DAY 21 – OMAHA, NE
Not much to mention about the drive from Chicago to Omaha, shocking. Ok here’s something. We did stop off near Iowa City to grab some coffee, right near the University of Iowa, hallowed ground for writers, nice town. The coffee shop we went to was actually closed but the guy that worked there was super chill and hooked us up with some cold brew anyway. Just before we were about to get back onto the highway I realized the coffee I just purchased was nowhere to be found. I had Josh pull over, got out and looked at the roof of the car. There it was, phew. Miracles. Also on the way we stopped in some Iowa town to get gas at the Kum & Go, not sure what that town was but it was creepy and looked, for the most part, like an abandoned farming town. I used Hotel Tonight to find a place in Omaha once we got near the city. We got there at about 1am. I stayed up to work on the site, Josh passed out.
In the morning it was another late start. This entire trip we always say we are going to get up early so we have a little more time to explore but that never happens. Life on the road is exhausting. I think the only time we actually got up early was in Pittsburgh, and that’s so we could get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. When we drove to downtown Omaha I had 3 goals in mind: get to a coffee shop to put up a page of this website, walk around a little and explore the buildings, and go to the Saddle Creek store, next to which I thought they had studios. The coffee shop we went to was recommended by the super chill guy that sold us coffee in Iowa, and it was a nice shop with good coffee on a hip little street. Website page done, moving on.
Next stop was downtown where we parked and walked around. It feels like a farm town, a large one, with an agriculture theme throughout. Farm buildings, farm banks etc. The place felt like a midwest town should feel. It was kind of empty but so is the Nebraska landscape, so it was fitting. I kind of liked it, it was quiet and quaint, no pretention whatsoever. I snapped a few pictures of buildings and their insides and then we were off to a place that had something to do with Saddle Creek Records.
We got there and I went into the Saddle Creek store and looked around. I asked the guy running the register if there were studios there, he said no. Oh well. He then went on to talk about where there were studios, the music scene of Omaha, and the city as a whole. This guy, and Josh agreed, wins the coolest dude of the entire road trip award, if there ever was one, because of his kindness, enthusiam for the place he lives, and overall knowledge. Just talking to him kind of made me want to move to Omaha. I haven’t had much extended contact with people on the trip other than Josh and the people we came across that we already knew. There just hasn’t been the time needed to develop relationships with new people because of the fast-paced nature of this trip. So when someone talks to me and opens up I really listen, I love it. The development that the store is in, whose centerpiece was a concert venue called Slowdown, was very cool, and is owned by Saddle Creek. The music that was being put out by that label in the early 2000’s was very important to me, and that’s why I wanted to check this place out to begin with.
I remember seeing Bright Eyes with a new college friend I had made in the fall of 2002 at the Trocadero in Philadelphia. We were walking towards the show, stoned, and we stumbled upon a parade in Chinatown filled with Dragons and fireworks and hundreds of people, it was a trip. and the fact that it was a very early college experience, it was my freshman year, made it that much more special. The show was fantastic and afterwords I talked to one of the drummers from Bright Eyes band and he spoke fondly of Omaha. I’ve wanted to visit ever since, and now I have.
At one point Josh and I had a conversation about the end of the trip that was fast approaching. We were both feeling a bit depressed and anxious about our lives waiting for us in Arizona. We also both expressed the desire to move somewhere else, me more than him, but we were definitely relating on that level. The fact that we both carry our problems wherever we went became very present in Omaha, more than other places, since the trip was almost over. We are where we are.
We left town and headed for Longmont, Colorado, where my friend Ryan was giving us a place to crash for the night. The drive to Colorado was unbearably dull, but I did managed to grab a picture of a strange coffee shop and some boring-ass plains, which were beautiful in their own basic endlessness.