27 March, 2011

Flatlands - Hangin' with Shawn, Day I

There's nothing nicer than a leisurely Sunday morning, spent visiting around the kitchen table.  Too bad all days don't start this way, or even just the weekend days.  Which makes it all the more sweet on those rare occasions when we take the time to indulge.
I count breakfast as the first meal of the day (independent of time-of-day), regardless of whether it includes eggs and bacon or hamburgers and fries.  As such, we had breakfast around the time when normal Omahans are having lunch (and Alaskans are having brunch). Such a late start on a Sunday (when paying venues close early) limited our options for the afternoon, but we're a resourceful bunch and there's lots to see.
We opted to spend the day viewing local art and attractions, starting with the Pedestrian Bridge.  This is the longest pedestrian bridge between two states (Nebraska and Iowa).  I noticed that the flooring was concrete (in other words, NOT metal grating where I can see what lies below), so was hopeful that I'd be able to make the trek.  I made sure to walk in the center of the bridge and focus on the ground.  I only started hyperventilating as I passed the first of the cables, but it wasn't more than 15-20 feet farther and I was crying like a baby.  Once again, my rational mind lost all its sensibilities and let the primitive fight or flight responses take over.  Unfortunately for me, it's the flight response that wins (well, really it's the response where I have an absolute need to curl up in a fetal ball with my hands wrapped around my head, rocking to some inner music and making odd vocal noises to drown out the realization that my death is imminent and it's going to be long and painful and there's absolutely nothing I can do about it).  So I went back to the car after taking a couple pictures.  In the photo above if you look really closely (or expand the image), the two people-dots just past the first pillar are Shawn and Greg.
Aside from the bridge, I can totally see spending a pleasant spring or summer afternoon in the places we visited: walking along the river; enjoying the park; relaxing on the downtown strip known as The Mall (which is really a green belt along the river in the middle of downtown Omaha).  Omaha is very different from Anchorage - more people, more cars, more urban - but there's still a lot of beauty to be found.
Throughout our sojourn, we found lots of odd art sculptures.  It's almost like the 1% for Art project in Anchorage - a beautification effort to make sure our city is functional and pretty.  Unless it's a tribute to something specific (and sometimes even then), lots of the art here is abstract - a bunch of metal thrown together in varying ways to create random shapes.  What it's supposed to be is determined by the viewer, I suppose.  I'm not very imaginative with those kinds of things.  I much prefer art that is a bit more defined, or even functional.  Like the seats below - apparently they're a way to disguise some ground vents, but in the process provide something a little nicer to view than a grate.  Defined (that's definitely a face, odd though it may be) and functional (I'd sit on those hands if I were tired).

I love the history and aura of old buildings - even if sometimes I feel like they're not sturdy enough and may collapse on top of me.  We were wandering around downtown and went through the Old Market.  It's a bunch of shops (almost like a mall) that can be accessed from the sidewalk or from the inside of the structure.  The building is at least three stories high, and the ceiling lets light through so the walkways are lined with plants that lean into the center and stretch towards the faux-sky.  It's all old brick and wood planks, and you can tell where there've been repairs.  One shop on the second floor even has its own atrium out back (which is the roof of some of the lower shops).  Quaint and full of charm, as long as it doesn't come crashing down around my head.  We're making plans to go back when most of the shops will be open so we can do more than window-shop.  Yay!!  =)

We retired to Upstream Brewing Company for some tasty beverages (they have a mighty fine Raspberry beer) and some pool, then concluded our jaunt at home with a late dinner of cheese (from Osceola), summer sausage, and crackers accompanied by more visiting.  I'm almost distressed that time is going by so quickly (why must time fly when we're having fun?? I'd much prefer it to drag along when I'm enjoying myself and speed by when I'm bored or upset...).  Even so, we've had another lovely day to build memories and savor our time visiting with Shawn.  Can't beat that!

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