Category Archives: Nebraska

photo of Asian Chicken Salad at Beacon Hills Grill & Bar

On the Tasty Trail – Lunch: Beacon Hills Grill & Bar

Teardrop Trail Log: June 13, 2017

It’s always nice to catch up with Jon, Jim’s brother and his wife Judy in Omaha. I’ve enjoyed spending time with them in their condo in Park City and their home in Omaha. I has been fun getting to know Omaha on our visits over the last few years. This time we hit the Tasty Trail for an amazing lunch at Beacon Hills Grill & Bar.

We drove to the Aksarben Village, a vibrant neighborhood location on the land of the former Ak-Sar-Ben coliseum and horse track in Midtown Omaha. This new, pedestrian friendly development is combined with the south campus of the University of Nebraska Omaha and the First Data Campus. It is home to many of Omaha’s major corporations, restaurants, Stinson Park, and even the Omaha Farmers Market.

We drove to Beacon Hills Grill & Bar. It opened in fall of 2016 and is a new venture of the owners whose Lincoln location was a local’s favorite for 16 years. The website describes the experience as homemade American Cuisine with Midwest hospitality. “Every one of our memorable homemade dishes is made from scratch.”

The atmosphere is contemporary combined with an urban industrial ambience. It is comfortable with exposed warm, wooden beams and large windows. The walls were adorned by modern sculpture that offered a nod to the windmill, a mid-western visual icon. There is an outdoor patio with a fireplace and gazebos.

I enjoyed the Asian Chicken Salad, with mixed greens, orange slices and snow peas tossed in a house-made Asian vinaigrette. The crispy-fried chicken tenders had been dipped in peanut sauce. Best of all were the mini egg rolls. Sadly, we did not take time to sample the amazing desserts.

Beacon Hills Grill & Bar is a real find! Hope we can dine there again when the Teardrop Trail takes us to Omaha again. This time with dessert.

photo of Bob and Jim with forklift

The New Warehouse

Teardrop Trail Log: Monday, June 12, 2017

We awoke the next morning to a quiet house. Being an early riser, Bob was long gone, and Danna had been up for a while. I’ve never been an early riser, a topic that Bob and I revisit every trip with his good natured teasing about “burning daylight.” On the other hand, I worked broadcast TV as a young man and my day didn’t even start until early afternoon. It’s been a topic of conversation ever since.

photo of Adams & Kelly Co - Omaha - 1908

Adams & Kelly Co – Omaha – 1908

Bob had promised a tour of his new building and I didn’t want to waste any more time. In the forty-plus years since we started the electronic surplus business together, he’s been through countless locations as the business expanded. I can’t remember them all, but there have been at least eight. He has been in his current location, an old millwork factory, for about 13 years. It was amazing given it’s size — about 225,000 square feet. A four-story brick-veneer building that occupies about a half of a city block and dates from the early part of the 20th century. Omaha is gentrifying though, and developers are eager to convert the old structure into condos. How times have changed.

photo of Aisle after aisle of warehouse racking

Aisle after aisle of racking

When we arrived in Omaha the day before, Bob told us about his new building in Fort Calhoun. Most recently a warehouse facility, it has about the same square footage, but is all on one level with 37-foot ceilings. The entire building has rows of racks, meaning that it can efficiently store far more than the Ashton building. On top of that it was constructed in four segments beginning in the 1990’s, so the construction, roof, and fire suppression systems are all modern. A very big deal for the fortunate new building owner. I couldn’t wait to see it.

Bob was back at the house by the time we finished breakfast and we headed out. With the new building only about 2 miles from his house, we were there in no time. The sheer size of the building was breathtaking. It has a plain brown exterior with the exception of a monumental red sculpture, and the side opposite the street sports 13 loading docks. That was an obvious improvement over Ashton with it’s two or three.

photo of the far wall

Can you see the end?

As we went inside, I tried to glimpse the opposite wall. This should be possible since the racking  is aligned in long rows away from the loading docks. I could just make it out. Was that the curvature of the earth getting in the way or just my aging eyesight?

photo of The move has started with this miniscule part of the inventory

The move has started with this miniscule part of the inventory

They were just starting to move inventory from the Ashton building — a process that would continue for several months — so the new building was mostly empty. As we walked around I was impressed with it’s modern appearance. It’s always fun to look around Surplus Sales and it was still fun — even with just a little of the massive inventory moved in.

photo of Riding the new forklift

Riding the new forklift

Bob saved the best for last. He bought a new forklift that was better suited to the vast distances and tall racking. Made by a German company, Jungheinrich, it is the Mercedes Benz of the forklift world. He invited me to try it out.

Wow. Fast. Quiet. Awesome. I drove it around for quite a while. Maybe he was trying to  entice me back to the business?

photo of Looks like a video game. My new office?

Looks like a video game. My new office?

photo of Bob and Danna's house - hidden in the trees

On To Nebraska — Been On This Road Before

Teardrop Trail Log: June 11, 2017

I moved to Austin in 1984 and have been back to Omaha, where I grew up, many times. It’s about a two-day drive, with a convenient stop in the Oklahoma City area. Marilyn and I have gotten used to staying in Edmond, on the northern end of Oklahoma City. It puts us a little closer to our goal, and has reasonable accommodations and restaurants. After a great dinner at Othello’s and a good night’s rest, we were off.

map of Edmond, OK to Omaha, NE

Edmond, OK to Omaha, NE

The drive between Edmond and Omaha is mostly Interstate or four-lane roads, with plenty of stops along the way. It’s flat or low, rolling hills, and the miles tick by rapidly. The landscape is pleasant, but not remarkable, so an audio book or podcast is helpful in passing the time.

Between the Oklahoma/Kansas border and Wichita is the Kansas Turnpike, and it is a toll road. It continues to Kansas City, but we usually switch to Highway 135/81 in Wichita. This is a great north/south road that takes us via Salina, Concordia, Hebron and Geneva to York, Nebraska where we turn right onto Interstate 80 for the last leg of the trip into Omaha. The whole trip takes about seven hours without stops.

photo of The locals

The locals

We were planning to stay a couple of days with my friend Bob and his family in Ft. Calhoun, just north of Omaha. He has a beautiful home in a sea of cornfields and it’s always great to spend time there. Danna, his wife, keeps chickens, miniature donkeys and goats, so there’s local entertainment as well.

Bob and I have known each other since high school, and were briefly in business together about 40 years ago. He still has that business, and I was looking forward to his latest exploits — the adventure for tomorrow.

photo of The View from the house

The View from the house

photo of Our Rig at the Somervell Roadside Park

On the Road Again!

Teardrop Trail Log: June 10, 2017

Omaha, Nebraska, where I grew up, sits astride the famed east/west Union Pacific Railroad mainline and is midway between New York City and San Francisco on Interstate 80 — the ninth busiest highway of the Interstate system. When combined with the Nebraska attitude of getting things done, I’ve always favored traveling on major roads. Let’s not waste any time driving!

Map of 281 to Wichita Falls

Map of 281 to Wichita Falls

A move to Austin, Texas in the mid-80’s began to change my thinking. Austin is on Interstate 35, the main north/south artery between Larado, Texas and Duluth, Minnesota. With all the border-to-border truck traffic, and major cities like Dallas/Fort Worth and Oklahoma City  along its path,  it is one of the most congested highways in the Interstate system. The faster Interstate speeds are usually offset by traffic and the ever-present construction needed to maintain this vital artery.

Texas is full of historic and eccentric towns connected by scenic highways however, and I have gradually learned to love the sometimes slower, but much more interesting trips they offer. Our route to Des Moines, Iowa for the Red Power Roundup was another opportunity to enjoy the backroads of Texas.

Although I enjoy laid-back travel more and more, I still like our modern conveniences — Google and Apple Maps have transformed our travel. A quick search produced routes for one of our favorite Texas roads, Highway 281 from just south of Johnson City to Wichita Falls, Texas. It varies between two and four-lane highway, interrupted by small towns and cities along the way. Each provides a chance to stop, stretch your legs and take in an attraction or two.

The Highland Lake culture near Marble Falls and Burnet, aviation enthusiasts in Lampasas, the beautiful courthouse in Hamilton (most of Texas’ 254 counties have preserved historic and beautiful courthouses), farming around the unique town of Hico, a Depression-Era roadside park near Stephenville and re-entering more urban travel (with the promise of a Starbuck’s Mocha!) in Wichita Falls. Surprisingly, the route clocks in with a faster travel time than Interstate 35 — as long as you don’t dawdle too much!

The remainder of the route to our first stop, Edmond, Oklahoma is Interstate 44. A toll road, it is new and fast. After all that Texas sightseeing, it’s time for a nice dinner and a bed.

photo of burros along the route

Local color

photo of a pickup truck

Scouts! Trucks!

Teardrop Trail Log: June 17. 2016

The Red Power Roundup is not all tractors. International made other products, and trucks were a major line. My grandparents had a farm in Nebraska, and I would spend time there each summer. They had two 1946 International pickup trucks — one that ran (a black one) and one that didn’t (it was red). By the time I was about 12, I had learned to drive the tractor (a Model H) and began driving the black pickup. It had a “three on the tree”, manual steering and brakes that almost worked — quite a handful for a beginning driver! I still miss driving it, so I’m especially fond of the restored trucks that show up each year at Red Power.

Later, I roomed with a fellow who had an International Scout. It was a simple thing — easy to work on, and (as I remember it) it always started — even in the dead of winter. We had many adventures in that Scout. Here is a sampling of pickups and scouts from this year:

John Glancy’s Scout (pictured above) along with Jim Allen is one of the authors of the International Scout Encyclopedia (Octane Press). I got to meet the authors at the Octane Press meet and greet the previous night, so having an assortment Scouts to examine was especially fun.

photo of Jim with Mocha relief in Moberly, Missouri

On the Mocha Trail

Teardrop Trail Log: June 14, 2016

I have a problem. It’s not a big problem, but around 3 in the afternoon, I start wishing for a Mocha Latte. I acquired the habit while working at the university, where a Starbuck’s was conveniently located across the street from my office. I would often have meetings there in the low-key, jazz-infused atmosphere. Good times.

The habit persists, and I am usually thinking about Mocha by 3 in the afternoon. In fact, it is afternoon as I write this and there is a Mocha within arm’s reach. Chocolatey goodness. The itch can be hard to scratch on the road though. Starbuck’s, and coffee houses in general are a city thing — much harder to find in rural and small town America. Nevertheless, Marilyn begins the Internet quest for Mocha each day we’re on the road in the hopes of a treat.

photo of Funny Pages Cafe

Funny Pages Cafe

We were approaching Moberly in north-central Missouri, and I was sure I would have to do without. With a population of just under 14,000 and relatively distant from larger cities, it seemed unlikely to have such amenities. Then Marilyn announced a Mocha stop in a few miles. The Funny Pages Cafe advertised a bakery and coffee drinks. We stopped.

photo of Funny Pages Cafe Mocha Latte

Mocha Latte

The interior was fun. Peanuts, Felix the Cat, Bugs Bunny, Betty Boop, Popeye — many of my favorite comic book and cartoon characters were posted on the cafe walls. The smell of fresh baking. An appealing menu of burgers, fried chicken and seafood. Too bad it wasn’t dinnertime. We bought some fresh bread for breakfast and in no time, my travel mug had been filled with a Mocha Latte.

photo of Ritters in Moberly

Ritters in Moberly

Ritter’s, nursery and farmers market was right next door. With a metal building, greenhouse and tables of colorful flowers, it was an inviting way to stretch our legs. Inside, there was a wide variety of produce — beautifully displayed. Also, there were plastic tubs containing bulk seeds; Peas, beans, corn, onion sets and smaller tubs containing dozens of other vegetable seeds. I hadn’t seen anything like it since I was a kid in Nebraska visiting the small town near my grandparents farm.

A Canyon Breakfast


Breakfast in Palo Duro

Breakfast in Palo Duro

Jim, June 24:

Although the sunrise was beautiful, the sky was mostly overcast and it wasn’t long before it started to rain. I quickly set up the canopy so we could enjoy breakfast, and Marilyn made short work of preparing the food. As was clear from the mocha incident of the day before, I care about my coffee. Most coffee that is available on the road is pretty poor, so we travel with an Italian stovetop espresso maker. We also carry a supply of dark roast sumatra from Anderson’s Coffee in Austin (best in the city!) They work great on camp stoves and I set out brewing my morning espresso. Add Bacon, Eggs, Toast, and Jam, and you have a breakfast that is a far cry from the chuckwagon of olden days!


Breakfast and Coffee

Breakfast and Coffee