Omaha, Nebraska - The Good Life
Nebraska... the good life.
On my way to Omaha, near the town of Nebraska City, I saw a road sign for this attraction - The Lewis and Clark Center.
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were two explorers that helped to explore, chart and settle the western United States. I've always been a fan of Lewis and Clark since I learned about their explorations as a kid. I thought that it would be worthwhile to drop by the center.
The Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, was the first American expedition to cross what is now the western portion of the United States. It began near St. Louis, made its way westward, and passed through the continental divide to reach the Pacific coast.
President Thomas Jefferson commissioned the expedition shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It comprised a selected group of U.S. Army volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and his close friend, Second Lieutenant William Clark. Their perilous journey lasted from May 1804 to September 1806. The primary objective was to explore and to map the newly acquired territory, to find a practical route across the western half of the continent, and to establish an American presence in this territory before Britain and other European powers tried to claim it.
The campaign's secondary objectives were scientific and economic: to study the area's plants, animal life, and geography, and to establish trade with local Native American tribes. With maps, sketches, and journals in hand, the expedition returned to St. Louis to report its findings to Jefferson.
The center consisted of a very modern designed main building that housed some educational displays.
A pirogue boat and oars used to transport goods.
Inside the earth lodge there were some artifacts, tools and a campfire.
An animal hide being stretched and dried.
There were also a number of nature trails that stretched around the grounds and which offered a view of the Missouri River.
The great thing about overloading is that one has the opportunity to pass by and stop at road side attractions like the Lewis and Clark Center on a whim. It is not possible to experience something like this when flying in an airplane. Sometimes the attractions are good, sometimes they are really bad. But having the opportunity and freedom to stop and experience something like this is simply priceless.
I continued north toward Omaha.
When I arrived in Omaha, I had arranged to meet up with my friend Jaime. We met at a warehouse that had been converted to an art center. She then took me on a little tour of the city. The first place we stopped was the Heartland of America Park.
Also, a lake with a water fountain and walking trail.
After walking around the Heartland of America Park, Jaime and I drove to the Old Market. The Old Market is a historical warehouse district that has largely been renovated and now is occupied by mostly trendy stores, upscale restaurants, bars, coffee shops and art galleries. We passed through the Old Market Passageway which is quaint alleyway with shops and cafes.Mr. Toad's Pub. The pub is styled as an old English pub - dark woodwork, brass adornments, high back booths. Along the wall there is a large assortment of books. Jaime pulled a book out and opened it up. I thought that maybe she was going to read some sonnets. But she explained that it is a tradition in Mr. Toad's to leave pieces of paper or napkins with comments inside the books. Some of the comments were poetry, some sayings, some nonsense. Clever.
Hollywood Candy. It's primarily a candy store with thousands of varieties of classic as well as hand crafted candy.
I got the impression that the owner of the candy shop was really just a big kid at heart. He had on display a huge collection, probably numbering in the thousands, of Pez dispensers. There were collectable series of Pez dispensers from The Simpsons, Smurfs, Looney Tunes and more.
There was also a pretty sizable collection of ball point pens neatly arranged on a pegboard wall... thousands.
... and this artwork by a local artist that graced a wall in the backroom.
Extensive traveling is not about always being on the go. There are some pretty mundane moments too.
After 30 minutes of washing and 30 minutes of drying my clothes were fresh and clean.
Since my clothes were now clean, I thought that my car deserved a good cleaning as well. I found a self-service car wash and got to work.
Soon, my car was look good as new.
It turns out that a runza is a type of sandwich made with a yeast dough bread pocket and a filling consisting of beef, pork, cabbage or sauerkraut, onions, and seasonings. They are baked in various shapes such as a half-moon, rectangle, round, square or triangle. In Nebraska, the runza is usually baked in a rectangular shape. The Runza sandwich originated in Russia during the 1800s and spread to Germany before appearing in the United States. The recipe was spread throughout the United States by the Volga Germans (Germans from Russia) and can be found in Nebraska and a few other midwestern states. I quickly discovered that it is not the healthiest of sandwiches.
With a full stomach I continued my exploration. I found out that the Joslyn Art Museum was in the vicinity.
On the outside of the museum, there were a number of sculptures. This one paid tribute to the pioneer settlers of Nebraska.
Noodles and Doodles sculpture.
Untitled piece by Jun Kaneko.
Inside the museum I was transfixed on this large installation.
A blown glass installation by Dale Chihuly
Even the walls of the museum were sculpted.
Installed in 2005 and 2009, Pioneer Courage and Spirit of Nebraska's Wilderness, are on non-adjacent sites, but are woven together through Omaha's urban cityscape.
One thing that did surprise me about the midwest was that the temperature was hot. I thought that perhaps the temperature would get cooler as I traveled north, but it was actually very hot. As I was walking around on the downtown sidewalks of Omaha I could feel the heat emanating from the concrete. It was so hot in the middle of the day that the rubber on my shoes started to melt and stick to the sidewalk. A little repair was in order before I continued on my journey.