Last Thursday, I got on a plane headed to Omaha, Nebraska. On the way, we had to stop in Charlotte because the airline said it takes two planes to make it halfway across the country.
My travel companion was headed to Omaha to swim, bike, and run. This was for the 2016 USA Triathlon National Championships in her age group. She had qualified at last summer’s Challenge America Triathlon held in Old Orchard Beach.
Initially, I wasn’t bullish on going to Omaha, Nebraska. But a vacation is good once in awhile, even if I think they’re overrated. Plus, Warren Buffett lives in Omaha, and maybe he’d give me a pile of money if I saw him on the street.
Miss Mary (my travel companion and wife) swam in some water on Saturday morning. This was Carter Lake, and I think it was actually in Iowa, but I’m not sure. Iowa is really close to Omaha—it’s just across the river, truth be told.
After her swim, Mary biked. She did really well. Mark (our son, who met us in Omaha after coming down from Vancouver, headed to Providence, RI) and I cheered every time Mary went by us. We took lots of pictures, too.
Omaha is hot, much hotter than Maine. Mary started out great on the run, but slowed down because the heat was getting to her. She did really well in my book and the Baumers celebrated by going out to a restaurant that served lots of vegetables on Saturday night.
On Sunday, Mark ate a big pile of fruit, then went to the airport. Mary and I drove our rental car to Iowa—Des Moines to be exact. We were headed to see the Butter Cow at the Iowa State Fair.
In Maine, whenever we go to the fair, the line into the fairgrounds is usually long. In Iowa, even though their fair is the biggest one in the country, you can park on people’s front lawns for $5 and walk a few blocks. Then, you stand in a line to get a corn dog, or a pork chop on a stick.
We were really happy that the fair was happening while we were in Iowa. I got to see the Butter Cow, too.
Then, we drove to our hotel located on the Des Moines River.
Des Moines is a great city. They seem to be bike-friendly with lots of bike lanes and paths along the river. Like Maine, they also have lots of craft beer to drink. We went to a local bar down the street and drank some Iowa beer. While we were there, we saw two rabbits running across the street. We thought that was so cool.
Mary’s dad and mom got married 68 years ago and took a train to Des Moines. Her dad was a football player at Drake University. He used to talk about his football days. It only took Mary and I 35 years to make the trek to the stadium where Joe played football.
Mary contacted the Drake coach to say we were in town and asked, “could we see the stadium?” Even though it’s the busiest time of year for a college football coach, he said “yes,” and we had an assistant named Michael give us the gold star tour. We even got to walk on the field named after a teammate of her dad’s, Johnny Bright. He was a Heisman Trophy candidate in 1949 before someone broke his jaw. This incident was captured in a series of award-winning photographs.
East Coast elites think they were the ones who invented art and culture, especially elites from New York and even Boston, Both Omaha and Des Moines have their own vibrant cultural scenes. We were both favorably impressed.
Then, it was Tuesday and we had to pack our bags full of dirty clothes and head back to Omaha for an early afternoon flight. As an added bonus, we got to see a Danish Museum in Elk Horn, Iowa. Mary saw the sign on the highway on Sunday and remembered it. It was definitely worth the 6 mile detour off I-80 to see it. The Danes are cool, as evidenced by Miss Mary, who is Danish.
On the plane, headed towards Portland. It will take two planes again.
Omaha and Des Moines were a blast. I loved Drake. Michael told me nicely that he didn’t think I could suit up for the Bulldogs, however.
Thanks Mary for letting me tag along.