One Hundred Things I Learned from The Walking Tourists
I've known Lisa and Tim Trudell for a little less than a year now, and every time I talk to them I find out about a new place to visit or see in the region.
They met more than 20 years ago when they were both working at a travel company, and have been hitting the road together ever since. Long before blogging was a thing, they were documenting their adventures for friends and family. That eventually led to The Walking Tourists, a blog devoted to promoting the best the Midwest has to offer. Tim takes care of the writing and photography, while Lisa handles the marketing and business side of things.
Together, they've just written a book for Reedy Press, 100 Things to Do in Omaha Before You Die, devoted to their hometown and Walking Tourists HQ. "The 100 Things series is in many different cities, and they've been wanting to do one in Omaha for awhile," Lisa explains. "They were familiar with our blog and so they asked us to write it."
Of course the greatest hits are all there: Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, the Durham, the Joslyn, the Old Market, etc. but the Trudells also picked some local favorites that might not be as well-known outside of Omaha, such as California Taco and The Homy Inn.
"We restricted ourselves to 30 minutes outside the Metro," says Tim, noting that this allowed them to include the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park and Wildlife Safari, as well as the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum, which are both in Ashland, NE. They also squeezed in Bryson's Airboat Tours in Fremont (which sounds wicked fun and I want to be doing it right now. Chalk another one up to things the Trudells have taught me.)
Not that everything in the book is a personal fave. For example, neither Lisa or Tim are big beer drinkers, but they made sure to include a list of local microbreweries for people who are. In cases like that, they polled their friends and social media audience. "We took everything into consideration," Tim says.
"It was tough to have to weed some of them out, and we definitely bounced back and forth on a few," Lisa says. "But in the end we agreed on all 100."
And if they had to narrow it down to just one thing to do in Omaha before they died?
"For me, it would be a walk around downtown," says Lisa. "It's got all of my favorite elements of Omaha: from the Old Market Passageway to the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, to the Gene Leahy Mall. You can be outside and enjoy nature and the riverfront, but also art and architecture and people-watching."
Tim points out the obvious: that this is not really one thing. For him, it's the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. "It's my favorite spot in Omaha," he says. "Every year, I take my first good walk across the bridge, and I know it's finally springtime."
Lisa and Tim have a bunch of fun and informative events to promote the book, which you can find, along with a link to buy the book) here. (But, God, I hope Tim can find time to squeeze in a visit to that bridge soon.)