Homer's Travels: Downtown Walkabout

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Downtown Walkabout

I miss hiking.  Since it is a little too hot for hiking and I'm not ready to venture out on the Nebraska trails yet, I decided to start with an urban walkabout.  My first destination: Downtown Omaha and the Old Market district.

I parked near the Old Market and headed north.  I reached the main drag of the Old Market and turned away from it and made my way towards the Riverfront area of Omaha.  my walk took me through Heartland Of America park a pond/lake surrounded by parkland, military memorials, and gardens.  The water is showcased by an impressive fountain.

The park trails connect to a boardwalk that leads to the Lewis & Clark Landing.  Along here were memorials dedicated to Labor and unions.  The trail ended at the Midwest National Park Service headquarters.  The trail ends because of construction and I am looking forward to the completion of what they are building: the Missouri River Pedestrian Bridge.  The bridge is an 'S' shape suspension bridge that connect Omaha to a wooded parkland area of Council Bluffs.  As I stood there looking over at the woods on the other side of the river all I could think was I can't wait to walk through those trees.  Of course there's nothing stopping me from just driving over there but for some reason I want to save it until I can cross the bridge.  The park will have to wait for the bridge's completion this November.

I was getting hungry so I started looking for some food.  Nearby was Rick's Cafe Boatyard.  The place reminded me a lot of the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego.  The only difference was the building is square instead of round.  I headed that way but had second thoughts.  The place looked pretty snazzy and I looked down at my shirt which was drenched in sweat and decided I probably would feel uncomfortable walking in there like I was, so I turned around and followed a pedestrian bridge towards the Qwest center looking for something a little less formal.  I will return to Rick's with the Wife sometime, I'm sure.

The front of the Qwest center was covered in scaffolding where workers were repairing wind damage suffered during last month's freaky storm.  The workers took advantage of one of the statues in front to help hold up the scaffolding (not really but it looked that way).  The statues, spheres, and clock in front of the center are pretty cool.

I decided to have lunch at The Old Mattress Factory Bar & Grill.  I'd eaten there once before during the Olympic Swim Trials.  I'd planned on eating somewhere new in the Old Market but, since I wasn't in the Old Market and my stomach was insistent, I decided to eat there again.  The place is a typical sports bar in an old Mattress Factory.  They cater to the Qwest center attendees.  I went to the men's room and splashed some water on my face and dried some of the sweat off.  The food was pretty good and really gave me a boost.

The rest of the afternoon took me by Pioneer Memorials, buildings old and new, music venues, art house movie theaters, and more.  I'm not exactly sure how far I walked yesterday.  I was going to use the Wife's pedometer but I couldn't get it to work and walking with my GPS was just too Geeky, even for me.  So I looked at a map and I estimate that I walked somewhere between 4.5 and 5 miles.  During those miles, I'm guessing I sweated a couple gallons.  I looked at other people on the street and they all looked as fresh as daises.  My body just isn't used to this heat and humidity yet.

After walking along the water, the un-holy phosphorescent green water, of Gene Leahy Mall, I decided it was time for ice cream (I'm predictable, ain't I).  I headed into the old market area and spotted two ice cream places right across the street from each other.  One was Ted & Wally's Ice Cream (Voted best in Omaha).  The other was Maggie Moos (think Coldstone Creamery or Marble Slab).  I chose Maggie Moos mainly because it was on the same side of the street that I was on.  I had Better Batter ice cream with chocolate chip cookie dough chunks.  Very good.  Extremely good.  Hit the spot multiple times.

After ice cream, I was done.  I had no more sweat to sweat.  I headed back to the car and cranked the AC on the way home.  I took some pictures which can be found here.

Despite the heat and sweat, I enjoyed my first foray downtown.  Omaha's downtown is walkable.  It has variety.  It will need several more trips down there to take it all in. Next time though I wait for cooler weather or make sure I carry a sweat rag.


  1. Okay, first of all, the GPS is never too geeky. :)

    You're becoming quite the Omaha booster! Love the statue shot, btw; perfect angle.

  2. GH: Said like only a Geek could. Sorry, carry a GPS along city streets is geeky. On the trail is fine, not in the city.

    Thanks! Omaha is growing on me. Maybe I can get a Job selling the city :-)