36 Exploring Omaha



Get off the bikes for a day so why not take a LONG WALK in the heat? It was cooler but the sun still scorches. Found the Toutist Info center and a great guy, Dennis. Retired Attorney and knows lots about Omaha. Been living here 66 years, a lifetime. He pointed us down the trail toward the Pedestrian Bridge and Lewis and Clark Center. Walking is a terrific way to get acquainted with a city. 



Tree Lined


On the bridge we could stand with one foot in Nebraska and the other in Iowa. At the L & C Center we ran into a gal, Anne, that we’d seen at the Hotel. She’s from Milwaukee, takes her vacations visiting Zoos and she says they have a good one here. The center has 

Leahy Mall


Pedestrain Bridge


a wall map outlining the L & C  Expedition. We’ve been cycling the Trail for days.   

2 State Stride


L & C Expedition


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35 Cycling in to Omaha

Parmele Friends

We six guests of Carroll’s Parmele House gathered for breakfast at 8:00 AM. Good good, sort of an upscale breakfast burrito accompanied by fruit and a bread pudding sort of dish. Funny we felt close after only a few hours of being together.  Then we scattered like dust in the Nebraska prairie wind.

Getting us back to Hwy 75 wasn’t easy, as Carroll had warned. Very steep hills that left us panting and sweating in the early hours of the day. Once on the Hwy we found a rough shoulder with lots of those steel belted tire fragments that we know lead to flat tires. It was only  slightly more than 20 miles in.

Warm but do-able. Passing  Offutt Air Force Base was interesting. The planes fly right

Omaha Snow?

over the Hwy. As you pass under the approach there’s a sign, “Don’t be startled by sudden Jet Noise.” Another anomaly, the sign stating that we’re riding on the Emergency Snow Route.

We easily found our way to Hotel Magnolia. It’s an enclave just a few blocks from old town and a bustling business district that’s accented by high rises. The staff was wonderful. We checked in and just pushed the bikes to ther elevator and up to our room. As we began setting up camp but the AC  shut down. The Maintenance Engineer reset it and left. It didn’t sart to cool. We called again and VOILA, they upgraded us to a huge corner room overlooking the street corner. Our new perch for the next 3 days.

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34 Plattsmouth in the Rain

Ridin' in Rain


It looked like rain, Cat hedged our bet. It’s 50 miles to Omaha but there’s a town, Plattsmouth just 20 miles up Hwy 75. Still in hills but do-able. It began to drizzle then the drops got bigger and after a short time we were in steady rain. Passing trucks and cars sprayed us, too. We began to prune out.


Court House

In to Plattsmouth in time for lunch at Mom’s Cafe. Good food and we met 3 guys there from an excavation company. They were all interested in our stories. The owner as it turns out, Daryl, told us about an event, “Jazz on the Green” in Omaha on Thursday. He’s also going to see Lyle Lovette tonight.

Cat called and confirmed the room at The Palmele House B&B and got directions. We decided to ride down to the River Landing only to find that the Missouri River had changed course and it was 4 miles upstream now. Very steep hills riding up to the B&B. Carroll, the owner, had us pull up onto her big porch. She provided rags to wipe the bikes and bags down with. We lashed the bikes to a porch swing and stashed the bags inside.

Palmele House

We jumped into the shower while Carroll dried our soggy cycling cloths. Spent the afternoon chatting with another couple, Jack & Wendy, from Redwood City, California. They’re searching roots and found that a relative of hers built the Palmele House and a cousin had lived in it. Nice old place built in 1905.

Another couple, Frank and Sherry are career Army. Stationed at Leavenworth, he is deploying for the 6Th time to Iraq next week. So this is like a little honeymoon for them. She too is Army. Their eldest son is now in the Army and headed to South Korea. The other is in college. He is deploying to the middle east again soon. This is a True Army Family! Sherry told us about the Bicycling Buffalo Soldiers.

Another Godfather evening for us. Too far and weather too unstable to walk into town.

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33 Nebraska City

A short ride under threatening gray skies. Early out and early in. We chose to stop after Cat watched the weather report before breakfast. The skies remained ominous looking as we rode the lighter hills. We were in Nebraska City by11:00 AM. The Best Western is at the southern edge of town. We cycled past it, found that WalMart was just next door. It’s a mile into the old town and no restaurants nearby.

After a quick reconnoitre we rolled back to the BW. Nice place. Cat worked on reservations in Sioux City on the Biz Center computer. I tried to get this Blog caught up. Wine and salad from WalMart, Pizza delivered by God Father’s.

WalMart Wine Cart

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32 Off to Auburn, Nebraska, 52 Miles

Decided to get an early start so Breakfast at Mickey D’s. Yikes, another flat, my rear wheel, of course. Change of plan, I changed the tube while Cat went to MacDonald’s. In a hurry I got the tire on backward, DAMN! Had to do it twice. Breakfast with grease under my fingernails.

Cat got road advice from a local who rides a recumbent. We backtracked a little then jumped on Hwy 36 west for about 8 miles then north on Hwy 75 and in to our 6Th state, Nebraska. Pulled up looking for cold drinks in a tiny town. Asked at the Post Office and learned that there’s not a cafe, store or service station here. The Post Mistress pointed to a machine. We had a very cold cola, she allowed Cat illegal use of the toilet and we rode on. Very nice woman, she apoligized for the lack of services. She’s from Colorado and misses it.

Old Buggy


Cow Barn

Farm on Pond

Cat 'n' Corn

Statea # Seven

In spite of the flat beginning we made good time. Had a sandwich at 1:30 then found the Arbor Manor. It’s a beautiful old house that houses a good restaurant. The rooms are a latter day addition motel. They had rain delayed 4Th fireworks behind our room at the high school followed by natures own display of lightening and thunder through the night.

Arbor House



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31 Hiawatha and the Davis Memorial


Rows & Rolls

Got out early for the 40 mile ride through smaller rolling hills. Same Ag land with lots of corn and soy beans. Clouds have gathered and it was much cooler. Stopped for a cold drinks and talked with Emil, a guy originally from Croatia who lived in Seattle and retired form Boeing. He lives in Missouri now. Tried and liked MacDonald’s Chicken Salad for lunch in Hiawatha then cycled out to the Cemetery to visit the famous Davis Monument. 

Interesting story of John Davis. He came to Hiawatha in 1879 as an orphan and went to work for the Hart Family. They were outraged when their daughter Sarah Elizabeth married John. They disinheritied them. The family was further incensed when after working hard John bought the two best quarters sections of land in the county. and became extremely wealthy. Sarah died at age 70, John had no heirs and wouldn’t leave his money to her family. So, he began building the monument. People in Hiawatha were incensed, when they asked him to build a swimming pool or community center and he refused. Reporter Ernie Pyle interviewed John Davis in the late 1930s. He said, “The people here hate me but it was my money and I spent it the way I pleased.” The monument has become the biggest tourist attraction in Hiawatha.

Young John & Sarah


Old John & Sarah

There is another attraction just across the road from the cemetery, an Agricultural Museum. The buildings were closed but we did enjoy a wonderful windmill display. These once water workhorses are now relgated to scrap heaps, replaced like horses with horse power.

Windmill Display

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30 Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe


Cat had read of a Trolley Tour in Atchison. We got in, got a room then learned that the last tour would depart from the Information Center at 3:00 PM. We took quick showers then sweat again as we hustled to make the tour. The ladies at the Center were great. The Trolley was actually a mini bus. Diane, our driver told us the Trolley was being repaired. We were the only tourist on the bus. Diane is new. She’s a great driver but has to stop and read the sights as we go. We learned that the big industry of course was the Railroad and other related industries like Iron Works. Most of the sights are just okay. The highpoint is Amelia Earhart’s birthplace. Actually he Grandfather’s home.


Grandpa's House

Double Bridge

Engineer Pat

Judy Garland sings, 


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29 Up and over, in to Atchison


Glacial Hills

Don’t ever think that the Heartland is Flat! The ride out of Leavenworth was up and up. The road was under re-construction, another of the 2010 Reconstruction Act. We rode most of the way inside the cones. The signs call it the Scenic By Way, Glacial Hills. It is hilly and scenic. Rolling hills covered with agricultural beauty.

Kansas Farm

Kansas Rollers

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28 Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary

No, we didn’t visit the Pen. They say it’s easy to get in to but hard to get out of. We used to have a joke we did when I played Rub Board with our band. Terry would say, “Hey, didn’t you play Rub Board with the Penn State marching Band?” And I’d answer, “No, no, Terry, I said the Sate Pen Marching Band!” Silly but somehow seems appropriate here?


The Federal Penitentiary at Leavenworth has a long history and has house some pretty tough characters.  

Notable prisoners, thanks to wikipedia 

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27 Buffalo Soldiers on Bicycles?

Thanks to Frank and Sherry, who we would meet later, we learned of how the Buffalo Soldiers were issued Bicycles and rode their Iron Horses to Montana and back as a test.

25th Infantry Buffalo Soldiers

Bicycle Corp at Fort Missoula in 1897

25th Infantry black bicycle corps at Fort Missoula in formation beside their bicycles [unidentifed collection Mansfield Library]
Photo courtesy of UM Mansfield Library, unidentified collection. [uncropped enlargement]

The 25th Infantry U.S. Army Bicycle Corps stationed at Fort Missoula, Montana set out across the country on their bicycles in 1896-7. Lt. James A. Moss led the company of black soldiers on several obstacle intensive test runs of the iron two-wheeled alternative to horses for transportation. Their greatest trip covered 1900 miles to St. Louis, Missouri, returning to Missoula by train. The 25th Infantry gained fame and was nicknamed the Buffalo Soldiers.

25th Infantry at Yellowstone in 1896

25th Infantry black bicycle corps at Yellowstone
Photo by Frank Jay Haynes. [uncropped enlargement]

In 1896 the 25th Infantry rode, walked, and carried their bicycles cross country to Yellowstone Park, 500 miles from their Fort Missoula base. They pose above on Minerva Terrace at the town of Mammoth Hot Springs in a photograph taken and hand colored by Yellowstone’s official freelance photographer F. Jay Haynes (1853-1921). Note that the troops mounted from the left side of the bike, according to the custom for mounting a horse.

Article Published by…The Northern Rockies Heritage Center

Further Resources on the Buffalo Soldiers

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