern North Carolina. Everything was going swimmingly before I noticed flashing lights in my rearview mirror. Never having been stopped before I believed the lights to be a parade. Who doesn’t love a parade? Would there be a marching band?! I love hearing Play That Funky Music with a rhythm section and brass! I turned my music up and slowed down to let the floats go past.
It didn’t take long before I realized that the “floats” consisted of a lone patrol car. And this, I realized, was the classic definition of a speed trap. I pleaded with the officer by not pleading at all (I’m too polite) and, looking at the slip of paper in my hand, I said to him “Sir, I don’t see a website where I can pay this online.” “Guy,” he said, “This is Currituck County, North Carolina. You can’t pay it inline.” HIs maniacal laugh almost made me miss the fact that he had said online incorrectly. First speeding ticket ever. Seriously.
The other story is that a mere five years later my family and I drove up the Atlantic coast from Key West. Stopping in St. Augustine for the night (and don’t tell me it doesn’t bug you that they mispronounce that great saint’s name) my then-three year-old son and I attempted to visit their lighthouse. I had already paid our admission when the woman behind the counter asked how old my son was. “He’s three,” I said. “Oh sorry,” she replied. “He’s too young.” He’s always been tall for his age so she must have assumed he was older. But there was no consoling they boy when Daddy had to say “Sorry Benny, this Abe Vigoda impersonator in dark won’t let you climb to the top.” I tried my best with actual, verbalized words. “Listen son, Daddy will make it up to you one day.” That sounds a bit nicer.
So that day was today. Lighthouses, like most supertall structures, are inherently cool. There’s something about them that calls out to dads and sons of all stripes begging to be conquered. We approached the red brick facade and paid our fee. I almost told the woman at this counter “He’s old enough now, lady, SO THERE!” As if to prove me wrong we climbed 57 steps when my boy stopped short. “Uh, Daddy?” he said. “Yes, Benedict?” “I kind of dropped my flip flop.” Being the good dad I try to be most of the time I scurried back down five flights of cast iron, open stair-steps to retrieve the lost shoe. This is why I always wear closed shoes – that and I grew up outside New York and the thought of anything coming in contact with my bare feet grosses me out.
Take a look at the view from the top.
Day 10/Event(s) #5 – John Gordon and Richmond
The next morning the remnants of Tropical Storm Colin swept over us for a few hours. When the skies cleared it was time to pack the car and head to our next stop. The tour waits for no man, not even Colin.
It’s hard to say goodbye to good friends. It’s even harder when these friends – the Pierce’s, Garvey’s, Belleville’s, Fusco’s, and Margaret Luckey – are friends you hardly see. There were no tears, though, as we truly believe this is but the start of a recurring tour stop. Grill’n & Chill’n has made us see that we need to do this more often and that it’s possible to do this more often.
Our next stop was so bizarre and so off-beat I just love it! And you will too!
John Gordon (brother of Jesse Gordon Decotiis from our previous NC stop) is a friend of Karla. He graduated in 1997 and, like many of us including me, had a brief seminary career before settling on something else. That “something else” is pretty awesome. He is an owner-operator of a Chick-fil-a in Gloucester Courthouse, Virginia. I’m not even sure he was expecting us. The beauty of this tour is our ability to drop in to places simply because we’re close by. Covering most of the country, we can do that with ease. Either way we had to eat so it killed two birds with one stone. And Chick-fil-a’s are notoriously safe bets for a family on the road. Clean. Great food. Impeccable service.
Forgive me, friends, I’m already at about a thousand words. Stick with me, though, it’s worth it.
Our final stop for the day was at the home of John O’Herron, ’06, in Richmond. I could bore you with how beautiful Richmond is and how particularly lovely this neighborhood was. I could regale you with tales of the old south. I could even sing Carry Me Back to Old Virginny though I’m not sure that would advance the narrative much. The real draw for this event was our guest of honor, John’s dad Mr. Ray O’Herron. Who knew a doctrine professor would cause so many people to drop their plans and come out for a burger and beer? I’ll let the pictures tell the story but I want to add this last point.
Forgive me. I know it features a bit of my little girl (in the pink shirt) but I thought this video from the trampoline was too precious not to share. Even the kids are connecting.
Typical of these events we witnessed a lot of people connecting with people they knew but didn’t really know. Surprisingly one of those people was me. I assumed grilling duties when I arrived only to have John ask me if I had a drink. “Gin and tonic, right?” he asked. “How’d you know?” I replied. “It was in your blog.” Wow. That’s both scary and awesome at the same time. The best part is that he had bought gin, tonic, and a few limes just for me. Also, I spent a good amount of time talking with Dave Long, ’10, before realizing that one of my best friends in Dallas is also a high school classmate of his from St. Greg’s. Go figure.
All in all the event was a great night for Crusader alums in the Virginia capital. We welcomed somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 people and helped them rekindle the Christendom fire that bonds us together. Karla made her pitch to the crowd reminding them to fill out the survey (now up to 511 of the 1000 needed for the Apple Watch drawing) and explained the purpose of the Alumni Advisory Council; and I was able to tell Ray O’Herron how, even though I lasted but a semester, he had a big impact on my life. “Thing is,” I said, “I teach theology as well. And all of my exams are always/sometimes/never.”
Hey, it worked for him…