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.

 

 

 

 

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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Natural Setting 25 Miles North of Omaha at DeSoto

DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge

Overview

DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge’s primary purpose is to serve as a stop-over for migrating ducks and geese. Most years, large amounts of waterfowl and other migratory birds use the refuge as a resting and feeding area during their fall and spring migrations between the northern nesting grounds and the southern wintering areas.

Peak populations of 50,000 or more ducks, mostly mallards, are common on the refuge during the fall migration.

Late October through early December are the months of peak waterfowl use, with smaller concentrations of ducks and geese returning in March and early April

Address

1434 316th Lane
Missouri Valley, IA 51555

Directions

25 miles north of Omaha, NE. From Omaha take Interstate 29 north to U.S. Highway 30, Exit 75 at Missouri Valley, continue west on US Hwy 30 for 5 miles to the refuge entrance. Or take US Hwy 75 North to Hwy 30, going east 5 miles to the refuge entrance on DeSoto Avenue.

Phone Number

712.388.4800

Fee

$3.00 per vehicle

Hours

Refuge Open 1/2 hour before sunrise and closes 1/2 hour after sunset

Visitor Center  9:00AM-4:30PM daily

Closed  Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Note

The migration  season is October 15-April 14, limiting access to ceretain areas on the Refuge.

Museum Display

Things To Do at DeSoto

  • Hike the Trails
  • Take Bicycling or Driving Tour
  • Fish (April 15th-October 14th)
  • Bird Watch (Bring Binoculars)
  • Photography
  • Ice Fishing (January 2-end of February, annually, conditions permitting)
  • Gather Mushrooms
  • Hunting (Check website for details)
  • Observe Wildlife (Shhh! Silence attracts more wildlife)

    Bob Starr Wildlife Overlook
  • Visit the Bertrand Discovery Site
  • Picnic
  • Boat
  • Watch Video and See Museum Displays in Visitor Center, including thousands of cargo items excavated from the Bertrand Steamboat, which sunk in 1865 and was discovered a century later.

Prohibited

  • Firearms
  • Open Fires
  • Camping

Bring on Your Visit to DeSoto

  • Sunscreen
  • Insect Repellant
  • Water
  • Binoculars
  • Cash for gift shop
  • Picnic lunch/food
  • Walking Stick
  • Hat
  • Closed Toe Walking Shoes

Visited late April 2018 after Spring migration. Trails extremely well maintained. Very cool breeze. Few visitors at sunrise. Museum well worth visiting. Educational. Architecture of building alone worth the visit. Indoor restrooms available. Make time to view the short film . Gift shop.

©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 this form below.

 

Outdoorsman Living Life to the Fullest

Outdoorsman Photographer Advocate

Sam at WorkSam Soholt, 30, has lived out of duffle bags and totes since early 2014. He travels 95% of the year working as a professional photographer and videographer in the hunting and outdoor industry. His images allow clients to tell their story visually.

The only material things Sam really needs are a camera and a toothbrush- “one to make a living and the other so clients will want to talk to me.”

For a guy with no formal photography training, Sam has landed world-wide assignments and magazine covers through hard work and networking. He’s traveled across New Zealand, Patagonia, British Columbia, Central Montana, South Dakota and other places taking images and creating lifetime memories. “Every photo puts me back into a specific moment. It’s a great way to keep memories and emotions fresh.”

Becoming an Outdoorsman

A native of Sioux Falls, South Dakota and current Montana resident, Sam spent the majority of his time in nature being adventurous. He grew up hunting with father and brother. “There was almost never a question I’d end up doing something in the hunting industry.”

Combining his two passions-hunting and photography-while making a living is the purest form of cultivating a life for himself.

Sam’s is well-educated and disciplined. He earned both bachelors and master’s degrees in business from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND. And, he’s a high school and collegiate award-winning track and field athlete.

He’s willing to take career risks and enter new areas with a “trial by fire” approach.

Right Place. Right Time.

Sam learned the basics as a graduate school intern with an Iowa hunting show. He’s watched YouTube videos and dissected photographic images trying to understand how the photographer shot the photo.

He’s met the right people at the right time. His first big break in the industry was shooting for Coast Guard Alaska in Kodiak. “I had $56 to my name when I hopped on the plane. But, I’ve had the support and encouragement to take risks.” He also had the confidence to know he could get a “regular job” if things didn’t work out.

They do work out though. Sam met the editor of Wildfowl Magazine in an Idaho bear camp. He happened to show him a few photos of duck hunting from the previous fall. That meeting landed him a magazine cover shot-a huge deal for photographers.

Not all Bliss Being Outdoorsman

Sam fights the misperception that “life is one big dream” for him. He admits to living an exciting and adventurous lifestyle. However, there are times where he doesn’t care for the more mundane tasks. “I spend more time behind a computer and on the phone than in the field.” This is a job. It’s work.

Outdoorsman with a Cause

For the next year Sam’s living in a bus-one he bought and retrofitted for a cause. It’s his hunting cabin and means to travel to public lands where he spends time hunting, fishing and recreating while capturing and sharing what those lands have to offer.

He’s partnered with like-minded organizations Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA), Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) and Outdoor Life to capture people’s attention and gain maximum exposure for his cause.

He’s been a bit surprised, however, with how long it takes while driving a bus from Point A to Point B. Yet, he’s committed to the year’s work.

Save Public Land

He’s out to educate citizens on the need to protect public lands. This land is owned by the people of the USA but managed at a state or federal level. “These lands are a free way to connect to nature and spend time in wild places.” Also, losing public lands would be losing his way of life. “I find adventure and relaxation in the wild. I don’t have to ask permission to spend time on those lands.”

Sam says he’s received overwhelming positive support for “what I am up to. People from all over the country and world have reached out in support.” His strongest supporters are sportsmen and women ages 30-60. “This group has done so much to protect wildlife and hunting heritage in the country. It’d be hard to see any of this work being thrown to the wayside.”

Predictably, the loudest opposition stems from resource extraction companies like oil, gas and electric. “These people would like to be the ones to buy up all this land and increase the amount of resources they pull from it.”

Call to Action

If you’re interested in supporting his mission, you can do so by:

  • Following along on Instagram @samsoholt
  • Purchasing a t-shirt. $5 from every sales goes to Backcountry Hunters and Anglers publictees.com.
  • Joining a conservation group like BHA, RMEF, Mule Deer Foundation, etc.

 

Sam Soholt is chasing his dreams and ambitions. He’s comfortable taking risks on things that may or may not work out. And he’s living up to the quote, “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to live a life.”

ARE YOU?

SHARE Sam’s story. Tell me yours below.

©Copyright. October 2017. 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 this form below.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 Day Trips & Kosher Sex Make a Great Weekend

You won!

Sex or 2 day trips-it doesn’t matter why you opened this story. Your life is enhanced by both. You won already.

Instead of roaming out of the state or region consider a Staycation-a period of time where you stay home and participate and support communities and events within driving distance of your home. Or, at least, take 2 day leisure drives to discover hidden gems surrounding your community.

Here are 2 day trips my husband Ken and I made recently from our Northwest Omaha, Nebraska home. Click on the links for more information to plan your 2 day trips.

Day Trip #1  of  2 Day Trips

Olde Towne Elkhorn, Nebraska 

Located about 14 miles Northwest of Omaha in Western Douglas County, Olde Town Elkhorn provides both vintage charm and a contemporary spirit to visitors.

On a near 70 degree February morning, we walked  at Elkhorn’s Ta-Ha-Zouka Park. This multi-purpose park has trails, a skate park, tennis courts, soccer, baseball and football fields as well as a well-used playground area.

Then we drove a short distance to the  historic square, literally visiting each shop. We enjoyed a cup of coffee and cookie while chatting with Little Scandinavia shop owner, Leona Anderson. Her shop brims with unique and fun Scandinavian items, including Dale of Norway sweaters and uncommon food items.

Fine artist, Jane Kathol, at Main Street Studios and Gallery is an outstanding ambassador for not only the Main Street Studios and Gallery but also Elkhorn. We enjoyed learning about the history of the building that houses the Gallery, the work of the artists within it and about upcoming events, including the “Ladies’ Day Out” event from 10-5 on Saturday, March 25, 2017. Who knew there was so much artistic talent on display in Elkhorn, Nebraska? Do yourself a favor and visit Olde Towne Elkhorn.

We were lucky enough to meet Megan Thomas when stepping into Two Birds Bakery before their noon closing time. They are only open to the public on Saturdays. Stop in and get a fresh cup of coffee and a homemade treat.

Other Places We Visited in Olde Towne Elkhorn, NE

Garden Gallery

Andrea’s Designs

Kimba’s Touch Pottery

Fala’s Treasures & Coffee House

Other businesses we saw included:

Bellissimo Salon & Spa

This & That & Other Stuff

Whistle Stop Country Store -opening again March 4, 2017

Restaurants in Olde Towne Elkhorn, NE

We tried Boyd and Charlies BBQ and sat in a window seat overlooking the meat smoking outdoors. We look forward to going back to try the others, including:

Bella Vita an Italian Bistro

Shevy’s Sports & Steaks

Maximo’s Cantina

Fala’s Treasures and Coffeehouse

Kosher Sex

We found Rabbi Shmuley’s Kosher Sex movie on Amazon Prime Video purely by accident that Saturday evening.  I’ve always admired and appreciated Rabbi Shmuley’s Jewish wisdom, though I’m Catholic. I’ve been a fan of his relationship common sense and bluntness since seeing him decades ago on an Oprah show. This movie ends with his discussing SANER sex-Sensuality, Attraction, Nakedness, Eroticism and Romance. It’s worth watching regardless of your religious beliefs or marital status. We’ve been married nearly 25 years and each felt we gained something and that it was time well spent. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you can see Rabbi Shmuley here:

Day Trip #2: Southwest Iowa

Plan ahead for Sunday drives. Some businesses may be closed.

We took out the Atlas and literally chose 3 towns at random to visit. Glenwood, Malvern and Mineola, Iowa.

I visited Chamber of Commerce websites for each location and had a list of restaurants and recreation areas that seemed interesting. What surprised me most was the number of boutiques and galleries in these small communities.

Glenwood, Iowa

Over 5000 people live in this Loess Hills town that we easily accessed off I-29.

Tom & Tiff’s Family Restaurant in Glenwood, Iowa has been in business over 20 years and, according to online reviews, is known for their onion rings and broasted chicken. We had both, and agree! Every seat in this place (One street off the main highway through town) was occupied the entire time we were there. The pies also looked wonderful, but we had no room left. The service was efficient and polite, reminiscent of small towns where owners appreciate and value one’s business and hard earned dollar.

On our next visit we hope to visit Mitzi Mo’s Boutique, Second Helpings Boutique and the Vine Street Cellars.

The 45 acre Glenwood Lake Park is a sunny day treat. In addition to the beautiful waterfront grounds it has a 750-seat amphitheater and a museum. Stop in. Walk. Swing. Get some fresh air.

Malvern, Iowa

This town of 1100+ people is 38 miles southeast of Omaha, Nebraska and is on the Wabash Trace Nature Trail.

We were drawn to the art and cultural feel of the community. Stained glass windows in churches and a mural on the side of a car wash intrigued us. We proceeded down an alley and found painted bicycles doubling as planters and found a jewel in Marge Boska. Marge is the Proprietor of Fine Arts on 5th Gallery and Studio. She was preparing for an art class but took time to share the history and restoration story of her building. She invited us to look at the art displayed by numerous talented artists, including one from Russia.

We peeked in the window of Classic Cafe & Catering, knowing we will return. We’ve heard they make great Bloody Mary’s. We were invited into Moreau’s Backerei & Pizzeria by Fred who was preparing for a private party (They’re closed on Sunday.) The German pizza smelled absolutely fantastic! Eventually we will get a slice.

We also window peeked into Rural Roots Boutique. Great window display!

Mineola, Iowa

Mineola is an unincorporated village in Mills County, Iowa with a population of under 200. We took a quick drive around the area and noted the large number of vehicles in front of Tobey Jacks‘ Mineola Steak House-another return destination.

We saw multiple bicyclists and joined them on the Wabash Trail. The scenery on bicycle or foot is amazing and can only improve when green.

 

On our drive back we drove through the campus of the Iowa School for the Deaf before hopping back on I-29 North to our West Omaha home.

No matter where you live there is much to see and do in your surrounding area. Plan a Staycation. Plan a 2-day Saturday and/or Sunday drive. Support small businesses and local artists.

Share your journey with me so I can share it with others, and visit too.

Need help promoting your art, small business, town or community? Contact me. I write website and promotional copy and take photographs to support it. Let’s work together!

 

Faith, Family & Farming: McCook, Nebraska

Pillars of Southwest Nebraska Community

townI spent 22 hours covering every square inch, and then some, of McCook-a city of nearly 8000 and the county seat of Red Willow County, Nebraska. My goal on any undercover visit is to discover the heartbeat of the community-what makes it thrive, what does it value and how is it different from anywhere else.

I left McCook with a clear understanding that Faith, Family and Farming are the pillars in this Go-To city in Southwest Nebraska.

Origin

Established in 1882 as a railroad center halfway between Denver and Omaha, McCook remains a regional trade hub for Northwest Kansas and Southwest Nebraska. Residents in this rural area flock to McCook for shopping, dining, education, entertainment, medical services and more.

Red Willow County was named for the Red Willow Creek, which is a tributary of the Republican River. The name is reported to be mistranslated from the Dakota Indian name Chanshasha Wakpala, which literally means Red Dogwood Creek. The Dakota referred to the creek as such because of an abundance of red dogwood shrub that grew along the creek banks. Its stem and branches are deep red in color and favored in basket making.

History & Trendy

The city has seamlessly blended history and modernization. In fact, the two often co-exist, as seen at The Loop Brewing Company, a former railroad beericehouse that in 2011 became a brewery and restaurant with an active railway within a few feet of its front door. The Loop was at near capacity when I arrived to enjoy a beer flight and brick oven pizza shortly after 8 pm on an unseasonably 38 degree rainy night.

Norris Avenue (The Bricks) is perhaps the best example of this perfect blend of history and hip. The historical walking tour includes, in addition to other sites, the Fox Theatre and Museum of High Plains & Carnegie Library  as well as the Norris House-a museum for its namesake, the late Senator George W norrisNorris. Go a bit south to find the trendy women’s clothing store Mint 217 and the fabulous Knowlen and Yates cooking and kitchenware store. While touring, you’ll also find the H.P. Sutton Home-the only house in Nebraska designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, which today is a private residence. Venture off “The Bricks” on East B Street and discover The Painted Ladies. This home décor and painted furniture store owned by three friends is right on trend and proves that no matter how far you live from a metropolitan area, you can keep up with the trends and be just as “cool” as anyone else. West B Street finds you at Farrells Pharmacy and Hallmark Store where the best prescription here is customer service.

Gold Star Service

In fact, every business I entered deserves a gold star for customer service. flipSure, in a community this size where folks likely know one another, I’m certain I stood out. Instead of making me feel like an outsider, every encounter was quite the opposite. “Welcome. Is there something I can help you find?” Good old-fashioned customer service still exists, at least in McCook. Equally impressive was, “Thank you for stopping in and for visiting McCook.”

Well done business owners! Your employees are impressively well-trained.

Family

pianoNo matter where I dined during my visit, I was always a party of two surrounded by large family groups. Lunching at Sehnert’s Bakery & Bieroc Cafe was an extraordinary experience. Yes, the Jiffy Burger, especially the freshly baked bun, was exceptional as were the pastries, and I mean plural, but the sense of community in the establishment is something of day’s long gone. The ownership here has taken great care in creating a gathering place that oozes community.

After ordering, coffee-sipping customers caught up with one another in front of the pastry display cases while waiting for their lunch. As one moves to the dining area, a framed poster on “How to Build Community” greets all diners. tallThe message of the poster was perfectly put into action in the Café. Greetings were exchanged between and across tables and remarkably diners of all ages sat at the Café’s piano filling the room with background sounds deserving of a much larger audience, though greatly appreciated by their current one, which applauded after each performance.

Throughout my 22 hours as a first-time visitor, everything I saw and experienced in McCook was new, but my time in this Café left the strongest impression on me. It’s something I wish for every community. One person and one business can make a difference in building community.

Faith

Churches (20) of nearly every faith are represented in McCook. I visited St. glassPatrick’s Catholic Church. The doors were open-a rare find today in a town of any size. As with most communities, the churches in McCook appear to foster social capital and provide needed services as well as a moral compass for the city.

 

Farming

mooMy visit included a drive by schools, city hall, a senior center and nursing home, the community college, hospital, airport, golf course, and parks. I visited the library and the Burlington Northern and Amtrak station as well as two surrounding state recreation areas: Red Willow Reservoir and Medicine Creek. No matter where I went, I observed and understood the role agriculture plays in this area’s economy.

grainApproaching McCook on Highways 6 & 34 East, one’s senses are awakened by the aromas of feed lots and rich wet soil ; sights of windmills, irrigation systems and massively-sized, sophisticated-looking grain bins, and the sounds of bellowing cows and rumbling trains. Farming is vital and omnipresent in this region.

4hThe Red Willow County Fairgrounds, which house the Kiplinger Arena, spoke to the heart of McCook. Here young citizens learn both the values and lessons of farming and citizenship from adults who hold dear the same lessons shared by their predecessors.

Go-To McCook

golfMcCook is the Go-To City of Southwest Nebraska built on a foundation of faith, family and farming. Go to McCook. Awaken your senses, engage in conversation with the locals, shop their trendy stores, walk the Heritage Square, play in their well-kept parks and dine in one of many great eateries.

Experience a textbook example of community.

You will leave McCook a more enlightened person than when you came.

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. May 2016. Linda Leier Thomason.

All Rights Reserved.

This undercover study was done in cooperation with McCook/Red Willow County Tourism.

 

Nominate your community for an undercover study by contacting me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Listening?

Waking Early To the Amazing Sights & Sounds of Nature 

Awakened by a symphony of birds in the backyard.

Even the wind chimes remained motionless not to disturb the bird songs.
Wind chimes remained motionless so as not to disturb the music.

The setting was brilliant in the early morning sunrise.
Brilliant setting in morning sunrise.

The fountain provided background music.
The fountain provided background sounds.

Apparently I wasn't the only one listening.
All welcome to listen.

Even inanimate objects seemed magical.
Even inanimate objects seemed magical.

All were drawn to the sounds.
The diverse audience amused me.

Soloist.
Soloist in the spotlight.

Robin duet was extra special.
Eager to join the group.

 

I was just going to open the screen door and allow some fresh, crisp, early morning, fall air into the house as I  pushed through my morning routine. Instead, I was drawn to a symphony performed by a mix of birds and an equally diverse audience. I grabbed my camera to capture the event, now wishing I’d have turned on the recorder and captured the sounds. It was a great lesson in pausing to listen. Had I not been so drawn to the variety of bird sounds, I’d have missed the event and all the surrounding activity and beauty.

What else is missed when not pausing to listen?

Pause. Look. Listen.

Life passes by too quickly not to appreciate magical moments.

Looking for more images like these, check out “Linda’s Store”. Any of these photographs can be placed on products to use yourself or gift to others. As a small business owner, I appreciate your support.

 Copyright October 2015 Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.