Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On Omaha

by Steph


Steve seems to meet a lot of people just because his name is Steve Hill. You wouldn’t think this would be possible, it being a fairly common name, but precisely because it IS common, people seem to come into the Hairy One’s life. There is another Steve Hill near Chicago who befriended ours on Facebook, because in his words, ‘Steve Hills should stick together.’ And then there is his long time pen pal, Lora, who first wrote to our hero in about 2001, mistaking him for another Steve Hill that she knew. They stayed in touch, and have become good friends. So of course as we were passing near her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, we had to make a stop.

christmas shop omaha

We were welcomed with open arms, Christmas presents, heat, indoor plumbing, and a laundry room. Yes! Dirties in the wash and Lora’s lovely baby son Miles stashed safely with his grandparents, we headed out for lunch at The Dell, a pub in the trendy neighborhood of Dundee, which claims to be the originator of the reuben sandwich. If you are familiar with the wonder that is the reuben, you can take the next 10 seconds to examine the dirt under your fingernails. For the rest of you, I’m talking about rye bread, pastrami (or turkey for girls), swiss cheese, thousand island dressing, and a fat wodge of sauerkraut. Steve ordered the turkey version and dived right in.

Old Market Omaha insideLunch and a few beers later, we ventured into the Old Market area of downtown Omaha. A beautiful collection of victorian-era market buildings, the Old Market now contains art galleries, restaurants, and shops. We poked around for a while, then headed back to the ranch to rescue the Grands and reclaim Miles.

We enjoyed a kick-ass dinner of chicken enchiladas, washed down with yet more beer, and yapped until late with Lora and her niece.

I have to admit, when Steve said his friend lived in Omaha all I could picture was that movie ‘Election’, where Matthew Broderick plays a mediocre teacher with an unremarkable life. It is set in Omaha, and filmed to emphasise the absolute dullness of the character’s outlook.

Well, what do you know, Omaha’s not like that at all! We’ve been passing through quite a few mid-sized Midwestern cities lately—Dayton, Milwaukee, Des Moines, Iowa City—and they’re you know, fine. They’ve got histories and industries and local beers and restaurants, art exhibits, museums, things to see and do. They’re all fine. But throw a few friends into the mix, and suddenly an average city becomes more than the sum of its parts.

So! Huzzah for pen pals, making friends, having a laugh until late at night, and midwestern hospitality…and thanks to Lora and her family for a great 24 hours!


  1. ...And don't worry, you will get a wonderful bottle of Dorothy Lynch along w/ your gourd! Safe travels! Love, Lora, John, Marina, and Miles :)

  2. Ahhh... people... the magic ingredient!
    Very nice writing. XOXO

  3. mmmmn, rueben, my favourite sandwich in america… and yes, steve, you are a girl…

  4. It was wonderful meeting you both! I'm glad you had a good stay and have an amazing rest of your adventure! :) Marina