Sitting in my rental car at the Omaha airport I try entering the address of my hotel into my GPS. State: Nebraska. City: Council Bluffs...No Match Found. I try the ZIP...No Match Found.
I am sitting there wondering what to do next. Maybe I will just start driving and call David and ask him to look it up for me. I have the printed confirmation so I can give him as much information as he needs. Then I see it. Iowa. Council Bluffs is in Iowa. I have a moment of panic. Is Omaha near Iowa?
Fortunately it is.
Council Bluffs, IOWA is very close to Omaha, it takes me about 5 minutes to drive to downtown Omaha in the mornings. Next time, if I am unsure of the location of the city in relation to the state, I will look it up before I go. I will be going to Indiana later this year and noticed the town is near the Illinois border. Good to know. This happened to me one other time where my hotel was in a different state. Last time, I didn't realize the states weren't in the same time zone. It made setting the alarm at night an adventure.
The picture of my feet at the border of Iowa and Nebraska was taken on the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge which connects Omaha and Council Bluffs.
The state line was a little more than halfway across coming from Omaha. There were lots of walkers/joggers on the bridge and in the surrounding parks.
I find my hotel, a Hampton Inn in IOWA and it shares a parking lot with the Ameristar Casino and a Holiday Inn Express. Parking presents a daily problem, especially if I return after dark, which I often did.
That is the casino view from my room. Good thing I am not a compulsive gambler or I might not have made my other appointments. More on this facility in a moment.
Another interesting note abut my hotel was related to a particular bed.
This bed was upright in the hall outside my room when I arrived. It was in the hall other days, in different locations, always upright. Maybe this is their version of a roll-a-way bed?
When I get into my room, it is too warm so I crank the a/c and leave. It isn't better when I get back and it is still too warm when I return the next day.
If you set the temperature to 64 but the HEAT is on, the room probably won't get any cooler.
After my customer told me that the neighborhood were Film Stream's is located might be "sketchy", I told her it was okay because of an important defect in my rental car.
If I am grabbed and stuffed into the trunk of my rental car, I will easily escape because the back seat keeps falling over. This is somewhat disconcerting when you are driving. I finally gave up trying to make it stay in place. See that face back there? Not mine, the other one.
One of the other ladies in my class wins the prize for the funniest comment ever made to me during class. We had talked about how during a training class they are only listening to me for between 15-20 minutes out of each hour. I encourage them to admit if they were "outside of their 15 minutes" and they suddenly wake up and need me to repeat something. This lady is sitting directly across from me and suddenly she asks me to repeat. I ask if she was "outside" and she say yes. Then she tells me what she was doing instead...she was thinking about the color of her toenail polish. She is now on my list of favorite people.
I loved this sign at my customer's office too. Normally you see signs in the bathroom (of the what not to flush down the toilet variety) and in the kitchen (of the your mother doesn't work here variety). I have never seen one restricting the removal of a particular chair color or in this case, the ADDITION of foreign color chairs. Apparently chairs of different colors are not allowed to fraternize at this establishment.
And regarding bathroom signs, this one was at one of the places I visited this week in Omaha:
Okay ladies, seriously? Who put the cups in the toilet? Probably best we don't know what the "other objects" were.
After my experience with The Alpine Inn, I played the food a little bit safer the rest of the week. On Tuesday I asked the cashier at the Durham Museum for a recommendation and she suggested The Bohemian Cafe.
Did I mention it was Tuesday?
Fortunately one of my coworkers who once worked in Omaha sent me a suggestion as well, La Sole Mio. This Italian restaurant was very nice but would have been easy to miss. It was out of town a bit and in a residential area. Without my GPS and the recommendation, I wouldn't have found it. I had a fantastic shrimp dish and really good bread while being serenaded by Josh Grobin (who else?).
Wednesday I go back to The Bohemian Cafe because it looked interesting and it isn't Tuesday. It is supposed to be authentic Czech food but seeing Chicken Fried Steak on the special's board causes me to have my doubts. I try to order something true to the restaurant's character.
The Bohemian Goulash. Described by my waitress as "pork cheek meat in a paprika sauce". I didn't ask which "cheek".
I know, I know...green beans and mashed potatoes? Not very Bohemian of me. There is only so much this girl's stomach can stomach in one week.
My final meal of the week was at Taco Bell. This was only because of my last minute decision to go to the play at the Omaha Community Theatre so I had no time for anything more. I had a great time at the play so in the end, it was worth it.
There was a rumor that one of the statues in town would give you good luck in the kitchen so I went to check it out.
Here I am with my hero, Chef Boyardee. He is in front of the world headquarters for ConAgra foods. They say if you touch his hat it brings luck in the kitchen. I don't need luck with him around. He fed my son a large number of meals and continues to feed my husband with some regularity.
Time to head back to Texas and do my laundry so I can leave for Amarillo after 2 days at home. But before I leave IOWA, I have to know. What kind of person is in an Iowa casino at 6:30 in the morning on a work day? Every morning the parking lot is still full of vehicles (a lot of them seem to be Union Pacific company vehicles, hopefully staying at the Holiday Inn).
I have $2 in cash. I am going to check out the casino and play a $1 slot with both of my dollars. I will leave when I go broke or get to $20 whichever comes first.
Cashed out at $21 (I know what your're thinking but I didn't keep going, it was never exactly $20). I was only in the casino 30 minutes.
The answer about the type of person is generally: older than me, a less frequent bather than me, smoker, alone. I wonder how long they stay here and how often they come? I have also been wondering one other thing...
Is she still there? I have been thinking about her. Admit it, you have too.