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The North Bend Eagle


Facebook brings international visiters to Morse Bluff

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 9/21/11

New York City or Morse Bluff?

Quite a choice for world travelers Linda Woods and Mandy Gonzales. They chose Morse Bluff and were guests for four days at the home of Jane Coffman.

Morse Bluff visitors.Jane Coffman, center, is flanked by her new friends from Austrailia, Mandy Gonzales and Linda Woods.

Woods and Gonzales are natives of Australia, Woods from Sydney and Gonzales from Gold Coast. Best friends since kindergarten, the 600-mile distance between their homes does not stop the two women from planning trips together. Now 53 years old, the women have done many trips together.

Last February Quantas, Australia’s largest airline, offered a round trip ticket from Sydney to Fort Worth, Texas, a new non-stop route for the airline, for $900 (The same trip costs $1,700 now). The offer was good for 48 hours. Woods made a quick call to Gonzales and a friend in Ft. Worth she had met during her travels, then booked the flight.

Meanwhile, Woods looked into visiting other friends, ones she has met traveling and new ones she met on Facebook. Woods had met Joe Love online through a mutual friend and was impressed with comments made by his mother, Jane Coffman.

“Miss Jane always had funny stuff to say,” Woods said.

Coffman began corresponding with Woods a year ago and they became friends.

“We were interested in her life and she wanted to know about ours,” Woods said.
So the Australian women talked and decided that instead of going to New York City to see shows, a place they have been before, they would go to Nebraska.

They and their friends knew little about Nebraska or Morse Bluff. So they decided to find out.

“It’s the best kept secret,” Gonzales said.

They arrived Thursday and left Monday. They ate barbecue beef, turkey and oyster dressing. Coffman’s daughter, Ruth Mahon from Topeka, Kan., came to stay with her mother and fixed Thanksgiving dinner for them Thursday, something they’ve never had before. The women thoroughly enjoyed every dish.

“The pumpkin pie was scrumptious,” Woods said.

Coffman’s nine children were in and out the whole time the visitors were here to meet and entertain the visitors. They went fishing on the Platte River, took long walks in the countryside and ate.

They introduced the Coffman’s to new words, biscuits for cookies, jelly for Jello.
In Australia both women live in big cities. Woods is in medical administration and Gonzales works at Galileo’s Pizza. Both lead busy lives with children and grandchildren. Coffman was afraid that the two women would be bored in Morse Bluff, but the visitors had nothing but rave reviews for their host and their time in Nebraska. Almost 45 members of Coffman’s family came to the house on Hidden Cove to meet the women, bring food and enjoy family time. Most were there for the noon pot luck meal Saturday and for the Nebraska football game. The Australians loved watching the game - and the fanatic fans at the Coffman house.
To end the evening there was a bonfire and making of s’mores - another new food for the visitors.

Coffman, 82, is soaking it all in with family and new friends surrounding her and filling her home.

“It’s something I never expected,” Coffman said.

Daughter Judy added, “See what Facebook will do for you?”

Coffman didn’t do any studying up on Australia, but she did watch the Oprah Winfrey Show when it was broadcast from the country “down under.” She now has a tablecloth from Australia featuring a map of the country, a gift from the visitors.
Next the women travel to Nashville, Ky., then back to Fort Worth for another week before taking the 15 1/2 hour flight back home.

When asked the highlight of their trip, they cordially replied, “Nebraska!”

“Not enough people know about Nebraska,” Woods said. “We do now, and we’ll spread the word.”

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