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What I Did on my Summer Vacation: Omaha

Our scheduled flight was going to be delayed but Brian got us on another one right away. Easy flight with a transfer in Chicago. We can only fly to airports served by Southwest because that's Brian's rewards airline. Omaha is pretty close to South Dakota, but since we didn't arrive until late at night, we just stayed at the Holiday Inn Express near the airport that night. We can only stay at Holiday Inn Expresses because that's Brian's rewards hotel. Although the airport is in Omaha, the hotel is about a mile away in Carter Lake, Iowa.

The next morning I went looking for a post office. I had set my books to vacation status, but ABE is doing all kinds of fancy stuff right now and it screwed up the vacation function. An order came in right before we left, so I tossed the book and the packing slip in my bag and figured I'd mail it from SD. NE. IA. Whatever. The hotel clerk told me to go to the hardware store down the road. There was a PO in there, but they didn't have Global Priority envelopes and that clerk sent me to the 24-hour PO at the airport. 24-hour my ass. The place was dead dead dead at 8:45am, so I went back to the hotel. Brian was horrified to learn that I had taken the car out. He said that in case I crashed I was to swear that he was driving, ok? Then he drove the next 1800 miles himself. I think he slept with the keys in his pocket. In case you're wondering, I have never wrecked or even scratched a rental car. I've only had a couple of accidents and the other party was at fault both times.

We ate our HIX free breakfast and stopped by the airport PO on our way out of town. By 10:15 they were open and the lady was as friendly as could be. Later I learned that a second order had come in after we'd flown out. So sad.

North on 29 it's something like two hours to Sioux Falls, SD. We stopped there to talk to a Visitor's Center lady who told us that there was a playground nearby. We got some lunch stuff at WalMart and stayed at that excellent playground for a long time. Then we started west on 90 toward Mitchell.

On the way we spotted the huge bull's head sculpture that is the largest piece in Porter's Sculpture Park. If we had just visited this, turned around, and gone home I could easily have called the vacation a success. You follow a dirt road decorated by violent vultures (the most benign is aiming an arrow at you) and end up in a gravel parking area behind a wooden shed. Walk around the shed and you find a 40-something guy and his 80-something dad sitting inside. For $4 apiece, you get a tour of the park, with or without a guide. Take the guided tour! The younger guy is Wayne Porter, the artist. He'll tell you the background of each piece, a lot of stuff about SD and himself and sheep farming and blacksmithing and other things. You can touch everything. The bull's head is impressive from the highway and fascinating close-up. I was inspecting the goats guarding it when Wayne took Brian and Jennifer around to the back of the bull. Next thing I knew, they were all climbing up inside it. Once Brian came back down to watch Victoria (it was way too spooky for her), I climbed up too. I don't want to spoil the fun for those of you who will be visiting the big head, but trust me, it is awesome.

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