Last year I had pinpoint focus on seeing sandhill cranes flying in and roosting along the Platte River near Kearney at the start of April. This year my goal was to visit Omaha and Lincoln. Here’s how those couple of days turned out:
Late afternoon, almost a half hour before the Omaha area:
Ordered a Reuben sandwich with fries, on-line from the Crescent Moon Ale House, and picked it up as I arrived in Omaha. Why a Reuben sandwich? I love Reuben sandwiches, but purchasing one from this place had some history. Was the sandwich created at a 1920’s poker game in Omaha’s Blackstone Hotel by Reuben Kulakofsky? Currently the Crescent Moon Ale House is across the street from where the Blackstone Hotel stood. Reuben and the hotel’s owner would want midnight snacks and supposedly Reuben Kulakofsky created this sandwich. It had corn beef on marble rye bread with Swiss cheese, a secret sauerkraut blend and thousand island dressing … named a Reuben sandwich. My sandwich was tasty, but I am used to having more sauerkraut on one. Isn’t learning history fun?
Next day in Omaha area:
My birding was at Hummel Park Nature Center. I was beginning to think I would only see the usual birds, nothing new, when a wood thrush hops on a tree branch!
Then drove to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. I walked across it, memories once again like my last post. This bridge is 3,000 feet long, crosses the Missouri River, connecting Omaha, Nebraska with Council Bluffs, Iowa. The Missouri River is a tributary of the Mississippi River. The Missouri River is 100 miles longer than the Mississippi River! (BTW, Bob Kerrey … former Nebraska governor.)
I drove to the Old Market area of Omaha, finally finding a parking spot and downloading a QR code to pay a parking fee. After walking a few of the brick-paved streets, window-shopping, watching people in horse-drawn carriages, I headed out.
Time to discover a runza. I saw fast-food joints named Runza and didn’t think anything of it till my partner shared Nebraska info with me, runza was one item. I stopped at one of the establishments and discovered they sell hamburgers, but also runza. A runza is a pocket bread with ground beef, cabbage and onion. I ordered a runza and added mushrooms and Swiss cheese. Well it was an experience!
Next day in Lincoln area:
Lincoln is the capital of Nebraska and definitely has a different feel from Omaha. There are parks, International Quilt Museum, National Museum of Roller Skating, Nebraska State Prison and it is a college town. My first stop was Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center. I spent hours hiking the trails, heard a couple of northern bobwhites, but never could get a photo of them.
Drove to Sunken Gardens and across the street was Hamann Rose Garden. Sunken Gardens had many people visiting and the other garden very few people. Sunken Gardens was constructed in the winter of 1930-31! Hamann Rose Garden was created in the 1940’s and has more than 100 roses. I could see either place being perfect for a wedding or a photographer wanting beautiful photos of flowers!
Next stop was Sheldon Museum of Art, the outdoor sculptures. The museum, on the University of Nebraska- Lincoln campus, was closed, but I was interested in what sculptures they had. Always interesting seeing creative projects.
Time for dinner: do you know there are many, many Mexican establishments in Nebraska? Of course, there is Runza, and all the fast food places, but I stopped for a gyro sandwich. I spoke with the owner who has lived in Lincoln for 42 years and he loves it. He was telling me it is a very safe city.
Next day in Wahoo area:
A friend wanted photo of a Wahoo sign and I was heading west. I enjoy driving backroads and did a quick stop at Memphis Lake State Park. Did not stay since I was looking forward to an applesauce donut made at Wahoo Bakery. Nope, they were closed!
So I headed over to Mocha C’s and had a delicious breakfast. This was the place where everyone knows your name! Wahoo is a town of less than 5,000 people – definitely close-knit. I was welcomed back whenever in the area.
I walked to Dollar General, a couple of blocks away, to buy a step stool since mine collapsed. The store’s manager and I got talking and then she explained the history of the building. On my way out, she wished me she travel and said, stop in again.
I had been intrigued by very tall concrete buildings, looked like silos to me, and seen many places in the state. I decided to stop in a store named Wahoo Meat Locker (Home of the Famous Wahoo Wiener). The woman at the cash register could not answer my question so she asked the butcher. As I stood on the other side of his counter, the butcher and a meat customer explained they are grain elevators. Then the customer explained why Nebraska’s beef is the best … “the cows eat grain, not barley and other such stuff they feed them in California and Washington”. I will say, I bought the Wahoo beef jerky and it is the best I have ever had! Before the customer left, he came into my aisle and wished me a good trip.
I walked back to my van and thought to myself, well what does today’s interaction with three different people/places tell you about this small community? I know what I think; what do you think?
This night’s Harvest Host location in North Platte, Nebraska: Pal’s Brewery. Great place for beer, to play corn hole, participate in trivia night and have a quiet place to sleep in their grassy area. I met a woman, Reba, who rode the historic 76 day, 3,000 mile “Bikecentennial ’76” or known as the “Bicycle Birthday Party”. My research indicates about 2,000 riders accomplished the entire length that year. She had also cycled from Maine to Florida in those days. Love meeting people … everyone has a story!