Generally speaking, American tourism takes place near the coasts. Whether its the eastern seaboard or the palms of California (which happens to be my hometown), the beach and its surrounding areas always provides for countless travel opportunities. Until my eighth grade year, all of my vacations were confined to the west coast, so when my travel baseball team qualified for a national tournament in Omaha, Nebraska, I had no idea what to expect – except maybe nightmarish visions of cornfield after cornfield, ad infinitum.
Turns out my expectations were a bit off the mark.
The journey out to the Cornhusker State was a worthwhile adventure in itself; stops in Las Vegas and Colorado were enough to qualify as a great trip. As a 13-year old kid, my opportunities for exploration were naturally limited in Vegas; however, the drive through Colorado more than made up for it. Never before had I seen such a lush shade of green color the hillsides, never before had I encountered such natural beauty. Everything about the state was amazing, the pristine river, the cloud-kissed mountains, even the city of Denver had an aura that fit right in with the atmosphere. Though I became bored during the drive through the eastern portion of Colorado – which seemed to consist of nothing but grasslands – my ennui was soon remedied when we stopped at a gas station and actually saw what was hiding in the grass... cats! Without warning, cats began pouring out of the grass, without much semblance of a home. I wanted so badly to keep one, but the RV didn't quite seem ready to handle a feral cat, so we left it back to its "home".
For the first few days in Omaha, I didn't do much except play baseball, but when our tournament was over, the real fun began. We happened to play during the College World Series, so the tournament directors were nice enough to get us tickets to a game. Granted, the stadium's location has changed since I visited, but what I say will remain true: I have never experienced such an atmosphere as I did in Omaha during the CWS. Thirteenth Street was lined from top to bottom with vendors hawking their baseball memorabilia, and everyone around was genuinely excited about what was going on. Once inside the ballpark, the excitement only grew as the fans tried to keep beach balls away from the preying ushers armed with thumbtacks and booed ruthlessly as... an unsuspecting young fan spilled his Pepsi all over the bleachers. I cannot wait for the day when I can return to the stadium to watch the CWS again, it was without a doubt the most memorable baseball game I have ever attended.
Other attractions that the city have to offer include the Henry Doorly Zoo, whose Desert Dome sparkles in the midday sun across from the old site of Rosenblatt Stadium, the Omaha Botanical Gardens, and, of course, the delicious barbeque restaurants to be found across the city. Certainly much more than I expected it to be, I will definitely be returning to Omaha when I have the means!
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