Nebraska Adventures

friends in Nebraska

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Connor Oberst

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Rebekah and I spent a lot of our time in Nebraska visiting friends and family. However, we had a unique chance to do some of my favorite “Nebraska” things and even mark something off my bucket list. It was a last minute trip, but we packed in a lot to those six days.

Several downtown Grand Island businesses hosted a free concert series. As a teen I loved going to local concerts. It just so happened one of my favorite musicians from my teen years, Connor Oberst (Most known for his work with Bright Eyes.) was set to perform while we were in town. Dad willingly went with me to the concert since Mitch (my concert-loving husband) wasn’t able to make this trip.

Surprisingly, my dad was far from the oldest person there. The crowd was a strange mixture of people, but that is Grand Island for you! And I love it. Connor Oberst put on a fabulous concert with a mixture of old and new songs. Instead of drinking water during the concert he drank um, beer. I’ve been to a lot of concerts, but it was the first time I’ve seen that. He had “crazy eyes” going on the whole concert too. I think he was probably on something or drunk; but he is still one of the most talented musicians and songwriters I’ve seen live.  Afterwards I spotted a couple friends from college and chatted for a little bit.

I’ve always loved the events that my hometown puts on from the downtown Ethnic Festival to the State Fair to the annual Art in the Park. Grand Island is a melting pot—a collaboration of many cultures from around the world. I am thankful for the diversity of my hometown and the awareness it instilled in me.

Later in the week, dad and I took Rebekah around to some of my favorite places in downtown Grand Island. The first was The Tattered Book, a little used bookstore that opened back when I was in middle school or high school. I spent a great deal of time and money there while I was in high school. It supplied most of my John Neihardt collection–for which I am very grateful!

Afterwards we went to The Chocolate Bar. This business is relatively new. I think it opened while I was in college. They, of course, have gourmet chocolate, but they also offer classy food, desserts, and coffee–the latter is what we were seeking. Their Cuban is a latte made with sweetened condensed milk. It is now one of my favorite drinks because it is creamy and only slightly sweet.

The downtown of my youth was mostly Mexican markets and antique stores. Granted these are pretty fun to walk around, and the churros a warm, doughy, cinnamon-sugary treat that is quite divine. I am proud of how downtown Grand Island it is developing today. There are several unique restaurants, boutiques, and classy bars popping up. Sadly though, there is also the first strip club within city limits. But compared to Missouri and Arizona, Nebraska still doesn’t have many strip clubs or “adult” stores. For which I am thankful.

We introduced Rebekah to Hall County Park, one of the nicer parks in Grand Island. I have many memories there from our family picnics. It backs up to Stuhr Museum and a small creek that my cousins and I used to play in. We’d roll up our overalls and go wading in it. Today that part is off-limits since it is now a flood diversion.

Though I always wish for more time with more friends, I was able to visit my sweet friends Libby and Jake and their newborn son Ezekiel. He is all that is a sweet newborn. Libby will be such an amazing mom to her little guy and I know he will be raised to love Jesus, which makes my heart very full. Looking at his tiny face and lips while Rebekah rabbled about–now a bustling toddler–made my heart ache for those early days.

We also dedicated a day to driving into western Nebraska to visit my college roommate and dear friends. They live about six hours away, so we met halfway in Ogallala at Lake McConaughy. I had not visited this vast body of water in many years, so it was great fun to see it again, and even more wonderful to catch up with Sarabeth, James, and Omega. He is just two weeks older than Rebekah, so it was a hoot to get the two of them together!

We also ate at Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge. I possessed faint memories of stopping here with my parents on our way to Wyoming or Colorado. The food is passable, but the aged restaurant is decorated with every type of taxidermied animal. I still can’t decide if it is creepy or cool. But Rebekah loved it. She got to eat right beneath a giraffe.

As we were heading out to the lake we stopped at a new little antique store that also sells handmade decor and coffee and pastries. I am so glad we pulled off to explore. It was a beautiful place that not only offered decent priced coffee, tea, and lemonades, but it was a delight to look around. If you ever find yourself in Paxton, Nebraska, I highly recommend stopping at Anne Marie’s Antiques. 😉

It was a busy week, but I am grateful for the adventures, the opportunities, and the memories. But after a week of travel we were happy to be back home and in our routine again. Rebekah missed Mitch so much that when we got home she would not stop kissing and hugging him. Of course, now we are traveling again, but we will be home soon. More to come on our St. Louis and Springfield adventures next week!

I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day weekend!

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