Wow … just returned home from a whirl-wind car trip. 990.1 miles from home to Ave Maria University and than another 1000 miles back (we made a slight side trip). And we did this all between Thursday afternoon and Monday morning.

Yep, dh is a ROAD WARRIOR!

Headed out on Thursday afternoon, leaving at 1600, with a brief stop for gas and bagel fill-ups. As we headed down the highway, we mused about what we would find at the end of our journey. Kotch had been going to AMU since her freshman year (with a brief stint in Chicago) and we’d never visited. It’s too far … it’s too expensive … we never visited.

Ave Maria from the other side of the Lake ...

Ave Maria from the other side of the Lake …


Ave Maria Oratory Ave Maria, Florida

Ave Maria Oratory
Ave Maria, Florida


After driving all evening, stopping for a 4-hour sleep at a rest-stop in SC, we finally arrived in Ave Maria, FL at around 1330 on Friday. We arrived to beautiful sunny skies, balmy weather and the sight of an amazing Catholic campus in the middle of southern Florida. It’s gorgeous!
Our first visit

Our first visit


We caught up with Catie, who was having lunch at the smoothie place in Ave, and caught up and checked into the visitors’ residence, Xavier Hall, a dorm-turned-hotel for non-student visitors.

We parked the van, unloaded and NEVER got back in until Sunday when we headed out. A great surprise was to run into ITI-Austrian friends, the Thompsons, a family we hadn’t seen for 10 years (almost to the day) since we left Gaming to go out into the world and evangelize. Seems their daughter, Catherine, was also graduating with Kotch!

The Terrific Thompsons - dear friends from our time in Austria

The Terrific Thompsons – dear friends from our time in Austria


We took much-need showers and then headed to the Oratory for the Baccalaureate Mass. Fr. McTeigue (SJ) gave a fabulous sermon to the students while we reveled in the gorgeous and awe-inspiring modern-architecture that is reminiscent of the classic cathedral structures of the Middle Ages. After, we took a few pictures of the other psych majors (including one with her major professor, Dr. Houde) and then headed to dinner at Milano’s, an on-site pizza/Italian restaurant that had the best pizza.
Dr. Keith Houde, chair of Psychology and Kotch

Dr. Keith Houde, chair of Psychology and Kotch


fellow psych major after the Baccaulaureate Mass

fellow psych major after the Baccaulaureate Mass


Kotch's roommate freshman year, and dear friend the other three ...

Kotch’s roommate freshman year, and dear friend the other three …


Saturday dawned glorious — sunny skies, low winds, low humidity …. but a DEARTH of coffee for dh and I. It wasn’t pretty, but we eventually found some and then headed to Golisano Field House for the ceremony.

Kotch graduated with a major in Psychology and a minor in Marriage and Family Studies (and tons of praise from both her major- and other professors). We heard fabulous speeches from Florida Governor Rick Scott and lawyer Seamus Hasson, founder of the Becket Fund. Hasson’s talk was particularly riveting as he is such a humble, spiritual man who is dealing with his own private hell — Parkinsons. What a great witness for these young people (and us old folks, too.)

Kotch receiving her diploma (after a 3.4gpa record in her four years) from President Dr. Towey

Kotch receiving her diploma (after a 3.4gpa record in her four years) from President Dr. Towey


A family favorite from Austria, Dr. Michael Waldstein, shares our joy of Kotch's graduation

A family favorite from Austria, Dr. Michael Waldstein, shares our joy of Kotch’s graduation

We are so PROUD of Kotch ... she did it and did it very well

We are so PROUD of Kotch … she did it and did it very well


Sunday morning we loaded up (we went to Saturday evening Mass with a lovely sermon, again from Mr. McTeigue, and amazing music from Martin Doman!) … and headed home (Kotch is heading to TN). In mid-afternoon, we reached St. Augustine Beach … a perfect spot to stretch our legs, touch the Atlantic and revel in the fact that Spaniards in 1575 built a fort/mission near here. WOW! The scenery was made more gorgeous by the size of the waves, a remenant of the storm the night before (which we missed … yeah!)
St. Augustine beach 1
st. augustine beach 2
St. Augustine beach 3
We got back home here around 0900, Monday the 6th. Definitely a whirl-wind tour but so worth it. And I got so much knitting done, including a complete shawl (started and finished while on our journey) and the start of another …
"Summer in the Vineyard" blocking

“Summer in the Vineyard” blocking


Hugs 'n' Kisses shawl ... a great start for this one

Hugs ‘n’ Kisses shawl … a great start for this one

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