Sunday, September 5, 2010

Friday Letter - Omaha Edition

Tracy and I are in Omaha this weekend. It was a trip we had planned to take for Memorial Day, but Mom's memorial service wound up being that weekend. So, now we have finally made it. I don't think either of us has ever been here (I know we haven't as adults) and we are really impressed. We are staying downtown, and have really enjoyed the area.

Yesterday (Saturday) we went to the "Old Market" area -- old downtown with lots of new shops and restaurants -- where there was a farmer's market. It was the sort of farmer's market with fewer people who brought produce they have grown, and more people who brought in jewelry they have made. It was crazy crowded, and my occasional claustrophobia kicked in, but I survived and I think Tracy had a nice time. Then we walked through some of the shops, and wound up having lunch at a nice brew pub.

In the afternoon, we visited the Durham Museum, which is the old Union Station from downtown. It was a little unfocused -- sort of a combination of train museum, science museum, local history museum, etc., -- but everything was really well crafted, and I was quite charm. There was an installation designed by the Field Museum in Chicago about naturna disasters that was really neat. But I think my favorite display was about the history of football in Omaha. It included one of the three Heisman trophies won by Omaha natives. Throughout the museum, the exhibits were clearly geared toward engaging the patron in different and effective ways. I highly recommend it if you get the chance.

Last night we had a whole lot of fancy sushi for a lot less than we expected to pay (always a nice surprise) and a crab-based appetizer that Tracy really enjoyed -- it has been a long time since I have seen her got so excited by a new taste. We followed that up with tasty ice cream. Today we plan on going to the zoo.

I think the real uniting theme for our time here so far has been the very friendly people. We have probably encountered two dozen-plus people in retail- or service- based exchanges, and each of them has been extremely friendly and gracious. Some you would expect -- the lady in the fancy art gallery gave us good suggestions for a lunch place, and the guy at the candy store in the museum threw in a couple of extra caramels. But others have been less likely -- our hotel is totally crazy with little kids here with their families running rampant, but the staff has been good-natured and welcoming. Even at the too-hip-to-be-cool sushi place (where one might expect good but quiet service) the waitress engaged us in a good football conversation. Nice job, Omaha.

On a side note, I had to replace my phone this week. It turns out my smart phone doesn't do well being totally submerged in water. So, through the insurance plan, I got the same model, an HTC Touch Pro. I have to say, I still like it -- it does what I want, and it has the slide-out keyboard which I prefer, and which the new HTC products are moving away from. And, I have been able to set it up as a wifi-router while we are in a hotel that charges for Internet access. Very nice.