2018 Nebraska Passport Experiences

We just completed our 2018 Nebraska Passport and have a new appreciation for our state. We traveled over 3,257 miles to collect all 70 stamps for 2018. From the 1# stop at Sugar Shack Country Candles in Edgar to #70 Peppermill Restaurant in Valentine, we discovered many friendly/proud Nebraskans, learned new facts about the state, enjoyed shopping adventures, discovered some new favorite wines, and delicious meals.

The Arbor Day Farm Tree Adventure was a nice starting point to appreciate the beginning of spring, and the related stop at Wildwood Historic Center. Fontenelle Forest is always a treat, and while we are close to Rowe Sanctuary this was a first for us but it will not be the last visit. Hopefully we can return this fall with the fall colors.

The Gene Roncka Gallery was a special treat, filled with artwork and the wildlife displays. Plus, Ashland is a fun place to stroll about and enjoy the shops.

The Petrified Wood & Art Museum was amazing. Happy to have had the opportunity to meet the artists and to hear their story. Their art work is awesome!

The High Plains Homestead Home of the Drifter Cookshack & Bunkhouse was on the agenda for our last day. The breakfast was amazing, the owners very friendly and willing to share. The setting, close to Toadstool Park was another amazing sight. Did not realize we had this special gem. This is is sight I would like to encourage family members to take in and make a trip with small children to see NE history.

R.F. Goeka Variety & Soda Fountain is a fun place to visit and remember “youth.” Bonus was being close to Marilyn’s so it will be fun to return and visit both.

The Platte Valley Antique Mall was a pleasant surprise; everything so clean and well organized, one of the nicer antique stores we have visited.
Taylor Community Arboretum was another great stop. The wooden figures about town enticed us to stay and look for the various displays, plus enjoyed dessert when we had the passport stamped (who can resist homemade cobbler with ice cream!).

Fill My Cup Coffee Shop Genoa was a welcome midmorning break. Enjoyed the homemade muffins and coffee. Plus the friendly welcome and hearing about “Venus the Elephant”, a great story to pass on to the great nieces/nephews. The owners truly were proud of their town and shared the history. Herban Coffee Lab at Plattsmouth offered a nice break and a chance to stroll the town. Stop at Lasso Expresso Co at Gothenburg was nice, and a place to stop when traveling west when traveling I-80.

The Oregon Trail stops were interesting. We live along the Oregon trail but it was interesting to visit the various places that it covered over the state, from the beginning at Fairbury to Chimney Rock.

The Outdoor Stops highlighted NE outdoors and gave us some ideas for some day trips when we want to get away and enjoy nature. The visit to Shamrock Nursey in O’Neill will be a new spot for spring plants. That was amazing, and the plants made the trip home and have thrived!
The Pizza stops were fun and each unique… but the Iron Horse Food & Spirits at Hooper was one of the best spots. We arrived early in the evening so we decided to have dinner. We ordered the chicken fried steak which was one of the best!!!!!!! The size was enough for 3 people which we did not realize when we ordered. Hopefully we will be back near Hooper to make a return visit.

We planned our days to be near one of the restaurants on the Passport. Our stop to north NE took us to the Bassett Lodge & Range Café for lunch. As luck would have it the special that day was Chicken Fried steak which was very good and topped off with homemade pie. It’s a small world, while we were eating some co-workers from my working days from Lincoln stopped for lunch on their way to S.Dak, so an added bonus to enjoy a delicious meal and visit with friends.

We enjoyed the Barnstormers Family Bar & Grill Special in Norfolk, and the Windbreak Bar & Grill in Kimball. A stop after that was the Flight Deck in Scottsbluff, to soon to eat but it was full and looked like a place for a return visit.

The Peppermill in Valentine was our final stop. I remembered it from my days of work and having to travel. I was surprised at the new location but not disappointed in the food or service. Still a favorite and will be the place to stop when in the area.

The shopping spots offered some special stores. The Sugar Shack in Edgar was our first stop. Being filled with spring items that set the pace for the trip and of course we came home with some new candles and ideas! We will return to Urban Farm Boutique when we go to Columbus to visit family.

The Sweet Treats were fun stops and filled our “sweet tooth.” Enjoyed the homemade pie at a Pocketful of Rye at Chadron, The Master’s Hand was a pleasant surprise when we could enjoy a delicious lunch, browse and find some unique gift items, the Rabbit Hole Bakery in Lincoln gave us some energy to continue our shopping, Sugar Bee at Hickman was filled with awesome bake goods (return visit on list), and of course the UNL Dairy Store is always enjoyed. Never can have too much ice cream!!!

Enjoyed the Wine & Beer stops and learning more about NE wines. Nissen Winery learned about the “outlaws” that their wine is named after. Miletta Vista at St Paul and Superior Estates Winery interesting to hear about the production of the wines and to have a sample. Bottle Rocket Brewing Co in Seward offered a look at a new venture in town.

We did enjoy participating in the 2018 Nebraska Passport and wanted to let the various participants know that we appreciated their participation in the Passport program. We look forward to return visits and to Nebraska Passport 2019.

Mary Frances Wagoner
Judy Wagoner