The Largest Porch Swing in the World

Last week I had the honor of visiting the LARGEST PORCH SWING IN THE WORLD (yes, that required all caps) in Hebron,NE. I will admit that it was the largest swing I had ever seen…but it was not on a porch! The park in which it was located reminded me of my childhood. They had one of those hamster wheel things and a big metal slide, both of which have since been outlawed in most cities. Hebron has their priorities straight in the park department: Fun before safety! Edith and I joined a couple of unsupervised tweens on the hamster wheel and I immediately felt like I was going to vomit.

Edith and I had stopped by Hebron after visiting Daykin and Deshler, Nebraska.  Our sole purpose for this mission was to pick up a quarter of a beef in Deshler, but before we got there we stopped in Daykin (or maybe it was Tobias) for lunch with my friend Amy’s parents.  They were the providers of said beef and they were kind enough to feed us a hearty farm lunch and give us a tour of their cool house and playhouse. I was very impressed by these Nebraskans, they had water pipes beneath the floors that heated the place, a giant garden, and a pantry full of food that Amy’s mom has canned. I have to say that the most impressive part was the playhouse.  Amy’s dad got the idea to make a European style cottage for his grand kids after visiting Germany. He built and created everything and even welded a spiral staircase; they had a neighbor build the kids some toy appliances.   It was great to see something in real life that you only ever see on Pinterest!

We were only in Deshler for about 10 minutes.  We came, we picked up a large amount of beef, and we hit the road.  It was a cute town and the lady at the butcher shop was really nice.  She was impressed that I drove 2 1/2 hours to pick up beef, I reassured her it was worth it. As we drove out we passed East Pearl Avenue and I had to take a picture for my Edith Pearl…get it E Pearl?

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Nebraska City

There is a lot to do in Nebraska City and it’s not even apple season! We were there for about 24 hours and this is what we did:

When we pulled into town we headed straight for the Arbor Lodge, to get our Nebraska Passport stamped.  The lodge was home to the J. Sterling Morton and his family.  J. Sterling Morton was a journalist and highly involved in politics.  He founded Arbor Day in 1885, and over one million trees were planted in Nebraska that first year.  The home went through at least four renovations to become what we see today. It started out as a pretty simple farm house and in true Nebraska spirit,  they kept adding onto it throughout the years as the need arose and the money came in.  They only let you see about a third of the house, but we did get to visit the most important room, the bowling alley.

We knew we had time to kill before we could check into the Lied Lodge so we headed down the street to the Arbor Day Farm and went through the Tree Adventure.  The Tree Adventure reminded me a lot of Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue.  There were different paths you could take through the forest but we chose the shorter one. Despite the shade, it was still hot and the humidity was high.  If you look closely I am sure you can see the sweat on our clothes.  Every few steps there was a different “adventure” to partake in.  I personally enjoyed the giant spider web and the outdoor classroom that had several oversized xylophones.  On the way out they give you free trees. I am pretty sure ours are dead by now because we were lazy and didn’t plant them.  In our defense, we have about 3 1/2 full grown trees in our yard already.

We took a break after the Tree Adventure and went for a swim at the local swimming pool.  It was a nice pool and they even let the little kids use rafts in the pool.  Come on, Omaha, get with it! After Miss E took her nap, we had dinner at the Lied Lodge– Timber Dining Room. Brent had a big ol’ burger and I had a big ol’ steak.  Just thinking about this food makes me salivate.  The steak was like a big hunk of roast almost.  It was delicious and the veggies were roasted to perfection.  We sat right next to the window and enjoyed the view.  The next morning we ate breakfast on the terrace and enjoyed the sunshine and the trees.  In Nebraska City you have constant reminders of Nebraska’s beauty and that you are indeed in “Tree City U.S.A“.

After what we felt was a successful trip to Nebraska City, we started to head home.  Oh but wait, we got side tracked by the Missouri River Basin Lewis & Clark Interpretive Trail and Visitors Center.   We felt like if we saw it, we probably needed to investigate for any future visitors of Nebraska City.  This place was a little off the beaten path, but it was pretty fun.  There was a replica of a boat that Lewis and Clark would have used on their adventure across America.  We also saw many stuffed animals, as well as just their hides.  Since Nebraska City seems to be filled with lodges, it is only fitting that they had an earth lodge replica.  There were trails you could take to explore and once again we chose the shorter of the paths leading to the Missouri River.

When I told people we were going to Nebraska City, each one of them suggested we go in the fall and go to the Apple Jack Festival. I am pretty sure the festival is a Nebraska Passport spot so I think we might just have to do it!  After all, Brent’s a sucker for a good quilt show 😉

The Village of Brownville

Driving into Brownville we followed a car onto a winding road that we assumed was going into the main street.  What we found was a dead end, a trailer with a sign telling us that their driveway was NOT a turn around and we would be cussed out if we used it as such, and some random lot filled with a pile of dead trees.  Luckily, Main Street was just a few blocks away and provided us a much more cheerful welcome.  The village looks as though it has not changed since 1854.

Our first stop was Whiskey Run Creek Winery.  Before trying the lovely wine, we took a tour of “the cave”.  The cave was originally a holding space for beer back in the 1800’s when they had a brewery.   Now the cave is just a nice cool place to go on a hot humid Nebraska day.   The grounds of Whiskey Run Creek are landscaped with a lot of flowers and grasses, there is even a waterfall.  I will be the first to admit that local wine is often too sweet for my liking.  There were plenty of sweet wines but there were some very delicious dry white and red wines.  My favorite was a semi-dry red called Chambourcin, it reminded me of Apothic Wine which I discovered this year and love so much.  Brent and I both also enjoyed the Robert’s Back 40, it was a crisp white wine.  After our tasting, we sat outside and ate some crackers and Nebraska made cheese and summer sausage, while enjoying a glass of Robert’s Back 40.  It was hot as the blazes of hell but the patio was so nice.

After the winery we made our way to our hotel, The River Inn Resort, a river boat turned hotel. It was closed last year due to the flooding and you could tell that area really got hit hard.  The area heading up to the hotel used to be an RV park but now it’s just sand and weeds.  We got settled in our room and then boarded another river boat (one that actually moves) to go on the dinner cruise.  We ate our standard buffet food and enjoyed the trip up and down the Missouri River.  We met some lovely folks from a band, Bearfoot, that had been playing in Brownville for a few nights (which we unfortunately missed).  The ride was hot and humid (again) but it was nice and Edith was a big hit.

Our accommodations were nice.  We had a suite so we had an awesome shower that Brent was obsessed with, and a little kitchenette area.  The bed was super comfortable, and there was a seating area outside of our room with Adirondack chairs overlooking the river.  The boat’s walkways are covered in AstroTurf from Memorial stadium.  The top deck of the boat/hotel was also covered in the AstroTurf but it was much more obvious that it had come from Memorial Stadium. Edith was quick to discover the air conditioner, which provided her several minutes of entertainment.

Brownville was lovely and interesting but I strongly suggest visiting sometime between Wednesday and Sunday so you can experience more of what is has to offer. We did not do our homework apparently and missed out on visiting most of the shops and museums.  The only shop that was open on Monday was Brownville Mills, which sells grains and some organic supplements.  Nice to know they have organic food options in such a small town….but the store was slightly umm unorganized (see photo below).  The building used to be a hangout for Jesse James though so that’s pretty cool.   We walked up to the Antiquarium but they were closed…even though Tom, the owner, had served us breakfast at the Inn that morning and said he would be open.  Apparently, he serves breakfast at the Inn because he enjoys it and they feed him.  I guess that is how Brownville operates.

After checking out the “lookout” and some fancy houses, we decided to head to our next destination, Nebraska City.  I found Brownville to be quaint and mysterious; I had Hotel California playing in my head a lot of the time.  I think it would be a fun place to retire to (if it’s still there in 40 years).