the second leg.
Brock the Fish.
After a couple days with fam and friends in Minneapolis, Saturday morning saw Diarra and I packing and re-packing our bags to fit into my good ole CRV and making our way south to Omaha, Nebraska, a halfway point on our way to Denver. The most memorable thing about our drive to Iowa was a gigantic fish statue at a tiny gas station named Brock. And wind. Wind of the bitter and sharp and ripping kind.
The most wild thing to see once we crossed the border into Nebraska were The Burbs. My friends, you must understand that these were Burbs as I've never seen them before. In what seemed to be the Middle of Nowhere, they seemed to sprout up along the rolling hillsides like a sort of cancer, cookie cutter houses stretching out for miles... *shudders*
Spoiler alert: there were no books in this pub. Some pretty interesting literature on the stalls of the bathroom though...
We arrived in Omaha a little after 5pm and had a little sunlight left to explore, so we wandered around the Old Market neighborhood, aptly named, as it is one of the oldest neighborhood in the city, supposedly. The things that stood out to me most in the city were as follows:
1) How every store we meandered into smelled strongly of incense.
2) This insane park in the middle of the city with huge, 30 foot structures for climbing and bouldering that were entirely free and nobody else was using (likely because it was absolutely Frigid outside). Post-climbing with Diarra (did you for a second think we wouldn't choose to climb a perfectly climbable thing?) we discovered a sign stating that adults were not allowed in the structures without a child to supervise. The question is "why?" and the answer is "beats the heckin heck out of me." I wouldn't let a Hypothetical Child near that place.
3) The amount of space between buildings and on the road. Don't cities usually cram as much in as possible? Buildings organized in a more Nook and Cranny fashion? Diarra told me it reminded her of St. Louis. Folks who've been to both St. Louis and Omaha, do you agree?
Overpriced ice cream came before a delicious meal of sushi at Yoshitomo's, a Japanese restaurant just outside of Central Omaha. We sat at the bar, and watched as chefs carefully sliced a variety of raw fish, torched sushi, and mixed and prepped dipping sauces. It was mesmerizing. The chef working in front of us was friendly and encouraged us to feel free to ask if we had any questions. We asked her what "leche del tigre" was (which translates to "milk of the tiger" in Spanish), an ingredient we'd seen in one of the sushi dishes on the menu. She told us it was some sort of ceviche-based sauce from Peru(?) I think, and gave us a small dish to sample. Spicy with a sweet, citrusy heat that transformed as soon as it hit your tongue... It made me inspired to get more into sauces when I get to Portland and get cookin' again.
The roadtrip to Denver the following day was unremarkable other than one of the most awe-inspiring things I've ever seen in my life. Flocks of a certain species of bird (I discovered later that they were snow geese) spiraled in flexible but organized contingents, undulating amongst each other miles up. There were thousands of them in each "swarm," and I counted at least ten swarms along the way. The sky was blue, and their whiteness and black-tipped wings were bright and stark against its curtain. I could've spent hours just watching them - oh wait, I definitely did.
Landon and the Digs.
Denver brought along good friends Maggie and Landon into my travels, and Diarra and I are now staying with them till tomorrow in their sweet apartment in the Lakewood neighborhood of Denver, with their two sweet Diggies, Kindia and Sobo. It's sort of in the foothills of the surrounding mountains. The past 24 hours have included but were not limited to (more) lentil stew, good times catching up and hanging with pals, and settling and starting to feel more grounded in a place. I'll be here till Sunday and am so excited to roam around and dig more into this place - the city, the mountains, and the arts and crafts times that will inevitably arise when Maggie is around.
Denver at night.
Love to all, missing everyone in A2 but am having a really meaningful time on this journey and appreciate everyone's love and support more than you know.