The next-to-last day of May found us driving westward for a vacation in Denver and surrounding areas. Knowing Mercury would be retrograde throughout the trip, we gave up making any firm plans—with the exception of our ultimate destination and the dates of our departures from Chicago and from Denver. Instead, we carried a few thoughts for things to do and places to see but allowed ourselves to surrender to the flow and let our spirits and our fluctuating energy levels guide our choices each day. The result was a journey filled with unexpected pleasures and free of the stresses and frustrations that typically accompany any kind of travel in this era.
On the first day, we stopped in Iowa City for lunch, but a wrong turn on the main road put us back onto the highway before we could get to any of the restaurants there. We took the incident as a message to press on, and presently we reached the Amana Colonies, where we pulled off and enjoyed a sumptuous family style lunch at an Amish restaurant. My beverage choice: a creamy Millstream root beer, made locally. Although we were full, when we heard that the servers double as pie makers each morning, we had to sample one of their creations. So we split a piece of fresh rhubarb pie that sported huge chunks of fruit, a perfect crust, and a tangy flavor just the right mix of sweet and sour.
Back on the road, we had an idea we might stop in Omaha, Neb., for the night because that town’s minor league team was in town. We reached Omaha late that afternoon, pulled off the highway, and checked into a Comfort Inn right next to the exit. It turned out the hotel was walking distance from Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium, where the Omaha Royals (a triple A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals) play. We put our luggage in our room and then strolled over to the stadium, where we caught the second half of a make-up game between the Royals and the Oklahoma RedHawks, followed by the regularly scheduled game.
For only $8 each, we got seats shielded from the intense late afternoon sun, near home plate on the third base side. The immaculate park teemed with children, many of them girl scouts from local troops; at one point the girls paraded around the field’s perimeter in a seemingly endless stream of young, confident humanity. Babies represented another major demographic, their parents toting these tiny people everywhere during the game and many of them passing by our section nearly every time we took our eyes off the field.
We relaxed in our seats and enjoyed the buzz of activity and our dinner—a brat and water for my husband and a hot dog and lemonade for me. Later in the game we topped off our meal with popcorn and a pretzel. Being from out of town, without strong ties to either team, gave me a feeling of being pleasantly detached from the activity around me, able to observe and simply enjoy it all in peace. Time stood suspended, and it seemed we were at one with every baseball game ever played on a balmy late spring night, the Sun setting behind us, the organ thundering out periodically to rouse the crowd, and the crack of bat on ball punctuating the endless, restless movement in the stands.
These feelings intensified as the Sun set. Past right field, beyond the park, we could see part of the Henry Doorly Zoo, including the Desert Dome. The world’s largest glazed geodesic dome, it houses the world’s largest indoor desert, home to numerous heat-loving creatures. Near the dome sat another building, its roof shaped like a pyramid. From our vantage point, no trees nor ground could be seen. So as twilight set in, these structures took on an otherworldly character, floating in a strange, misty space that evoked both the distant past and the far-off future on another planet.
Back on the field, six cheerleaders in pink tops, shorts, and knee-high athletic socks jumped about on the roofs of the dugouts, leading the crowd in shouting GO ROYALS! They also helped run the balloon popping contest and other between-inning antics on the field, aided by Casey, the blue lion who serves as Omaha’s official mascot, plus a brown bear and a big peanut. Despite their enthusiastic presence, Omaha lost both games. Management compensated for the lack of sizzle on the field with a fireworks show at the end of the evening.
On our way out of the park, we gazed again at Path to Omaha, a monumental statue of four young men in baseball uniforms whose positions echo the shape and arrangement of the Iwo Jima Memorial. The statue commemorates Omaha’s role as home of the men’s NCAA world series since 1950. Then we ambled back to our hotel, where we turned in and slept soundly. The next day we were on the road before 8 a.m., anticipating new adventures in Denver…