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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What to See & Do in Kansas Flint Hills

Links + Tips for Exploring the Kansas Flint Hills

We had two May 2018 days off. Where to go? How about south of Omaha. But where?
We’d heard about the Kansas Flint Hills, but literally knew nothing about this east-central region, so off we went.

No Interstate travel allowed. Wow! Endless visual stimulation. Every shade of green. The air filled with dust behind farm equipment tilling spring soil. Trees bursting with blooms. Puffy clouds in blue skies. Friendly, warm-hearted people. Wind. Lots of wind. Rolling hills. Tall grass prairie. Deafening silence. Disc golf courses everywhere. Highly talented artists of every type. Live folk music on a Friday night. New American food in a Strong City-a town of 455 people (2016).

Can’t Miss Stops on Kansas Flint Hills Visit

Tecumseh, Nebraska

Traveling south from Omaha, stop at the historical Johnson County Courthouse in Tecumseh, Nebraska.
Walk around the square. Read the historical markers and take in the Romanesque style courthouse architecture. Simply stunning.

Council Grove, Kansas

This historical district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Council Grove is an old trail town at the crossroads of the Santa Fe Trail and the Flint Hills Scenic Byway.

 

Park downtown. Get out and walk.

Make time to visit with the store owners and museum volunteers. Stroll along the well-maintained river walk.

Trees of the Santa Fe Trail era are marked throughout the city with plaques as Council Grove is designated as a “Tree City USA.”

  • Stop in at the Post Office Oak Museum owned by the Morris County Historical Society.
    Lunch at the Historic Hays House
  • View the artwork at Rockfish Gallery and chat with owner, Chris Carlin. https://www.facebook.com/Rock-Fish-Gallery-2265381846821340/
  • Drive out to the Reservoir and around City Lake

Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

2480 Kansas Highway 177 Strong City, KS 66869
The Preserve is a public/private partnership dedicated to preserving and enhancing the tallgrass prairie ecosystem.
Call ahead 620.273.8494 (hit 0) to reserve a seat on the free bus tour, guided by a park ranger.
No admission fee. Check website for pet policy.
The Information center has a video to view. Best to watch before going out on the trails or into the historical buildings (house, barn and school).

Educational kiosks, well-appointed and clean, modern restrooms and a small gift shop are also in the Information Center. There are additional modern restrooms near the barn.

Helpful Tips
• Wear closed toe shoes.
• Fill your water bottle at the Information Center prior to boarding the bus.
• The road the bus travels on is bumpy. Keep this in mind if you have back or spine issues.
• Binoculars will enhance the experience.
• Understand this is not a zoo. Animals (cattle + buffalo) and wildlife roam freely, often near, or on, the hiking trails. Use extreme caution and pay attention to not only what is in front of you but also what is behind you.
• You may picnic on the grounds near the house and/or Information Center.

Lodging

Bunk house on hill

Clover Cliff Ranch
826 A US Highway 50
Elmdale, Kansas 66850
11 miles west of Strong City

Like nearly everything in the Flint Hills, this Bed and Breakfast greatly exceeded all expectations.

In addition to guest rooms in the later-Victorian, Empire-style stone main house, 3 freestanding lodging options are available. We stayed in the Bunk House. The decor is modern and fitting for a ranch location.

The kitchen is furnished with all but an oven (a crock pot is available as are a multi-burner cooktop and microwave).

Tips to Enhance Your Stay

• Bathrobes are furnished
• Foldable outdoor chairs are available
• Bring ear plugs or background noise apps if a light sleeper; a train frequently passes by on the other side of a somewhat busy highway
• A challenging disc golf course is on the property; bring your discs
• Walk the course, even if you don’t play it. Bug spray and sunscreen may be necessary
• Breakfast is hearty. Confirm your dining time for the next day after each breakfast is completed.
• Get the Wi-Fi code/password at check-in

• Make time for a short history tour of the home/property
• Filtered water is provided
• Breakfast is served on an enclosed veranda

Other lodging options are found on the Chase County Chamber of Commerce link here.

Strong City, Kansas

Strong City’s population is less than 500.
Points of Interest

  Chuck Wagon CAFE

521 East 7th Street

  • Pork loin and Patty Melt sandwiches are excellent, as is the service.

 

Pork loin

 

 

 

 

 

Ad Astra Restaurant

318 Cottonwood Street
620.273.8440

  • New American restaurant with a full bar, including regional craft beers, gluten-free and vegan options, and locally sourced produce and meats, including buffalo and beef.
  • Reservations suggested. Open Thursday night for dinner. Lunch and dinner served Friday through Sunday.
  • Food prep and quality far surpassed expectations as did interior design and vibe

Cottonwood Falls, Kansas https://cwfks.org/

The largest city in and the county seat of Chase County, Cottonwood Falls boasts a population of under 1000 (2010) and is about one mile from Strong City.

Points of Interest
Chase County Courthouse https://cwfks.org/chase-county-courthouse/

  • Oldest Kansas courthouse still in use; employees work there.
  • It was completed in 1873 and was built in the French Renaissance style from walnut and limestone. Today it is immaculately maintained.
  • Self-guided tours are available M-F 8 AM to 5 PM. Guided tours are available from 1-4 PM, by appointment by calling 620.273.8469.
  • The historic jail on the 2nd floor is worth seeing as is the view of Broadway from the recessed oval window on the 3rd floor.
  • Note the maple wood floors and many historical photographs hung on walls. Stop in the Commissioners Chambers.
  • Run your hands along the smooth walnut railings of the impressive three floor spiral north staircase (without center support). The craftsmanship is exquisite.
  • Walk the south wing staircase on the second floor. Imagine the many feet over time that have walked before you.

Prairie PastTimes https://prairiepasttimes.org/
2201/2 Broadway
620.273.6003

 

  • Open Tuesday through Sunday 11AM-5 PM and when the flag is out.
  • A cooperative of Flint Hills artists and artisans selling items made in the Kansas Flint Hills.
  • Impressive works: wool and Alpaca textiles, photography, stained glass, woodwork, ceramics, ironwork, and more.
  • Support art. Purchase a remembrance of your visit from one of these talented artists and artisans.

Emma Chase Friday Night Music www.facebook.com/EmmaChaseMusic
620.273.6003 or 620.273.8301

Emma Chase is not a current musician. Rather she is a fictionalized character. However, at one time, there was an Emma Chase Café, which is now closed.

  • Musicians and audiences gather around 7:30 PM near Cottonwood Falls’ Main Street to jam. Sessions end at 10:00 PM.
  • Weather permitting all congregate outside on the street by the Courthouse-331 Broadway-or if not, and every 4th Friday, at Prairie PastTimes-220 1/2 Broadway.
  • Admission is free. Donations are greatly valued.
  • Bring a lawn chair.
  • Audience members are welcome to join in
  • Guests can view the artwork in the gallery behind the musicians.
  • Restrooms are in the gallery
  • 1st Friday: Acoustic Gospel Music
  • 2nd Friday: Acoustic Bluegrass Music
  • 3rd Friday: Acoustic Country, Folk and Bluegrass Music
  • 4th: Friday: Electric & Acoustic Old Time Rock-n-Roll and Vintage Country Music

History
In September of 1999, Sue Smith and friend Charley Klamm were discussing the possibility of a music session at the cafe. Charley said, “For two bits, I’d hang a paper at the barbershop to see if anybody was interested.” Sue reached into her pocket, handed Charley the quarter, gave him a sheet of paper and said, “Go ahead.” So, on the first Friday night in October, 1999, twelve musicians with instruments in hand showed up at the Emma and a couple dozen listeners followed close behind. Most believe this is the longest continuous jam session, and perhaps the first, in Kansas. Taken from www.kansassampler.org

Cottonwood Falls Parks

Cottonwood River Bridge and Waterfall-located on the north side of Cottonwood Falls next to Bates Grove Park, which has tent camping available.

 

Walking Trail between Strong City and Cottonwood Falls. It’s paved.

Swope Park-1715 210 Road-located on the southeast corner of Highway 177/210 Road This impressive multi-purpose park includes a dignified Veteran’s Memorial, 4-H barns and an arena, a campground with RV pads, disc golf course, a playground and swimming pool, picnic areas with two covered shelter houses, and baseball and softball fields.

When walking downtown, be sure to stop and read the placard about the Bill North Courtyard “Beagle Run.”

Chase State Fishing Lake https://cwfks.org/chase-state-fishing-lake/ west of Cottonwood Falls off Lake Road
Take a drive out here. Observe wildlife. Appreciate the wonder and stillness of nature.

Bonus Links + Information

Manhattan, Kansas

KSU Botanical Center http://www.k-state.edu/gardens/
Tallgrass Brewery Tap House http://tallgrasstaphouse.com/
Chase County Chamber of Commerce Excellent source for additional information and links on lodging, recreation, shopping, dining, etc.
Symphony in the Hills http://www.symphonyintheflinthills.org/

Disc golf https://cwfks.org/chase-disc-golf/

 

 

 

 

Additional photographs & information on my Twitter and Instagram. Click links above or/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/lindaleierthomason/and Twitter https://twitter.com/LindaLThomason

Want your attraction/community/property or restaurant reviewed and featured?

Contact me

©Copyright. May 2018. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved.
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. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete form above.

4 Affordable Things to Do in Omaha on a Sunday

Have a free Sunday and need something to do? Visit Omaha. If you are lucky enough to call Omaha your home, get out and visit, or re-visit, these sites and participate these activities.

We recently did these 4 things in 4 hours on a Sunday. Click on the bold links to find more information while planning your Omaha outing or a weekend trip to Omaha.

Omaha Farmer’s Market at Aksarben Village

9am-1pm Every Sunday May 7-October 15, 2017

Tips for a Great Outing

  • Go early for free street and garage parking.
  • Find a list of vendors on the Market’s website-link in bold green above.
  • Patience required. Be prepared to dodge dogs and strollers.
  • Bring your own bags for produce (recycled grocery store bags, etc.) and a bag to put all merchandise into.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. After shopping, walk the trails or stroll through the College of St. Mary.
  • Tip the musician(s).
  • Take dollar bills so vendors don’t run out of change.
  • Bring sanitizing hand wipes. Napkins provided, but these wipes are useful for post-restroom and after eating sticky pastries.
  • Don’t eat samples without real intent to buy.
  • Be open to trying new things, especially vegetables you’ve never tasted.

Enhanced the Market by

  • Vendors hand out recipes-how to use items being sold, especially unique vegetables.
  • More vendors preparing & selling food for consumption on-site.
  • Healthier prepared food options; heavy on pastries.
  • Cooking demonstrations-how to use kohlrabi, okra, etc.
  • Multiple entertainers throughout the market.
  • Fee based pony rides for children.
  • Petting zoo.
  • Hoola-Hoop contests, etc. to engage crowd.

Gerald R. Ford Birthsite and Gardens

Little Known Facts about 38th President of USA

  • Born July 14, 1913 at 3202 Woolworth Avenue, Omaha, NE.
  • Named Leslie King, Jr. at birth.
  • Parents divorced and mother moved to her parent’s Grand Rapids, Michigan home.
  • Renamed Gerald Rudolph Ford, Jr. when adopted by stepfather in 1916, at age 3.
  • Most commonly known as being from Michigan.

Property Facts

  • 3202 Woolworth Avenue was 3-stories and 14 rooms
  • 1971 home burned
  • In 1974, James M. Paxson, prominent Omaha businessman, purchased it with intent to build memorial.
  • Kiosk has 4 historical narrations available.
  • Site dedicated in 1977
  • Rose garden added in 1978
  • Maintained by Omaha Parks and Rec Department
  • Free entrance
  • A Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center sits adjacent to birthplace
  • The Gerald Ford exhibit is open to the public Monday thru Friday, by appointment only. Call 402-595-1180 or email grfcc@nebraska.gov.
  • The conservation labs are not open for public tours.
  • The Ford birth site gardens are available for rent by calling 402-444-5900
  • Hanscom Park is across the street and has a pavilion available for rent

Gene Leahy Pedestrian Mall

1302 Farnam Street, downtown Omaha

Located just to the north of the Old Market in the downtown area. The park sits between the Heartland of America Park on its eastern edge and the W. Dale Clark Library to the West. It is sandwiched between historical buildings and contemporary design, making the surroundings visually interesting.

Interesting Tidbits

  • Also known as Central Park or The Mall
  • Named after former Omaha Mayor Eugene A. Leahy
  • 6 acres
  • Open 5am-11pm
  • Free entrance
  • Playground with steel slides-bring cardboard to go faster
  • Walking paths
  • Lagoon with waterfowl
  • Sculpture art
  • Picnic areas
  • Visit during holiday season when lit up for the season
  • Homeless citizens do occupy the area

Café 110

1299 Farnam Street, Suite 110, corner of 13th and Farnam, near Gene Leahy Mall entrance

Hours: Monday-Friday: 8am-2pm; Closed Saturday; Sunday: 9am-12pm

  • One of best, most affordable breakfasts in Omaha.
  • Known for coffee, tea, Espresso,  smoothies, in-house made soups, sandwiches and salads along with a salad bar, fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Space is energetic and  creative. There is a loft upstairs for reading, etc.
  • Service friendly and efficient.
  • Opened in March 2012 by owner Allan Zeeck. He previously owned Benson Grind.
  • Offers off-site catering and live music.
  • Space can be rented for private parties and events, especially popular during Christmas holiday when Gene Leahy Mall is lit. Reserve early.

Omaha offers a lot of variety for residents. Find your favorite things to do.

LIKE & SHARE this post, making an Omaha outing or Omaha visit easy to plan.

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. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

©Copyright. August 2017. Linda Leier Thomason