Travel Tips

Tuesday Travel Tips: Having a Nebraska State Park Permit Expands Your Adventure Options

Today was the best kind of day: full of wonderful places and most importantly spending time with wonderful people.  We were with dear friends and then had a few adventures alone.  Lovely memories!  On the way back from our first adventure, we took a quick detour.

Conestoga Lake Zoomed In

Having driven by the Conestoga Lake sign many times, I thought it was high time that we stopped!  The park was so close to the main road and to Denton – a great location!

Conestoga Lake Sign

Conestoga Lake is one of the many state recreation areas across Nebraska.  I appreciate the fact that these areas can be found in SO many places across our state.  87 possibilities to be exact! As our kids continue to grow, I hope that we will make these outings happen more often.  And that we will have time to actually stop, as opposed to just driving into the parking lot like we did today!  This is why I plan to add a similar sticker (like the one below) every year from now on!

Nebraska Park Permit

This year we bought these little Nebraska park permit stickers for BOTH of our vehicles for UNDER $40.  Now we can stop at state parks when we are out and about – totally worth the outdoor adventures that await! I do believe that walking around Conestoga Lake would be a fun outing!

Conestoga Lake Shore

I am happy to announce that for my first bloGIVEversary prize, I get to give away a 2014 Nebraska Annual Park Permit!   Please enter below using the lovely Rafflecopter link!  Next Tuesday I will introduce my next prize and will announce this week’s winner then!

Link to Rafflecopter Giveaway

P.S. A big thank you to my dear friend who donated her extra park permit for me to give away to one of you!  Our family loves experiencing adventures with yours!  So glad that you are a part of our lives!


Categories: Annual Events, Metro, Region or City, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , | 12 Comments

Friday Flashback: Nebraska’s Ashfall and the Missed Photo Op

In 1996, I was privileged to go on road trip with two VIP’s.  At least they definitely were to me.  Weeks away from starting my first “grown-up” job teaching fifth graders, I went up and stayed with my grandparents for several days late that summer.

They were the ones who initiated the outing.  At age 84 and 88, they still got around quite well.  Although they did have me drive, they picked the destination.  Ashfall.

Ashfall text

I loved the time we spent there!  The above picture of a picture almost captures the fun adventures that await for anyone that chooses to visit.

Ashfall Scrapbook 2

In fact, I captured the experience in one of my very first scrapbook layouts.  Documenting the landscape and the fossils complete with stickers of the animals that once were found here in Nebraska in ages long ago (probably right before Noah’s great flood), I still enjoy remembering that trip.  I would have enjoyed seeing all of those animals.  Hopefully sometime we will get to take our kids there!

Ashfall Scrapbook 1

My biggest regret: while I managed to document the place, for whatever reason I did not document the people.  No pictures exist of the couple that day that wanted to make a memory with their oldest granddaughter. I can still picture them then – Grandma guiding Grandpa along as he was no longer quite as steady.  Arm-in-arm, they walked the paths, just as they traveled through life.

They are both gone now – on to meet their Savior.  I still miss them.  In fact, tears are streaming down my face as I type this.  I am hopeful that maybe a picture of them together that day still exists in one of my many boxes of snapshots waiting to be documented.  But I am afraid that I will just be forever relying on the pictures in my head, rather than on the page, for the memories that day.

I still take many, many pictures of places.  But today, as we were on yet another adventure, I was intentional about capturing my kids in the moment.  For that is what will really matter someday.


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Tuesday Travel Tips: Charge It!

Before you start thinking that a credit card company offered me lots of bonus miles to promote them, this column has nothing to do with plastic rectangles.  Nor does this have anything do with the Alamo since that event did not happen in Nebraska.  This little post has everything to do with the item I think I can no longer live without: my cell phone.

Just a decade ago, we did not even have our own cell phone.  I think my husband had one for work.  Then a tornado passed quite close to our Hickman home.  Right before, I had been driving home with our 18 month old from a graduation party.  We decided that being able to stay in touch could be a good thing.  After that, my parents passed down their old flip phone to us.  Of course the fact that I frequently forgot it at home was not especially helpful.

I still remember several falls ago when my husband convinced me that we should upgrade to a smart phone.  Pretty sure he regrets that decision at times now (sorry, Honey!)  Suddenly the world was really at my finger tips – kind of a fun thing for a homeschool mom.  Our Android was definitely an upgrade, but the last few months of ownership, the phone would hardly hold a charge for more than a few hours.  Not exactly the most reliable on even short trips since we could never get the car charger to work.

When my husband switched jobs this spring, he needed to get his own phone.  He convinced me that I needed to upgrade at the same time, so that we could have the exact same phone.  Easier to learn and to help each other.  We walked in to get simple Samsungs and walked out with I-phones.  Now I am really not going back.

I really like my I-phone.  Using my apps on this phone is SO much better.  With my Android, they would seem to stutter.  I am probably on my phone too much now.  Okay – I am on my phone too much.  This is an area I need to moderate – we all have room for growth, right?  Unfortunately I still have a charging issue.  But for a different reason now.  The camera.

Lewis & Clark FORT text

One of my favorite pictures from last week!

Taking pictures with my I-phone is now my preferred method of photography.  Especially when I use the HDR setting.   The pictures are amazing! As you can imagine, once you take 100+ pictures, which is what I can easily do on an outing, the battery no longer seems to like you.

Last week, we went to a small Nebraska town.  Sure enough, by the end of the morning, I had very little battery.  And SO many pictures I still wanted to take.  Thankfully I did have our car charger.  When I went to go pick up our lunch, I was able to charge it a little bit.  But I knew I needed more.  So I just might have left the key in the ignition, letting the phone keep charging while I grabbed the food.  Thank goodness for small towns!  Although I must admit I still prayed that both the car and the phone would still be there when I returned!  Oh the predicaments we get into ..

I think I have finally learned a few key charging lessons!

1) Keep the phone on the car charger the whole way to our destination, even if the phone is already charged.

2) Bring the outlet plug-in charger along.  Maybe they will have a movie we can watch where plug-ins are nearby, so that the phone can charge while we learn!

3) Even though it is bulky. I need to bring my Nikon along when we have several destinations.  With extra batteries of course.  I missed some of the pictures that I wanted to take because the phone was almost out of batteries.  Plus I may actually need to use my phone for its originally intended purposes.  Having a phone full of great pictures is a bit useless if I cannot get a hold of someone because the phone has died.

Charge it

Our charging station.  Simple now.  Probably will be more completed once we add a few kid phones.   But that will be many years from now, much to our kids chagrin!

Probably I should check into getting one of the solar chargers that they have now!  How about you?  How do you charge on?


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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!

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!

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!

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

Tuesday: Traveling On Across Nebraska

If you are noticing your inbox is cluttered with a few more “Odyssey Through Nebraska” posts, you just might be right.  For one thing, school is out.  Our homeschool does take a bit of a break for the summer.  (Although plenty of learning is still taking place, but please don’t tell my kids that!)  The other main reason: there is SO much going on around this state for the next several months.  (Look for a “Tuesday Travel Tips” post next week addressing how our family decides which activities we should complete and where we should go).

I want to do my best to keep you informed and aware of all of the many options across the fair state of Nebraska.  And here is my plan, although I will need your help to be successful.  More on that shortly!

THE ODYSSEY THROUGH NEBRASKA BLOG: Yep, what you are reading right now.  I plan on continuing to have Wordless Wednesdays features, along with  explanations on Thursdays.  I am sure that I will be sharing some more “Tuesday Travel Tips” and “Friday Photography” posts again.  Having put aside my blog “history lessons” for a few months due to teaching history at home, I also hope to do several “Flashback Fridays.”  While occasionally I feature upcoming events (such as the The Lincoln Children’s Museum “Shining Stars” event or upcoming children’s theater events), for the most part I share where we have been.  Our previous locations that I hope will become your upcoming destinations.

5-21-14 Where Were We

ODYSSEY THROUGH NEBRASKA FACEBOOK PAGE This is the best way that I can inform you as to what is happening across the state.  Being able to post upcoming events of fun things happening across the state is the one way that I can keep in touch with many events.  I could not possibly blog about them all.  Nor could I attend them all.  But hopefully if you are close enough, you will be able to enjoy a Nebraska family outing.  THIS IS WHERE I NEED YOUR HELP: have an event that is happening near you?  Please post it on the Facebook page.  I will miss many fun opportunities that I am hoping you will help me catch.  Please share the fun with your fellow Nebraskans.



NEBRASKA ODYSSEY ON TWITTER  After being a bit skeptical at first, I did come around to being a “Tweeter.”  And I almost like it.  Brevity is a good challenge.  So, here is where I share bits when we are out and about.  Or I retweet really cool Nebraska pictures.  Or even better, thoughts from really cool Nebraskans.

June storms

Tweeted picture – the view of the storms near our house.  (That is White Hall in the background, not our house 🙂 )

Follow me.  Peek in on me.  Hopefully I will eventually create buttons to make it easier for you to do that, but for now you can simply click on any of these links to become an official follower of the blog, Facebook or Twitter  .  We will often be out and about this summer.  Although sometimes I hope to be enjoying the moment and not glued to my phone.  After all, I am traveling to experience and to make memories with my family.  Hope to see you along the way!

P.S. Speaking of memories … we are just a few weeks away from my one year “blogiversary.”  (I am just beginning to work on organizing some fun give-aways!)  In honor of this, tomorrow’s “Wordless Wednesday” will be a fun collaboration.  A scavenger hunt full of pictures from many places that we have been.  Your challenge is to find the connection between the places!  On Thursday, I will tell you how the pictures work together.    This is partially inspired by a recent creative post over at Family Fun in Omaha.  If you have ever been to Omaha, I highly suggest that you “visit” the 20 places in her Omaha Scavenger Hunt and see how many you can identify!

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Travel Tips Tuesday: To Join or Not to Join? Museum Memberships Across Nebraska

Are you a joiner?  Do you like to participate in different clubs?  Do you belong to any organizations?

As I look back, I probably could consider myself an active participant in many organizations.  But I have to say, that where I (really we) have belonged tends to fluctuate with the season and ages of my children.

Membership is a great option for supporting an organization.  Plus when you have a larger family, sometimes joining costs only a bit more than simply paying admission.  For instance, for us to visit the Durham Museum several years ago would have cost $30.  We could buy an educator membership for $45.  Even though the museum was an hour away from our home, belonging there made sense.  We just had to return one more time for our membership to pay for itself.  (I think we went back 2 or 3 more times -a  great place)!

Morrill Hall Z

Currently we are members at Morrill Hall in Lincoln.  We partially joined this place due to its reciprocal membership benefits.  (More on this option next week!)  With studying Nebraska, this is also a great place to see displays on Native Nebraskans – both people and even some animals.  (Disclaimer: I have to admit that I am not exactly on board with their dating system, so there are certain areas we basically avoid).  As I wrote about several months ago, I really love their Discovery Center.

I am also a member of the Nebraska State Historical Society.  This allows me to get into their various locations.  More importantly, I also receive their publications – quite helpful to this aspiring writer.  For this one, I just have an individual membership since kids have free entrance anyway.

Chimney Rock

Chimney Rock – one of the places I got in “free” this year with my Nebraska Historical Society membership.

How does one decide whether just to visit or to join?

1)  Will you be going there often?  If the location is a long distance away, a membership may not be justifiable.  But if you travel to the region often (visiting grandparents and such), joining may be a good idea even if you are not from that area.

2) Will the cost even itself out?  Sometimes memberships are a bargain.  A few are a bit more costly.  What fits into your budget?

3) Will  a membership make you feel guilty if you do not make it back there as often as you hoped?  We used to belong to the Lincoln Children’s Museum.  I love that place!  We still make it back there a few times a year.  But since my kids are older now and we are homeschooling, joining there just does not make sense at this point.  Trying to make it there often enough to justify the expense would stress me out.  (Sorry, youngest child, I recognize that you got the shaft!)

4) Will having a membership motivate you to visit more?  The inverse is also true. Sometimes when we join a place, we tend to push ourselves to visit more often.   While this may not always work for the gym :-), but this might work if you belong to the zoo.  If nothing else, your children will be clamoring to go.  Incessant begging can often be highly motivational. 🙂

Memberships are often great options.  Whether you officially join places or not, Nebraska has many great places to go visit.  May 2014 be full of adventures across “The Good Life”state!

Categories: Lincoln, Metro, Nebraska History, Region or City, Travel Tips, Where to Begin | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exploring Art in Nebraska with Children

Is taking a preschooler to the art museum a crazy idea? No.  But that may not be the right place to start introducing your child to art.  Or I should rephrase that – the best place to first acquaint your children with fine art might involve a library card and a comfy cuddle chair.  Exposing your little ones to quality picture books is a great starting point.

Here are a few of our favorite illustrators

David Catrow: He does mainly cartoon illustrations that are always delightful!

This book has become an annual tradition in our house every Thanksgiving.  Over the River and Through the Woods illustrated by David Catrow

Ed Young: He usually has an Asian focus to his books – amazing illustrations!

Alice Provensen: Her illustrations evoke colonial and other time periods of long ago.  Classics.

Robert McCloskey: With only about a dozen books to his name, two won the Caldecott medal (see below for explanation) and two won the Caldecott honorable mention.  When you see his books, you will understand why!

Marcia Brown: Her illustrations evoke nostalgia and are classic block prints.

Eric Carle: His illustrations are whimsical and striking and enjoyable and …  These you have read to your kids without knowing their significance (such as Very Hungry Caterpillar and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?.  A whole book has been devoted to just his art and is amazing in and of itself.

The Eric Carle PIcture Book Museum also edited a book entitled Artist to Artist: 23 Major Illustrators Take to Children About Their Work – filled with various picture book artists.

Need even more ideas: This is the list from the American Library Assocation of all of the Caldecott Medal and Honor Books from 1938.  That award is given to the best picture book of the year.  (Note: While the illustrations in these books are amazing, I would definitely preview them for content.  Some of them may not be appropriate for young (or older) children in my opinion).

And one last list: Best Children’s Books Illustrators from Children’s Books Guide

Books About Art: Children’s Books Illustrated with Works of Art

My favorite author of this focus is Lucy Micklethwait.  Her “I Spy in Art” series is incredible.  The kids naturally engage in her books without even realizing they are actually exploring major artworks.

Richard Muhlberger has a whole series on specific artists (What Makes a Picasso a Picasso for instance)

Gladys Blizzard has a whole other series for children on looking for specific items in artworks.

For older children, Anna Nilsen wrote several books on identifying certain characteristics in art.  Of course, the kids actually think they are solving the mystery of which art is authentic and which one is stolen.

Narrowing your search to children’s titles, then searching “art appreciation” will lead to the discovery of even more titles.  (Note: all picture book covers were taken off the Amazon site – the titles can be purchased there for various prices and may also be available at your local area library)

Now on to visiting art galleries  …

I have taken our kids to museum.  And left without owing the place a bunch of money for destroyed artwork.  In fact, everything was intact.  Usually.  (More on that near the end of the entry about our recent trip to the Sheldon Museum of Art).

A view at the Joslyn

The Joslyn Art Museum can be found in Omaha.  They happen to feature backpacks that you can “check out” for children and then go on a scavenger hunt throughout the museum.  Paper is provided, so that you can create your own masterpieces.

What I think the key is to introducing kids to art museums and galleries: pick a place near your home, so that you can start slowly.  I have learned that my kids tend to get out of control when they are tired.  So if an hour or two at a museum makes you exhausted, imagine what that does to your kids!  So, twenty to thirty minutes may be about perfect.  Unless …

You manage to get them engaged in the artworks.  Some days this will work – sometimes it may not.  Follow the ideas from the art picture books – play “I Spy.”  At the Sheldon, they have black benches in the middle of each of the permanent display galleries.  You can sit together in the middle and search for shapes, colors, numbers and even certain objects.  This way you are out of range of the artworks but still are experiencing the art.  Some of the paintings are easy to engage with and others may stretch your mind a bit.  And you may want to choose your angle carefully depending on the museum.

Sheldon Mickey Mouse

What child would not enjoy seeing this painting that is on permanent display at the Sheldon Museum of Art in Lincoln?

Another great place to start is at a sculpture garden.  Since these are usually located outdoors, the pieces tend to be a bit more indestructible.  Plus often they involve a bit more of using your imagination.

Indian smoke signals at Pioneer Park

One of the many fun sculptures that you can find scattered throughout Pioneer’s Park in Lincoln.

One final note: as with books, you may want to preview art exhibits, especially if you tend to be conservative or have sensitive children.  While I respect the right of others to create art, I personally reserve my right to withhold my children from experiencing that art, especially when they are young!

P.S. Needing some ideas of places to go to begin experiencing art?  Here is a link to the eight Nebraska galleries featured in the Nebraska Passport program this year.


Categories: Recommended Reading, Travel Tips, Where to Begin | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travel Tips Tuesday: Park It

A Dilemma for Travelers …

You have looked forward to the outing for awhile.  The day is beautiful, and you are even on time until … there is NO place to park.  The more you circle, the more your joy in the adventure goes out the car window.  I have actually had friends miss a field trip because they could not find a place to park.   Parking is one bit of travel that we do need to take into account before heading out especially if our destination is a metropolitan area with limited spots.    Planning ahead on parking just like we might pick out our outfit in advance.  So, not only knowing directions to our event, but also having a few parking destinations in mind is a great idea.

Did you know that different companies actually own various alleys across metro areas?  This was news to me.  They can actually decide who parks near their buildings.  Some of our friends have graciously let us park in their alley spots when we have made different treks to  downtown Lincoln, saving us a bit of money.  After all, isn’t this everyone’s goal?

DSCN4184_1137August Nikon 13

If you are from a small town, you are maybe laughing because parking is not a factor in planning your events.  (Although I am sure this could be an issue if there is a particularly big ball game being played in town!)   And while you may have meters around the town square, at the most you may drop a quarter or two to spend a few hours downtown.  Enjoy that small town perk!  If you are planning a trip to either Downtown Lincoln or Omaha soon, here are some helpful suggestions!



Parking at meters in Downtown Lincoln went up this year.  You used to be able to park for a dime and have 12 whole minutes to run in and out of your destination.   While a quarter used to buy you 30 whole minutes inside, now that time has been cut in half – fifteen minutes is not quite as meaningful.  (And dimes are no longer worth keeping in the car for only six minutes!)   You can now use your debit card at the meter (if staying an hour or more), so that is helpful.  Most meters have standard times (running 8-6) and provide free parking all day on Sundays.  But … if you happen to use a meter at another Lincoln location (such as East Campus), you may want to confirm their times are the same.


These East Campus parking meters have different hours than downtown Lincoln.

Parking Garages

Actually, some parking garages are actually cheaper now – especially if you find a Park & Go garage.  All of these city owned locations feature “first hour free.”  We keep the Downtown Lincoln map in our car, so that we can always find one of these garages.  At least nine spots are available with more garages being built in the downtown area.   There are several private garages around town that do not provide this service, but if they are closer to your event, they may be worth using!  Note: most take credit cards.  BUT, some only take cash or even check, such as the parking garage right next to Memorial Stadium), so come prepared.

Special Events

Many places charge more for parking for special events.  Last Saturday when my son and I went to watch the Husker game, I was stunned to discover that garages charge a $20 flat fee for the event.  (Evidently it had been awhile since I was the one driving to a game!  Thanks, friends, for letting us use your lot for free in the past) .  I did discover that you can find decent parking if you look and have cash.  We parked for $5 around 20th & Q, so we did have a walk to the stadium, but it was a beautiful day.  Across the street, the Assurity Garage was charging only $10 for all day parking – worth it if you did not have cash.  1 block away from our spot, the lots were $15.  (I teased my son about the fact that walking a block saved us ten bucks!)

DSCN4083_1067August Nikon 13

As far as parking near the new downtown arena, they will have several Pinnacle Bank arena parking lot areas.  According their website, parking costs will range from $3-10, depending on the event.  Cash only. For the recent Jason Aldean country concert, they even had an online map showing just what parking is available.  Much of the Haymarket area is still under construction, so you definitely want to allow extra time if going down for an event!


I really enjoy going to Omaha, but I have to say getting around that town still intimidates me.  And my husband would prefer to avoid downtown Omaha (and even Lincoln) due to the parking hassles.  We definitely do not know how to maneuver the Old Market/Riverfront very well.  So, I asked Kim, of OhMy! Omaha if she could provide some insights into the best places to park if you are heading out to Nebraska’s largest city.

Old Market

– If you’re headed to the Old Market and can’t find on-street parking on the neat brick road, head a little south on 10th Street. You can almost always find a parking spot on the 10th Street bridge, and you don’t have to plug the meter after 5 p.m. or on the weekends. It’s well lit so you’ll feel comfortable walking back to your car at night.
– If you’re going to an event at the CenturyLink Center, skip paying to park in the arena’s lots. You’ll find a couple lots along Riverfront Drive (which starts south of CenturyLink and runs parallel to the arena and the river up to Abbot Drive. The easiest is to park in the parking lots of the now-closed Rick’s Boatyard and walk over the bridge to the arena. If that’s full, head south on Riverfront Drive and you’ll find a small parking lot next to Heartland of America Park.
– Most shows you go to at the Rose Theater will be at a time when parking on the street is free. However, if you can’t find a spot, theater-goers can use the lot next to the Wells Fargo drive through, it’s on the north side of Farnam Street and not really advertised as audience parking but I always use it and so does the rest of the world.
– Midtown Crossing is full of great restaurants now, not to mention a movie theater. If you go there, always park in one of the many garages – they’re free for up to three hours any time of day. The shopping center regularly offers shuttles to events in downtown Omaha, making it a smart choice to leave your car there, and have a ride to and from the game/show/concert.
Thanks, Kim for making Omaha parking less intimidating! Hopefully these tips for both Lincoln and Omaha will make arriving to your next downtown event more enjoyable.
Timing (One last parking tip)
What I continue to learn as a parent – allow plenty of time.  You would think that this would be second nature for me by now – recognizing that kids take longer to get ready and to leave than I think they should.  When my son and I went to the game Saturday, I allowed plenty of time for once.  We were actually in our seats to watch the introductions and the opening band numbers – SO much more enjoyable!  So, I will be continuing to work on allowing myself more time to arrive and to find parking, so that we are not rushing around at the last minute.  We missed a concert last spring because we could not park in time to make it to the limited seating show.  My fault for not calculating that (and for choosing Chic-fil-a even though it was not exactly in the area of the concert. 🙂  ) By the way, if you have any or several children under the age of three, please know that if you arrive on time, appreciate the miracle!  Getting out the door with little ones is definitely a challenge!
P.S. By the way, just wanted to recommend the OhMy! Omaha blog.  If you also enjoy taking road trips to Omaha or even if you live there, by subscribing to her blog, you will be informed of all the great family fun events taking place in the big O!  She also has several permanent links for such things as Omaha train fun and family Mahoney State Park ideas.  Her blog even has “dad approved” outings on the site, so maybe your hubby can take the kids while you enjoy Omaha shopping.  (Hey, a girl can dream! 🙂 )
P.S.  Please read the comments for some great tips for parking on Husker football game days made by Feit Can Write (who attends almost all of the games, so he knows) !
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Travel Tips Tuesday: The Best Destination

A Family on the Go Stop

My 50th blog post – I wanted to write about something significant to me.  But I will say my topic is possibly a bit unexpected for a travel blog.  Sometimes rather than seeking out the next place to explore, only one place should be your destination.  Home.

I am beginning to see more and more how important that balance is.  Seeking out new adventures while finding time to settle in at home.  Being on the go and being on the stop.  Balancing busyness and stillness.

In the weeks to come as I continue to write about our adventures and places that we have explored, I know that some people may begin to wonder.  “How does she ever find time to homeschool?”  “How does she keep leaving and not have her house be a disaster?”  (Okay – I will be honest – I definitely am behind on that part currently – hopefully we will establish a better routine on keeping up around here.)  How can she be gone all of the time?

I actually am not.  We are home frequently.  In fact, my goal this fall is to be home three out of five school days.  We will have our cooperative day, and then we will have a field trip day.  After all, this year we are studying Nebraska.   So, when we read the short story,  Journey into Christmas, by Bess Streeter Aldrich, I want to take my kids to see her house in Elmwood, now a museum, all decorated for Christmas.  I do not want to just read about prairies but to go walk through the grasses at Prairie Creek Audubon Center.  Experiential learning.  One of the many reasons we have chosen to homeschool.

But even that will have parameters.  If we are not accomplishing our work at home, that may cancel or postpone our outings. Or if just one or two are not motivated to compete their school,  I have warned that they will be sitting off to the side finishing it, while the rest of us are taking a tour.  And if they are frequently responding unpleasantly (the way they have seemed to have been this week a bit – yucky hot weather!), we will stay home.  If their reactions to me are less than desirable in private, I am not sure I want to take them out in public.  Bad attitudes can definitely take the joy out of traveling with kids.  Theirs or mine!

The great thing about writing a blog is that I do not have to mention when we had the adventure.  Just that we went there.  So, often we were going to two or three places in day, then staying home the next.  Now that our school has started our outings will slow down, but since my blog may not slow down, that may not be apparent.    I think I am ready for routine (that is once I have finished catching up from our summer of baseball and other activities.)

July and August cell phone 069

Insert a picture of your own home here. 🙂

So, go out and explore.  But sometimes be quick to stay home – enjoy your own surroundings.  There will always be opportunities out there.  We have missed plenty.  But we have also gained much on those times spent at home just being.    Your front porch (or other cozy spot) is calling your name.  Perhaps lyricist John Howard Payne in his opera Clari (Maid of Milan) expressed the sentiment best.

Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.





Categories: Travel Tips, Where to Begin | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Old McDonald Road Tour and More: Visiting Farms in Nebraska

Has this week’s farm nostalgia made you want to visit one of your own?  You must want to be an agritourist.  I found out that agritourism is a growing business, especially as people continue to move away from farms and into towns and cities.  We are more separated from the land than we used to be.


Nelson Farm in Merrick County, NE (picture source: Wikipedia Commons)

Nebraska does have several agritourist opportunities.  You can actually go to Pawnee County and visit two different sustainable farms if you sign up for one of the suggested Nebraska farm and ranch tours.  The other two tour possibilities involve visiting a Niobrara elk and buffalo ranch.  (And yes, while both often involve livestock, there is a BIG difference between being a farmer and a rancher!)  You can choose to stay at guest ranches across Nebraska the next time you need overnight lodging (as opposed to a hotel!)

If you long for bygone days, you would enjoy visiting Wessel’s Living History Farm just south of York, Nebraska.  While admission is charged, the experience seems to be educational and entertaining, with explanation given as to how farming has changed over the course of the last century.  Here is a description of the experience (directly from their website.

Wessels Living History Farm

The 145-acre farm now features the home David Wessels shared with his brother. It also features a red, timber frame barn, corn crib, machine shed, garage, chicken coop and a large windmill typical of the 1920’s. These structures were chosen to begin the “living history farm” experience. To the south, there is a modern tractor display building with many of the tractors, stationary engines and combine that Dave Wessels restored. Surrounding the buildings is a modern farm operation that is still producing crops.

Another former farm with a touch of history is located in Nebraska City.  Arbor Day Farm has a conservation focus.  While they grow, they want to sustain the land.  Not exactly a traditional farm, but you can definitely have some agricultural experience.

Prairieland Dairy  (tours are available for $2/person – reservations required other than for their annual dairy days each summer)

Kranz Dairy Farm near Lincoln

Farmstead First (2 small family farms combine forces – they especially work with making cheese and other organic products)

I found about this last opportunity from a blog reader (thanks!)  Love the concept of eating food that is grown locally in Nebraska!

2013 Dig Deeper Farm Tour

I am sure that I missing many possibilities in Nebraska.  If you know of any more options, please e-mail me at OR simply post a comment below.

Categories: Agriculture, Frontier Trails, Lincoln, Pioneer Country, Prairie Lakes, Region or City, Sandhills, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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