Passport Pursuit Programs

The Capitol: A Nebraska Masterpiece

Capitol Exterior

Truly the Nebraska Capitol is one of my very favorite places across the whole state.  Why it has taken me a year to feature Nebraska’s most recognizable building on this blog I am not sure.  Maybe this is because writing this post is STILL daunting to me!    How can you narrow down a building that contains so much architectural beauty, cultural significance and Nebraska symbolism.  I think this is why this post has never been written.  Today, in my own feeble way, I will attempt to give you a”quick” tour of this Nebraska Masterpiece.

Nebraska’s Capitol building is filled with murals, mosaics, tapestries and distinguishing architectural details.  Because I am pretty certain that no one will take the time to read 32 pages of one blog post, I am setting those details aside.  Additionally I plan on writing a separate post on my kids’ favorite part of the building: the tippy top.  To ride to the “14th” floor, one must climb into a rather small, older elevator.  By the way, in case you were wondering, despite its appearance to the contrary, you CAN in fact fit a double stroller inside to ride up.  We have done it successfully several times!

Back to the purpose of today’s blog … Just like our national government, our Nebraska state government has three branches.

Capitol Judicial Branch

The Judicial branch.

Capitol Legislative Chambers

The Legislative Branch.

As long as the judges and senators are not work, both of these sections are part of the daily tours that run hourly (except at noon.)  Now we also happen to have an executive area where the governor and his staff are busily at work.  Since they are a bit more involved in the daily aspects of government, this section is usually closed to the public.  As we once had a special family event take place inside the Capitol, I do have a picture of the executive press room.

Capitol Executive Press Room with family

Cropped and from my scrapbook, really you only get a good idea of the official press conference desk.

These are the main sections that exist inside of the capitol.  Of course, the basement is filled with legislative offices and the cafeteria and a gift shop.  Statues of famous Nebraskans line the rotunda, but I think that is another post as well.  Guess you will be hearing about the Nebraska Capitol for a long time to come!

Capitol Walkway

Another favorite area – the outdoor mezzanine.  By walking around the outdoor platform, one can learn the names of all of the Nebraska counties.  One could also learns the basics of the history of government.  The relief carvings above the walkway are not necessarily in chronological order, so I do recommend getting the explanatory pamphlet from inside the capitol.  By the way, I wrote a more detailed article on walking around the Capitol with children for the May/June/July issue of the Lincoln Kids Newspaper.  You can pick up a copy from many area Lincoln places, or you can look online.

The Capitol Website has a wealth of information on all of the history and interesting facts of the building.  NET Public Television has also produced an excellent documentary on the Nebraska Capitol.  Our family was rivoted – okay, I definitely was, but my husband and kids also enjoyed the show!

Nebraska’s Capitol Masterpiece

Would you look at that?  I used the same word to describe the capitol that they did!  If you have never been to the Nebraska Capitol, I HIGHLY recommend you visit.  The Capitol Website also has downloadable building, Abraham Lincoln and civics scavenger hunts.  Completing these will help your older kids be engaged in the experience.  As for your younger kids, have them go on a shape and color hunt as you walk through.  The Capitol is filled with all sorts of possibilities!  In fact, below is a picture of one of the courtyard areas I have yet to explore.  Maybe someday I will figure out how to do that!

Capitol Courtyard

One more important item to note: The Nebraska Capitol Building can be found on both the “Lincoln: Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown” passport and the Nebraska Passport.  When you go visit, make sure to get a stamp.  The programs run through the end of August and September respectively.

 

 

 

Categories: Lincoln, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Metro, Nebraska History, Nebraska Passport, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Transforming Prairie Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast near Lincoln, Nebraska

Leavitt House now PCIB&B text

Possibly this is not the house that you would be expecting to see in the middle of the country.  Yet when you see the sign and hear the story, all of it comes together.

You see a house needed a new place to rest …

Leavitt House Sign text

This longtime family farm was in need of a new home …

Barn text

Once the two combined together, Prairie Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast gave them both a new purpose.

Prairie Creek Inn Bed & Breakfast sign text

How it all came together is a fascinating story and possibly too long for a blog post.  I hope someday to tell it, but for now I will give you glimpses into one of my favorite places in the Lincoln area.  As you drive into the property, you can still see evidence of the family farm that used to be here.

Field text

This picture of the crops was taken last summer!

Bannister text

As you stand inside the residence, you can see parts of the original home that remain.  Due to being abandoned for a short season, some of the home’s woodwork had to be replaced.  This bannister happens to be original.  For this post, I decided not to focus on the interior of the home, lovely as it may be.  The good news is that you can get a glimpse inside this home simply by making reservations.  Two hour “Tea and Tours” are offered by appointment at a cost of $10 per person for groups ranging in size from 8 to 32 people.  This is an excellent way to see a historical home and also to support the restoration that continues to go on.  Remodeling is never an easy process!

 

Barn Exterior text

Having celebrated both a birthday party and church wedding at the barn within the past few years, I was quite surprised when I stepped inside the barn this week.  This has been the most recent transformation at the Prairie Creek Inn Bed and Breakfast.

Barn  from Balcony  text 6-14

The hayloft has been narrowed and become simply a balcony with the original planking underneath becoming a dance floor below.  Many a wedding and celebration does take place out here.  One can definitely see why.

Barn Pleasant View Farm with Kids text

I love how they have maintained the authenticity of the farm while improving its function.

Buggy text

An old-time buggy has become the focal point of the entrance.

Barn Horses text 6-14

The family horses are corralled out back.  This is more for the owners than for the visitors.  If you tour the basement, you would see that their love of the “Old West” and family has influenced their home.  The innkeepers, Bruce and Maureen Stahr, have been friends of our family for years.  This is definitely one reason why we love going out there – I always enjoy visiting with both of them!

Swing text 6-14

Another reason that this place is so lovely is the space.   Located near 148th & Van Dorn, the home is located within minutes from Lincoln, so you are close enough to still go experience the city.  Yet staying in the country instead of city is refreshing and relaxing – you truly do feel that you can get it away from it all!

Trails Sign 6-14 text

Roaming around is also a possibility when you stay at the bed & breakfast.  Paths lead you through the nearby trees and up the hill to the little lake.  Sitting nearby is the log cabin which has been built by Bruce and his crew.  Renting out either the whole cabin or just a suite, you can get back to nature.  A bit closer to the main bed & breakfast is the original farm house.  This too has undergone a transformation and also can be rented ( the whole house or just a suite as well).  Unlike many smaller bed & breakfasts, up to ten separate groups can stay at the Prairie Creek Inn Bed & Breakfast in one of the three available buildings.

Our kids on the Porch text

One last important bit of information: Prairie Creek Inn Bed & Breakfast is a part of the “Hit the Snooze” Nebraska Passport tour this year!  Here is a picture of my kids right before we got our official stamp the other day.  Now you have the perfect excuse to go out and check out the Prairie Creek Inn Bed & Breakfast.

 

Categories: Lincoln, Metro, Nebraska Passport, Region or City | 1 Comment

Tuesday Travel Tips: So Many Nebraska Places, So Little Time

Looking over my folder crammed full of options, I can see …

20 parks on the Nebraska Great Park Pursuit

80 Nebraska Passport Places

32 options in Lincoln: Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown

Several Lincoln places are on both lists: The Capitol, Morrill Hall, International Quilt Study Center and the Lincoln Zoo.  That still leaves ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY EIGHT PLACES to go.  This does not include all of the places that did not make one of the passport tours this year.  Or the places from last year.  Or the festivals that one can find in Nebraska (To find these fun events, check out this list by by Family Fun in Omaha compiled with help from The Walking Tourists )  Or the extra 21 places that just were added to our list of “must-go” places (thankfully there are a few locations that duplicate other lists!  More on those soon!) And they say that there is NOTHING to do in Nebraska?  I say there is TOO MUCH to do!

wow.odysseythroughnebraska.wordpress.com

Just noticed this building, a part of the Lincoln skyline, and I am not sure I have ever been inside.  Yet another place to explore!

To avoid being overwhelmed at all the possibilities, following these suggestions will help you.

First, set your goals.  How many places do you want to visit? One or two per month?  One per week?  Several in one day ?  We tend to do the latter now that my kids are older.   At the same time, I am committed to spend at least one day per week at HOME!   We need that to stay balanced.   Another question: is going to the travel program places important to you?  Last year, we traveled to Northwest Nebraska. Since we do not have long distance travel plans yet, I know that we will probably not get as many Nebraska Passport stamps this year. Because we are sticking close to home, we hope to hit 30 of the “Lincoln: Be a Tourist in your own Hometown” places. As we needed a challenge, we are going for the platinum level!

wow.odysseythroughnebraska.wordpress.com

One of the 8 Lincoln passport stops we made today.

Second, pick a theme or a focus. Much to family’s amusement, I am teaching art at our cooperative this fall. While I am creative, my artistic skills might be lacking.  Yet I know that I can improve and grow in this content area. Going to art galleries is a part of that process for me. Today  we saw an original Warhol, and the kids were amazed at the price tag.   This focus has been rather enjoyable !  Need inspiration?  Check out the Nebraska Passport “tours” for suggested themes. Even if you cannot make their specific locations, possibly you have similar places near you.

Third, involve your children in the process.  Ask them where they want to go, but at the same time, give them parameters.   Would you rather go here or there ?  Which place do you want to go first?  Without giving them direction, you could end up on an unexpected three hour tour. Another necessity when traveling with children is to mix learning with play.  Even our children, who have gone to countless places, would not handle going to multiple places without taking play breaks!

wow.odysseythroughnebraska.wordpress.com

An impromptu short game of hide-and-seek.  Can you see the children?  Thankfully they did not hide very often. Not too keen on this particular activity in busy public spaces!  🙂

How do you narrow down your travel options?  How do you pick your travel destinations?  Wherever you decide to go, I hope your family’s journey is an enjoyable one!

Categories: Family Outings, Great Park Pursuit, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Nebraska Passport, Passport Pursuit Programs, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nebraska Passport: Tours Across Nebraska

I must admit I am a rather big Jeopardy fan.   Not very many shows have made my “follow” list, but that is one that I have watched almost daily for years.  One category that they feature is “Common Bonds.”  As for the pictures that I featured on yesterday’s “Wordless Wednesday,” they all had one thing in common: they are all 2014 “Nebraska Passport” stops.  Many of them I have covered on my blog already.  Several are yet to be shown, so for those I plan to keep you guessing.

Can’t Get Enough Tour

1) ?

2) Morrill Hall on Odyssey Through Nebraska

Morrill Hall Z

Forks in the Road Tour

Homestead Brand

3) High Plains Homestead (Home of the Drifter Cookshack and Bunkhouse) on Odyssey Through Nebraska

Hit the Snooze Tour

4) ?

Nebraska Homegrown Tour

Prairie Gounds interior

5) Prairie Grounds Cafe and Gifts on Odyssey Through Nebraska

How We Move Tour

Carhenge

6) Carhenge on Odyssey through Nebraska

7) ?

8) ?

Patchwork Passion

Quilts 5 purposes arch

9) International Quilt Study Center & Museum on Odyssey Through Nebraska

Rare Finds

Unfortunately I have not been to any of these places recently.  My grandparents lived in Laurel, so I did grow up walking into their downtown.  I am pretty sure that I have been to the Apothecary, but I think that it has drastically changed since then.  Hopefully someday I will make it back!

Sips and Suds Tour

Not sure that we will make too many of these places since we do more of the family tour.  But hey, Nebraska Passport has at least one place that will appeal to everyone! 🙂

Stars and Stripes Tour

10) ?

11) ?

SAS copter and plane

12) Strategic Air & Space Museum on Odyssey Through Nebraska

(By the end of the Nebraska Passport 2014 season, which happens to be the end of September, every one of the ? mark places will be featured on this blog!  I also will be featuring several of the places from Lincoln’s “Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown” program as well!)

Have you picked up your copy of the 2014 Nebraska Passport yet? This year they have even added a downloadable app, so you can keep track of your places that way.  Achieving prizes for the Nebraska Passport is a bit challenging.  Since the ones I would really want are for 40 stamps and above, I am pretty sure that we will not be getting any.  But, we will be enjoying the stops on the way.  Some familiar and some that are new.  All places to make memories as we travel across the nice state of Nebraska.

Categories: Family Outings, Frontier Trails, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Metro, Nebraska Passport, Panhandle, Passport Pursuit Programs, Region or City, Sandhills | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Greater Nebraska: The Temporary Art Exhibit at Lux Center for the Arts

The current exhibit entitled “Greater Nebraska” that is currently at Lux Center for the Arts has many different elements.  Now to be honest, I would not call every element family friendly, at least not for small children.  (I think some supervision and distraction just might be in order).  But there is much in the exhibit to appreciate and to contemplate.  Since the display is so diverse, you will definitely find a piece that will appeal to your sense of artistic impression.

Here are two of my favorite pieces:

Lux Word 1

“Three Season Porch” and “Scratch Track” were both created by Matthew Sontheimer.  Why they appealed to me?  I am not great at painting or sketching, but I do like to create with words.  So these two pieces appealed to my unique artistic side.

As for my kids, they definitely enjoyed the interactive art piece.

Lux Musical Piece and the kids

The mixed media creation by Jay Kriemer entitled “Bobbers” allows the viewer to interact with the subject.  (Finally I had to convince the staff member that perhaps turning the amplification off was a good idea! 🙂  They did have fun!)

Greater_NE_Event-Graphic_Web1

 

Photo cropped directly from the Lux Website

One other display that would definitely qualify for Friday photography is the framed photographs by Katherine Endacott.  I first read about this local photographer in an article in the Lincoln Journal Star last fall.  Many months ago she started a Facebook page entitled, “Good Morning Pleasant Dale.”  Using her Android phone, she captures images from her country neighborhood.  A delightful collage of her framed photographs are a part of this exhibition.  You can also personally check out her Good Morning, Pleasant Dale! Facebook page to see more.

Categories: Friday Photography, Lincoln, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Metro | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lux Center: Arts for the Community

Gallery.  Studio. Workshop.  Display Area.  Museum. Boutique & Gift Shop.  Gathering Place.  All of these describe the Lux Center for the Arts.  And that is exactly how they like it!

Lux Center Sign

We first discovered the Lux Center  as a part of Lincoln’s “Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown” program.  We have attended a family event or two as well, and I wish that we made it back there even more often, as they present so many great family events.

According to Christine Hunt who happens to be the Community Director of Involvement, the heart of the Lux Center for the Arts is just that: community.  They want the community to come inside to see their changing exhibitions.  Even more, they want families and individuals to be a part of creating their own art through workshops and classes.  Beyond this, the Lux Center staff go outside the building to provide outreach to those who cannot attend classes.  To the shut-ins,  elderly or even incarcerated patrons, they want to give the gift of art.  So, some of the artists bring a studio to those who cannot travel to one.

Lux Welcome Art

Children’s Classes and family adventures are available, as well as summer camps.  Including date nights and “girls night out,”  class opportunities abound for adults as well.  Pottery, jewelry making, painting, drawing: you name the artistic medium, and you may very well find it at Lux Center for the Arts.  Tomorrow I plan on telling you all about a special celebration that is happening there this week-end, as well as one of their current exhibits that has to do with Nebraska.

 

 

Categories: Lincoln, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Metro, Nebraska History, Passport Pursuit Programs | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel Tips Tuesday: Passports and Pursuits are Back

This is a fun time of year to be a tourist in Nebraska.  All three of the programs that we enjoy participating in as a family are back.  Basically you go to their suggested places and get rubbings or stamps to show that you visited.  Then you are eligible for prizes.  Best yet you get to make memories as you travel around our great state!

Nebraska Great Park Pursuit (Explore 20 of Nebraska’s state parks and recreation areas!)

Back Home

 

Nebraska Passport (80 options across the state on several tours including “Forks in the Road” and “Stars and Stripes”

Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown (Lincoln): This one just started again YESTERDAY, so the links may not be up quite yet.

Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau

You can pick up the passports at participating locations.  I will be featuring many of these places over the next several months on my blog!  Go out and explore – today is supposed to be a beautiful day!

Categories: Annual Events, Great Park Pursuit, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Nebraska Passport, Passport Pursuit Programs | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Springing Into the Lincoln Zoo

Did you guess what place we featured yesterday?

Zoo sign

Yesterday was opening day of the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, so I knew that I wanted to feature them at the beginning of the season.  Now I must confess that when we went to the zoo earlier last summer, writing a Nebraska blog was not on my radar.  Obviously the pictures that I took were not with publishing in mind, and for whatever reason I took hardly any that day, even of my kids.  Although I did go back later to take a few additional shots of the entrance, if you want to see the animals, you will have to go there yourself! 🙂  Or enjoy the photos on the website taken by Lincoln’s National Geographic photographer, Joel Sartore.  His shots are AMAZING – maybe I won’t post any upcoming animal pictures! 🙂

Zoo entrance

One interesting program that was started last year was Zoofari with Nebraska’s own Larry the Cable Guy.  Throughout the zoo, you can see the videos playing which tell about the science behind zoology in a fun way for kids.  The best part about these videos?  They were developed with children’s hospitals in mind to bring Zoofari to children who maybe cannot visit the zoo right now themselves.

In the future I hope to do another post after I have traveled through the zoo purposefully with the intent to share ideas.  For now I will simply share our favorite things about the zoo.  We love watching the penguin show.  Just wandering around to look at all of the different animals can keep my kids entertained for hours.  Usually each visit we are there for almost all day, and the zoo is really not THAT big.  My kids just enjoy visiting.

Zoo Train Collage 1

Of course, our other favorite part is riding the train.  But empty cars are definitely a bit sad.

Zoo Train Collage 2

The train cars look much more fun when filled with happy kids!  Especially my boys have loved riding when they were younger.  Although we went there right before one of my kids turned two.  He was not such a fan and sobbed loudly the whole two times around the zoo’s perimeter.  Funny now but rather frustrating at the time!

The Lincoln Children’s Zoo has all kinds of classes and programs for kids of all ages.  If you have a teenager, they can even volunteer with the zoo crew.  Memberships are also available.  We enjoyed having one a few years ago, but due to a busy summer ball schedule, we usually just manage to make it there once now.  But I do always look forward to our annual trip!

P.S. If you make a trip to the Lincoln Zoo next week, you could win a family membership simply by taking your picture!  They are part of the See Lincoln: Picture to Win Contest.  Here are the details on what you need to do to participate.

Lincoln Children’s Zoo

Date: April 14-20

Snap photo: In front of “Leo” the Paper Eating Lion

Prize: One Family Membership

Categories: Family Outings, Lincoln, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Metro | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hockey in Nebraska: Go, Lincoln Stars!

Did you guess where we were?

Lincoln Stars sign

Back in September when one of our sons won a prize from the Lincoln Convention and Visitor’s Bureau “Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown” program, I knew that a Stars game was going to be on our agenda.  He was very excited to win four tickets.  He decided to take his older brother and his parents along.  🙂

Lincoln Stars Collage 1

We had not taken our kids to any hockey games yet.  Next time, I think I will check out some children’s non-fiction hockey picture books.  I like knowing what is going on, and I have not watched enough games to understand the penalties and strategies.  Although I could always tell when they scored and definitely know that the Stars won!

Two other important things:

1) Wear warm clothes.  After all, the games are played at “The Ice Box.” 🙂

2) Bring ear plugs.  While the music adds so much to the atmosphere, your ears will be ringing by the end.

We enjoyed getting to go out with just our older boys.  They enjoyed their first hockey experience, although one admitted he definitely could have done without the fighting and some of the slightly more obnoxious cheers.  But he definitely liked hockey itself.   I think he will have a greater appreciation for the Olympics hockey games now that he has attended in person.

Lincoln Stars Collage 2

Not into being a spectator and would rather enjoy being active?  The Ice Box has public skating sessions most week-ends.  Eventually a bigger ice venue will be coming to Lincoln.  Until then, the Stars have made their home at their rink located on the former Nebraska State Fair Park.

A big thank you to the Lincoln Stars for providing the tickets and to the Lincoln Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for providing such great tourism incentives. We are excited to participate in the “Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown” program again this summer!

 

Categories: Lincoln, Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Metro, Passport Pursuit Programs, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Friday with Kids: Experiencing the International Quilt Study Center and Museum with Kids

Other than as bed coverings, one does not often think of quilts in conjunction with kids.  The International Quilt Study Center and Museum would like to change that.  And I think their quest has been successful so far.

Quilt folder

First of all, every child that visits can pick up a free folder that contains activities that correlates to the latest exhibits.  The current activities include a “Quilt Blocks” word search to find such terms as “Log Cabin” and “Flying Geese” with correlating pictures.  Going along with “The Secrets in Stitches” exhibit, the child can do a dot-to-dot that reveals a hidden shape.  Every time the students can choose to find their favorite quilt, describe it and even draw a picture to commit the quilt to memory.

Quilt Activity Center

An activity table with rotating projects sits out in the commons area.  (No, there are not crayons available in the actual quilt areas! So, moms, you can relax!  🙂  )

Quilt cart

While children cannot interact with the display quilts, the museum does not leave kinesthetic children behind.  A rolling cart is filled with activities that allow tactile learners to touch various types of quilts.  Piecing, applique, quilted and finished materials can be found in each mini drawer.  Not to mention quilt foam puzzles where each child can “create” a temporary masterpiece.

Other fun things about the museum:

The area full of doll quilts and furniture on the 3rd floor.    A few books and even a puzzle or two also can be found in this “research” area.

I must confess that one of my kids’ favorite parts of the museum does not involve fabric of any kind.

Quilt stairs

My kids love the stairs.  And I also must confess that if no one else is around, I might let them go up the stairs at a pace that is faster than a walk.

As far as the displays, children can actually visualize more in the pieces than what we give them credit for.  When I took my kids this summer, my daughter noticed shapes that I did not initially see (and a nearby quilt expert confirmed that she was correct).  My older kids enjoy the quilts without much explanation.  With younger kids, I try to play “I Spy” to keep them engaged.

Quilts stars and shapes

What shapes can you spy?  What colors can you see?  Easy questions for us, but they

You can even give your child an introduction to quilts before you visit.  Check out the online quilt explorer where you can “interact” with over 1,000 online quilts.  You can even “make your own” quilt online.   And if you happen to be a parent or an educator, you can also download curriculum, lesson plans and ideas on making the museum come alive for children.  Information is also available online for school group tours as well.  The website is full of ideas and information about quilts!

Quilts Lighted Sculpture

My kids also notice the beautiful outdoors statue every time we drive by.  When the intricate white sculpture is illuminated at night, the piece is even more lovely.  Tonight is the perfect night to see the place in person.  As I mentioned yesterday, the International Quilt Study Center and Museum is open later tonight.  You have an hour left to explore.  (Sorry – I meant to post this earlier, but I had outdoor clean-up to do today! 🙂

4 being thankful

And in case you want to check out other First Friday art walk events taking place in both Lincoln and Omaha, here are a bunch of links …

First Friday Information from the Lincoln Arts Council

First Friday in Downtown Lincoln

First Friday in the Lincoln Haymarket

First Friday in the Omaha Old Market

Omaha First Friday

Categories: Lincoln "Be a Tourist in Your Own Hometown", Metro, Passport Pursuit Programs, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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