11/10 Off to a great start...
As our plane banked towards the runway and the late Fall landscape appeared through the clouds I smiled... Along with my three girls I was back in Nebraska, a place where I've never lived but I've always thought of as home.
It doesn't take long to figure out that your not in California any more. We entered Nebraska's capitol city through Gate 2 (there are only 2) and ease downstairs to Baggage Carousel 1 (you're starting to get the idea) where the kids grabbed our bags while I rented a car. There are 4 car counters, 3 of which are manned by guys wearing Husker gear. The 4th was the Avis desk where I spent 5 minutes doing paperwork and another 15 chatting about Saturday's big game and the weather. Everyone in Nebraska has an opinion on exactly two things... the Huskers and the weather.
As darkness fell Kendall and I were on the steps of the Nebraska Colosseum hoping to land the one prize that's harder to get than a football ticket... volleyball tickets. That right, if you think it's hard to be one of 85,000 on a football Saturday, try being one of 4,500 to find a spot in the old brick field house that serves as the home of Lincoln's other rock stars. Almost unbelievably we scored 2 general admission seats and a couple of singles which allowed the entire Kelly clan to crowd into a dark recess of the venerable old venue and peek between steel beams as the Huskers dispatched Kansas State in straight sets.
After a visit to Coldstone (you know Camryn has needs) and a leisurely walk, we were back at the Embassy Suites and our vacation had started in fine style. Today it's off to Omaha to visit the zoo before an imposing weather front blows in from the West. That's right, the same clouds are going to get us twice though the second battle will likely involve a bit of snow.
11/11 Back in the Big O
Today we woke to a beautiful Midwestern sky. Nebraska is "fly over" territory and on a cold morning you can't even count the contrails, each one a plane heading East or West. With a change for the worse in the forecast we set out for Omaha.
You wouldn't expect it but Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo is one of the nations finest. Well I'm sure there are a lot of great zoo's (see, I can do it to). We've made it a regular stop every year and there's always something new to see. The crown jewel, or at least our favorite part, is Gorilla Valley where they have the country's largest collection of Silver Back Gorillas in one exhibit. You wind your way through the glass enclosed hallway as the gorillas move freely to your left, right and even over you.
Now these guys are a lot of things and stupid isn't one of them. Moment by moment they are aware of each others movements and from time to time a scrap breaks out. On the other hand the one thing that they all agree on is that it's fun to suddenly slam the glass with a wicked bang just as some tourist leans in for a good look. I'm telling you these guys have a real schtick and today business was good. It's fun to watch them as they lull their prey to sleep and then BANG followed by screams and lots of laughter.
We ended up back in Lincoln at Lazlo's for dinner (one of our favorite haunts). After dinner he girls had ice cream in the Haymarket (Camryn has needs), it started to rain and we called it a day.
11/13 It's Game Day at Nebraska
After Rain and snow on Friday we awoke to a picture perfect Autumn morning. A deep blue sky and bright sunshine almost made you forget that the mercury only reached 31 that morning. After a big breakfast I spent the day souvenir shopping and passing time... college football should never be played at night !!! The pregame show came on the radio at 1:00 pm (5 hours to go). Our friends arrived at 3:00... time to layer up and head for the stadium.
Three hours later we were in our seats, the band was on the field and the public address system proclaimed my favorite 12 words... "It's a football Saturday in Lincoln and There's No Place Like Nebraska". Everyone came to their feet, the fight song rang out and just for a brief moment the world was perfect.
Every Nebraska home game is special but this one was different. Turner Gill, a genuine Husker legend was returning home. There were signs in the crowd and a special highlight package on the big screen that allowed us all to stand and salute the man who is now in charge at Kansas. He was mobbed by photographers, hugged by coaches all while doing his best to stay out of the limelight. As he ran onto the field he was wearing a blue Jayhawk jacket but all I saw was the guy who took my breath away when he wore an N on his helmet and number 12 on his chest..
Only 2-1/2 hours after the ball left the tee it was over. The Huskers had won, I had eaten two Runza's, pictures were taken, hugs were exchanged and we headed off into the 27 degree Nebraska night. Oh ya, we stopped at Coldstone (I'm telling you, Camryn has needs).
11/14 Headin' for Home
Get away day is always sad and the late fall landscape is always a perfect back drop for my mood. We took the old Cornhusker Highway over to Omaha, trading Interstate for a winding path through Greenwood, Ashland, across the Platte River and past Gretna. The crops were all in, the leaves were mostly gone and pockets of snow frosted the fields and hillsides. As our plane started to climb my thoughts turned to making the transfer in Denver, getting back to the office and the upcoming holidays. I also started the last part of my ritual... I started counting down the 51 weeks until we leave for Nebraska.
These guys liked it better than I did - here are some reviews from amazon.com.
"[von Hippel] shows that, in fields ranging from surgical instruments and software to kite surfing, customers often come up with new products of new ways of using old ones. Some companies encourage their customers to modify their merchandise. Others, however, do not: when a devoted user of Aibo, Sony's robot dog, wrote applicatons that would allow the Aibo to dance to music, Sony threatened the man with a lawsuit."
— James Surowiecki, New Yorker
"The fruits of his labor are nicely summarized in Democratizing Innovation, a useful primer on what he calls 'user-centered innovation.'... Despite its brevity, Democratizing Innovation is a heavyweight book, written with the lightness of touch you might expect from a regular contributor to the journal Management Science. But where innovation comes from and how value gets created are heavy questions for all companies in all industries. No innovation means no value added, and ultimately no profits."
— The Financial Times
Nirvana for Hot Rodders requires a short trip to Las Vegas to visit the SEMA show in the gargantuan Las Vegas Convention Center. The Convention Center has 2 million square feet of exhibition center space which is packed with every kind of automotive creativity and mayhem. Just to walk the exhibit space takes two days!
The SEMA (Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Assoc.) show is the premier automotive specialty products trade show in the world. It draws the industry’s brightest minds and hottest products to one place. The SEMA Show attracts more than 100,000 industry leaders from more than 100 countries! SEMA show 2010 drew more than 50,000 domestic and international buyers. As part of this event, SEMA and other automotive aftermarket trade groups make-up one of the single largest events on the Las Vegas calendar. This is a title formerly held by the now defunct COMDEX show .
Hot Hot Rod Alley is the place to see everything old and new in the Hot Rod Hemisphere. Got a 2010 Camaro, Mustang or Challenger? The manufacturer's were there along with the after market. Every possible customization to upgrade your car was showcased there. If y ou love Hot Rods - Ya gotta go!
everything old and new in cars and hot rodding trends. Wheth