If I had driven straight west on I-70 after leaving Kansas City, I would be deep into a nap right about now.
Instead, a little after 1 p.m. on this Independence Day Eve, I’m coming to you from Raising Cane’s on Cornhusker Highway in Lincoln.
That’s right, I opted to detour my return to Russell today in order to make stops in Nebraska’s two largest cities.
I departed the Courtyard on Tiffany Springs at 5:15 a.m. Not a typo. I did not go to Buffalo Wild Wings Thursday. More on that later.
By skipping B-Dubs, I was able to get packed last night and get out before sunrise. I made a stop in St. Joseph at Dunkin Donuts and at a convenience store for some pop. I crossed the first state line into Iowa a few minutes after 7, and by 8:10, I was across the Missouri River and into Nebraska.
My first stop in Omaha was the site of the former Rosneblatt Stadium at the corner of Bert Murphy Drive and 13th Street. Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium hosted the Division I College World Series for 61 seasons (1950-2010), and LSU won all six of its national titles (1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2009) in the faciility, which seated over 25,000 by time it cloised following the 2010 Omaha Royals season (South Carolina won the last CWS at Rosenblatt, as well as the first at TD Ameritrade Park, which now hosts the event. Couldn’t happen to a better man than Ray Tanner, now the Gamecocks’ athletic director).
The stadium is gone, but the foul poles are still in place, there are markers for the three bases, and home plate is now the home plate for a mini-baseball field. There are seats surrounding “Little Rosenblatt”, and I took some pictures.
I then went to TD Ameritrade, which I had never seen close up. I passed by the construction site at the end of 2010, but did not go by it on my more recent visits to Omaha. Beautiful facility.
As nice as the sights were, they were not why I came to Nebraska.
I was a man on a mission.
Two food items I cannot get in Kansas or western Missouri were on my target list.
First, Triscut rye crackers.
They are the favorite of my former edtior at the Russell County News, Pam Soeteart. Every time I visited Omaha, I would bring her back at least two boxes. I picked up six boxes for myself.
Second, Raising Cane’s.
Raising Cane’s is a fast food restaurant which serves chicken fingers. It was started in 1996 by Todd Graves, an LSU graduate who had to take two grueling jobs in order to build the capital and the credit rating to qualify for a loan. First, he worked 90 hours a week on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, a job I would not want. Many of those rigs have vanished in hurricanes through the decades. After the oil rig, Todd went to Alaska and worked a commercial salmon fisherman.
The first Raising Cane’s opened at the north gate of LSU on Highland Road, next to two of the most popular hangouts for LSU students, The Chimes restaurant and The Varsity, a live music venue. Jimmy Ott and I did our Monday radio show from that location for well over a year in 2004 and 2005.
Eventually, Cane’s spread across Baton Rouge and Louisiana, reaching into each of the state’s eight metropolitan areas: Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Alexandria, Shreveport, Monroe, Houma-Thibodaux and New Orleans.
Cane’s has spread to numerous states, with many found in college towns. Lincoln, home to the University of Nebraska, has four. They are also found in Fort Collins (Colorado State), Norman (Oklahoma), Waco (Baylor), Columbus (Ohio State), among other locales. Sadly, not one of those locations is in Kansas, and the only ones in Missouri are in the St. Louis area.
The Cane’s chicken fingers are good, but I LOVE the toast and the sauce. It is so awesome. I picked up a 32-ounce bowl of sauce at Omaha, and I am about to do the same here in Lincoln.
After leaving Omaha, I stopped at Memorial Stadium and the Nebraska state capitol for pictures. Once I gas up in Lincoln, I will drive I-80 west to York, 52 miles away. I can either (a) take US 81 south from York all the way to Salina, passing through Hebron in Nebraska and Belleville, Concordia and MInneapolis in Kansas; or (b) I can take I-80 to Elm Creek and exit at US 183, traversing the highway through Holdrege, Alma, Phillipsburg, Stockton and Plainville, and finally Hays. US 281 from Grand Island through Hastings, Red Cloud, Smith Center and Osborne to Russell is an option, but not one I would rather use.
I’m going to get home around 6:30. Then I’m going to sleep. Deep sleep.