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2/23/2005 – Editorials

By Richard Peterson

You lucky readers are going to be treated to the exciting story of my exploits on my annual five-day vacation in Omaha, Neb. I try to go there every February to visit my brother, Jim, and his family. I can stay at their place and save money on motel bills, leaving extra funds for my hobby of gluttony. Veteran readers know full well that my primary purpose for going on vacation is to provide fodder for this column.
My sweetie wasn’t able to go this year, so I went alone on Monday evening, our 27th anniversary. She wanted to go, but someone had to stay home to take care of the cats. Ha, ha. Just kidding.
It’s 600 miles to Omaha and I decided to cut that down by staying Monday night at the home of my stepson, Dan Howard in Moorhead, Minn. I left his place at 5:18 a.m. Tuesday and stopped only in Watertown for gas and breakfast at McDonald’s (Sausage McMuffin with egg and a deep fried potato wedge — yummy). I arrived at the Super Target on Maple Street in Omaha at
12 noon. I stopped there first because Jim and his wife, Sue, were taking care of grandchildren at the home of his daughter and would not arrive home until late Tuesday evening. I had to stop to get fixings for supper: bread, bologna and beer.
My 2005 GMC Safari van averaged 18 mpg going down there. Of course, one always gets better mileage going south because it’s downhill. Any fool can see that by looking at a map. North is always up and south is always down on a map. Going south you have the advantage of gravity working for you. My van has a computer which calculates the gas mileage I’m getting at any time. I noticed that scooting through South Dakota at 75 mph on I-29 the computer generally registered 18-19 mpg. Driving through Iowa at 65 mph the computer registered 21-22 mpg. I didn’t check on the mileage coming home because I’m sure it’s nothing to brag about going uphill fighting gravity all the way.
Gas was $2.04 in Minnewaukan, $1.96 at Watertown, SD, $1.90 in Omaha, $1.80 in Council Bluffs, Iowa and $1.90 in Devils Lake.
I-29 in North Dakota and South Dakota is in excellent condition. I-29 in Iowa leaves something to be desired. The 65 mph speed limit is justified. A faster speed would probably be dangerous because of the condition of the highway. I’m not too keen on driving on interstate highways, because one doesn’t see much of the countryside, but they do have their advantages.
It’s the fastest method of ground travel to get from one point to another.
It’s also much safer than two-lane roads. The safety factor will probably keep me driving on Interstates even when I retire and have more time.
Driving alone, I was able to blast the radio as loud as I wanted. I didn’t hear "TURN DOWN THAT RADIO!!" once.
Now I usually don’t eat a noon meal, but I needed information for this column, so I forced myself to eat a noon meal on Tuesday so I could tell you about it. I went to a brand new HyVee supermarket at 156th and Maple. A grand opening was in progress and I got a discount at the new restaurant in the store. They had a Chinese smorgasbord for $4.59 ($4.84 with tax). I noticed quite a few people of Oriental ancestry chowing down in the place.
That told me the food should be pretty good. For that reasonable price I got my choice of two entrees with rice. They had a dozen entrees or so. I chose spicy Hunan pork with vegetables and shrimp with vegetables. The fried rice was piled high on my plate with generous helpings of the entrees. The fried rice had significant pieces of egg in it. It was excellent, but not very spicy.
Jim and Sue live on a man-made lake in the suburb of Waterloo, west of Omaha. They’re on about 228th Street off Dodge Street. It’s a great location. That evening I relaxed with bread, beer and bologna at their house while watching the travel channel. I went to bed at about 8 p.m., well before they got home.
The next morning I set out to pursue my hobby. I was so pleased with the HyVee I went back there and had sausage and gravy on biscuits. I got two delicious biscuits smothered with artery-clogging gravy for $2.79. It was excellent with a slightly spicy hot aftertaste. Coffee was 79c.
Did you read a daily paper last week? The report came out that people who drink one to two cups of coffee daily cut the incidence of getting liver cancer in half.
I was on two quests while spending Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in Omaha.
Our American Legion Club in Minnewaukan started serving eggs with breakfasts the fourth Sunday of each month (there’s a breakfast for the public this Sunday from 7 a.m. to 12 noon). When you serve eggs you need salt and pepper shakers and we only had a couple. We need seven sets and I felt a classy joint like the Legion needs matching salt and pepper shakers.
I found three sets at a secondhand store in Fargo for $1 per set. I decided I was going to find four more sets at that price at secondhand stores in Omaha. It’s the hunt that’s important. I saw the exact same brand new salt and pepper shakers at Wal-Mart for 94c each, but I wasn’t going to pay that outrageous price when I might be able to get them for 50c each. So I drove a hundred miles going from one secondhand store to the next looking for salt and pepper shakers. I had no luck at all, but I did find a Garfield cup for 49c, so all that driving was worth it.
I did go into a Dollar General Store and found new salt and pepper shakers for 50c each, but they didn’t match the three sets I had already invested in, so I continued my quest. Finally on Friday, my last day in Omaha, I reluctantly went to Wal-Mart and paid 94c each for eight salt and pepper shakers. Defeat is bitter.
(Continued next week)

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