Monday, July 28, 2008

Racing Thru Omaha

After My Summer That Never Was last year where I spent too much time with my computer and not enough with my kids, I promised myself that *this* summer I'd take a short break from writing. However, I hadn't counted on us moving in a few weeks to China (which has eaten up more time than I thought it would with all the stupid little details entailed with changing continents). Nor had I realized that my kids would qualify for the Junior Olympics in track & field. Which meant we just spent an entire week in Omaha, NE.

Tsk, tsk to any of you who are groaning: Omaha! What's in Omaha?!

Newsflash: I loved Omaha! Loved it!

In what other city could you get a flat tire (I hate Hertz rent-a-deathtrap), and the entire fleet of valets at the first hotel you ka-thunk-ka-thunk your way to runs out and changes the tire for you? It was like having my own Indy 500 pit crew. And then the front desk crew felt sorry for us that we had to wait and plied us with soft drinks. Let me repeat: we weren't even staying at that hotel! (Embassy Suites, downtown Omaha: the staff rocks.)
Still, talk about culture shock. Not since I lived in Australia way back in the early '90s has my sheer presence been able to stop conversations at restaurants. Repeatedly.

So there we'd be, my kids and I would walk in to any establishment in Omaha...and forks would literally be arrested midair as diners swiveled for a good look at us. But then we'd get big, welcoming smiles, and people would return to their meals. I figure, these stares will be nothing compared to China when locals will look upon me as though I'm an idiot for not being able to speak the language.

(FYI: for a great source of restaurant recommendations, check out Chowhound where foodies hash it out.)

My favorite Omaha moments:
  • cheering on my daughter as she got her PR (personal record) in race walking

  • watching my son take the podium to get his medal

  • bringing together my mom and her little sister who haven't spent any real alone time in years. Look how cute they are, giggling together. They stayed up until midnight every night this week just gabbing.

  • hanging with my own little sister at the botanical garden

  • geocaching in gorgeous parks with the fam. (Here's my hubby.)

  • And did I mention how cute my mom was with her sister? To sisters!


  1. Congrats to your kids, Justina! I'm glad you enjoyed Omaha.

    The Midwest is odd. As a Californian, it's taken me a good 10 years to adjust to it, and sometimes I still hate it. (The looks when you walk into a restaurant; the passive-agressive response instead of my preferred direct [agressive] mode of dealing with issues.) But other things are really great about it and I'm glad you recognized some of them on your trip.

  2. Hi Kelly, I can't wait to read YOUR novel about your experiences in the midwest. I really did love Omaha. The people were so gracious and nice. Honestly, those guys at the hotel were amazing--changing my tire in that sweltering heat. I honestly think I could live in Omaha were it not for the weather!

  3. Justina,

    Great to see you in Winthrop yesterday. RE your Omaha trip: Congrats to your kids on making the Junior Olympics!!!! That's really cool. Your daughter is obviosly a racewalker. What about your son? Will your family be attending any of the events in China? A college cross-country teamate and friend of mine, Philip Dunn, is competing in the 50k racewalk. Given your daughters sport of choice, you might know of him already. This will be his 3rd Olympics, so cheer extra loud for him on our behalf :)

    Happy Travels!