This post is about two weeks late now, but who cares, this is my blog and I make the rules, right? Anyway, Joe and I spent Valentine's day weekend in Omaha. We took Friday off and we both had Monday off for President's Day so we made it a long mini vacation. And as I sit here over a week later, I'm still not quite sure how those four days disappeared so quickly. But they did.
For most people Omaha doesn't exactly pop up in their minds as a tony vacation destination. But it's a surprisingly fun little town. And see, there are these people, these wonderful people who live in Omaha. Joe's parents, and grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, some of Joe's great high school friends, now my friends too, and then there is this log home that sits on a small lake about 20 miles outside of Omaha and it's quiet and lovely and peaceful, and owned by the best people. This little bed and breakfast, otherwise known as Joe's parent's house, serves the best blueberry pancakes and provides tight security with wild, vigilant Scottie dogs, really our two main requirements.
But first we had to actually make it up to Omaha and Friday morning that was a bit of a question. The check engine light popped up about an hour into our trip and the car started acting a bit weird. We stopped briefly for lunch at McDonalds (their salads are awful by the way) to let the car cool off, where, as a side note, I spotted a 70 year old gentleman wearing those weird shape up sneakers that are supposed to make your butt look good. I guess even old people want cute asses, yet is it really a good idea to wear these strange slanted shoes when it's snowy and icy outside, and your 70+ years old, is a tight butt worth a broken hip? Anyway, after a little break the car seemed to be doing alright. We made it in to Omaha and drove straight to Joe's family's favorite car mechanic, Todd, possibly the nicest Honda mechanic in the world, who through a quick last minute phone call from Joe's mom, Sherry, fit us in, checked the car, and sent us on our merry way.
We checked into our bed and breakfast, ok, we got to Joe's parent's house, dropped off luggage and the dog, hung out with Sherry and John, Joe's step-dad, for awhile and then headed over for dinner with our good friends, Hillary and John and their smart, adorable 3 year old daughter, Sophia and their brand new twin baby girls, Arianna and Helena. I love Hillary and John. They are both driven, but down to earth, funny and warm and just easy to be around. Joe and Hillary went to high school together, he dated Hillary's twin sister, and they've been good friends since. I admit I thought it was a little odd that Joe was still good friends with his ex-girlfriend's sister when we first met, but as soon as I met Hillary, and her sister and parents, I realized exactly why he was still friends with all of them, they are great. So we had some wonderful Greek take out for dinner, chatted, held the babies, watched some boring Olympic opening ceremony stuff, and had a tea party with Sophia. And those babies, I think I held one most of the night, oh those babies were deliciously cute, well, here, see for yourself...
Saturday was relaxing and mellow and pretty much perfect. I slept in and was awakened by the thunder of Scottie feet racing across the floor upstairs. Our dog, Mac, and Sherry and John's dog, Misty are basically brother and sister since they were born just a couple of weeks apart and have been playing together since they were puppies. They tumble all over each other and fight and tussle and settle into pack mode surprisingly quickly. And they are excellent alarm clocks.
John whipped up his tasty blueberry pancakes for breakfast. I attempted to show Sherry how to use the Wii Fit EA Active game, which involved a little yelling at the TV and some excellent sweating. Sherry caught on after the first workout, but still was resentful when the fitness coach heckled her performance. But that's the best part, the coach gets you all competitive and riled up and in your anger you sweat even more. At least that's how it works for me. So Joe and I cleaned up, headed out to do a little shopping, grab some lunch and then head back to the house for a little Olympics watching for Joe, which I consider NBC and the world's birthday present to Joe this year, and some reading for me. I started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and literally wanted to curl up and read it straight through on Saturday afternoon, it is that good. But I pried the book out of my own hands and Joe turned off the skiing, and we headed over to Katrina and Matt's house for dinner.
Katrina and Matt, and their three triplet boys: Alex, Josh and Zach, have popped up on this little blog before. Katrina and Joe were also friends in high school. Can you see a theme here, does it seem like many of Joe's friends are girls? Joe likes the ladies. Anyway, Katrina married Matt, who is a pretty terrific guy, they had three awesome boys all at once, and now we get to go over and hang out at their house. We always have a great time with Katrina and Matt. We were talking and laughing so loudly after dinner that the boys had to ask us to be quiet so they could hear their movie. Sorry, guys! It's funny because though I've known Katrina for the last ten years or so, I never realized how much we had in common. Really in the last six months, through the amazing power of the interwebs and our own blogs, Katrina and I have had the chance to commiserate and share some stories that I think a lot of people wouldn't relate to. Thanks for listening, Katrina. So in exchange for listening to my weird stories and hanging out with Joe and I, we got Alex, Josh and Zach sugared out of their minds on peanut butter filled chocolate Spiderman masks. Because nothing says Valentine's Day like scarfing down Spiderman's face. Evidently I underestimated how quickly those boys could devour candy. They had those little foil masks peeled and eaten in seconds. Impressive. (Photos included below were actually taken at Christmas, but because we were so busy talking and eating and hanging, Joe completely forgot to take any photos last time. No big deal, now we can include Bethany, Debbie and Annalie's photo from Christmas too!)
Sunday was family day. And Joe's birthday!! So I celebrated by making him work out with me. No really, we celebrated by going for a little nature excursion to DeSoto National Wildlife Reserve and visiting the Steamboat Bertrand artifacts museum at the visitor's center. It was freezing outside. Snowy and cold and silent, and I think other than the lady working at the front desk, we were probably the only people in the whole place. It was kind of cool and eerie. The museum was like stepping back in time. Basically it's a collection of all the cargo that the Steamboat Bertrand was carrying in 1865 on its way to deliver supplies to the gold fields of Montana. The boat became trapped in the mud of the Missouri River and sunk, losing thousands of dollars worth of cargo. In the 1960's the boat was excavated and the cargo was still amazingly well preserved after over 100 years trapped in the mud. Jars and jars of food stuffs, clothing, tools, alcohol, it's a fascinating collection of the kind of daily goods and tools that are literally frozen in time, giving a curious look into the daily lives of our ancestors. And then we went looking for bald eagles.
The museum is housed on the DeSoto National Wildlife Reserve land and during better weather, say not 15 mile an hour winds with blowing snow, the area is full of birds, deer, beaver and other critters. It's amazing how similar a pile of snow in a tree looks to a white bald eagle head, especially when you really want to see a bald eagle. And even though Sherry was diligent about pointing out every possible bald eagle and bald eagle nest, we saw zilch. But we had a great time. As we drove through the windswept snow covered fields I could just imagine how difficult life might have been as an early pioneer in the Midwest. Sherry and John had taken some East coast relatives to DeSoto over the summer and Sherry told us what one of the cousins said while driving around, "I used to feel sorry for people who lived in the Midwest, but this is really beautiful." Brutal and desolate, cold and pristine, I was happy to be sitting in a heated CRV.
So after our nature adventure, we headed out for Joe's birthday/Valentine's Day dinner with Sherry and John. We had great food, entertaining company, and some delicious beverages. Sherry's white cranberry martini is my new favorite drink. Then the four of us went to visit Joe's grandparents, Janice and Gus, to share some birthday cupcakes from Cupcake Island. If I were planning a wedding, birthday party, or just frankly celebrating that it's a Monday, I think cupcakes should be involved. And Cupcake Island makes the best. So we brought dessert over and chatted with Janice and Gus. They are feisty and funny and have been happily married for almost 60 years. I find that amazing. Janice was recovering from knee surgery and what makes a knee feel better? Cupcakes! (ok, pain meds too, but cupcakes have healing properties.) So after consuming some cupcakes and catching up with the grandparents, we headed home for some pajamas, some more Olympic watching, and Joe's birthday drew to a close, as did our lovely weekend. Happy 35th Birthday, honey! Once again, I rave about Omaha, my in-laws and extended family and just how lucky I feel to have this perfect little weekend getaway just a few hours North of us. But they all deserve it.