Dear America, You are Beautiful!

Somewhere in Alabama or Kentucky…

One of the biggest blessings of my road trip from Greensboro, AL to Omaha, NE is the realization, again, that the United States of America is a beautiful place. Of course I started my trip thinking that my home state, California, is the most beautiful. I might have even expected that other places were going to be a little bit ugly. This is not based on lack of exposure. When I’ve driven from say Boston to Washington, DC, there are long stretches of unattractive industrial landscapes.

Not so in Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa. First, it is super green. The snow and rain that flooded the Missouri and Mississippi rivers also keeps middle America verdant. Wow! The planters at gas stations and strip malls were bursting with coleus and flowers–plants that couldn’t survive outside in our Mediterranean climate of California. There are also great swaths of trees along most highways. The dead animals along the roadways are a kind of confirmation that there is a lot of life in the woods of middle America.

There are ways we can be better in taking care of the land–especially our soil–and water. America is still so open, so rich in resources, with relatively little population pressure. We have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to see. I have two states left to visit and I will have been to all fifty! Montana and South Dakota in 2020!


#Bookstrong: Omaha, Nebraska


I am one state closer to fifty! I have visited Nebraska. I drove from Stuart, IA to Omaha to enjoy lunch and to check out a few more bookstores on the Midwest Indie Bookstore Roadmap. I drove directly to Old Market and then spent some time finding Our Bookstore. This bookshop is a well curated collection of novels, art books, and US history. I was able to find some interesting books on Native Americans for my brother’s birthday.


The Our Bookstore shopkeeper suggested I also check out Jackson Street Booksellers, a used bookstore a few blocks away. It had a lot of interesting books, but to be honest I felt a little claustrophobic and as a Californian it is hard to shop in a store where it is easy to imagine being buried in books in even a small earthquake.


I drove deeper into the suburbs to check out The Bookworm. It was more like Barnes and Noble with lots of gifts as well as books. There was this fun penguin game (below) that kids stopped to play. I was ready to find a post office to mail home a lot of the books I’d purchased along my road trip, especially to the friends and family I’d have to ship their book gifts to anyway.


I made one other stop in Omaha. I dined at Spezia Omaha since it is rare to find a family name as the name of restaurant. And I was craving Italian food. I was able to enjoy really good pasta garnished with a small steak. It was hugely satisfying–especially the tiramisu.


Omaha is a very pleasant city. What I experienced reminded me a lot of Sacramento… twenty years ago. I would have gone to the Omaha Zoo if it was not so darn hot that day. I figured if I wanted to hide in the shade, so would the animals. It is also in the top 10 zoos in America. (Not surprising given the Mutual of Omaha’s longtime relationship with wildlife television shows.) When I returned home and learned that my young neighbor is a nursing student at Creighton University, I could honestly tell her I liked Omaha.