My buddy Brad said that I’m not too good at this retirement thing… I keep finding work to do! Well, I’m not doing too well finding cooler climates either! We are now right at the edge of Iowa/Nebraska, in an absolutely gorgeous campground. I didn’t know something this pretty existed in this area! But before I get into all that, a brief wrap-up video by Kim at Union College about the Maranatha project we just finished up. (His shot of the final room still didn’t have all the baseboards and light fixtures up…)
Fantastic Car Museum You Can’t See
My good friend in Lincoln, Terry, has told me of his friend’s car collection. It is a VERY private collection, and you have to know someone (like Terry) to get invited to see it. He has told me how amazing this collection is, but as effusive as he could be, he could never describe what an awesome museum this is!! There are hundreds of cars, not in a warehouse, but in a artfully designed environment that rivals any public car museum anywhere. Trust me, I’ve gone to MANY world class car museums, and this is right up there with the best of them. BUT! No photos allowed… So now I have the impossible task of describing all the cool things we saw. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be the black 1933 Duesenberg SJ Boattail… a majestic machine that epitomizes elegance and power, while being absolutely HUGE! Second runner up would be the 1934 Packard V12 Boattail. Long and elegant, another huge but sporty convertible. The detailing on both these cars is fantastic. This room of the collection includes many Auburns, a 812 Cord, a Cadillac from around 1914 (I’m not sure of the date) a couple dozen other rare and amazing cars. A Hudson from the ’30s that the owner raced across the country and won!
Another room has a “Hollywood Corner” with famous movie cars… not replicas, but the actual cars used in movies or TV shows. Like the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard, a time-traveling Delorean from Back to the Future, some George Barris cars like the Munster’s cars, the Monkee’s car, and a whole area of Bat Stuff. Like the original Batmobile (another George Barris Car) in it’s own Bat Cave, with lights flashing on fancy equipment. There is a Bat Cycle, a Bat Boat, and mannequins in Batman and Batgirl garb.
Maybe the largest room has Drag racing cars, actual cars that have won famous races. Dragsters, Stock Cars, plenty of Corvettes… I have already gone on too far without any pictures… Wish you could have been there!!
Mahoney State Park
So after leaving this hidden car museum (no external signage at all) we headed out of town. We stopped for the night at a park near the border of Nebraska and Iowa, and felt it was so beautiful we’d stay a while… Plenty to do nearby, and the park itself has a zip line course, pool and waterpark, driving range and miniature golf, lake with small boats, and two campgrounds. The only drawback is that we thought Lincoln was hot… this place has been scorching! Temps in the high 90’s or as high as 102 for a while. Glad our “home” has good air conditioning!
The Scoundrel of Dagger Gulch
A theater in the park presents corny old-style melodramas during the summer. Great fun, with people (kids) throwing popcorn at the villain and booing and cheering as should be done at any proper melodrama. We were told ahead that in addition to throwing popcorn, we were free to throw wadded up currency… and a surprising amount of that was hurled onstage! The actors would sometimes stop mid-line and grab for it, sometimes race others for it, sometimes stepping on it and sliding it within reach… it was a hilarious addition to an already crazy play.
Guess which one was the villain!
Sass Memorial Iris Garden
Hans, Jacob and Henry Sass worked over 5 decades doing Iris hybridization. In the ’30s and ’40s they introduced many new colors of Iris and developed Iris that did well in the harsh conditions of the prairie. Unfortunately, Iris are not blooming now, but the garden was still pretty.
Strategic Air Command
When I was a kid, the Strategic Air Command was the top of the heap of military excellence. Always ready, amazingly powerful, it was an icon of American ability. The SAC was headquartered in Omaha, so it’s only fitting that they have a huge museum here.
When you enter the building, you are at “eye level” with an SR71, one of the most amazing aircraft ever produced. Created by men with slide rules in the ’60’s, it still holds many speed and altitude records. I’ve been told by some of the very few who got to fly them, that they flew far faster and higher that the Air Force has ever admitted.
The leading edges look sharp enough to shave with, if you could figure out how to hold it…
Inside a B24 Mitchell Bomber like Jimmy Doolittle took on his famous raid of Tokyo after Pearl Harbor.
One of my favorites is the B36… a huge bomber created just at the end of the propeller age and start of the Jet age. Six huge “pusher” props, with 4 jet engines outboard on the wings, to aid in take off. Called the “Peacemaker”, it never flew in wartime, but is an amazing airplane. There are so many planes in the picture below you might have a hard time finding the B36, but the cockpit is to our left, three props are visible behind the wing, and two jets further outboard. Far too big of a plane to get in one little picture!
The XF-85 “Goblin” was an attempt to have a fighter escort for the B36 bomber… that rode inside the bomber and was dropped out when defense was needed. The part about flying it back into the bomber was too tricky, however, so the project was abandoned.
I had a toy CH-21B helicopter like the one in the picture below. It was very big, and had motorized rotors that would spin and make it very difficult to play with!
Another noteworthy plane is the U2, which caused no end of trouble when Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Russia and convicted of spying… this is not his U2; I think the Russians still have what’s left of his.
One evening we had a nice visit from Angie, one of the hygienists in my former dental practice. She teaches dental hygiene in Iowa, and was kind enough to come visit us in our wheeled home (and bring cookies!) Really fun to catch up with her! And really negligent of me not to take a picture!
The Durham Museum
The Union Pacific Railroad built what may be their flagship station in Omaha. This Union Station was opened in 1931, as one of the country’s first art deco stations. Since the UP stopped passenger train service a few decades ago, the station has been restored to its original splendor and is now the Durham Museum. Great exhibits on history of the area and the nation, trains you can walk through, model trains, a whole section on the Trans-Mississippi Exposition… I walked and read till I thought my feet would fall off.
There are many sculptures of folks waiting for trains, buying tickets, or moving luggage. If you get close to them, you can listen to their conversations!
I had to include this young guy, because he is named “Hollis” after a famous influential local. Or after one of my favorite Uncles…
A Rauch & Lang electric car – “The Car of the Elect”. (I won’t even try to guess what that was all about!) With a 70 mile range, it was a great car for elite city dwellers. The truck is a 1932 Douglas; built in Omaha, Douglas produced very sturdy trucks and no passenger vehicles.
Big tall gas pumps like this one had a large glass cylinder that would fill with fuel, then you could watch it drain down into your tank. An early way to make sure you were getting an honest measurement! (Note the 16 cents per gallon sign, with a huge percentage being taxes!)
I really enjoyed the exhibit on the Trans-Mississippi Exposition. In 1898, hundreds of buildings were erected with a large lagoon in the center. It was an era when people were hungry for new experiences and knowledge. The buildings were lit with electric lights, and at dusk thousands would gather to watch the buildings come ablaze with light one at a time, creating a light show of a sort. Many had never seen electric light- none had seen that many lights! Some of the things that lots of people saw for the first time:
- Electric Incandescent Lights
- Electric Horseless Carriage
- Water Faucets
- Flush Toilets
It’s fun to imagine how amazing this Expo would have been!
If you’d never had electricity, how cool would this fan have seemed!
Ever ridden in an ostrich-drawn carriage? (Notice that it’s a Studebaker!)
Next week we will move a bit farther north… maybe we will find some cooler weather!