31 March, 2011

Flatlands - Traveling Between

It's finally here.  We've had an absolutely incredible time visiting with Shawn, and now it's time to begin the next part of our trip.  Bittersweet, yet again.  I totally meant to get a picture of the three of us, but got distracted.  We don't have any pictures of the three of us - it's either Greg and Shawn, or Shawn and I.  Next time I'll have to remember...
We had breakfast together before going our separate ways; Shawn to work, Greg and I to get a couple pictures, fill up on gas, then hit the road back to Springfield.  We've had such a great time visiting that it's hard to leave... but we'll be seeing Shawn again in July, so that makes it a little easier.

Omaha has been very interesting.  Lots of fun - because of the time we've spent with Shawn - and fascinating.  One of the interesting dichotomies of any large city (to me, anyway), and this was true of Omaha as well, is the old and new buildings - sometimes almost side by side - that exist as the landscape of the area.
I suppose I don't really mean "old" and "new", since one of my favorite places was the Old Market - a collection of shops set up in an old section of town.  (Come to think of it, when we go to Albuquerque to visit family, I love to go to Old Town to wander in and out of the shops.)  Anyhow.  What I really mean is that some old buildings are well-kept and maintained, while others are let go.  The ones that aren't re-purposed and remain empty become vandalized husks, ghosts hinting at the glory and industry of days gone by while displaying the sadness of reality.
In direct contrast (and just down the street) to the old train station with busted windows and graffiti is the building - and area - in the picture above. There's even a park with a playground in the background, and the view extends into an old but well-kept section of downtown Omaha.  I wouldn't be anxious walking around this area, wondering what's through the next door or around the corner, wondering if we're either going to be accosted or asked to leave.  A sense of welcome versus disinterested weariness.  Fascinating.
The trip back to Springfield was pleasurable.  We stopped off in Kansas City, this time for some geocaching, lunch at Grinders (made famous on Diners, Drives, and Dive-Ins), and a stopover at the Boulevard Brewery gift shop.  When we're traveling, we like to get the earth caches.  They're alluring because they're educational and interesting.  The historic flood levels of the Missouri are amazing.  Thirty-four feet.  That's almost six of me, standing on top of each other.  The bottom five of me would drown.  That's two complete stories in a building, plus most of a third.  I'd hate to be around for that type of disaster.  We also stopped at the confluence of the Missouri and Kansas rivers to learn more about natural history - which included a spectacular view of the city skyline.
As we continued our journey southward, I found Shawn's real town.  If he's going to be in the Flatlands, at least he's close to home (away from home).  It's a town called Peculiar.  When we're trying to make a choice - maybe for food or entertainment - Shawn will say, I'm not peculiar.  Oh, Shawn.  Yes.  Yes, you are peculiar.  But we love you anyway.
One more stop at the Osceola Cheese Factory to stock up on cheese, and we're almost there.   It was amazing to see that in just the few days we've been in Nebraska, the landscape in Missouri has greened up tremendously.  I know it'll be a month or more before this transformation happens back home, but Oh! I do love the growing season!!  We're getting closer and closer to our next destination.  I'm getting excited to see Chris and Janet.  Chris doesn't know we're coming.  Janet's been working and planning for a long, long time to throw him a surprise party for his 40th birthday.  (Yes, Chris.  I just announced your real age to all my various and sundry - count them, 13 - readers.  Are you ready to start asking for senior discounts? *grins*)  This is going to be fun!

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