29 March, 2011

Flatlands - Hangin' with Shawn, Day III

It seems that we aren't meant to be early risers on this trip.  Which it totally fine by me - since I'm generally a night owl anyway.  As has been our habit thus far, we started the day with brunch.  Today, Shawn took us to Dixie Quicks, which is a quaint hole-in-the-wall restaurant serving southern cooking with a flair.  The joint was featured in Diners, Dives, and Drive Ins on the Food Network, and is absolutely worth visiting.  We arrived just in time - without reservations, we were at the mercy of seating availability.  We had no trouble getting a table, but not more than 15 minutes later the place was packed and we would have been turned away.  The menu is done on a chalk board; employees shop for ingredients daily; the food is extraordinary!
Restroom Signs at Dixie Quicks
From there, we headed to the first (non-food) destination of the day: the Durham Museum, which is housed in the Union Pacific Railroad Center.  It's a lovely building with intricate artwork and majestic ceilings, with lots of associated history and close to downtown.  Since it is no longer a railway center, it's nice to see that the building is being used in an alternate capacity.  We learned from the soda jerk that the original soda fountain is still in use - as are the neon signs advertising for candy and whatnot.  Amazing that something so old (80+ years) has been able to withstand time so well.  Of course, we had to have shakes and some soda to verify that everything is perfectly functional.  Two thumbs up!  =)
Looking downtown from the Museum; Inside the Railway Station
It was fascinating to walk through the building and see the history - not only for the railway, but the other exhibits that are now on display.  It was especially fascinating to hear Shawn's perspective (he works for present-day Union Pacific) on the state of railroads, passenger travel, and recent history.  The connection of the railways significantly changed historic travel and allowed many more people the opportunity to move about the country than would have been able to without, and Omaha became the hub for a lot of that activity.  Hadn't really thought of that before.  (Note: Shawn didn't watch the movie Unstoppable - an action-adventure train movie based on real events - but heard from other railroad people that it's highly unlikely that much of it is real-to-life.  I guess it's loosely based on real events - but it's still an entertaining movie.)  Anyhow.  Peculiarly - yes, Shawn, you are peculiar! =) - fascinating to have the perspective of someone so closely entwined in the industry to give feedback and supplemental information.
The rest of the museum was filled with interesting historical tidbits, including a poem from 1869, decrying Omaha and those that live there.  I only typed in my favorite bits, so what is below is incomplete.  If you're interested in the whole thing, let me know and I'll post the poem in its entirety.  I think the poem is funny (in a haha sense), but also evokes images of the mayhem that must have been standard fare when Omaha was at its heights as a hub of railway travel.
Hast ever been in Omaha,
Where rolls the dark Missouri down,
And four strong horses scarce can draw
An empty wagon through the town?
...Where whisky shops the livelong night
Are vending out their poison juice;
Where men are often very tight,
And women deemed a trifle loose?
Where taverns have an anxious guest
For every corner, shelf and crack;
With half the people going west,
And all the others going back?
...If not, take heed to what I say:
You'll find it just as I have found it;
And if it lies upon your way,
For God's sake, reader, go around it!
John G. Saxe, Harper's Magazine, September1869

The rest of the afternoon was spent doing some shopping before we met Christine for appetizers and visiting.  We were going to get sushi for dinner, but were having such a lovely time visiting that the restaurant would have closed before we could get there.  So we had some delectable Mexican food - so much so that we're all suffering from the after-effects of fighting off the food comas.  It was that good.  Time is going by so quickly... yet another wonderful, lovely day of visiting is complete.

No comments: