Saturday, September 11, 2010

Changing Hearts and Minds One Friend at a Time!

In case you've ever wondered why we do the things we do, I'll try to explain.

Of course, we enjoy every minute! But there's always an underlying motive, and that's to share the beauty of Nebraska with people who might not otherwise get a chance to experience anything other than the Interstate 80 corridor.

As a matter of fact, even our obsession with Deadliest Catch has paid off in this endeavor. One Deadliest Catch friend recently moved from Georgia to Washington, and stopped over on her way there. We had the chance to make a midnight trek into the Nebraska Sandhills to see the precursor of the latest meteor shower and to treat her to an unparalleled view of the Milky Way.

Another Deadliest Catch friend took a road trip that brought them to Thedford along the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway.

We had a wonderful late lunch at Stubs, then Terri Licking kindly opened up the Thedford Art Gallery for us, and it really paid off as they bought around $300 worth of local art!

Not only am I looking forward to sharing more of Nebraska with these friends, I'm looking forward to catching up with all of them in Seattle next year at CatchCon!

Then, of course, is our new Couch Surfing adventure which I described in the previous post. Surfing our couch may be free, but if time allows, we do require our Couch Surfers to accompany us on a short trip into the Sandhills - they won't regret it. The Mister calls it God's Country, because when you step outside for a moment, all you see, hear and smell is the beauty of God's creation.

Below are some of the photos our first-ever Couch Surfer recently shared with us by email. Here's what she had to share on the reference she posted for us on CouchSurfing.org:

The true highlight was the next day when I spent several hours with Muriel. I felt like I won the lottery, in that her job is with Nebraska tourism! Her face lit up when I asked what she loved about Nebraska. By the end I was eyeing a "for sale" sign in front of a house we passed. I saw a bit of the Sand Hills, with its miles of gently rolling hills and no electrical poles, wires, noise. Muriel invited me to return for the annual visitl of the cranes and gave me a brief and interesting history lesson on the Union Pacific Railroad. She also shared her and Mark's involvement with Concerts in Your Home, which is an amazing movement, kind of like CS in its outside-the-box, creative way of connecting people (and music). Thank you Mark and Muriel for a lovely and positive experience.

In her email, she said:

I've retold the story many times, how, compared to Yellowstone, my visit with you was hands down, superior. I hope you like these pics and feel free to use them for Nebraska tourism if you'd like. I've also shared with many people about Concert in Your House.

As a matter of fact, I think I will use them for Nebraska Tourism! I'll start here with the Outback Nebraska blog.
One comment that we've heard repeated a number of times is that it is very reassuring to know that places like this still exist. We who are fortunate enough to live here take the beauty for granted, but for our city-bound friends living anywhere but our beloved fly-over country, it is literally a breath of fresh air to take that first step out of the pickup onto the side of the road in the Sandhills.
Just in case you aren't sure why the Nebraska Sandhills are called what they are, this literally is what they're made of - Valentine Sand. The Sandhills are the largest formation of grass stabilized sand dunes in the western hemisphere, covering about 22,000 square miles. The population is somewhat less than one person per square mile.
One of the most frequent critters encountered on a visit to the Sandhills is one of our beautiful box (or sand) turtles. Our rule is that when you find one of these creatures crossing the road, you have to stop and help him across in whatever direction it looked like he was headed. If not, then when you come back, you might find him squished in the middle of the road, and that is just sad.
They may not appreciate it - you can see this one looks less than pleased at the interruption, but it's better than being squished.
Even the readers to this blog get a hefty dose of Nebraska beauty most times when they stop by - changing hearts, minds (and opinions) about Nebraska, one friend at a time!
Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

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