2020 was going to be the year that we did a lot of traveling. In February we had planned a July trip to central Oregon - to see my cousin who has a second home there and to attend a fabulous quilt show in Sisters - and an August bus trip to Mackinac Island in Michigan with one of Tom’s cousins and his wife. I’m fairly certain there would have been a couple of other trips in the spring and fall also. Then the pandemic hit and all of those plans were cancelled.
The one positive thing that has come from dealing with COVID-19 is that we have had to become creative with how we have spent our time. Our alternative to traveling throughout the US has been to travel through our beautiful state. And we used the 2020 Nebraska Tourism Passport as well as the wine passport to guide us. We spent several days driving the highways of Nebraska and saw all kinds of things that we didn’t even know existed.
We were introduced to the Nebraska Passport a few years ago by some friends who accomplished all 70 sights. It is sponsored by Nebraska Tourism and features numerous attractions from museums and restaurants to retail and coffee shops. We downloaded an app onto our phones and used that to collect stamps as well as keep track of where we had been. The Tourism office offers prizes for attaining 10, 25, 50, and 70 stamps ranging from a magnet and calendar to lottery tickets and a t-shirt. While the prizes are definitely something we could live without they do offer a goal for which to strive.
Our first day trip was on our anniversary in June. We began the day by heading to Hebron to see the World’s Largest Porch Swing which can hold 32 people. Next we traveled to Hastings to the Bigfoot Crossroads of America Museum and Research Center. I wasn’t a big believer in Bigfoot before I toured this museum and I can honestly say I believed even less after we were done. Nonetheless it was an interesting experience as the curator of the museum was quite a hoot. We then went to the Harmony Day Lily Farm and Nursery in Bradshaw where we saw a lot of gorgeous plants that were quite reasonably priced.
A few weeks later we headed out on a Sunday afternoon with some good friends to tour the Southeast Nebraska Cancer Memorial Garden in Humboldt. This is a beautiful garden full of flowers, statues, wind chimes, and a gazebo with porch swings that we have visited several times. It is truly a hidden gem in the southeast part of our state. Then we traveled to Auburn to see some of the bumblebees that are located around the town and throughout Johnson County. This was an art project similar to the bicycles and hearts that were done in Lincoln several years ago. Our next stop was the Lewis and Clark Museum in Nebraska City. There are many interactive displays that would be a great experience for kids. We would like to return on a less humid day as there were several nice hiking trails in the hills by the Missouri River. We topped off the day by stopping at the Rich Harvest Winery in Syracuse.
Our next outing occurred at the beginning of July when we hit a couple of spots in Omaha when we were spending the weekend with my parents. We visited Mulhall’s nursery which is usually a fun place to shop as they have so many beautiful plants and fun decorating ideas. On this day, however, it was terribly hot and humid so we didn’t stay long. Instead we headed to Nebraska Brewing Company in LaVista for a beer and popcorn!
Stay tuned for more of our Passport adventures!