For the last five summers, I’ve headed to Lawrence, Kansas for a conference or workshop through Kansas University and last year I blogged about spending an extra night exploring Kansas City with a girl I met at my workshop. That got me thinking about how I could possibly extend my next Kansas trip for more midwestern fun, so this year I packed a hell of a lot of stuff into one week.
First off, last week my friend, Kerrie, and I made it into Lawrence where we met up with another friend, Angela, who literally road tripped from Portland to meet us. The plan was that the three of us would attend the 2013 International SIM Conference and then all go our separate ways at the end. We did a number of great things, including presenting our podcast, eating rabbit, and seeing fireflies for the first time.
By the time Friday rolled around, I was exhausted, but my friend Kelly flew in from Vegas so we could start a whole new adventure. Kelly is also in education who isn’t satisfied with her job and is working on becoming an administrator. We spent the first four hours talking nonstop. Saturday morning, we woke up early, got our workouts in, tasted some fancy oil and vinegars, and then headed to Omaha – a city neither of us had ever traveled to.
I don’t know much about Nebraska, other than I heard there is a lot of corn, but frankly our three hour drive from Lawrence to Omaha felt exactly the same as going down I-5 in Oregon. It looked exactly the same.
Once in Omaha, we realized it was much smaller than we had anticipated. The valet at the hotel asked us what we were in town for, and we looked at each and replied, “For fun? We’ve never been here before.” The valet looked at us like we were nuts, and then every single other person we talked to in Omaha gave us the exact same expression.
On our first day, we did a little sight seeing (which lasted about 24 minutes) and even drove over the bridge to Iowa (just to say we did it).
Back across the bridge in Omaha, the downtown area was small, but definitely full of life. People were totally out shopping and eating and the whole place was cool old brick buildings. Frankly, it looked a lot like the Pearl District in Portland, but with a ton of horse drawn carriages (because walking four blocks is too hard?).
I was a little too excited about the old time candy shops (many of you know I have a thing for old people candy), so I managed to snag myself and Egg Cream while also checking out a couple “antique” places that really just had tons of crazy crap all over.
Saturday had a serious night life and people just couldn’t stop talking to us. In an effort to avoid hoards of drunken tools, we went back to our hotel bar and got in some good people watching. If you’re ever in Omaha, I would totally recommend our hotel (The Magnolia) because not only did it have a huge free breakfast, they did free milk & cookies at night, and free wine during happy hour (all of which we took advantage of).
Lucky for us, we met an extremely friendly police officer, Bob, who seemed to be on every corner for our entire trip. Not only did Bob give us helpful Omaha tips all weekend, he introduced us to everyone in town and joined us for a drink.
On Sunday, we also at a restaurant everyone raved about called Plank. Yes, a seafood restaurant in Nebraska. We were also wary. But the place looked pretty hip and their oyster menu looked hella snobby (all this stuff about salinity & nutty flavors) so for the first time in my life, I tried oysters.
Later on, we spent a wealth of our time messing with the jukebox at a dive bar called JD Tucker’s. Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), we were shooing drunk guys away from us left and right, but managed to find some upstanding young boys who offered to show us the town, while promising not to be pervy about it. We ended up at a drag show (apparently the gay bar is the most popular bar in town). Lots of fun to be had. Ooooooh to be young again.
This morning, we tooled around just a little more (I was amused by a local music shop called Drastic Plastic) and headed off to Kansas City. We ate Jack Stack BBQ in our hotel beds while watching trashy tv. It was pretty magical.