Unlike Nicodemus in Kansas, Willa Cather-land in the famous author’s hometown of Red Cloud, Nebraska is closed on Sundays. But we walked along the wide main street, paved with red bricks, peeking into the windows of the Visitors center and Willa Cather Foundation, Museum and archives. And we picnicked in a quiet town park across from Willa’s small unassuming childhood home, where she lived from about age 9 to 17 before hitting it big as a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and going on to live much of her life in New York City. It would have been nice to tour these buildings but just seeing the town on a peaceful day, with few other people around, and also driving on country roads through dormant yellow farm fields almost felt like being in one of Cather’s novels.
In Omaha’s Blackstone district, we had a quick dinner at Dirty Birds in The Switch Food Hall. The pastrami and bagel place we went in the Hall a few years ago had closed, sadly, but Dirty Birds did the trick, with ginormous fried chicken thigh sandwiches, served in various degrees of heat, with large dill pickle slices and crispy fries. We ended up splitting one sandwich and taking the other one home for two lunches. The place also turned out to be dog friendly so Millie joined us, charming young children and older customers but one young woman looked terrified when she suddenly encountered Millie. (Note to self: keep Millie on a short leash in these situations.) We’ve been pleasantly surprised at how many hotels, motels and restaurants are dog friendly. Millie even visited an antique store in Las Vegas, NM, although that was a little nerve wracking for us.