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.

 

Did You Land on Omaha’s 2017 Naughty & Nice List?

Annual List Revealed

3rd Annual Naughty and Nice List-With a Twist

As a reader and follower you know each December I release a list of business professionals or organizations that have been great, or not so great, to work with throughout the year.

I also highlight significant events from the year and hold myself accountable by posting “things” I’d like to achieve in the next year.

2017 will be remembered for all of the special activities and occasions that happened. Reflecting back on the year, it seems unreal that all of this happened in just one trip around the sun.

2017 Highlights

• Alex, our son, landed his first post-college career position in Omaha.
• He’s recently got engaged to marry in 2018.
• Brittany, his fiancée, also graduated from college and landed her first teaching assignment with the Omaha Public School system.
• We celebrated Alex’s December 2016 college graduation with a 3-generation trip to Las Vegas in the fall of 2017.
• Ken, my husband, and I honored our 25th wedding anniversary by returning to Antigua-where we honeymooned.
• We attended both the Iowa and Nebraska State Fairs. Everyone should. Great fun and educational.
• Traveled to Hawaii for Ken’s work reward trip. He earned it. Super proud!

Making the 2017 Nice List

Greenberg’s Jewelers
No one in our household claims to know much about jewelry. Therefore, we relied on the professional advice and guidance of Mara Palmquist at Westroads Mall in Omaha for both a 25-year anniversary band and a bridal set. The selection was great. The education and service-top notch.

Crum Cakes Bakery
Elana bakes and decorates to perfection. We ordered a two-tiered cake, one with a peanut butter filling, and iced sugar cookies. Both were delicious and almost too pretty to eat. She takes great pride in both the taste and appearance of her baked goods. We met Elana at the Florence Mill Farmer’s Market. We believe in supporting small business. Maybe you do too.

Jewish Community Center

Wellness and painless mobility were 2017 goals achieved at Omaha’s JCC. The culture of fitness and community attracted me and keep me going back. I’m not Jewish and I’m not treated any differently because of it. All are warmly welcomed in the well-maintained facility with enough activity variety to please all. Special shout outs to:
Tracy Modra, Director of Membership, who patiently worked with me and finally got me there. (All sales people could learn a lot from her.)
Matt Thomas-the Physical Therapist on location. Excellent knowledge. Great communicator.
Breann Lundblad, Fitness Center Director, for letting me box with her. I know she could take me down with one punch but she never lets her superiority show.
The aquatics staff for keeping the pool clean and for ensuring my safety while exercising in the 12’ water. For the first time in years, I have not had an ear infection from pool water. Thank you for keeping your pool area and water clean.

 Travel Faire

This full-service, Omaha-owned and operated travel organization has been in business since 1970. Donna Ahrendsen, Leisure Travel Consultant, helped Ken and I plan a perfect anniversary trip to Antigua. She even ensured both our anniversary and Ken’s birthday were recognized while there. Knowing you have an experienced consultant and a recognized agency beside you while traveling provides the peace of mind every traveler deserves.

 Lauritzen Gardens

I have no good explanation as to why it took us 2.5 years to finally visit this Omaha attraction. Everything about it mirrors our interests. We were simply overtaken by the vast beauty of the natural settings and displays and will return often. It is a sanctuary filled with memorable fragrant scents and sights.

 Jarrod McCartney 

Jarrod is the Heritage Tourism Development Director in Red Cloud, Nebraska. Red Cloud is known as America’s Most Famous Small Town. It’s the home of author, Willa Cather, and more. We visited in summer 2017. It is a thriving community with enviable business support and involvement.

Jarrod organized local businesses and together we conducted a November giveaway to Red Cloud. If you haven’t been to Red Cloud, click the link above and plan a trip.

Naughty List with a Twist

In year’s past, I’ve listed businesses that needed improvement, exclusively in customer service. This year, the twist is, I’m listing behaviors that need improvement. I’m guilty of some of these too. I’ll keep working to do better.

 GREED

It’s bothersome to see greed, especially as individuals rise in organizations. There seems to be amnesia about who’s helped them achieve their goals and earn their bonuses. When little, to none, is given back, it makes those in authority appear greedy and unappreciative and completely out of touch with the process of achievement. It lessens authority and breeds resentment. Create a winning team with gratitude.

NOT KEEPING ONE’S WORD OR COMMITMENT

Honoring one’s word and following through on commitments are signs of character. Not doing so disrespects the person and/or the cause/event you committed to. It lessens you as a person. It makes you untrustworthy. If you’ve committed, follow through, unless there is a legitimate reason not to. And, if so, let the organization or person you’ve committed to know as soon as possible. Many times, your lack of follow-through costs them money. And, leaders, never create incentives and then not deliver them. You’re seen as a liar, or worse yet, someone who gained from the hard work of others but didn’t deliver on the promised incentive.

SUPERFICIALITY

How much time do you take to know someone versus critiquing someone? Do you notice their smile or their clothing first? Do you mingle with the group or do you stand aside and critique? Everyone has a story. Get to know it. Clothing, hair, shoes, etc.-they’re all replaceable. A human story is not.

DISRESPECT PERSONAL PROPERTY

Would your neighbors and/or co-workers call you a good person? Do you respect them and their personal property or are you habitually trespassing? How do you act?  Do you act like your rights and needs trump everyone else’s? Are you neighborly, offering help? Are you considerate? If not, maybe these could be 2018 goals.

LACK OF GRATITUDE

Gratitude is an action verb. It’s a way of life. It takes discipline and practice. It’s more than acknowledging there are starving children in the world while you’re eating dinner. It’s a philosophy. Alex and Brittany received an engagement gift to help practice gratitude. It contained slips of paper and a container. Each day one writes down what he’s grateful for. A definite must-do in 2018.

2018 Goals I’m Willing to Share

Sharing makes one accountable, right?

Here are a few things I’m working toward achieving in 2018.

  • Commitment to fitness and wellness through diet and exercise.
    • 1 night a month out with friends-it’s too easy to depend on social media and texts. Looking someone in the eye still matters.
    • Tipping bathroom attendants at public events. Most do this job with a great attitude. This should be rewarded. Tipping them makes both parties feel good. Try it.
    • Attending my son’s wedding as a guest and living in the moment. (I produced events for decades. Being a guest is new to me.)

Jotting a gratitude note and placing it in a container daily. Photo is gratitude tin as of March 1, 2018. It’s true. One’s perspective does change when stopping to acknowledge what she is grateful for daily.

  • Reading all notes at month’s end.
  • Finishing a book I’m writing. Stay tuned!

So, there you have it. The 2017 List.

The organizations, individuals and businesses that deserve top billing in 2017 and the behaviors that need improvement. 2017 has been a memorable year for all the right reasons. I’m looking forward to 2018. And, I hope you are too.

If you haven’t already, find some quiet time. Reflect on highlights and grateful occurrences in 2017. Make a list. Pull the list out often. Practice gratitude.

How can your life be enhanced in 2018? Set some goals. Strive for them. List them.

It is only through action that goals become reality.

Thank you for following along. If you have a story you’d like to share, contact me. Know an interesting person I should interview, tell me.  See ways my website can be improved, do share.

And, many thanks to all who’ve shared their stories with me in 2017 so I could share them with each of you. I trust you’ve learned from them or been inspired by their words.

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.

Omaha North Hills Pottery Tour

Pottery Tour-1st Weekend in October, Every Year

SAVE THE DATES

Saturday, October 6, 10am – 7pm & Sunday, October 7, 10am – 5pm

Click the bold green live link below to find everything you need to know for the 2017 Omaha North Hills Pottery Tour.

2018 Omaha North Hills Pottery Tour

Below is a review of the 2016 experience.

enzosA funny thing happened on the way to Enzo’s. We discovered a whole new side of Omaha and ditched our previously made weekend plans. It was our first time dining in historic Florence Omaha since relocating 15 months ago. We were eager to experience both the community and the food. Neither disappointed. The restaurant was brimming with people, conversation and aromas, reminding me of Sunday afternoons in the homes of Italian friends. The tiramisu alone will draw us back, often.

Exit 13 off 680 in Northeast Omaha is familiar to us; we take it every time we fly out of Eppley Airfield. But like many, in our hurriedness, we never paid attention to the exit surroundings. That is, until Friday night. 101Pottery Tour yard signs were well posted. Some were placed near a historical looking brown building right under the Morman Bridge one crosses to enter Nebraska from Iowa.

Parks

Saturday morning we headed north off Exit 13 on John Pershing Drive. Surprise! We drove past a Coast Guard station. The Coast Guard was familiar in our former home, Charleston, South Carolina, but a bit of a surprise here. We drove through N.P. Dodge Memorial Park  and explored Hummel Park . Wow! Omaha has done a great job of preserving and using green space.

Florence Mill

Florence MillWe headed back to that brown building: Florence Mill to discover it’s on the National Register of Historic Places. The first Saturday in October it’s a stop on the Omaha North Hills Pottery Tour. Visitors were purchasing pumpkins, having lunch and viewing the work of five artists including, Susan McGilvrey. Susan explained not only the building’s history but also the pottery tour to us. (Thank you, Susan!) We were hooked. Having visited Seagrove, North Carolina’s 365-day pottery show multiple times, there was no way we’d miss this self-guided tour of four stops and 19 clay artists. Off we went.

Dennison Pottery

Dennison Pottery was our second stop on the Tour.  The road there was new d0to us, but clearly not to others. Vehicles lined both sides of the gravel path. Walking up to the shop, one heard jazz sounds by Dan Livingston and the buzz of conversation. Five artists displayed their wares while guests lingered over complimentary soup, wine, and baked goods. Benches and a fire pit invited all to stay, mingle and connect. It was clear many there frequent often. We’d have stayed longer, but there were two more stops on the tour. It was just that welcoming.

Too Far North Wine

Travis Hinton Too Far North Wine in Fort Calhoun, NE was our next stop. One couldn’t miss the location with the well-placed signs and the overflowing crowd loitering outside the store’s entrance. Inside was stuffed with patrons at the wine bar, making the space tight and warm. Travis Hinton and Eric Knoche were busily explaining and selling their wares, but not too busy to engage in meaningful conversation with patrons, including us.

Detour

ccAs an aside, we curiously entered Cure Cooking next door to the wine shop. What a fascinating find! Chad was giving demonstrations and answering questions about upcoming classes. This business is another great example of people pursuing their passion and building a business around it. We wish he and his business much success!

Big Table Studios

bt1The tour ended near Herman, NE at Big Table Studios in the rolling hills above the Missouri River Valley. The farmstead was packed with guests enjoying complimentary pizza, sweets and beverages while visiting and shopping on a cloudy October afternoon. Seven artists displayed their varied outstanding work. Liz Vercruysse‘s  seed pod pieces hanging from trees captured our immediate attention. I wish I’d have met her, or any of the other artists on site.

On the journey back we marveled at how letting go of previously made weekend plans turned the first weekend in October into one of our favorite since relocating. Yes, we will do this  pottery tour again. And, we’ve already invited others to join us on the journey. Will we meet you on the tour?

Comment & Mark Your 2018 Calendar

abaHave you explored the area off Exit 13 on 680? What else should we see and do?

Comment below about your impressions of the pottery tour.

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.

Share this story with others so they can put the Omaha North Hills Pottery Tour on their annual calendar.

 

©Copyright. October 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

1 Weekend of 8 Great Omaha Firsts

An Omaha Weekend to Remember

It was a weekend unlike any of the past 52. There was music, a toast, physical activity and a picnic. Also a hamburger, a priest and hail. And, shoes. Yes, disintegrating shoes.

This year I’ve committed to making time for more celebrations. Celebrating not just special occasions, but milestones. It’s not a New Year’s resolution. I’ve finally come to realize that joy matters. I’ve spent a lot of time working and ignoring milestones. Instead, I rushed to the next one without recognizing the success just achieved.

This past weekend our family experienced 8 firsts in Omaha. I understand it’s probably best to space these experiences out, but sometimes that’s just the way things work out. The difference was I actually lived in each of the moments. That’s a first too, probably the best first of the weekend!

Diana Ross

dianaI’m a Motown girl. Sure, I enjoy all types of music, but there’s something about Motown’s beats and melodies that resonate with my soul. When Ken asked if I’d like to attend our first Omaha concert by taking advantage of half-priced tickets to Diana Ross’s Friday night sold-out concert, my response was immediate and affirmative. “Of course, yes, thank you!” How could I possibly pass up the chance to be serenaded by the founding member and lead singer of the Supremes? The fact that’s she’s 72 was completely lost to my overwhelming desire to hear and sway to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Upside Down,” and 75 minutes of other recognizable hits.

All week we looked forward to sitting in downtown Omaha’s magnificent Orpheum Theater for the first time.  We were excited for our date night and wanted to be respectful of Diva Diana. Ken donned slacks with a long-sleeved, collared shirt and I wore a floor-length summertime dress with wedge heels. Until I didn’t.

Shoes

My first Omaha embarrassing moment happened when opening the car door and stepping onto the searing pavement. I felt a bit off-balance, but grabbed Ken’s hand to make our way across the street. He’s my rock. He centers me. However, the more steps we took, the more I felt like I was tipping over. This sensation isn’t that unusual with the scoliosis curves I carry. But when I looked down and saw a portion of my shredded right wedge heel on the sidewalk, I knew this was greater than spinal curves. Oh Dear! Cork was dropping with each step.

I had a choice to make: Carry on like nothing was happening, turn around and go home, or quickly try to find a shoe store. Without flinching, I chose the shoefirst. I’d go barefoot before missing a Diana Ross concert. By the time I got to the Orpheum restroom, the left shoe heel was also ¾ shredded. Sitting on the stool, I examined both shoes and laughed aloud at the timing of their implosion. Rarely do I wear heels; these expired before I did. I slipped the “flats” back on, exited the restroom, grabbed Ken’s hand and strutted up to our balcony seats. During this entire journey,  I only heard one person utter, “Well, that’s interesting!” Yup. It was.  Despite the shoe calamity, our first Omaha concert was fantastic.

Hamburger

dinkWe ate our first Dinker’s hamburgers on Saturday. Alex, our 21-year-old son who’s here for a summer internship, has been touting this landmark restaurant. Apparently several co-workers frequent the Polish neighborhood eatery and have been lobbying him to as well. Dinker’s didn’t disappoint. After placing orders at the counter, we bellied up to the bar and enjoyed cold beverages with mouth-watering burgers, fries and onion rings. [I had the kiddie burger-more than enough for me.] It felt great to patronize a local establishment with a long family owned history.

Homily

priestWe heard our first homily from newly ordained (June 4, 2016) Father Tobias “Toby” Letak at Saturday evening’s mass at St. James.  Now I know I’m old. Father looks like a kid. He is one. However, watching him say Mass and deliver his homily, I marveled at his deep faith and gift of communication. It will be a joy to support and watch him grow as a church leader and priest. What a great vocational role model for the youth as well.

Champagne Toast

toastSaturday was a year that we moved into our Omaha home. After Mass, I gathered the Thomason men, poured Sparkling Grape Cider into champagne flutes and then we lifted glasses in a toast of gratitude. If you’ve read any of our family’s journey getting to Omaha and into a home, you understand the sentiment behind the toast. It was needed and deserved. Here’s to many more memories in this home!

Hail

Our neighborhood received significant hail in May while we were traveling in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. We obviously didn’t hear or see the hail. The insurance adjuster and seven contractors who’ve been here declared our roof, gutters and window sashes totaled. We are experiencing our first hail claim and house repairs after living here less than a year. Sunday morning, we sat down and put contractor data, by variables, into a spreadsheet to determine who to hire. We are predictably analytical and thorough in our research. It’s who we are. We know this methodology doesn’t work for all, but it always has for us. Let the roofing and other repairs begin.

Basketball

bbSunday was 20 degrees cooler than the previous week where record-setting temperatures soared over 100 degrees. It was a bit much despite our heat and humidity conditioning from decades of living in the Deep South. Like most, we stayed mostly indoors last week. So Sunday, when it was cooler, we felt like escaped convicts and completely overdid it. First, Ken and I walked two miles at Standing Bear Lake. Next, we got Alex and, for the first time, used the basketball court at Hillsborough Park.

Recreational activities are something the three of us joyfully share together. In fact, in Alex’s youth, most Saturdays Ken took him to the grassy common area in the front of our Charleston, SC neighborhood with a trunk full of sporting equipment. It warmed my soul to see them bond while throwing, kicking and putting.  It’s not much different today with the exception of more competitiveness and ribbing. The togetherness and competition still warm my aging soul, though these activities are not as kind on my joints and bones.

Picnic

picnicGoing to our first parish picnic capped off an eventful weekend. Our previous experiences have mostly involved pot-luck events. Not here! A team grilled pork loins and hot dogs, some cooked potatoes and corn, while others deep-fried squash and onions. There also were cookies and melons. A DJ played background tunes, including many Diana Ross hits.  Kids enjoyed a variety of carnival-like games and inflatables. Adults were in the Parish Center playing Bingo in the air-conditioning while others were managing the cake walk outside the church entrance. It was a festive event and one we will return to, for certain.

A weekend is 48 hours. We experienced 8 firsts in Omaha during this time and each was memorable in its own way.

I lived each moment, making each experience more joyful. Another first worth repeating.

©Copyright. July 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Ways Kearney, NE Stole My Heart

I strolled downtown Kearney, Nebraska’s Central Avenue (The Bricks) under the moonlight of a chilly November Friday night feeling like I just happened upon a movie set. It was stunningly still and camera-ready perfect. Nearly all the angle parking spaces were full. Soft rock music streamed from mounted street corner speakers and store front windows were impressively designed-a lost art, but not here. friday night kearney collagePassersby hurried along as crisp leaves swirled over the clean sidewalks illuminated by business signs. The brick roadway made me momentarily listen for sounds of an approaching horse-drawn carriage from foregone days. I’d been told any community west of Omaha was like the “Old West.” Was it? Arriving still savoring the flavors and aromas of dinner at top-rated locally owned family Thai restaurantSuwanneeacross from the picturesque campus of the University of Nebraska-Kearney, I wasn’t expecting to be so captivated by this community of 30,000. But with each block walked, I began thinking, I could see myself stopping, playing and staying here. www.visitkearney.org The housing alone, many with wrap-around front porches, made me homesick for the decades I lived between Georgia and South Carolina-the only thing missing was the moss draping off the expansive front yard maple trees fully swathed in golden-colored leaves.kearney house
Kearney isn’t the “Old West.” Rather it’s a progressive, growing community with offerings to satisfy all. More publicly known as the “Sandhill Crane Capital of the World,” its soul is so much larger and deeper, though that title, in itself, is quite honorable and everyone, once in their lifetime, should experience the migration of the sandhill cranes

5 Reasons I Lost My Heart to Kearney, NE

  1. Hospitality. Without exception, all employees were genuinely hospitable-welcoming me like a member of their extended family; a rare find in today’s service economy. From Brent at the front desk of the newly renovated Best Western Suites and Hotel to handlebar-moustached waiter, Austin, at Suwannee to Bryce, House Manager at The historic World Theatre, to Marilyn Hadley, assisting at the register during the Kaleidoscope of Art-a Benefit Gift Boutique for the Museum of Nebraska Art to Amy at Skeeter Barnes restauranteach was an outstanding ambassador for Kearney, Nebraska. I left desiring to know their life stories, as they lifted my experience at their respective establishments.
  2. Well-Blended. It’s true, having a college in a town adds a certain flavor to the community. But rarely have I seen college, the arts, business, parks and recreation; and new development blended theatre collageso well. After strolling downtown Kearney and enjoying a cocktail at Cunningham’s Journal, I watched 12 short films as part of the Local Filmmakers Showcase presented by Filmstreams in the 1927 historic Masonic Temple Building now housing The World Theatre. The surroundings alone awakened my senses and flashed me back to days in Charleston, South Carolina and Atlanta, Georgia enjoying similar outings. But, I was in Kearney, Nebraska. Having one’s expectations exceeded never tires.
  3. Education. Kearney has to be one of the best communities around for educating unsuspecting visitors. The college is obvious, but spend a couple of hours inside the uniquely engineered structure, The Archway, crossing over 308 feet and 30 feet above busy Interstate 80 and leave as a well-schooled student on the history of western edu collageexpansion in the United States. Exhibits are viewed with volume controlled headsets and include narrations on trailways, railways and highways. One can even glance at the fast-moving I-80 traffic below the archway. Nearby is the Nebraska Fire Fighter’s Museum & Education Center. Filled with firefighting heritage and history and ever-changing exhibits, this museum also honors all EMS and fire providers and memorializes those who made the ultimate sacrifice in a quiet, well-appointed location behind the museum. The value a community places on education is often seen in its library. On an early Saturday afternoon, the Kearney Library was filled with citizens of all ages: reading, working on computers or being assisted by friendly, capable librarians. Well done, Kearney. Well done.
  4. Appealing Green Spaces. Kearney boasts four beautiful golf courses and 14 parks. A drive around the city reveals meticulously well-maintained green spaces being enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels.park collage Yanney Park is a first-class donor driven park in southwest Kearney near the Kearney Regional Medical Center. With the mission of “developing the finest family park between Omaha and Denver,” Yanney Heritage Park includes a Tower, labyrinth, a splash and playground, a Garden, an Amphitheater, a Bridge, a Senior Activity Center and so much more. For a community of this size, Yanney Park is a major “Wow” factor-one to be greatly applauded.
  5. Hub and Spoke. Within a short drive of Kearney, one can easily visit fort collageother attractions and return to the hub city of Kearney for the night. Case in point: Fort Kearney State Historical Park & Fort Kearney State Recreational Area are six miles southeast of Kearney on Highway 50A.The Rowe Sanctuary & The Iain Nicolson Audubon Center is also nearby. All worth visits.

Like most cities, Kearney has plenty of excellent lodging, restaurants and shopping-much of it near I-80. It takes a bit of work to discover the soul of a community and lose your heart to it. I did in Kearney, Nebraska and I suspect you will as well on your next visit.

Stop. Play. Stay. ™ www.visitkearney.org

You will not be disappointed.

©Copyright. November 2015. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

Done in cooperation with Kearney Visitors Bureau.

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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.