I’m a firm believer that everyone should travel. You learn a lot about other places and people, and then you really appreciate what you’ve got when you get back home. Go ahead and hop in the car for a road trip past the state line (which, if you live in Texas, will take you a couple of days to reach – yeehaw Texas)! Personally, I just spent a bit of time outside of this great State and was amazed at how odd some of our nearby neighbors can be. Let’s take a look at Colorado, for example.
First of all, Open Carry has a completely different meaning there. In Texas, we’re all packing. But we’re packing a weapon that, until recently, was concealed and now is proudly slung on the hip John Wayne style. In Colorado, they’re packing spray. Bear spray. Because in Colorado, you’re going to get eaten by bears not gators and probably trampled by moose instead of bulls. And just so you know, bear spray is not applied the same way that mosquito spray is. To a bear, covering yourself in a fine film of bear spray is not unlike putting butter on popcorn. In the same way you’re not going to spritz each little individual skeeter that threatens to drain a pint. Things there are just a bit weird.
Did I say weird? Let’s just huddle up and sing a round of “Kumbayah” while we talk about some of the local folks. These are people that have graduated with honors from the Willie Nelson Master Gardener Program. It seems every corner is crowded with a liquor store, snack shop, and a dispensary. A dispensary is where you can go for your “organic healing” and to meet with your “alternative medical practitioner.” All of which is very likely driving business to the liquor store and the snack shop, if I have to guess.
Like wow man, that is totally so cosmic and psychedelic fur shur, but, well, not for me. I think I’ll stick with my Cigna-approved providers, skip the energy healing, pass a drug test with flying colors and just head on back home to Texas where taking a trip means you’re heading to Austin for the weekend. Dorothy had it right when she told the Wizard of Oz that “there’s no place like home.” Texas may not be heaven, but it’s got Whataburger and, for me, that’s close enough for now.
It’s been a few weeks now since the College World Series wrapped up — long enough that I think I can talk about my personal, cringe-worthy Omaha experience. A number of summers ago, I booked a trip to visit my mom who lived in Iowa, just across the Missouri River from Omaha. I’d grown up there, so you’d think I’d have known enough to book my hotel way in advance. Even 45 years ago, the College World Series turned Omaha into a baseball Mecca which meant I rolled into town with a reservation at a hotel that was sketchy at best. Not until I checked in did I realize just how sketchy.
I already knew I wasn’t in the best part of town, but the bars on the windows of the hotel office and the fact that I had to get buzzed through the permanently locked steel door to even check in should have tipped me off. If there was any question about whether or not I was in hotel hell, my room erased all those. There were bugs I couldn’t identify crawling out of the sink. The bathroom was wallpapered in toxic black mold. Honestly, I was afraid to set my suitcase on the carpet and prayed that the stain wasn’t blood. There was no way in a frozen over hell that I was even going to sit on the bed let alone consider sleeping in it.
Because this bastion of hospitality was constructed out of cinder blocks (heaven forbid it burn to the ground), I was forced to go out onto the balcony to get a cell phone signal. So I’m standing on the balcony, begging my mother to find a friend who actually owned a couch and get me out of there. About that time, an Omaha PD squad car came cruising through the parking lot. My first thought was to run down and beg them to post a guard at my door for the night. Their first thought was something dramatically different from that.
That’s when the officer rolls down his window and tells me that if I did not conduct my business inside, they were going to take me in and charge me. My what?! Business?! Charge me? …(insert look of sudden shock that comes with understanding) … HE THOUGHT I WAS A PROSTITUTE!!! A prostitute!!! I’m not a prostitute! I’m a soccer mom! An active member of my church! I’d been on the board of the PTO at the elementary school where my two adorable children had attended! That officer thought I was a hooker in a cheap hotel! OH sweet Jesus! the mortification! The shame!
So believe me when I tell you this, if I ever go to Omaha now (which I probably wont because my mother has since passed away — most likely from the shock of hearing this story retold!), my room at the Marriott is booked months ahead!
(Thank you to JudgementalMaps.com for the map of Omaha!)