Retreat to Camp Verde, AZ in the Winter

Relaxed & Quiet Small Town

Winter Retreat

I retreated to Camp Verde, Arizona http://www.campverde.az.gov February 2019-one of the snowiest months in Nebraska history. Of course, I had no way of knowing Omaha would top their February record with 27 inches of snow. But I did know that if I was going to find a writer’s retreat in 2019 a warm climate in February sounded like a great plan.

Phoenix and the surrounding area, like Mesa, is popular with Midwestern snowbirds. I’ve visited many times for business and leisure. I enjoy the area but not necessarily the winter congestion.

I was fleeing Nebraska alone and sought an area that was easy to navigate and gave a ‘safe’ vibe.

Lengthy Housing Search

I began searching online in August 2018 for a one-month rental in the greater Phoenix area. That was the equivalent of hunting for gold in an Iowa corn field during July. It didn’t exist. Nearly all accommodations required a 3-month commitment. I had only 30 days.

I widened my geographic search and thus my month long stay in a ranch house rented through http://www.VRBO.com. The property was in the city limits despite being surrounded by what Midwesterners call farms and ranches.

The place seemed ideally suited to a solo female traveler seeking a quiet writer’s retreat for the month. It’s also perfect for a couple exploring Arizona together.

Camp Verde has a number of lodging options: vacation rentals, campgrounds, and hotels.

Camp Verde, Arizona

Explore Downtown Camp Verde. Walk. Shop. Dine.

Camp Verde was an unknown community to me. I wasn’t quite sure what I’d be driving into about an hour south of Flagstaff. Upon arrival, I found the community was a perfect blend of urban and rural with endless outdoor natural areas, along with multiple historical sites. There was a grocery store, enough dining options, a post office, a drug store, unique attractions and more. It intrigued me. I’d made a great choice.

Its location is a very comfortable drive to many towns like Cottonwood https://visitcottonwoodaz.org/, Prescott http://www.visit-prescott.com/, Jerome http://azjerome.com/jerome/, Sedona https://visitsedona.com/ and Payson https://www.paysonrimcountry.com/.

Click on this link for a great map of Camp Verde and other information. https://heartofcampverde.com

Get to Know Camp Verde

  • Population 11,239 (2017)
  • Median age: 45
  • Located in the Verde River Valley. Referred to as “the valley” by residents.
  • The incorporated town is 46.2 square miles.
  • Downtown is one mile off I-17.
  • Surrounded by Prescott National Forest.
  • Four-season climate (It snows here. Melts quickly.)
  • Dark sky community https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/communities/
  • Businesses of every type exist to make your stay complete. Visit https://visitcampverde.com/

I immersed myself quickly into the community and enjoyed every day, even the colder, snowy ones. (Winter 2019 in Arizona was also record setting for snow and rain.)

I committed to writing up to six hours a day, volunteered and extensively explored the area while shopping local.

I met many local residents and thoroughly enjoyed the community.

Phoenix to Camp Verde

Several guests visited. Each arrived at the Phoenix airport and shuttled north. The van conveniently stops at the Camp Verde exit off I-17. https://groometransportation.com/arizona

Friendly, Outgoing Neighbors

Most Popular Neighbor in Camp Verde, Arizona

Plan Your Winter Getaway to Camp Verde.

Share this with others considering an Arizona trip.

Have a question or need more tips? Contact me below.

©November 2019. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Where to Eat, Stay & Play in West Central Iowa

Travel West Central Iowa

West Central Iowa Fall 2019

Seeking a Midwest day trip or overnight stay?

Check out West Central Iowa locations.

This Iowa Tourism website is fantastic for trip planning. https://www.traveliowa.com/regions/west-central/9/

Click on the West Central Region and scroll near the bottom. Find all of the towns in the region with links.

Our October 12-13, 2019 Itinerary

Plan your own getaway or follow the itinerary we created and used.

Shelby, Iowa https://www.shelbyia.com

On a recent weekend, we left Omaha on a Saturday morning and drove to Shelby, Iowa.

It’s known for having the World’s Largest Corn Stalk (as seen from I-80) but on October 12, 2019 it also had a craft and vendor show.

We shopped local and enjoyed meeting and admiring the work of the talented crafters including, B&3 Boutique https://b-3-boutique-by-beth.myshopify.com/ as well as https://www.facebook.com/countrycreations3592/.

Laura S. Fell of Chalk Couture is an independent designer and chalk teacher. Find her work on Facebook at The Chalking Teacher 402.660.3468.

Stephanie McDonald’s work was simply beautiful. Her business is Papaya’s Rustic Designs. Reach her at 712.307.0256 or stepharkfeld@gmail.com.

Work of Stephanie McDonald of Papaya’s Rustic Designs

What is a fall festival without locally baked goods? The cinnamon and caramel rolls looked tempting. They didn’t disappoint.

Avoca, Iowa  http://www.cityofavoca.com

Our first stop was at the ever-popular Volkswagen Beetle Spider at 649 South Chestnut Street.

Spider Car in Avoca, Iowa

You have to get out and take a photograph there, of course.

Library

We ventured downtown on the cold, blustery morning. We admired the Eagle of Honor Tribute and visited the Avoca Public Library. There’s a wonderful interactive music station outdoors.

Apples were being given away in the library foyer by generous local homeowners. We bought nearly-new hard covered books at the book sale. We believe in supporting local libraries.

We also picked up a copy of the “Western Iowa Visitors Guide for 2019-20” at the library.

Octagon

It led us to the Octagon Building in Graceland Cemetery. This building (1875) is on the National Register for Historic Places and was a gathering place for mourners during inclement weather. The deceased could also be kept there if the ground was too frozen to permit burial.

Avoca, IA: Graceland Cemetery Octagon Building

The Cemetery itself is a picturesque location with unforgettable vistas and headstones.

Walnut, Iowa   https://walnutiowa.org/

Walnut is known as Iowa’s Antique City.

The brick streets are lined with historic buildings filled with antique and specialty shops.

Two of our favorites were Forget Me Nots Gifts Treasures and Décor www.facebook.com/ForgetMeNotsIA and Plum Krazy. https://www.facebook.com/Plum-Krazy-Vintage-More-380801965592190/

Sadly, there are no restaurants in Walnut.

Lunch

Based on multiple referrals, we drove back to Avoca and lunched at the Embers Restaurant. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Embers/117491594943683

 The food was plentiful, delicious and quite reasonably priced.

Check the Avoca business directory (Restaurants) for a list of dining choices. http://www.cityofavoca.com/business-directory.php

Carson, Iowa https://www.carsongov.com

The drive from Avoca to Carson, Iowa in the fall is beautiful.

Carson is only 21 miles east of Council Bluffs, Iowa but yet seems so far away: rural, pastural setting.

Drive through the town. Get out and walk.

Be sure to see the West Nishnabotna River area.

Lodging

We stayed at the Country Vineyard Retreat with Paula as our Superhost (Airbnb).

The rural property was 5 miles east of Carson off Highway 92.

Carson, Iowa lodging view

The space is large, well-appointed and ideal for anyone wanting or needing a break from city life or a long day on the road.

Part of lodging interior.

Guests are encouraged to walk the property and to enjoy the vineyard views.

Macedonia, Iowa  https://www.macedoniaiowa.com/

We drove to Macedonia after watching the Iowa State Cyclones football team defeat West Virginia.

What an awesome community.

The town’s Main Street is lined with iron railings. Each tells the story of an event, family or organization with special ties to Macedonia.

Macedonia, IA Main Street iron railings

The Grist Mill McCready Theatre is where the Fine Arts Council hosts performances. Check their Facebook page and website for performances. http://www.gristmillfinearts.com/

The Stemple Bird Museum (tours available by appointment) is at 311 Main Street and houses over 300 mounted displays.

Painted Camel Gallery on Main Street http://potterybythecreek.com/index.php is open Saturdays from 10 AM – 4 PM or by appointment. Call 712.486.2324. It’s houses hand-crafted pottery, paintings, jewelry, wooden furniture, woven rugs and so much more.

Dinner

The Back Forty Restaurant and Bar http://www.backfortybarandgrill.com/ also on Main Street was referred by nearly everyone from whom we sought a dinner recommendation.

Saturday is steak special night. The prime rib, according to my husband, was great.

The place was full of diners of all ages enjoying one another’s company and watching football and volleyball games on one of many TVs throughout the space.

The service is quick and grateful.

Well-Rested Conclusion

On the commute back to Omaha via Highway 92, I asked my husband, Ken, if he felt rested. His response, “I feel like I’ve been gone for more than a day.”

That’s what a getaway to West Central Iowa can do for you.

Husband, Ken, at lodging location

Plan your trip today.

Share this with your fellow travelers. Thank you!

©October 2019. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Would you like Linda to visit and write a feature story on your community? Nominate it in the comment section below.

Who Wouldn’t Want to Do This in Southeast Nebraska?

Southeast Nebraska is a land of plenty with something for everyone. This area-one hour south of Omaha-is filled with history, unique festivals and events, and picturesque landscapes.

Here’s an overview of 4 communities we recently visited.

Website links are provided to help you plan your own adventure.

Brownville

Brownville (pop. 132)-a quaint village on the Missouri River-is on the National Register of Historic Places. Put on your walking shoes and check out the museums, the riverfront, the theatre and the concert series. Take a dinner cruise. Shop Memorial Day weekend and each fall at the Annual Brownville Flea Market. Stay overnight-perhaps at the River Inn Resort.

There’s plenty to see and explore.

60th Annual Flea Market

Helpful Hint: Call ahead if there’s a particular business or museum you’d like to visit. Most weren’t open during website-posted store hours on our Easter weekend visit. Brownville is an event-based community. Plan ahead if you are visiting during an event. Lodging sells out.

Sweetwater Brooms & Engraving- Broom Maker

Brooms made by hand-last a lifetime.

Whiskey Run Creek Vineyard & Winery

Every once in a while one encounters someone who leaves a forever positive impression. Matthew Heskett did just that. Matt is a sixth-generation farmer and son of proprietors, Ron and Sherry. He’s a 20-something entrepreneur with some of the savviest customer service skills we’ve encountered in Nebraska. He knew his community and his industry like a seasoned pro. Matt is an outstanding ambassador for both his business and Southeast Nebraska. Go meet him at the winery.

We toured the historic 1866 cave (year-round 55 degree temperature) and the 100-year old barn. Inside we sampled wines, checked out the gift shop and viewed the event location upstairs. Matt even showed us the production facility and explained the construction where a distillery is being added. We will return for more award-winning wine and old-fashioned hospitality.

Helpful Hint: Friday nights May through August they host live musical performances. Weddings can be held on location by the gazebo and waterfall.

Auburn

We drove a short distance on Highway 36 west to Auburn for lunch since none of Brownville’s restaurants were open. Two restaurants were consistently recommended: Hickory Road BBQ and El-Portal Mexican Restaurant.

We chose the former. The food quality and service were both outstanding.

Peru

This town of just over 800 is home to Nebraska’s first college (1867). Back then it was known as the teacher’s training school. Today Peru State College has around 2400 students.

Walk the historic, picturesque campus. Be sure to see the Little Red Schoolhouse

Drive to the Mt. Vernon Cemetery and see the historical grave markers. This hilltop location is also a Tri-State Observation Area (Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri).

Pack the bicycles and ride the Steamboat Trace Trail (found at north end of 5th street) between Brownville and Nebraska City. You can also hike it and enjoy birding along the way.

Stop in for a meal, a cool drink and a game of pool while in Peru.

Peru boasts a number of attractive city parks, including Sid Brown Memorial Park. Young children enjoy the splash pad during warm summer months.

A boat ramp to the Missouri River is accessible at 5th and Olive Street. The Peru Bottoms Wildlife Management Area (The Bottoms) is along the route, and beyond, and is available for hunting, fishing and birding.

Lied Lodge at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City

Nebraska is the proud home of Arbor Day. Founded in 1972 by J. Sterling Morton (whose son founded Morton Salt Company), Arbor Day encourages citizens worldwide to plant trees.

The 140-room, award-winning Lodge at Arbor Day Farm in Nebraska City is a sought-after gathering place for those who care deeply about the natural world and its future. It features the Timber Dining Room, a spa, sauna, exercise room, Olympic-sized pool, bar and conference center.

Like most lodging facilities, it is only as good as the guests staying there. During our rainy, holiday weekend stay, families crammed the pool with over-sized floats, leaving little room to enjoy the facilities in the naturally peaceful setting. Floors outside the pool area were wet and slippery. Under-aged, unsupervised guests occupied the sauna. (Safety concerns were reported to front desk staff.)

Helpful Hint: Stay mid-week or on a non-holiday weekend if you are seeking a peaceful retreat.

Visit the Arbor Day Farm website for things to do and trails to walk.

Get a ticket to the Tree Adventure. Educational and fun for all ages.

 

Walk the trails; listen to the forest

Include Indian Cave State Park on your list of things to do in Southeast Nebraska. The park has 3000+ acres and is southeast of Nemaha, along the Missouri River. Check out the large sandstone cave in the park.

Get out and explore Southeast Nebraska. visitsoutheastnebraska.org

Create your own family memories and enjoy all that Nebraska offers.

 

Linda Leier Thomason is the founder and former CEO of  a Charleston, SC based event production and publication corporation. Today, she resides in Omaha, NE  where she writes about her undercover visits to towns and communities, among other things. To learn more about Linda, click on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Contact me to have your town or community featured.

©Copyright. April 2017. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

Insider Tips for 1st Time Visitors to New York City

Make the most of your time in New York City & beyond.

New York City on a rainy June 2019 Day

NYC and I have been acquainted through business plenty of times, pre 911. I always dreaded the trip. Rush in. Frantic pace while there. Rush out. It was a “time is money” approach to life and “only the strong survive” culture and mentality.

Honestly, I never thirsted to return. Then I did. June 2019. This time as a tourist. What a difference time and purpose make.

As Frankie from Small Bus Tours NYC said, “New York City grew up post 911. It had to. We needed visitors to come back to sustain us. We needed to also start working with one another and treating people right.”

The other major difference on this visit. I never felt unsafe walking in NYC. Police presence was everywhere.

1st Time Visitor Tips

Plan Ahead. There are endless things to see and do in NYC. Make a list of Must-See Attractions and Must-Do Activities. For instance, Statue of Liberty, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Ground Zero 911-Memorial, Wall Street, Broadway, Times Square, Central Park, Staten Island, Brooklyn Bridge, etc.

Prioritize what you’d like your experience to include. Look at maps before arriving. It helps when navigating when there.

Select lodging based on your Must-See and Must-Do List. Choose a central location.

Book a Small Bus Tour NYC in advance. This tour gives a great overview of NYC, including history and other “gems.” https://www.smallbustoursnyc.com/.

In 6 hours (8:30 AM and 2:30 PM departures from Times Square) you will hear about and see most NYC highlights, including a ferry ride past the Statue of Liberty to Staten Island.

Make a list of places to return to after your Small Bus Tour. Seek restaurant recommendations from the Small Bus Tours guide and driver-NYC residents.

Pack walking shoes. NYC, especially Manhattan, is best experienced on foot. You can, and should, take the subway but plan on walking-a lot. NOTE: The subway system is much cleaner and more efficient than I ever recall. It is heavily patrolled. http://web.mta.info/maps/submap.html Download this subway map to your phone.

Buy theatre tickets in advance. You can visit TKTS https://www.tdf.org/nyc/7/TKTS-ticket-booths while in NYC and get significant discounts on the day of the show. Here’s the downside. You may not see the show you really want. You will spend precious time waiting in a line.

Restrooms can be challenging to locate. Download an app like “Where is Public Toilet.” It comes in handy in NYC.

Check the forecast. Pack what’s needed for it. Rain coats and umbrellas or winter boots and parkas? Be prepared.

Avoid overscheduling. There is so much activity in the City that strolling the streets will offer plenty of entertainment.

For instance, Bryant Park https://bryantpark.org/ near Grand Central Station https://www.grandcentralterminal.com/ offers games, musical entertainment, plays, yoga, etc.

Same goes for Central Park. http://www.centralparknyc.org/

Consider staying outside the City. For example, the Metro North Line (Regional train) stops in Port Chester and Rye, NY-both towns have hotels with complimentary shuttle service to the train. If you crave a less active (noisy) evening, this option may be ideal for you. You can ride the train into the City daily and yet enjoy a peaceful, natural setting each evening.

Rideshare.  Download the Uber and/or Lyft apps before arriving. As always, follow all the safety precautions on their apps.

NOTE: Rideshare rates are flat fees. The clock on a taxi stuck in traffic keeps ticking, unless you hop in a flat rate fee-based taxi. Be aware of the fee/rate structure when deciding how to get around.

Airport

LaGuardia Airport https://laguardiaairport.com/

This airport is undergoing a major renovation. Visiting the website prior to arrival is wise. It is the closest airport to Manhattan.

If you are using Uber/Lyft to get to your destination, follow the signage to the rideshare area. You will be instructed to wait in areas marked A-D.

The wait time can be long (ours was nearly 40 minutes due to traffic congestion).

Once in the vehicle, getting out of the airport can also be quite long (ours was over 30 minutes).

Our ride to the Grand Hyatt from the airport was a flat rate of $53, mid weekday morning.

Our return Uber ride to LaGuardia Airport Concourse D from Rye, NY was fantastic. Less time. Less cost.

Lodging

Grand Hyatt New York https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/new-york/grand-hyatt-new-york/nycgh

We chose this property based on our must-see and must-do list. In addition, we were taking the train north to Rye, NY after our city visit. Grand Central Station is next door. The convenience of getting to the train with luggage was worth it.

We had a Grand Central Station room view.

Yes, street noise can still be heard from the 25th floor. However, it also provided a realistic view of NYC. NOTE: If noise is an issue for you, request an inside room. Or, download a bed time fan app. It covers outside noise quite well. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ellisapps.bedtimefan&hl=en

Grand Central Station

This is a stop on the Small Bus Tours route and it is worth exploring on your own afterwards. The architecture and history of the building are worth a spot on your itinerary, even if you’re not taking the train.

Theatre

Beautiful-the Carole King Musical https://beautifulonbroadway.com/

Stephen Sondheim Theatre

Outstanding production. The theatre was a very comfortable walking distance from the Grand Hyatt.

Take a light jacket. The theatre can be quite cool.

Food and beverage are available for purchase.

Central Park

Central Park Carriage Ride

We strolled from our hotel to Central Park, stopping multi times to view interesting attractions like Rockefeller Center. https://www.rockefellercenter.com/directions/

Our day in the Park was truly a trip highlight. We had no agenda. Just comfortable walking shoes and refillable water containers.

You can be spontaneous like we were, or plan your “can’t miss stops” in the Park. Check out the Central Park Website http://www.centralparknyc.org/

Highlights included:

  • Listening to the vast variety of musicians busking in the Park.
  • Watching the many talented athletes playing a variety of sports.
  • Picnicking on a park bench.
  • Enjoying remote sailboats on lake.
  • NOTE: We’d been advised against a carriage ride due to their limited route around the park. We followed the advice.

Dining in NYC

Food was not our top priority on this visit. Of course, we had a slice of New York style pizza. It was delicious! The following were referred us by multiple local residents.

Food Court in Grand Central Station https://www.grandcentralterminal.com/dining-concourse/

Urban Space https://www.urbanspacenyc.com/urbanspace-vanderbilt/

Ray’s Pizza https://www.orderfamousoriginalrayspizza.com/

Juniors for Cheesecake https://www.juniorscheesecake.com/

Applejack Diner http://www.applejackdiner.com/ Open 24 hours. Great service. Try to get an outdoor table. Right next door is a pizza by the slice restaurant that does a tremendous amount of walk-out business.

Rye, NY

Getting There

We took the Metro North Line http://www.mta.info/mnr

Metro North Line

Lodging

We stayed at the Hilton Westchester. It is a full-service hotel on immaculately maintained grounds. https://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/new-york/hilton-westchester-RYEHIHH/index.html

The hotel offers complimentary shuttle service to the surrounding area and train stations, as well as to the Westchester, NY airport.

Hilton Westchester Outdoor Space

Dining

Bar Taco Located in Port Chester-a short Uber ride from the Westchester Hilton Great food. Great service. Can be quite crowded. https://bartaco.com/location/port-chester/

View Outside Bar Taco

Rye Grill & Bar https://www.ryegrill.com/ in Rye. Complimentary shuttle from Hilton. Nice menu selections. Plenty of covered outdoor seating.

The Pub. Check out this gem in downtown Rye. Cold beverages. Fun staff. Interactive locals.

What to Do

We took the hotel shuttle into Rye and wandered the streets of this small town. There are plenty of dining and shopping choices, including a great local grocery market.

Stop in at the library https://www.ryelibrary.org/

Visit the city website https://www.townofryeny.com/ for other things to do.

Consider touring the Sculpture Garden at the PepsiCo Headquarters. https://www.pepsico.com/sculpture-gardens

Enjoy your visit to New York City and beyond.

SHARE this post with all those planning a trip or those wishing to visit NYC.

©July 2019. Linda Leier Thomason All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission before using copy or images from this site. Images are available for purchase.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories along with feature articles. Her work experience includes a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Would you like Linda to visit and write a feature story on your community? Nominate it here.

All You Need to Plan a Reunion in Winterset, Iowa

The Thomason extended family decided to plan a 2019 family reunion.

As with most families with members living in multiple states, it can be somewhat difficult to gather often. Yet there is the desire to connect in person.

3 Generations of Thomason Family

Share this Post with Others Planning Reunions.

6 factors in choosing a reunion location

  • Short travel distance for matriarch, aka Granny
  • Easy travel for airline commuters
  • Comfortable, well-appointed, and affordable lodging
  • Great dining and shopping choices
  • Availability of a professional photographer for family photos
  • Entertainment & Recreation

Winterset, Iowa–Chosen Reunion Location

Winterset, Iowa was chosen as the ideal location. It is great for families of all sizes. There is plenty to see and do in Madison County and businesses and attractions are well accustomed to working with and welcoming visitors and guests from all over the world.

In addition, their Chamber and Welcome Center has a fantastic website.

More information. http://www.madisoncounty.com/

Winterset is approximately
• 37 miles from Des Moines, Iowa
• 125 miles from Omaha, Nebraska
• 180 miles from Kansas City, Kansas
• 270 miles from Sioux Falls, South Dakota

LODGING

Check the Chamber’s website http://www.madisoncounty.com/ for accommodations of all types and price ranges.

Our group booked all of the rooms at Heavenly Habitat Bed & Breakfast. http://www.heavenlyhabitat.net/. It was perfect in every way. We gathered often to share meals, play board games, watch NBA finals games and enjoy one another’s company.

Steve and Nancy Fauser are exceptional inn keepers. Each breakfast was better than the next. Come with a hearty appetite. Microwaves and refrigerators are available on site.

Street View of Heavenly Habitat
Breakfast Area on Main Floor
What is a reunion without Frisbee and Corn Hole? Grassy area across from B&B.

Dining

Winterset has plenty of great dining options for all budgets and appetites. Check out the Chamber website to plan your meals and make advance reservations. http://www.madisoncounty.com/dining/.

Northside Café Salmon Dinner

Our group dined here & would gladly return to

What to Do at Your Reunion

Check the Events tab to plan reunion activities. http://www.madisoncounty.com/

50th Annual Madison County Covered Bridge Festival is October 12-13, 2019.

Bridges of Madison County

1 of 6 bridges visited. http://www.madisoncounty.com/the-covered-bridges/

Aquatic Center

Visit https://wedesignpools.com/portfolio/winterset-aquatic-center/. We did not have time to use this facility. We did drive by and families of all ages were using it.

First Friday Night Concert Series

Photography Session

Hiring a professional photographer to capture family photographs was important to this group. We hired http://teddiyaeger.com/. She was professional, prompt and experienced. She provided expert advice on location and attire and was a pure joy to work with.

Parks & Recreation

There is plenty of green space in Madison County, including in Winterset Iowa. Check out the multitude of recreational opportunities http://www.madisoncounty.com/recreation/

Shopping

The historic square in downtown Winterset is known for great shopping http://www.madisoncounty.com/shopping/ and our group made an economic impact during our visit.

One of our favorite spots was Pine Creek, Ltd. https://www.facebook.com/Pine-Creek-Ltd-435798216503689/

Another favorite was http://www.1stavenuecollective.com/. It’s an artisan market in the former Madison County jail.

Attractions

I posted a feature on Madison County in the Fall of 2018. Check out the attractions information on it, including mention of wineries. http://www.lindaleierthomason.com/2018/09/11/9-reasons-madison-county-iowa-is-worth-visiting/

http://www.madisoncounty.com/wineries-spirits/

Start planning your reunion today. SHARE this post with others attending.

This post was not sponsored.

©Copyright. June 2019. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission prior to using any images or copy on this site. All are copyright protected. Images are available for sale.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business.
Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Would you like Linda to write a feature story on your community? Nominate it here.

Don’t Miss These 5 Sites in Downtown Omaha

Downtown Omaha is an ideal location to explore on a Sunday afternoon.

There’s

  • Plentiful parking (free)
  • Great signage-attraction name and distance by # of blocks
  • Free public art, including dancing fountains
  • Low volume traffic
  • Sidewalk musicians in the Old Market
  • Excellent brunch and lunch spots

Park. Walk. Explore these 5 locations.

We did recently, in this order, stopping for a beverage in the Capitol District while watching several innings of the Big 10 College Baseball Playoff. We can testify to the delicious ice cream cones from Dolci in the Old Market.

Pioneer Courage Park

Address: 1601 Dodge Street

Pioneer Courage Park, in combination with Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness, consists of over 100 individual bronze pieces and covers six city blocks in downtown Omaha.

This Omaha attraction is the combination of two sculpture parks which have come together to form the LARGEST bronze sculpture in the world.

Pioneer Courage Park: Tribute to settlers

More Information

https://www.firstnationalcampus.com/fnc/html/en/sculpture_park/pioneer.html

Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness

Address: 1400 Capitol Avenue

Spirit of Nebraska’s Wilderness Sculpture

More Information

https://www.visitomaha.com/listings/first-nationals-spirit-of-nebraskas-wilderness-and-pioneer-courage-park/57322/

Capitol District

Address: 225 North 12th Street

Restaurants, Bars, Entertainment, Lodging + Living in the Capitol District

More Information

Old Market

Address: 1100 Howard Street

More Information

https://oldmarket.com/

Fairmont Mercantile

Address: 1209 Jackson Street

Filled with nostalgic, vintage treasures, including candy, music, pinball machines and so much more.

SHARE this post with your walking partner.

Plan a trip to downtown Omaha.

©Copyright. May 2019. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission prior to using any images or copy on this site. All are copyright protected. Images are available for sale.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business.
Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.

Nominate a location for a feature story.

Reuben Sandwiches & Art Shops in Omaha

Omaha has plenty to offer even when the weather turns foul in late April.

We trekked to the https://www.blackstonedistrict.com/ Blackstone District of Omaha to enjoy a legendary Reuben Sandwich at Crescent Moon before attending the Spring Open House at the Hot Shops Art Center.

Legend of the Reuben Sandwich

Legend has it the Reuben sandwich was created in the 1920s in Omaha, Nebraska. It was there that Bernard Schimmel ran the kitchen at the Blackstone Hotel (today known as Blackstone Center), which his father owned and where he would also enjoy a weekly poker game with friends.

As this legend goes, one of the players—local grocery store owner Reuben Kulafofsky—requested a sandwich with corned beef and sauerkraut. Schimmel, who was a European-trained chef, put his own spin on it by draining the sauerkraut, mixing it with Thousand Island dressing, then layering it with Swiss and homemade corned beef on dark rye bread. He then grilled it.

Crescent Moon Restaurant

3578 Farnam Street. Founded in 1996, Crescent Moon names its Reuben for the Blackstone Hotel which is just a few steps away and is credited with the creation of the Reuben sandwich. The Crescent Reuben was awarded Omaha’s Best Reuben by the Omaha World Herald-Omaha’s newspaper.

Man v. Food

On April 25, 2019 the TV show Man v Food (The Travel Channel) a reality TV series about America’s iconic dishes and food challenges filmed an episode there, featuring all items Reuben.

Staff expects the episode to air in late 2019.

Craft beers are generously featured on the menu. The restaurant also offers Sunday brunch.

Hot Shops Art Center

Information

  • 1301 Nicholas Street (near TD Ameritrade Baseball Park)
  • Hosts Spring + Fall Open Houses for the Public.
  • See 80+ artists in 54 studio spaces.
  • www.hotshopsartcenter.com
  • Check website for demonstration schedules, artist studio locations, parking instructions, etc.
  • Shops are open at other times (9AM-6PM and 11AM-5PM) but all artists may not be in their studios.
  • Restrooms are on each floor.
  • Refreshments can be purchased during the Open House.
  • Classes are available.
  • Not necessarily kid-friendly. Lots of breakables and stairs to climb.

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©Copyright. April 2019. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission prior to using any images or copy on this site. All are copyright protected and images are available for sale.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business.
She specializes in undercover studies of communities wishing to attract visitors for economic impact. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.
Want an advertorial written on your business?
Would you like to have your community promoted?

Arbor Day’s Origins in Nebraska + Ways to Celebrate

Located in Nebraska City, Nebraska

What is Arbor Day?

Arbor Day is a holiday dedicated to the planting and conservation or preservation of trees.

It is celebrated the last Friday of each April.

Origin

The first American Arbor Day was celebrated on April 10, 1872 in Nebraska City, Nebraska. On this day, over a million trees were planted in the area.

It was initiated by Secretary of Agriculture and newspaper publisher, Julius Sterling Morton.

Arbor Day became an official holiday in 1885.

Arbor Day eventually spread to all 50 states and other countries, including Australia, Brazil and Canada.

Importance of Trees

Trees are an important part of every community. They

  • Create peaceful, aesthetic environments
  • Clean our air + provide oxygen
  • Provide shade and cool our streets + cities
  • Control erosion and provide windbreaks
  • Serve as historic landmarks, especially older trees like the Angel Oak Tree on Johns Island in South Carolina www.angeloaktree.com
  • Supply wildlife habitat
  • Produce nourishment
  • Serve as building supplies

Wildlife Habitat as seen at Magnolia Plantation & Gardens, Charleston, SC

More Information

www.arborday.org

Log on at www.arbordayfarm.org. Plan a visit.

Ways to Celebrate Arbor Day

  • Plant a tree
  • Read books about trees
  • Attend a workshop or class on how to maintain yard trees
  • Create a neighborhood scavenger hunt to find, for instance, the tree with the largest circumference, the oldest tree, etc.
  • Learn tree species. In Omaha, one can get educated at the OPPD Arboretum at 108th and Blondo. Visit www.oppd.com website for more information
  • Clean up a park
  • Start a recycling program at work
  • Commit to using earth-friendly products
  • Learn about trees in other parts of the country or world
Palmetto Trees on the Charleston, SC Waterfront
Tree Variety at Mt. Rainier, Washington
Door County, Wisconsin

©Copyright. April 2019. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission prior to using any images or copy on this site. All are copyright protected and images are available for sale.


Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business.


She specializes in undercover studies of communities wishing to attract visitors for economic impact. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.


Want an advertorial written on your business?
Would you like to have your community promoted?

Need her to ghost write website copy, a report or speech for you?
Contact her by completing this form.

What to Do in Omaha on a Saturday Morning

Joslyn Art Museum

Joslyn Art Museum

Helpful Facts

  • Address: 2200 Dodge Street
  • 402.342.3300
  • www.joslyn.org–Check Calendar of Events for docent guided tours & special exhibits, classes and performances ($)
  • Opens 10 AM
  • Closed Monday
  • FREE General Admission
  • Café Durham located in the Museum’s Atrium
  • Hitchcock Museum Shop on main floor
  • Sculpture Garden & Discovery Garden: exterior of Museum
  • Free parking in lot northeast of the Museum
  • Well-marked drop-off location for those with limited mobility

NOTES

  • The docent-guided building tour (check calendar of events for dates and times) is well worth a visitor’s time. It lasts about an hour. One learns the history of the building’s art deco design while special features, often missed by visitors, are pointed out.
  • Arts Works-A Place for Curiosity-on the lower level isn’t just for children. It’s a hands-on art studio for all ages. It will delight you and perhaps introduce you to more current ways of creating art.
  • Read photography rules at www.joslyn.org.
  • Do not sit on or climb on outdoor sculptures or displays.
  • Block out at least 3 hours (more if take a guided building tour) to view the exhibits and wander the outdoor gardens.
Create your own masterpiece & then Email it

A Gift to Omaha Citizens


Joslyn Art Museum was a generous gift to the people of Omaha from Sarah H. Joslyn (1851–1940) in memory of her husband, George A. Joslyn (1848–1916).

George & Sarah Joslyn

Lunch

Amsterdam Falafel + Kabob

  • 620 North 50th Street
  • Located in Omaha’s Dundee neighborhood
  • 402.504.3223
  • Find them on Facebook
  • Limited indoor seating
  • Outdoor seating available
  • Falafel is a Middle Eastern dish of spiced mashed chick peas, ground into a paste, formed into balls or fritters and then deep fried.
  • Kabob is roasted or grilled meat on a skewer.
  • Beverages for purchase.


Kabob Meat on Lettuce with Herb Dressing

Recommend Something

Do you have an activity, place or event I should visit?

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No services or fees were provided by either location for this post.

©Copyright. April 2019. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission prior to using any images or copy on this site. All are copyright protected and images are available for sale.

Linda Leier Thomason writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business.
She specializes in undercover studies of communities wishing to attract visitors for economic impact. Read more about her background and qualifications by clicking on the “Meet Linda” tab above.
Want an advertorial written on your business?
Would you like to have your community promoted?

Nominate it above.

Win Sandhill Cranes Migration VIP Trip

A Sandhill Crane is silhouetted against the night sky as it fly’s beneath a brilliant moon. Taken by get away prize winner March 2019, www.willfields.com.

Let’s Congratulate the Winner–Will Fields

Contest Now Closed

Contest Dates: Oct. 1-Oct. 31, 2018

Trip Date: February 28, 2019

The annual Sandhill Crane migration is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles.

Mid-February through mid-April, more than half a million Sandhill Cranes congregate along Nebraska’s Platte River during their annual migration. They rest and prepare for nesting after leaving their winter homes in Mexico and the Southwest. Their final destinations are way north in Canada, Alaska and Siberia.

World-Wide Visitors

Thousands of visitors come from all over the world to greet and observe this natural wonder.
They visit the Crane Trust Nature & Visitor Center at Exit 305 off Interstate 80
near Woodriver, Nebraska.

Win Overnight (2/28/19) VIP Experience

You can be 1 of the lucky ones viewing this natural wonder.

One winner and a guest will receive

• Two guided crane viewing experiences (dawn and sunset) inside the private, heated Pietrok Family VIP Blind on the largest Sandhill Crane roost on the Platte River. Experts provide valuable insights into the science and the mystery of the crane migration and Platte River ecosystem.
• Overnight accommodations at Crane Trust Legacy Cottages (private bedroom and bathroom). There is a kitchenette with a dining table and television in the common area and a covered patio overlooking the vast historic prairie where genetically-pure American bison roam.
• Food and drink at the evening’s Welcome Reception, Dinner after the sunset viewing and Breakfast after the dawn viewing.

Enter to Win

Contest Fine Print

  •  The Experience is  Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019. No exception. Do not enter if you cannot travel to Wood River (outside of Grand Island, NE) and spend the evening of 2.28.19.
  • Transportation to and from Wood River, Nebraska is not included.
  • You must be able to navigate up to ¼ mile of uneven terrain to reach the bird blind.
  • All other expenses not mentioned above are winner’s responsibility.
  • Prize value is $500.00.
  • Winner agrees to share at least 3 photographic images with www.lindaleierthomason.com by March 5, 2019 to use at her discretion.
  • Winner Notification: Winner will be chosen at random. Winner will be notified via email. Response must be received in 24 hours. If none, another winner will be randomly chosen.
  • Prize is non-transferable. No cash redemption or substitution will be allowed.
  • Participants must be 18 years of age or older, a legal U.S. resident, All federal, state and local laws and regulations apply.
  • No purchase necessary.
  • This is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, YouTube, Instagram or Pinterest.
  • Crane Trust employees and trustees and their immediate family members are not eligible for this giveaway. Neither are immediate family members of www.lindaleierthomason.com.
  • Winner assumes all responsibility and releases www.lindaleierthomason.com and The Crane Trust, its employees and trustees from all liability.
  • By accepting prize, winner understands and agrees to all contest rules.

Tips to Enhance Your Sandhill Cranes Viewing Experience

  • I’ve witnessed the Sandhill Crane migration twice. Once, mid-day in the fields surrounding the Nature Center. And, in 2018 I had the pleasure of staying overnight for a VIP Experience.
  • My best advice is
    • Dress in layers. It can be both wet and cool. Fingerless gloves are helpful if you plan to take a lot of photographs.
    • Pack boots.
    • Bring your camera charger and take a back-up battery.
    • Have binoculars? Pack ’em. There are some in the Blind but not enough for all.
    • If you’re interested in getting great photographic images, keep in mind the type of lighting you will be shooting in (dusk and dawn) and that birds do not sit and pose for you. You must remain in the bird blind with your group the entire time. Most cranes are across the river from where you will be standing.
    • Plan to arrive well before the check-in time. Stop at the Nature Center. Watch the videos. View the artwork. Shop at the Gift Shop. Walk the trail behind the Center. See the buffalo up close and personal. Eat at the café inside the Center. Speak to the well-trained volunteers about where to see the Sandhill Cranes in the fields after the VIP Experience concludes.
    • Do a bit of online research before arriving.
    • Ask the professionals all of your questions. They are informative and eager to share their knowledge and experiences.
    • If you have dietary restrictions for the VIP Experience meals, please inform the staff well before arrival.
    • Get to know the other guests. All share a common interest.

LOCATION

The Crane Trust Nature and Visitor Center
Address: 9325 South Alda Road
Wood River, NE 68883
Exit 305 towards Alda
Phone: (308) 382-1820
Hours: Monday – Saturday
9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
(Hours change during migration season and holidays)

SHARE this post with others who’d appreciate this natural wonder.

This experience was provided with generosity from The Crane Trust.

©Copyright. October 2018. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved. This means seek permission prior to using any images on this site. All are copyright protected and available for sale.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business.
She specializes in undercover studies of communities wishing to attract visitors for economic impact.

Contact her by completing this form.

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