Saturday, December 26, 2009

From Evergreens to Palm Trees

Winter Break came like a steam roller to Omaha this year. Finals were madness for everyone. "The wind it was howling and the snow it was blowing," Bob Dylan sang in his song Isis. And it certainly was. As I write this a good friend of mine is snowed in at his parent's house near Crescent Iowa. The snow was up to their door knob and it took a whole day to plow a path down the driveway.

Meanwhile, I am in the Rio Grande Valley enjoying 60-70 degree weather, my family and trips to South Padre Island. To get there from Harlingen, Texas, where I am you have to drive east on Express Way 83 to the South Padre exit that takes you down another road through small speed trap towns and the coastal plains to Port Isabel. From there you cross the Isabella Bridge, over the Bay to South Padre Island. This is the only way in and out by car.

The Island runs north and south. South Padre is only part of a chain that runs up the Gulf Coast of Texas. When you enter the Island you have two choices: left or right and south or north. If you go south a small fee has to be paid. This is worth it. The south opens on to the lower tip of the Island and traveling a short distance to the end takes you to jetties on the bay. This is a great area to fish and see dolphins. But if you do see dolphins do not plan on catching anything.

Turning left and heading north takes you through the town of South Padre. This is the area that becomes utter madness during Spring Break. There are plenty of restaurants,hotels, shops and other things to browse. At the end of the town's strip is the Turtle Sanctuary. This place takes in injured sea turtles and nurses them back to health and then releases them. I love this place. They have a great variety of sea turtles. They even have a loggerhead.

When you continue north from here the road is buffered by huge sand dunes. To the west is the bay. To the east is the Gulf of Mexico. When you head north you pass several beach access points. But the real fun is driving to the end of the road. And the road does end. It stops a few miles out and sand dunes are on the east, west and north sides.

From here the Island is as it always was. The dunes and sand stretch for miles up the coast. It is here that I like going. It is here that civilization stops.

I know that this is miles from and a world away from Omaha. But it is a place that I love deeply. Everyone should come visit but I suggest not doing it over Spring Break. The idiots come in droves and the Island is thick with drunken morons. But don't let that discourage you, it's good for the Island's sleepy economy I just suggest another time of year to come enjoy all that Port Isabel, the Island and the ocean have to offer.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Falls to Winter

It's been a while since I posted. Fall was still gracing us with her presence when I did. She did not over stay her welcome, though her stay was longer than usual, winter finally ushered in and now fall is gone again.

Snow came late this year and when it came it came in throngs. The University of Nebraska at Omaha, where I work, learn and live was shut down for two days. The wind was plunging the temperature to negative twenty at times. The snow came down hard, piled up quick and froze. The landscape altered to a new reality for the next four months.

The sun is far more interested in the southern hemisphere than the northern now. The days are shorter, cloudier and more dreary.

However, all though the sun dried up; the semester is at an end. I will go to Texas and enjoy the sun, beach, fishing and my family.

On another note, this web site was started for a class. That class, for all practical purposes, is now over. This web site will no longer masquerade as a kitsch, chic, digital age, trend follower or update to the "newest" in the digital world. Forget all that.

This web site will go back to what I had always intended. It will be a place for images captured on walks, bus rides and other adventures. The images will be accompanied by appropriate words. And, that is all that it will be.

Regardless of followers, number of hits, retweets, facebook posts, being linked to Reddit or Digg the value of writing, taking photos and connecting the two will be prominent. This blog is more of an outlet for me than any of you. If people enjoy the content, fine. I like it when people enjoy good writing and captured moments in time.

I am not going to pretend that I am anxious for my place in the blogosphere. I am not. I am anxious to write and take photo's and so, that is precisely what I will do.

And now, a cat:

Monday, November 9, 2009


Hello everyone.

Omaha Natural Distractions is going to undergo some changes. Well, basically there is going to be one major change. I am no longer going to solely focus on parks in and around Omaha. I feel that is a limitation. Anyone who has wandered the alleys of downtown for any amount of time should know that the city offers beauty as well.

I am not going to cut parks out completely. Not at all. However, I am an expert pedestrian and I don't really like being in cars which I need to be in to get to many of these parks. Not having a car may seem like a limitation but it's really not. I find little things that people can't see from their cars. And I want to offer up, completely, how I feel about cars:

Cars are a ton of metal, plastic and glass that are hurled at high velocities in proximity to other cars. Sometimes I think they are death machines. This is just my opinion. I do know, one day, I may have to break down and get one or I could just move to a city with a functioning public transportation system.

Anyhow, this is my announcement. This is the change. I can't ignore urban beauty just like I can't ignore rural beauty.

So for the rest of the year I am going to go out into the city for my photos. I am going to go into alleys, city parks and neighborhoods to bring you all the beautiful things I see around us in our city.

Remember the road most often traveled offers visual surprises even though the road less traveled by makes all the difference. From now on it will be a mixture of the two. And for one final quip, Roads often traveled have roads less often traveled within them. It's just a matter of getting on your feet and looking in a different direction.

And Now for good measure a kitty:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Robert Frost wrote a poem called "The Road Not Taken". In perhaps one of his most famous lines he writes:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that made all the difference

Indeed. There is much truth in this. Well I was thinking when people take roads and routes that are often traveled, these roads, leave seldom noticed beauty.
I thought of this while walking through the University of Nebraska at Omaha's campus and while riding in the passenger seat of a rented car with my Dad heading west on Interstate 80. The Sunset was remarkable off of this often traveled road.

So on your morning commute or during the drive home in the afternoon when traveling those roads that are so often traveled day after day; keep your eyes open for the beauty that always surrounds us.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Urban Hiking Failure


So I got up on Sunday and prepared to walk from UNO to St. Cecilia. The sky was gray and the air was stupid cold. I did the walk anyway.

BUT I could not find my camera and so I have no real post besides this. I was so mad. I tore my room up looking everywhere. I couldn't figure out how my phone would have gotten out of my room. I left my house flabbergasted.

Well, I found my camera. It was right where I left it, on my tripod.

New post next week: probably the urban hiking post.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

This is what it's going to be

OK. So I am going to do something a little different tomorrow. The title of my blog is Omaha's Natural Distractions.

For my Omaha natural distraction, tomorrow, I plan on walking from the University of Nebraska at Omaha to St. Cecilia's Cathedral.

I will arrive there and help my friends from Food Not Bombs prepare food and take it to Gene Leahy Mall, downtown across the street from the library.

It should be fun. It should also be cold. And there will be pictures.

Tomorrow: Urban Hiking

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall is here


Fall is here. The seasons are changing. Hopefully winter won't muscle fall out this year though it seems as if it is trying. Possible snow on Saturday the 10th.

As fall arrives and leaves fall my focus in parks shifts a bit. See as I child I knew nothing of leaves changing colors. Miami and San Antonio never provided me that experience. Well, I have been in Nebraska for some time and now I know: leaves fall and change colors.

Where are some good places in and around Omaha to see fall foliage die? heh heh.

As for this weekend. I am not sure what park I will got to or if I will go to one. I may do Memorial Park. We shall see.