Nebraska Passport

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.

 

 

 

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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

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

Mellow Monday: Relaxing across Nebraska: Prairie Grounds Cafe & Gifts in Broken Bow

I just got back yesterday from a great girl’s week-end (our church’s women’s retreat up at Mahoney State Park).  So, yesterday at this time, I was just getting up.  (As opposed to waking up over two hours ago like today).  And I was anticipating a hot breakfast with friends.  (I did get to bring some leftovers home and at least had the pumpkin cream cheese French toast going for me this morning!).   And while there is nothing too hectic or upsetting about today, I am wishing I could be completely irresponsible and spend the morning drinking warm drinks and reading a book.  And if I lived a bit closer, one place would be my destination.  Prairie Grounds Cafe and Gifts.

Prairie Grounds Entrance

We intended on going in and out in a hurry, just to get our Nebraska Passport stamp.  But when we entered, I suddenly was wishing that we had several hours to spend in Broken Bow.  And that my husband would have a longing to spend several random hours with the kids in an unfamiliar town, so that I could just soak in the cozy environment.

Prairie Grounds booths

We had just eaten a picnic at the park, so I did not look too closely at the menu.  (I know they had soups and sandwiches).  Dessert on the other hand … their homemade treats are created in the back along with a varied selection of drinks.  Chelsie was the chef that day, and we left with a few of her cookies and an apple cinnamon scone.  Yum!  (They also carry a line of gluten free items,  which can be hard to find in smaller towns, but those are made elsewhere.)

Prairie Gounds interior

This warm and inviting living area was in one corner of the place.  Most of the items were for sale, but they all add to welcoming atmosphere.  Sitting inside this room with hot cocoa and a good book watching the snow fall would be lovely indeed.  (Until it was time to go home, but …)

I almost missed the best part of the place.  Thankfully friendly Mary Ann, who was working at the counter that day, told me that she had to show me the backyard.

Prairie Gounds courtyard

The owners have a created a bit of paradise that would be perfect for whittling away a beautiful sunny day.  This picture only captures part of the patio area which included tables for two, so you can dine with a friend.  The next time I make it to Broken Bow, I will be going there with intention.  And with several hours to spare, so I can actually get to soak up the serenity!

P.S. This lovely location is a part of the Nebraska passport program, so if you are close enough, definitely stop by today to get a stamp AND a treat!  And if your family participated in the Nebraska Passport program, the program is ending for the year.  The entries must be postmarked today: September 30, 2013.

Categories: Cornhusker Cuisine, Eating Establishments, Nebraska Passport, Passport Pursuit Programs, Region or City, Sandhills | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Changing Views at the Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln

Sheldon buildling

Place at a Glance

Name/Location Sheldon Museum of Art  12th & R in Lincoln (UNL); Facebook
Open hours Closed Mondays: Tuesdays: 10-8; W-Sat. 10-5; Sundays 12-5
What to Know NO flash photography; Stroller friendly (if you use the elevators)
Cost Free; donations are accepted
Parking Meters nearby on street; garages within walking distance
Group Tours Various Tours (including education & garden); Need two weeks notice
Museum Manners No touching: if you get too close to the art, a voice will correct you
Recommended Ages Mainly for five and up (running children make them nervous J)

We had not stopped at Lincoln’s art gallery for awhile.  Possibly due to timing.  Possibly due to parking (although both of the last times I stopped, I easily found meter parking less than a block away).  But I do hope to remedy that and to start going there more often.  Several (if not all) of my kids have inherited their dad’s artistic abilities.  And I hope to continue to develop those skills.

Sheldon ceiling

The building itself is a masterpiece.

In my lifetime, I have had two excellent art teachers.  Mr. Thacker in high school and Mr. Baden in college both exposed me to a world of beauty beyond my own.  I do not remember exploring art before that time.  Sadly, while I think I have an artistic eye, my skills are nowhere near presentable.  So, hopefully I can still encourage my kids in their artistic endeavors without actually having to instruct them.  (We’ll leave that part to their talented Daddy!)

According to dictionary.com, this is the definition of art:

the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.
Sheldon Statue
This statue was a part of their “Fifty Gifts for Fifty Years” exhibit this summer.  This was one of my kids’ favorite pieces.
I personally feel that art is extremely subjective.  What appeals to me aesthetically may not appeal to you.  This is definitely true for children – they do not always “get” art, especially modern pieces.  So, the fact that the Sheldon changes part of their art exhibits frequently is a gift.  If you do not like a particular style of expression, the display will be transformed to another exhibit in a few months.
I stopped by briefly when I was in downtown Lincoln researching on Tuesday.  This was the painting that caught my eye that day.
Sheldon Farmhouse
The Farmhouse by George Innes.  That painting captures the feeling of fall in Nebraska for me.  I took the picture without my flash – quite important to do in galleries.
So, you can either just walk around and admire (or wonder about) the pieces.  Or you can choose to stop to read more.
Sheldon Farmhouse text
Maybe it has never occurred to some of you to take your kids to an art gallery.  In my next post, I will tell you why I think galleries can be a great place for children.  And some suggestions on how to prepare them!
Sheldon Painting from Fifty Gifts
A painting from the “Fifty Gifts” exhibit taken without flash photography.  Can you tell that I really like the colors of fall?
Categories: Lincoln, Metro, Nebraska Passport, Passport Pursuit Programs, Region or City, Wordless Wednesdays: Where Were We in Nebraska? | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Friday Photography: High Plains Homestead in Sepia

Sepia seemed a fitting tint for a new “Old” West town …

Homestead Brand

High Plains Post Office and sherriff

High Plains Homestead buildings

High Plains saloon

High Plains Mercantile

High Plains wagon

High Plains blacksmith

High Plains Homestead near Crawford, Nebraska

Categories: Friday Photography, Nebraska History, Nebraska Passport, Panhandle, Passport Pursuit Programs, Photography, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Photography: Homestead High Plains in Black & White

B & W mercantile

B & W wagon ride

B & W saloon

B & W wall display

B & W Homestead town

B & W school

High Plains Homestead near Crawford, NE

Categories: Friday Photography, Nebraska History, Nebraska Passport, Panhandle, Passport Pursuit Programs, Photography, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Photography: Homestead High Plains in Living Color

I had fun experimenting with both my camera and my cell phone when I was taking photographs around the High Plains Homestead.  So, while I will end up with several entries about the place, each one shows a different angle or viewpoint.  And even though four blog posts (including the one I wrote previously) seems like a lot, since I do not plan to write very much, hopefully you can breeze through them (or save them for another day!)  And if you have an opinion as to which style of photographs suit the place the best, I would be interested in reading your comments.

High Plains Homestead View

The view across the road.

Color High Plains Post Office

The interior contained mail boxes and everything!

Color High Plains Kitchen

Kitchen Collection of another day …

Color High Plains Mercantile side

Side of the mercantile.

Color High Plains Jesus the Good Shepherd

I would enjoy having this “Jesus the Good Shepherd” photograph gracing our home even today!

Color High Plains sheriff and jail house

You’re in the jailhouse now …

Color High Plains Mercantile

More than your average souvenir shop …

Color High Plains Farm Implements

Farm implements of yesteryear …

Color High Plains View of the Street

A stroll down the short boardwalk …

Color High Plains Nature Collections

One could leave with a bit of nature (for sale in a shed …)

Color High Plains Windmill

The beauty of the Nebraska panhandle!

Categories: Friday Photography, Nebraska History, Nebraska Passport, Panhandle, Photography, Region or City | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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