While southeastern Iowa is not my native soil, because it is where the clan of my wife, Nancy, is from I’ve learned to navigate my way around there over the past 40-plus years of marriage en route to various reunions, anniversary celebrations, weddings and funerals.
One of my greatest traveling blunders happened on the flat lands of the Hawkeye State. It was on an occasion when I didn’t actually get lost, but still wound up in the wrong location.
Nancy had accompanied her parents to Iowa on a Friday for a family event. Because I had to work the plan was for me to catch up with them on Saturday for lunch.
Simple enough, right? You would think.
In my attempt to be both a good husband and son-in-law, I made sure to arrive in the small town of Keosauqua, located on the banks of the Des Moines River, well in advance of our scheduled rendezvous. I located the town’s lone cafe, walked around for a few minutes and then waited.
After the time to link up had passed without any familiar faces showing up, I pulled out a piece of paper with my in-laws’ cell number and tried to call them. However, because of Keosauqua’s hilly topography, I had no cell service.
Seeing no other options, I climbed back into my vehicle and set a course back to Hannibal. I’m not sure how far down the road I was when my phone rang. It was my in-laws wondering if I was in need of bail money.
The phone was eventually passed over to Nancy, who also was curious why I had not made it to Bonaparte for lunch.
To compound my mistake was the fact "Bonaparte" was written on the family event calendar at home.
My Bonaparte blunder came up this past Saturday as Nancy and I drove to Fairfield, Iowa, for a funeral.
My bride pointed out that she doesn’t make a point of rubbing my nose in that misadventure. I noted in silence that neither has my Keosauqua caper been forgotten.
What is especially noteworthy about my most recent venture into Iowa is that the stage had been set for a repeat of my Keosauqua misstep.
Being the good daughter that she is, Nancy had planned to help her parents with the driving on the four-hour trip by either meeting them as they passed through Hannibal, or by traveling to their suburban St. Louis home and chauffeuring them all the way up to Fairfield.
With Nancy slated to help her folks that left me to drive solo to the funeral. I foresaw no problem since I’ve been to Fairfield on numerous occasions and have more than once driven past the church where the funeral was to take place. No worries, right?
Late last week Nancy’s parents, who both have been battling colds, reluctantly decided that it would be in their best interests to hunker down and miss the funeral.
As the phone conversation progressed in which Nancy’s folks revealed their decision to stay home, they asked if we knew where the church’s new location was.
As it turned out the congregation had moved to a building on the southern edge of town, a fact that all the Internet web searches Nancy tried failed to note.
I have no doubt that if Nancy had accompanied her parents to Iowa, I would have never known of the address change and would have quite likely driven right past the new church to the old address. Not exactly a Keosauqua repeat, but close enough.
Needless to say, no one was happier Saturday than I was to have missed an opportunity to mess up again.
The views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Courier-Post.