Do My Stretch Marks Gross You Out?

I never got stretch marks when I was pregnant. In fact, I lost so much weight during the pregnancy I weighed less at Alex’s birth than I did in high school. That’s a whole ‘nother story. But, I definitely got more stretch marks in 2015 than in any other recent year. These marks I’m proud to show and tell about

What stretched you in 2015? What’s on your 2016 list for your personal growth and development? I prefer the term stretch marks to resolutions. How about you?

2015 Stretch Marks
1. I learned how to swim-a lifelong goal and one I blogged about in May 2015 under the category “scoliosis.” Nothing gave me more confidence up to that point in 2015 than this achievement. Many thanks to swim instructor, Tonya, for the training, coaching and motivation.
2. I birthed a website and blog in 2015. Like first time parents, this experience stretched me in all kinds of ways. Some days I rejoiced; others I cowered, and yet others I questioned my sanity for thinking I was cut out for this technical adventure. I love written expression and helping others share their stories through written words. For the most part, it’s been a tremendous success. What I quickly learned is writing is only a small part of having a successful website and blog. The technical and marketing aspects are equally, if not greater, in importance. And, I thank you for joining me on this journey and appreciate all the shares, comments and contributions you’ve made along the way. Keep up the good work, and I will do my best too.
3. Along with the website and technical challenges came learning to trust “remote” support professionals, including those in other countries whom I’ve never met or spoken to. It’s amazing how small our world is when one agrees to meet virtually.
4. I took my first online course on writing for the Internet in 2015. And, I did it in the midst of a major family transition. I missed direct interaction with the instructor and students. However, I enjoyed being able to log in when it was most convenient for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the teaching methods. Taking quizzes, contributing to discussion boards and preparing for a final-well those required dusting off cobwebs. Great fun! Great stretch mark. “A” on final.
5. Linda’s store on the website is major stretch mark. First, I had to shoot all the images and prepare them technically so they could be uploaded and then printed on products. Uff-da! That was a lot of work, but worth all of it. I hope you enjoy viewing the images and will consider placing an order through the store. It’s my small business at work and I thank you for supporting it and all other small businesses.
6. Contacting tourism agencies was another noteworthy stretch mark. As the year progressed, it became quite clear that my passion is visiting and promoting mid to small town America. More than that, I thrive on assessing the culture and heartbeat of a community and promoting it to followers who want to venture to and explore off-the-beaten-path places. This requires my cold calling or contacting tourism agencies and chamber of commerce organizations to collaborate with me. If you’d like me to visit your town and promote it to future tourists, tell me whom to contact. I will. I love travel. I love promotion. I love writing and I certainly enjoy seeing small towns gain additional revenue from visitors.
7. My palate was stretched in 2015. I tried Indian and Ethiopian food along with cuisine from Afghanistan and authentic Mexican fare. Thankfully my husband eats what I prepare and we’ve been enjoying expanding our food selections and preparing it in healthier ways. Recipes can be found under that tab on the website.
8. I was able to work with my husband, Ken, again for one night in 2015 as we shared red carpet interviewer roles for a corporate event. microphoneWe’d worked together for over 20 years before the business was purchased. This one night confirmed my passion for helping others tell their stories, even if only in sound bites on the red carpet. I hadn’t done this type of work in years and the preparation stretched me more than the event did. Once I hit the red carpet, I felt like I was home. I want to do it again!
9. Relocating stretched me in so many ways. I had to let go of “things” to simplify the move and re-learn that what matters most are the people in the room, not the room or the things in it. I’m afraid to say moving was “fun” for fear it will happen sooner rather than later, but approaching another move in 2015 with a different mindset completely de-stressed the process.
10. Home and furnishing purchases considerably stretched me in 2015. Realizing this may be the last time I purchase a house or furnishings touched me at my core. It took longer to find the ideal house because certain features like ranch style were not a choice, but a necessity. Understanding one’s own aging is not for the lighthearted.
11. Other than my own family perhaps, nothing opened my heart more or gave me greater joy in 2015 than being randomly boyzcalled out to dance with BoyzIIMen during their Las Vegas concert. Despite hosting a website and writing a blog, I am a private person who dances in the kitchen with the curtains drawn. I shun the spotlight at all cost. So, to accept the offer to dance in front of a sold out crowd and have my moves projected on big screens for all to analyze, was definitely a stretchable moment. Accepting the invitation on the spur of the moment rather than waving it off is more meaningful to me than the dancing, though I relished every part of that too.
12. The role shift as a mother stretched me most in 2015. Part of me grieves the loss of nurturing while the other part is purely at peace knowing our son, Alex, has found a partner who loves him equally as his parents.britt The calls for information, support and conversation have dwindled. I know these now go to the “other woman” in his life. We love her for what she is in Alex’s life and we celebrate the times we share together. Without speaking about it in technical terms, we all know and accept the role shifts, sometimes with more grace than others. My days of caretaking for a son will one day perhaps be reversed and that’s a role shift that will stretch me too.

I’m starting to create my 2016 list. So far I’ve listed: learn to play pickle ball, travel to the Pacific Northwest and visit at least 8 small to mid-sized towns to promote on my blog. Do you have any other suggestions to add? What would you like me to do and then blog about? Please share. I’m open to hearing your suggestions and trying new things, except skydiving that is.

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. December 2015. Linda Leier Thomason
All Rights Reserved.

School Shooting In Rural America

First Year Teacher Shares Incident Experience

Sarah is a first year teacher and daughter of a veteran police officer. She knew of crime but never realized she’d be so close to a shooting until a student opened fire inside her school during her 1st month on the job. This is Sarah’s account of September 30, 2015 in rural Harrisburg, South Dakota, population 5000.

I’ll never forget this day. I was supervising a study hall of diligent students when just after 10:00 AM; the intercom came on with static and white noise. Quickly following was the administrative assistant’s voice saying, “We are in lockdown. We are in lockdown.” She did not yell, but panic was heard in her voice. In fact, still today, over and over in my head, I hear how she said those words. Instantly I knew this was not a drill. Instead, a real incident was happening somewhere in the school.

Immediately I instructed my classroom of 25 students to get as close to the back wall as possible so they were not in direct site from the door. As they moved, I ran to shut and lock the door, turn the lights off and close all the shades. The next few minutes of uncertainty felt like an eternity. Students rightfully asked if this was a drill and what was going on. I had no answers. Finally our principal, who I later learned had just been shot, came on the intercom announcing the person causing the lockdown was apprehended and authorities were enroute.

All breathed a sigh of relief knowing with near certainty we were no longer in danger. Then I realized my loved ones, who’d in all likelihood heard about
the shooting, were probably trying to find out if I was okay, only I didn’t
have my cellular phone. For once, I was thankful for social media because I took to Facebook to contact my friends and family, letting them know that my students and I were safe.

I was on the job a month when this incident happened. I never imagined having to follow active shooter procedures ever while teaching, let alone in the first month of my career. The staff had practiced a lockdown drill just two weeks prior to the shooting so I knew what to do in the classroom that day and automatically did as we were taught.

September 30th I became a more confident teacher. Confidence in the classroom and relationship building with students typically come with time and success. Ironically, this experience jump-started both. I know, if faced with a similar incident, I will be confident in my actions. That morning those 25 students and I bonded and I feel closer to them now then I think most teachers in their first month of their first year could wish for.

I will admit that on the day of the shooting I really didn’t have any feelings about it. But the next day, when seeing the students and our principal, who thankfully was only slightly injured, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of what happened and the realization of how it could have been much worse for all.

October 1, 2015 when I got home from school, I learned of the Oregon college campus shooting and what happened the day before at our school really hit me hard. I thought to myself how easily that could have been my school, and my students. Yes, all of us at Harrisburg High School went through a traumatic event but it could have been a tragic event as well.

I was thankful then that I am close to my family. Some of my co-worker’s families live in other states and could only communicate through telephone or text messaging. I was lucky enough to have my family in the same city, offering me support and talking me through this incident.

I believe one of the biggest factors in this situation was that the student doing the shooting was new to the school. No one really had a chance to know him. And it is hard to say why he chose to use this act of violence with the limited background information we had on him.

What I can say is that parents should always be mindful of what their teenagers are doing and who they are hanging out with. As a sister to a brother seven years younger, I know keeping tabs on teenagers can be challenging because they don’t always want to talk to their parents. As a teacher I try to develop relationships right away with my students so they feel comfortable opening up to me about their struggles in and outside of school.

I don’t know if I am really the right person to dispense warning signs indicating a child might be considering an act of violence. I will say parents should try their best to be involved in their children’s lives and to pay attention to how they normally act. If abrupt change is noticed, it would be best for all to sit down right away and talk about it. As a teacher, and also someone who not too long ago was a teenager, I do know students absolutely want their parents to be involved and to talk to them, even though they may appear resistant and non-receptive.

Today I feel safe at Harrisburg High School. How I enter the school and go about my day has not changed. Honestly, being in lockdown was the last thing I ever expected when I decided to be a teacher. Yet, September 30, 2015 changed so many things for me. Teaching is as much about my learning as it is educating my students. That day I both taught and learned and I’m more confident for the experience.
What message would you like to convey to Sarah and all teachers? Leave a comment below.

©Copyright. October 2015. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

If you’d like to contribute as a guest, contact me at llthomason60@gmail.com.

BIG Life on North Dakota Farm

DSC_0053.1
Klarisa Glasser, Photographer

By guest contributor-Bonnie Schantz.
Farming is big in North Dakota, and so is family. And when something big is about to happen on a ND farm, it causes a lot of excitement. BIG for me is when all our kids and grand kids gather, especially since one of the twins lives 3000 miles away and hasn’t been back for two years.

For this reunion trip back to ND, Michael’s carrying more than his backpack from Boston: his wife and our 9-month-old grandson are in tow. We’re truly blessed as parents and grandparents as nothing makes my husband, Chester, and I happier than when our “chickens come home to roost.”
Our children enjoy spending time together. Our eldest son, Jordan, who lives an hour away from our farm moved his camper here so his family could spend more time here and less on the road. Amanda’s family commuted 70 miles between Bismarck and the farm.
Little did we know that our reunion would be disrupted by big events. Despite these, we stuck together, laughed through each and created lifetime memories. It started out with a six row honeycomb discovered on the corner of the house. As a farmer’s wife, it saddened me to see the local bee keeper destroy this because of the severe bee shortage, essential to pollination. But to protect the grandchildren around the house, he advised us that capturing bees in a wooden hive would take days and could be dangerous for the kids. So, it was destroyed.
Insects are apparently attracted to my family. Shortly after Michael arrived, he was repeatedly texting his physician. Finally he admitted he had a blood test before leaving and just learned he tested positive for Lyme Disease, though he never found a bite on his body. So, he made a ‘beeline’ to the local pharmacy for his 21 day treatment. Oh boy!
Michael wasn’t the only one facing health challenges during the homecoming. Chester, 67, became ill three weeks before everyone arrived. He suffered with a high fever and body aches for days. Even after a couple of trips to the ER, the local doctor remained stumped. Antibiotics, lots of fluids and two and a half weeks of bed rest helped nurse him back to better health. Though weak, he was able to enjoy the family gathering, sneaking in a nap or two. Having his kids and grand kids home was enough for Chester to jump off the farm equipment and tend to his health-a rare behavior near harvest time.

Klarisa Glasser, Photographer
Klarisa Glasser, Photographer

Not certain as to when all 12 will be able to gather again, I couldn’t let this time go by without capturing photos of our togetherness on the family farm. Our house never would have worked as a backdrop because it looked like a closet exploded while getting everyone ready for the photographer to arrive. All willingly agreed to do the photo session outdoors and since farming is our heritage, we included a few rusty old junk yard tractors.

On Sunday we invited extended family and hosted a potluck for 33, which included frying fleishkeukle (German beef pocket) on the patio. Lloyd, my brother-in-law, offered to bring a deep fryer and be the chef since Michael requested it. That is what German Russian families do-celebrate family with food, including German potato salad. As I watched everyone interacting, my heart was full and ready to burst. This was my big family sharing a big meal, and I never felt more pride as the mother and oldest sister of this group.
After five nights it was time to take the travelers to the airport. Hugs and kisses were exchanged and a little of my heart went with them. I didn’t get time to be sad, as I had laundry and cleaning to do as I prepared to watch Jordan’s two kids while he and his wife attended the 75th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. They play so well together and I treasure listening, watching and sometimes joining in. I let them jump in the mud puddles after it rained, ride bike, dance to a Michael Jackson tape and make a fort out of lawn chairs. In between I would send up a prayer for a safe return of their parents. The excitement of the previous week continued with the discovery of three bats in our glass enclosed fireplace. The day after, the dishwasher broke.
That’s life on a ND farm. It’s been a hectic six weeks with lots of activity-bees, Lyme Disease, sick husband, bats in the fireplace, broken dishwasher and even a broken ceiling fan. But as Chester said, “At least we’re still alive!” That’s why I love him. He has ND farmer perspective. All the family was together. He feels better, as does Michael who returned safely to Massachusetts. The grand kids didn’t even have a scrape on them when their motorcycle-riding parents returned from South Dakota. I cherished this extra time with my grand kids and secretly shed a tear when I overheard him read a story to his younger sister. Does this mean my bedtime story reading days are over?
I know some believe North Dakota is a wide open prairie with nothing to do. That’s okay. For me, North Dakota is a big farming state with big families with big hearts. I was happy to have mine all gathered around me, even as I prepare to gather a big harvest to feed this big country.
Reis Girls July 2014 127Bonnie Huber Schantz is a chic farmer’s wife of 44 years, living with Chester on their 6000 acre grain farm near Hebron, ND. She is the mother of three, including a set of twins, and grandmother of four. She is Chester’s support, doing payroll, monthly expense accounting, taking hot meals to six men in the field at harvest, helping maintain the 6 acre farmstead and motoring to their “retirement” home in Bismarck to mow the lawn. She enjoys the freedom of being able to be fill-in day-care for the grand kids and watching the 4th segment of the Today Show, while enjoying a good cup of coffee.

If you would like to be considered a guest contributor, contact me: 

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 above.

11 Can’t Miss Stops off HWY 11- South Central North Dakota

trailers hwy 11Never fails! Summer flies and school bells ring.  A visit to South Central North Dakota grandparents signals the end of carefree days and return to routine.  The rich colorful beauty of ND is best seen in August. It’s true that the landscape of the state has changed drastically. The Bakken Oil Fields out west have whipped North Dakota into a frenzy even on the eastern two-lane highways as manufactured housing is trucked in to meet temporary population demands in the oil area, annoying native drivers accustomed to wide open prairies. Don’t let all the noise about Western ND prevent you from experiencing these 11 stops off Highway 11 in South Central ND. Take a camera.  Pull over. Breathe. Preserve the stillness. Commit the beauty to memory. Here You Go!

cattle hwy 11#1. Agriculture is the #1 industry in ND. Cruising wharvest hwy 11est on HWY 11 from 281 North, stop and appreciate the livestock, the Hay hwy 11sunflower fields and harvesting.

#2. Wishek Sausage. Stan’s SuperValu, a family owned and operated neighborhood grocery store in Wishek, ships product to 48 states. In a city of under 1000, Stan’s is a destination stop for those craving the secret ingredients in Wishek sausage.

#3. CC Photo Hwy 11Golf in Napoleon. Take a detour on HWY 3 North off HWY 11 outside of Wishek, grab the clubs and hit the links on this 9-hole regulation course with well-kept greens.

#4. Spend the night at the HWY 11Broken Bell Inn. You will get a great night’s sleep in cozy cabins furnished with modern-day amenities. On the way back to HWY 11, going south out of Napoleon, stop at the #5. White Maid and order one of the most unique items on the tasty menu-a crunch cone. At lunchtime, savor the traditional German homemade knoefla soup.

#6. Visit Hague, population 91, on Strudel Day (Thursday) and lunch at the city owned Hague Cafe. hague hwy 11This small building draws large daily lunch crowds. On Thursday’s one chooses either a half or full plate of light and flavorful strudel generously covered with a cream sauce, along with either baked chicken or sausage. A must-eat-at when craving German Russian homemade cooking. Read the Bismarck Tribune Story on Hague Cafe.

#7. Hague’s St. Mary’s Catholic Church is an ideal post lunch visit. hague church hwy 11One can sit and pray or walk the vast space of this 1930’s structure-the oldest continuous German Russian Catholic Parish in North Dakota.

West of Hague, detour north on HWY 83 to Strasburg, ND-the birthplace of Lawrence Welk boasts just over 500 citizens. Be sure to stop in and visit #8. The Little German House-a gift shop featuring retail hwy 11North Dakota and German themed items with owners who allow you to browse at leisure. Call ahead for hours; don’t miss the experience.

#9. Welk Park and Swimming Pool. Perfect for those needing to stretch their legs with a refreshing walk or plunge in the pool. The park has playground equipment, picnic benches and camper hook-ups.

#10. Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church. The U.S. National Register of Historic Places (1986) church is open year-round for visitors. It was built in 1910 to serve German Russian immigrants and to this date remains one of the most visually appealing places of worship I have visited.church hwy 11

#11. Lawrence Welk’s Birthplace. The boyhood home of the famous “Champagne Music Maker” band leader includes a sod house where Welk was born in 1903, a summer kitchen, barn, buggy house, granary, and blacksmith shop. MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAHours are limited so check in advance.

If you’ve traveled  HWY 11 in South Central North Dakota, what other stops did you make? Did you try the German Russian food? Do share.

Need more ND travel tips? Visit North Dakota Tourism.

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 2015 Linda Leier Thomason

10 Must See Places Off I-80 in Central Iowa

Update: November 2018. Looking for more to do in Central Iowa?

Read: 9 Reasons Madison County Iowa is Worth Visiting + 10 Free Iowa Attractions For a Day Trip from Omaha found on this website.

Click TRAVEL + then Midwest to find those articles or use the Search box.

Happy Traveling through Iowa.

Here’s how I spent a day in Central Iowa.

A fellow Iowa State Cyclone, Susanne, met me in West Des Moines and we headed out on I-80. These were the stops we made along the way in Central Iowa. Get off the Interstate and do our own exploration in Central Iowa.

#1: Hickory Park Restaurant. We headed east on I-80 and veered north on I-35 to enjoy an early lunch in Ames. As cash-poor students, we usually limited ourselves to the old-fashioned parlor sundaes, but on this trip we savored the generous portions of hickory smoked meats and Susanne enjoyed a delicious sundae. [Regretfully, I’m now lactose intolerant.] Lunch filled our bellies as much as our need for re-connection and nostalgia. There’s a reason this restaurant founded in 1970 remains a must-eat-at place for those visiting Ames. Try it!

#2:Iowa State University. Proud Cyclones we are! It was a hot, dry, summer day, with few students roaming campus, so we took our time, stopped to recall classes and situations in certain buildings and reminisced about the house we both lived in that’s now the Alumni office. The campus has predictably grown yet remains as picturesque and full of promise as the days we spent there in the 1980s.

#3: Reiman Gardens. Walking through 17 acres of indoor and outdoor gardens and strolling july2011 013through the butterfly wing filled my insatiable desire to commune with nature. Perfect for all ages and open year round, Reiman Gardens is a must-see when in Ames, Iowa.

#4: John Wayne Birthplace Museum. Famous for saying, “I’m the stuff men are made of,” rugged Hollywood film actor, John Wayne (Duke) was born and raised in Winterset, Iowa in #5: Madison County-home to the world-famous “Bridges of Madison County.” Some day I will get to the annual covered bridge festival being held October 13-14, 2018.

#6: Greenfield, Iowa. The town that boasts it is the center of culture and commerce in the middle of farm country did not disappoint. Harking back to my North Dakota roots, I felt right at home in Greenfield. It’s 55 miles from Des Moines and 80 miles from Omaha. Hit the road and go visit!

#5: Ed and Eva’s. Located inside Greenfield’s historic opera house, Ed and Eva’s features Iowa made products and artwork. It has the feel of a gallery and one is allowed to leisurely browse without being disturbed by employees. As a huge supporter of small local business, I did some early Christmas shopping and encourage you to do the same through their user-friendly website.

#6. Warren Cultural Center. Pride in community is one of the things I appreciate most about small towns. Greenfield citizens are no different. Leaving Ed and Eva’s I was curious about the impressive building the store is in, so I started snooping around. Within moments I was joined by a staffer from the Warren Cultural Center offering to show me the building-a restored 1896 opera house-placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1979.

#7. Greenfield Bowl. Thirsty. We crossed the street and had a cold drink here, chatting with a very friendly bartender, learning about the history of the place while watching locals gather in conversation and longing to feel that sense of community again somewhere, maybe Greenfield.

#8. Hotel Greenfield. If I need a solo respite or desire a romantic get-away with my husband, this is my go-to place. I loved it here. The furnishings are traditional period pieces matched with modern-day traveler necessities. The staff is helpful without smothering and the rubber duck in the tub, well it’s priceless. The patio out back is quiet. The only drawback is the lack of an elevator; however, front desk staff are willing to carry bags for those unable. Breakfast is included.

#9. Olive Branch Family Restaurant. We had excellent service from a waitress in training and our meals were above average as was the service.  We enjoyed the Greek platter and fried chicken. Cocktails and desserts are served.

#10. The Freedom Rock. This 60+ ton boulder, located just off I-80, is repainted with a Greenfield, IA and summer '14 misc 018different theme every year by artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II as a thank-you tribute to our nation’s veterans. Ken met us at the memorial and we ended our terrific day by pausing in a moment of silence, honoring those who give us the freedom to travel this great country.

Share. Which of these attractions are you most likely to visit on your next trip to Central Iowa? Will you make a special trip to Iowa to visit these sites? Do tell and add other sites to see.

 

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 2015. Linda Leier Thomason

Get off the Road: Explore Nebraska

Our family relocated from Sioux Falls, South Dakota to Omaha, Nebraska Saturday, May 30, 2015 and three days later I was riding shotgun as my husband Ken drove 4 hours west on I-80 to North Platte, Nebraska for business.  I’m no fan of interstate travel, but in this case expediency trumped curiosity. While riding, I logged onto the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website to find attractions to visit upon arrival and to explore on Wednesday while he was working. Our first stop was at The Archway, which is a 310 foot museum over I-80 near Kearney, NE. Once inside, we learned a fee is charged for a self-guided museum tour and we hadn’t allotted time for this. Instead, we toured the sod house and outside grounds before making a joint commitment to come back and explore the entire Kearney area later this summer. North Platte NE June 2015 025 North Platte NE June 2015 012Back on I-80, we continued west and took Exit 177, or Highway 83 North, to North Platte. The first thing I noticed was the sheer volume of traffic for a town this size. It appears it’s a stopping point for many travelers as evidenced by the number of popular hotel chains near the interstate. The Golden Spike Tower caught our attention and was phenomenal. Get off Interstate 8o and see this, even if you’re not a train fanatic. North Platte NE June 2015 028You pay an admission fee and watch a short video before  taking an elevator to the outdoor 7th floor to get a panoramic view of Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard-the world’s largest train yard. Ken and I were the only visitors on the deck at this late hour and I literally could have stayed there until the 7pm closing time. There is so much activity and the view alone is breathtaking.We then ventured up to the 8th floor and were greeted by 3 Union Pacific retirees who eagerly shared their industry knowledge and answered all questions, and I had a lot of them. I am not going to post images of what you see. Doing so is the equivalent of revealing the end of movie or book. Trust me on this. It is worth the entrance fee and time!North Platte NE June 2015 062

By  7pm we were hungry. Yet again, I relied on other traveler’s advice on several websites and convinced Ken to drive further west to the little town of Hershey, NE to dine at North Platte NE June 2015 078Butch’s Lounge and Steakhouse. Ken will testify that the 15-ounce steak was right up there with some of the best beef he’s had in the Midwest. It’s not fancy and it certainly is a community gathering place-a group of middle-aged women were playing a card game at the 60″ round table next to us, while passing an infant boy between the players. The joint was full of travelers and locals-a hallmark of a great dining spot.

After a good night’s rest and getting Ken to his work site, I started on my North Platte adventures list. The first stop was right next door to our hotel: Ft. Cody Trading Post. North Platte NE June 2015 001I looked past the retail section and headed straight to the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show in miniature that runs every 30 minutes. The wood carvings are intricate and the story itself is fascinating, as is the display of a double-headed calf in the building. The backyard certainly appeals to children more than adults. Admission is free and the staff very helpful in guiding visitors to other interesting sites in and around the area. North Platte NE June 2015 004 I was strongly encouraged to visit Cody Park on Highway 83 North on the outskirts of town. Wow! A park custom designed for my taste. I drove to the back and visited the Railroad Museum (free admission), hopping on and off the trains and delighting in the freedom to wander through the various cars and read the informational placards throughout. North Platte NE June 2015 010Several citizens had told me the concession stand here has the most affordable food in town and the best ice cream in the state. So, I drove past the baseball diamonds, swimming pool and tennis courts, all being used by day campers and counselors, and ordered some lunch. The cheeseburger was yummy! And, because I’m lactose intolerant, I just observed dozens of others licking their cones, while craving a twisted cone myself. Courtney, a concession stand worker, shared that the amusement rides are open from 5-10pm North Platte NE June 2015 044and that the weekends are so busy they have multiple orders backed up in the kitchen. I sat on a park bench and observed fowl seeking their own lunch in the puddles from the overnight rain. No matter what direction I looked, I saw markers and Memorial Day flowers, so I got up and walked to the nearest tree to discover citizens donate trees and park benches in honor of deceased loved ones. It seems a fitting way to memorialize someone who grew up enjoying the natural setting of the park. I headed to the zoo portion of the park. By this time the sun warmed the area past 80 degrees and most animals were resting or under shelter. I, however, was fortunate enough to capture some great imagesNorth Platte NE June 2015 057 and to see multiple peacocks spread their feathers, revealing stunning colors. I wandered off to the river and visited with grandparents having a picnic lunch with a toddler grandson and then headed back near the park entrance to view the Wild West Memorial before bidding Cody Park farewell after nearly three hours. My final stop in North Platte was the Arts and Gift Gallery. It is a fine art co-op gallery with plenty of stunning work and a friendly, helpful volunteer greeting you upon arrival. Sadly my time in North Platte was too short. I will return. Perhaps for the annual Rail Fest held the 3rd week in September or the NEBRASKAland Days held annually the 3rd week in June.

Get off the road.

Explore.

Discover.

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. June 2015. Linda Leier Thomason.