Omaha is our favorite city in the Midwest.
It’s not Chicago or Minneapolis. It doesn’t try to be.
It is a good place to visit on the fifth of July. After being kept awake by fireworks in our small city in Iowa on the Fourth–could there have been any more firecrackers?–we woke up bleary-eyed and decided to travel to Omaha for relaxation.
Sometimes you have to go to a big city to find quiet.
We love the Old Market area, a lovely, hip downtown Omaha neighborhood with a world-class used bookstore, an artists’ co-op, antique shops, many restaurants with attractive verandas, and a lawn ornament shop that sells iron sculptures of pigs.
We do have a sense we’re in a real city here. We always feel rather unhip: It’s a little more bustly than we’re used to. When we first went to Omaha, I informed my husband I wanted to live there. It might have been a bit of a commute, though.
Naturally we spent a lot of time at Jackson Street Booksellers, the used bookstore. I recently promised myself I would buy no more books this summer, but darn it! What you do when you intend to break your Bibliophiles Anonymous pledge is park your husband in an easy chair and then spend 40 minutes in the literature section. AND THEN YOU BUY FOUR BOOKS AND PAY FOR THEM YOURSELF. In retrospect, I wish I’d bought five books. There was a novel by the Southern poet Alan Tate. Where will I ever see that again?
Then we went to the Bookworm, an independent bookstore in a strip mall way out on Pacific St. I love this store. Every summer they have attractive displays. A couple of years ago, intrigued by a flapper dress next to piles of an appealing book with a cool blue cover, I discovered Laura Moriarty’s engaging novel, The Chaperone, the story of a demure 36-year-old Wichita housewife who is coerced into chaperoning 15-year-old Louise Brooks (soon to be a film star) one summer in New York. Last summer they displayed Dante’s Inferno with Dan Brown’s Inferno. (I went for the Dante.) Now they’re revving up for Erika Johansen’s The Queen of the Tearling (to be published July 8), the Number One pick on the IndieNext list this month (an organization of independent bookstores). I quite like fantasy, and might very well like this novel, but it is a bit odd to have a display without any books.
And then we rode our bikes. Not in Omaha, however. We drove to Atlantic in Western Iowa (it’s on our way home, anyway) and rode the T-Bone Trail.
The last time I rode the T-Bone, Nov. 13, 2011, I had a ghastly time. As I wrote at my old blog:
The temp dropped five degrees in 15 minutes, according to the bank clock, and then we rode into the wind. It was very difficult to make any progress at all. I put my bike in low gear and leaned over the handlebars, but it was very, very cold. After an hour’s riding like that into the wind, I sat down on the trail and rubbed my legs.
But today it was warm and we only rode for two hours. It is absolutely flat, an extremely easy ride unless it is too hot or windy. Cornfields, woods, prairie, small towns, and finally we rested in a gazebo in Ira, Iowa. To be honest, I was glad to turn around, because one of my sandals was rubbing against my foot. Sandals are not good biking shoes. What was I thinking?
So I’m home, surrounded by lovely books, and I’ll chime in with what I’ve been reading soon.
Happy Long Weekend!