When we arrived in Omaha on Sunday, August 2, Curtis “checked in” with his new command by phone, and then began two weeks of “quarantine” before reporting to work. I use that term very lightly because unlike in Hawaii where the quarantine was very strict, here all that meant was that he wasn’t allowed to go into work for two weeks after arrival. They told us we were allowed to do any essential errands we had, we could go out for exercise, and told us to just be smart, socially distance, and wear masks. Easy enough! Honestly, we were very thankful for these two weeks “off” but not on leave just to give us time to adjust to our new hometown.
Our first task was to visit our soon-to-be new home and finalize the paperwork. After months of going back and forth on whether to buy or rent, we ended up deciding to rent an apartment. Though it felt a little like taking a few steps back after having owned a house, we were at peace with the decision. However, the soonest we could move in was August 15, which meant 14 days in the hotel, but the military would only pay for 10. We tossed around other options like going camping for those last couple days or going to visit family, but put off making that decision closer to day 10.
Next, we needed to find a car to buy as soon as possible so that we could return the rental. We looked all over Craigslist and used car lots, test drove several vehicles, and finally found ‘the one’ on Wednesday: a Subaru Outback. Car shopping is not our favorite thing and I have trust issues with cars after our first two, but hopefully this one will give us many years of adventures.
Along with these errands, we also went for a couple short hikes just to get out of the hotel room. We visited city parks like Walnut Creek and Halleck Park in Papillion, Zorinsky Lake in West Omaha, and Haworth Park in Bellevue on the Missouri River. All of these had paved paths that made for enjoyable walks, and I’m sure we’ll be back many times over the next two years.
On one afternoon, we crossed over the Missouri and went for a short hike in West Oak County Park in Pacific Junction, IA. This was our first official hike in the Loess Hills, and we enjoyed hiking with the incline, seeing wildflowers, naming trees and birds, and even found a pretty vista. They’re certainly not mountains, but we can appreciate the simple beauty of the Midwest here — and even better, we were the only ones on the trails that day!
At the end of our first week, my parents were going to be with my grandparents in Des Moines, and with their invitation we decided to go see them. It had now been over 2 weeks since we had flown, our interactions with others after that had been minimal, and we were feeling fine. After 7 years of living half a country away, and only seeing them twice in the past 3 years while living in Hawaii, being able to see them with only a two hour drive felt like a dream!
Ok, the drive there did take a little longer because we wanted a few new counties, but it was worth it because now our Iowa map doesn’t have a gaping hole between I-80 and US-30. We arrived at my grandparent’s and had a very happy reunion. Charlotte also got to meet her new ‘relative,’ Rocky the German Shorthaired Pointer. She doesn’t always get along with bigger dogs, so we were very proud of her for being on her best behavior!
While we were there, we enjoyed catching up, eating fresh produce from my grandparent’s garden, and had seafood from Waterfront Seafood Market. We also went for a morning walk around the Iowa Capitol Building — we had both visited separately years ago, but wanted to go back together since we now have a side hobby of visiting them in every state.
On our way back to Omaha, we stopped to see Holliwell’s Covered Bridge in Madison County, then took US-34 the rest of the way home. We again debated going back the next week, but being the type to not make plans until the last minute, we again tabled that decision for the next week. More on that, coming up next!