Thursday, August 1, 2013


Now that I’ve had my newly-acquired vehicle almost two months, I’ve been wanting to see how it performed on an extended highway stretch, and since we had some unexpectedly cool weather last weekend, I decided to take a spur-of-the-moment road trip to Omaha.  I’ve been there a few times before, but they’ve added some new things since my last visit, and I also decided to venture north of Omaha on I-29 for the first time.  Nothing earth-shattering, but a fun and cheap little getaway weekend.

I just love being able to see the city from my hotel, and this is the vista from my room at the Motel 6 University Park just NW of downtown near the University of Nebraska-Omaha.  This place used to be a 6-story Best Western and you’d never know it was a Motel 6—it seemed more like a poor man’s Marriott and was quite suitable for less than 70 bucks night.  I was even able to make my stay pay for itself after playing Blackjack at Harrah’s casino over in Council Bluffs and coming away with a net profit of $150.   My timing was perfect too, as they were flirting with record low temperatures Friday night/Saturday morning and it was in the mid-‘70s all weekend.  I almost needed a sweatshirt—just phenomenal for late July in this region. 

I made it a point to check out some local eateries rated highly by the locals, and one that sounded intriguing was a dive called Leo’s Diner in north central Omaha, whose claim to fame is a delicacy known as “Fantasy Island”.  I was all set to try it on Saturday morning, but I had to postpone it for a day because unbeknownst to me, the little neighborhood Leo's resides in was having some sort of parade and the place was right smack-dab in the middle of the parade route.  It was worth the wait until Sunday, though, as it was most excellent.  Basically, it's two biscuits on top of hash browns, with sausage gravy poured over that, with ham, bacon, onion and green peppers mixed in, topped with two eggs anyway you want.  Worth checking out sometime if you’re ever in the area, although the wait staff was a bit on the scuzzy side, and really I could've done without them sniping at each other in front of the customers—not cool. 

My new red machine, a 2007 Ford 500 SEL, may not be a Barchetta, but it’s a beautiful shade of metallic red, and it performed admirably on its maiden road trip sojourn. Now that I have an odometer that measures mileage, I was most pleased to get 28 MPG on the highway, which is a major upgrade over the land barge I'd been driving.  I almost got to witness an accident in front of me on I-29 too, as some redneck in the little pickup hauling a large mattress that was blocking his rearview mirror nearly ran an SUV (who was trying to pass him on the right) right off the road. Was also amused by another mattress hauler who thought he had it strapped down good on top of his minivan--until it started raising up in the wind like airplane flaps! We nearly had liftoff...

This is the fancy new baseball stadium on the north side of downtown Omaha where they now play the annual NCAA College World Series.  Quite a handsome ballpark—almost Major League quality—but it seems like a total waste considering they only use the place one month out of the year, while Omaha's minor league Storm Chasers team (the Royals' AAA affiliate) plays in their own new stadium in the middle of a corn field down in the next county.  Why the hell do they make their fans drive 12 miles away from the city when they could be playing right downtown?  Apart from making it a shorter drive for the fans coming up from Lincoln on I-80, this makes no sense...

So nice of the Omahans (Omahites?) to name something after me.  Also cool of them to hype my man Weird Al’s performance at the nearby Orpheum Theater, which I was a night too late to catch on Thursday.  But fear not, coming next week for a limited engagement at the good ol’ HPAC, Hugh Grant stars in the stage presentation of "Oh, What A Twit!"


This is a rickety old foot bridge.  So rickety, that they won't even let humans on it anymore.  I was standing in Iowa when I snapped this, and that's South Dakota on the opposite shore. I drove up to Sioux City on Saturday afternoon just for shits and hoots because I'd never been there, and I hopped over to that little SE tip of South Dakota, knocking another state off my list that I hadn't set foot in yet.  This leaves only Vermont, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii and Idaho as the only U.S. states I never been in, although technically I've been over part of Idaho in a plane.

My first stop when I got to town Friday was a BBQ emporium called Beyond BBQ in a little strip mall just west of where I was staying.  Not too shabby, especially the St. Louis-style ribs.  I don’t know that they’ll be around long, though—I was their lone customer after 8:00 on a Friday night until they closed at 9:00, and the place had no atmosphere at all, not even any music playing overhead, with a World War II movie playing on the TV. 

Meantime, my Saturday night dinner was even more interesting.  I went to a sports bar I’ve heard about for years called Brewburgers on the SW corner of the city and tried their “Inside-Out Burger”, which has the cheese and bacon already built-in.  It wasn't bad, but there was one little problem—I took one bite and the thing exploded all over my shirt!  Anyway, it wasn’t half as good as the appetizer I ate, "Cajun Nachos", which was chips topped with cheese, Cajun sausages and alligator meat.  I didn’t even know gators were edible, and kept having visions of Bobby Boucher’s mama from The Waterboy whooping this up in the kitchen, but this stuff was damn good!

On the way home Sunday I swung down to Lincoln, which I hadn’t visited since 1991 and was surprised to find a fancy new arena going up just a couple blocks west of the U. of Nebraska football stadium.  Nearly completed and due to open in September, the Pinnacle Bank Arena replaces the aging Devaney Center for Nebraska bassit-ball (both men’s and women’s), and will also host major concerts like the Eagles in October.  Looks like a major upgrade for Nebraska’s capital city.  The drive from Omaha was a treat too, as you can legally do 75 MPH on three-lane (each way) I-80.


Sam said...

I've wanted to see Weird Al forever, but the stars have never aligned. Maybe next time. water damage Junction City KS

Ramonita said...