Saturday, January 29, 2011

Eagle Viewing in Western Nebraska

Last weekend I needed to make a jaunt up to Oshkosh Nebraska for a baby shower. I decided to take advantage of the road trip and stop by the Eagle Viewing Facility hosted by the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District at Kingsley Dam. The facility is actually below the dam and Lake McConaughy on Lake Ogallala.
To get here, you head north out of Ogallala on Highway 26. When you get to the junction of Highway 26/61, turn right (east). Just past the Water Information Center, but before you cross the dam, you'll see a sign pointing right to the Eagle Viewing Facility. The snow had mostly melted, off the roads at least, the day I went, but I might be hesitant to make this drive in a car. An SUV would be fine. It's a gravel road that winds down a steep hill and crosses the spillway below the dam. If it's snowpacked, icy or muddy, cars might have a problem. If you think you're going to have trouble getting back up the hill, you can leave by exiting to the north and accessing Keystone Lake Road to get back up to Highway 61.
As you approach the Eagle Viewing Facility, please use caution so you don't spoil your and the other birdwatchers' enjoyment by making too much noise, or leaving the silhouette of the building, which will scare the birds. Inside, you'll find that you're going to be nice and cozy, sharing the space with likeminded people in the company of an extremely knowledgeable representative of CNPPID.
There are binoculars and spotting scopes to borrow, so don't worry if you didn't come prepared. Even though this is the height of the eagle wintering in the area, it was uncrowded on a Saturday afternoon.
So, just what is everyone looking at? Across the bay on the point, you can see eagles and a dense concentration of swans. This day the CNPPID employee had counted 76 eagles and 35 swans. Last week, the eagle numbers were in the 30's. According to him, this has been one of the best years so far for numbers of birds.
I had expected the eagles, but the swans were a welcome surprise, as were the thousands of other water birds. I've admitted before that I am no birdwatcher, but the other visitor and the CNPPID representative were more than knowledgeable about the species that were present to make up for my deficiencies.
There were thousands of dead fish on the shoreline, which I was told were Alewife. There is a large population in Lake McConaughy, and these travel through the spillway into Lake Ogallala. There is a temperature difference between the two lakes. I'm assuming Lake Ogallala is colder, being smaller and shallower. The fish die from temperature shock, leaving abundant food for the scavenging eagles. The ones that don't die (only about 10% do), provide live food for the ducks, geese, swans and other waterfowl.

Directly across from the viewing stand, eagles are soaring above the bluffs and hanging out in the trees, sometimes munching on the fish they've just grabbed.
And the Eagles! The numbers are incredible. I know my friend over at Dutch Harbor Dirt gets to see hundreds of Eagles up in Unalaska all the time, but in these numbers, they are rare in Nebraska. According to Nebraska Birding Trails, there are around 35 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles in Nebraska. According to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, sometimes as many as 1500 will winter in the state.

I could show you picture after picture after picture of the Eagles that were there last weekend, flying, swooping, playing, fighting... but you would just get sick and tired of it. Instead, here is one to give you an idea of how close you can get. Now you've got to go visit yourself!
One couple from Colorado that I visited with in the facility are regular visitors, both during Eagle season and during the summer. They said there is a nesting pair around Lake Ogallala. They also related to me that they had stopped in Ogallala for a burger before going out to the lake. They mentioned to the staff in the fast food restaurant that they were there to see the Eagles, and they got an uncomprehending look in return.

According to tourism studies, people in fast food restaurants and convenience stores are often the number one go-to sources of information for tourists. It's been my experience, both as a tourism professional and a traveler, that they are often the most clueless when it comes to what's going on locally (the standard answer to that question being... nothin'). When I posted a video showcasing the Eagle Viewing Facility, I was taken to task for this comment, and rightfully so. Not all locals are clueless, and I am so grateful for the ones who aren't!

So I'll get off my soapbox and end by encouraging you to get out and see the magnificent Eagles who winter in Nebraska.

Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District maintains two Eagle Viewing Facilities in western Nebraska:
Central's Eagle-Viewing Facilities

The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District provides facilities from which the public can watch eagles and other wildlife, including a multipurpose and eagle-viewing facility constructed in 1996 below the south end of Kingsley Dam. The building is located on the shore of Lake Ogallala and affords a wonderful vantage point from which to watch eagles as they catch fish from the lake, sit on the ice and in nearby trees and soar above the area.

Inside the Johnson No. 2 Hydro (J-2), bleachers are situated in front of large windows which look out over the Supply Canal where the eagles swoop to capture fish and rest in the trees along the banks. Spotting scopes are provided and attendants are available to answer questions. J-2 is located about seven miles south of Lexington. Signs along area roads help guide visitors to the plant. There is no charge to visit the facilities.

At both sites, it is important for visitors to remain in the facilities while watching the eagles. The birds are easily disturbed and are particularly cautious of humans. Trying to approach the birds or loud noises could frighten the birds from the area.
There should be Eagles in the area for about the next month, depending on the weather. If the site near Johnson Lake would be more convenient for you, here is the map to it:So now you know about the Eagle Viewing Facilities, you know how to get there, and what you'll see after you're there. What are you waiting for?

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

There She Is... Miss America

I realize that this is a tired, overused and trite title, but I just couldn't help myself! No blogger about all things Nebraska can neglect telling you about our former Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan, who is now MISS AMERICA! Not only the youngest Miss America since the age was raised to 17, but also Nebraska's first Miss America!

As the assistant director at the North Platte/Lincoln County Convention and Visitors Bureau, I got the opportunity to meet Teresa several times at local events, and also coordinating her appearance at our booth at the Nebraska State Fair. I had an inkling what an amazing young woman she is, but it wasn't until I watched the many video clips of her competition in Las Vegas, the interviews following her crowning as Miss America, and perusing her travel blog that I really understood just what an incredible young person she is. The judges picked correctly, and she will make a wonderful Miss America!

There is a lot of biographical information about Teresa floating around in cyber space, but here is what she authored herself for her Miss Nebraska blog:

Teresa is the daughter of Mark and Janie Scanlan and is from Gering, Nebraska. She was born in Colton, California, and then grew up in Gering. As the middle child of seven, Teresa was homeschooled through her junior year of high school, when she attended Gering High School part-time, and then attended Scottsbluff High School full-time for her senior year, graduating from SHS in May of 2010.

After being crowned Miss Nebraska 2010 in June and becoming the youngest woman to wear the Miss Nebraska crown, she deferred enrollment to Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia, where she is now set to attend in the Fall of 2011. She plans on majoring in Government: American Politics and Policy and then attending Law School to become a Trial Attorney in Criminal Prosecution. Hoping to become a judge and eventually become involved in the political arena, her highest career goals are to become President or a Supreme Court Justice. As a Christian in the political arena, she hopes to break down the stereotype of crooked and dishonest politicians, operating instead under character and integrity.

As Miss Nebraska 2010, Teresa is working to promote her platform, Eating Disorders: A Generation at Risk, which is a personal issue to her because of a close friend's struggle with bulimia. She hopes to educate children and adults alike as to the signs and risks of eating disorders, as well as how and where to get help for themselves or a loved one. As a partner with the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, or ANAD, and the National Eating Disorders Association, or NEDA, Teresa will advocate their cause and work to implement positive attitudinal and behavioral change across the state. Throughout her year of service, she will work to inspire adolescents to make healthy choices in every area of their life in order to be the best person they can be and to achieve their goals. She hopes to help others regain confidence in themselves and challenge them to redefine beauty, based on inner qualities rather than outward appearance. As God's children, every person is unique and incredible in every way, and should embrace who they were made to be, rather than hurting themselves in an effort to change.

In her spare time, Teresa enjoys singing, acting, dancing, playing piano and guitar, composing songs, baking, participating in activities with her local church, and making clothes out of duct tape, among many other hobbies. Teresa will be going to Las Vegas to represent Nebraska at Miss America in January. Be sure to watch her LIVE on ABC from Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on Saturday, January 15th!

While the Miss America organization has taken control of Teresa's blogging activities, and there aren't any new posts going up on Teresa's Travels and Tidbits, I highly recommend that you visit the site and peruse her posts from the past year. You too, will begin understand the character of this young lady, and you'll feel a renewed sense of pride in Nebraska as she describes her journeys around the state.

Now that she is Miss America, Teresa has a much bigger stage and wider audience. As they should, the Miss America organization is going to capitalize on her eloquent writing as she tells about her travels. Unless they keep her too busy to write regularly! What a schedule she has maintained since the crowning on January 15. You can follow her Miss America blog here.

Just in case you haven't had a chance to see it, here is Teresa's post-crowning interview. If you have about a half an hour, please take the time to view it.

You can see why I believe she'll do Nebraska and Miss America proud!

There are other places to follow Teresa's adventures as Miss America.

On Twitter, you can follow @MAOTravels and @MissAmericaLive

On Facebook, you can follow the Miss America Organization. There are a lot of Teresa Scanlan fan pages, but none that are authorized to my knowledge.

To keep abreast of other happenings on the Miss Nebraska front, you can become a part of their group on Facebook, the Miss Nebraska Scholarship Pageant, and bookmark their website,

So, there she is, Miss America... telling Nebraska's story!

Thank you for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Telling Nebraska's Story - The Byways

What better way to experience the beauties of a state than by getting off the beaten path and onto one of our Scenic Byways? Nebraska is fortunate enough to have nine Scenic Byways that meander through some of the most beautiful country in the United States.
Pulling all of the promotion of our byways together is the Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism. Their dedicated and talented staff, in partnership with Snitily Carr, Nebraska's advertising agency produces some great materials showcasing our great state. Here are the video snippets they have produced for each of the byways, but each byway also has its own separate byways organization or coalition, often made up of volunteers. These volunteers are absolutely invaluable in getting local support for the byway, generating events and activities along the byway, and partnering in the promotion of the byway.

Heritage Highway

Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway

You might recognize scenes from the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway from a recent episode of Mike Rowe's Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel, where he moonlighted as an asphalt paver.

Going right through my stomping grounds is the Lincoln Highway Byway:

Western Trails Scenic Byway

Nebraska Panhandle's Gold Rush Byway

Along the northern edge of the state, the Bridges to Buttes Byway

The Outlaw Trail Scenic Byway

Lewis and Clark Scenic Byway

Loup River Scenic Byway

Sadly, some of the links I posted above don't go to byway organizations simply because I couldn't find the link in the first three pages or so of search results on Google. However, they are links you can go to to find more information about the byways.

I could go on and on and on about what there is to see and do along each byway, but I recommend that you do some exploring yourself!

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's been awhile since I featured a "Thursday Special" from my friend over at One Foot In The Grave, and when this one came through last week, I knew this was the one to share. Interestingly enough, it is also a guest writer for her weekly missive.
When my dear friend said she was going to be out-of-town and unable to write her weekly "Thursday Special", I volunteered to write a column for her. What I decided to do was just copy an article from our Las Vegas, NV newspaper where I worked at the time. It was one of my Christmas presents to my parents at the time. The article ran just before Christmas 1986. If you were raised on a ranch/farm, perhaps this will bring back memories for you. If you are a young person, you perhaps will get a glimpse of what Mother Nature can do to folks making a living off the land.

The article's headline read "Memory of a Plain States' winter" by Pauletta (Charbonneau) Corwin
The paper says highs in the 60s today in Las Vegas, and my youngest is balking at the front door on her way to school because she has to wear a sweater. Dear child. I'll let you in on one of my flashbacks, one brought about by reading in the morning paper about the blizzard which left South Dakotans and Nebraskans digging out from tons of snow.

Ever live in that area for any length of time? It was natural for my family and myself to "dig out" - especially back in the winters of '49 and '52. The family had to finally move off the ranch in South Dakota and take refuge in a nearby Nebraska town - the hardship of those winters was taking such a toll on my mother.

Those Las Vegas-born children lucky enough to travel to our nearby mountain areas during winter see some snow and get a charge out of rolling and playing in the white stuff. Fun. Ah yes! Except there were times in my childhood when I couldn't stand the sight - it meant I had to be out there helping in sub-zero temperatures. No ifs, buts, or ands about it. The work had to be done.

Our house, which incidentally still stands firm against the winters, is a huge two-story building complete with full-size attic and basement. The blizzard of December 1952 left a snowdrift on the south side as high as the house and running a quarter mile slanting.

What fun it was to climb it and sled forever. But the long walk back was something else.

I can remember my mother wrapping the three of us warmly in layers of clothing, a double scarf, snowshoes and two pair of mittens. We could hardly move. Then, about 20 minutes later, the three of us would come back onto the enclosed porch, soaking wet, in search of dry clothes.

We never gave it a thought that she had to do all that wash in a wringer machine - not too long before that, she was still using the tubs and having to boil all her water on a stove stoked with coal, cowchips and corn cobs. I can still see her making a path through the snow to the clothesline - within a few minutes, the clothes would be stiff as boards.

We were wiped out that winter. So was everyone else. Almost all the cattle had died - mostly standing up. Dad called it a "suffocation blizzard" - the snow would swirl around the animals' noses and form a crust which prevented them from breathing.

We were snowed in the house for three days. The snow had piled well above the fences, so the cattle were free to wander. Some of the herd had moved closer to the buildings for warmth.

The three of us kids were given a pygmy calf to look after. There it stood outside our southeast living room window with several other cows. "It sure looks cold, Daddy," we would say, dragging our father to the window to observe. He didn't say much.

Finally, he or my mother - I don't remember which - found the courage to tell us that our pet had died standing up.

That was December. There was no Christmas for us. We couldn't get to the nearest town some 30 miles away. There were no highways. And come spring, there would be only muddy, sloshy trails to follow. We strung popcorn and hung it on a large tumbleweed. Mom made some Christmas goodies for the family - but that was it.

Oh, by the way. Two of us children were in school. For three months, anyway. We attended a rural school about five miles from our ranch. The blizzard closing the roads meant no school, right? Wrong! Dad saddled the horse a few days after the storm subsided and traveled up to the one-room schoolhouse, loaded our books into a gunnysack, and brought the "classroom" back to us.

Mom was a teacher in her earlier years. She set up a makeshift classroom in the attic, and everyday, Monday through Friday, we held school. She done a darn good job. We weren't held back the next year when we moved to town.

Then came spring - finally! But with it came disaster for Dad's livelihood. All those fat cattle that had been milling around the pastures earlier in the fall had died, as had any chance of making a profit. When the trucks were finally able to reach our ranch in June, the only goods they took back to town were piles of bones and hides.

But not all was lost and gloomy. Disaster, as always, drew the curious from all over the country. A reporter and photographer from a large magazine came out to interview folks and take pictures. And people from all around worked together through the winter to survive, and found a new sense of community.

Time for my flashback to fade. Re-enter today. Yes, I still harbor a set of mittens my Mom used to make me wear. They were so clumsy to put on, and made the job of collecting hens' eggs so difficult. Sure wish I could "go back and put them on one more time" for old times sake.

Mom and Dad are still with me - they live here in Las Vegas where it's 60 degrees in December. And I'm still trying to convince my youngest one that she has to wear a sweater. But oh, those flashbacks. They make you feel pretty good deep down inside.


Jump to today: Sadly, I no longer have my parents with me. The ranchland is still there; however, there are no buildings. Time marches on.
Thank you for this glimpse of life in the not-too-distant past in the Nebraska Sandhills.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Frosty Morning Beauty

As we arrived home late last night from a road trip to Omaha, a heavy fog was blanketing the area, the village lights eerily bright as they reflected off the low white ceiling. In the morning the hoar frost would be coating the trees making for some spectacular photo ops.

At daybreak, which fortunately for me, came at 8:05am, I filled a thermos cup of coffee and with the accompaniment of my Flogging Molly Pandora radio station, I headed out to see what I could see.

Starting off at the Oregon Trails Golf Course, looking south from the clubhouse across the 5th hole, the gray expanse in the background is the Sutherland Reservoir. Further to the east at Omaha Beach (or Rattlesnake Cove depending upon your generation), the ice choked lake bears little resemblance to the fun summer recreation area. The beach access at Hole In The Wall is also covered in frost.
As I continued on around the lake, the ducks sheltering on the canal at the Outlet caught my attention. Hopefully there weren't any hunters in the area hoping for a score, because my camera foray caused quite a commotion among the flock.
One of the prettiest little lanes in the area is at the Inlet. The frost covered trees made a canopy over the road, creating an almost magical path.
Heading north from Sutherland to the North Platte River, this is looking west from the historic bridge.
On the east side, a small flock of Canada geese were sheltering on a frozen sand bar.
Unfortunately, my presence made them too nervous to stick around and they quickly departed. In the distance, too far away in the fog for my equipment to capture a good photograph, a Bald Eagle was hoping for a meal of a wounded duck or goose.
Further north, in the Nebraska Sandhills, even the Yucca plants and barbed-wire fences were sporting a thick coat of spiny frost.
I am an unabashadely summer person, much preferring the heat and sunshine to the cold and gloom of winter. However, even I can find beauty on a day like this in Nebraska.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Telling Nebraska's Story - The Coalitions

Nebraska's tourism entities have found that there is strength in numbers, especially when you're trying to marketing similar regions of the state. Many have banded together to form coalitions. Not only do they create a cohesive website for their respective regions, but they pool their membership dues (often based on the lodging tax revenues of member counties) to create publications and place print advertising in target markets.

Lincoln County, my home county, belongs to the Western Nebraska Tourism Coalition. The focus here is on western adventure that can be found in our communities such as North Platte, Ogallala and Crawford; the landmarks of the western trails - Chimney Rock, Scottsbluff National Monument; the wide open spaces of the portion of the Nebraska Sandhills within the region, and the beautiful Pine Bluff region in the northwest corner.

There are wonderful attractions within this region, such as Lake McConaughy, Front Street in Ogallala, Fort Robinson, High Plains Homestead, Chadron State Park just to name a few.

Another region that Lincoln County falls into is the South Platte United Chambers of Commerce. In the State Travel Guide, this region is known as the Prairie Lakes.

This region is characterized by rich fertile Loess Hills, sparse prairie lands, and of course, lakes: Sutherland Reservoir, Lake Maloney, Jeffrey Lake, Johnson Lake, Red Willow Lake, Medicine Creek Reservoir, Harlan County Reservoir. Great fishing, hunting and birdwatching can be found here.

This region has also banded together with another marketing coalition known as The Chicken Dance Trail. Not only does the Chicken Dance Trail tout the great tourist opportunities within the region, but also showcases the fantastic small towns, employment and economic development opportunities, and the joys of calling this area home.

Central Nebraska has also banded together with the Central Nebraska Adventures group.
This area is home to some very active tourism marketing and development groups, such as the Hastings Convention and Visitors Bureau, Kearney Convention and Visitors Bureau, Grand Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the busy Ord Chamber and Development and Burwell Convention and Visitors Bureau. These guys have created a great website, and actively produce marketing materials and attend regional travel and tourism shows to showcase their communities.

Within this region is the scenic and historic Loup Valley, to which the Ord representatives belong. It is home to great events such as the Burwell Rodeo, and Junk Jaunt and great attractions like the Calamus Reservoir and Fort Hartsuff. It is a great example of a smaller coalition getting together to collectively market their area.

Southeast Nebraska is also home to a strong coalition.
If all that you thought of Nebraska is the flat cornfields of the Platte River Valley route of Interstate 80, you really need to get off into the breaks of the Missour River that characterizes this region. Here you'll find the picturesque towns of Nebraska City and Brownville, and great attractions like the Strategic Air and Space Museum, Homestead National Monument, Arbor Lodge and the Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Trail and Visitor Center.

Northeast Nebraska has also gotten together, although I couldn't find a map representing the region. It would roughly correspond with the "Lewis and Clark" region designated by the Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism.This again is a beautiful section of Nebraska, and something totally unexpected for those not familiar with Nebraska's diversity. The beautiful Gavins Point Dam and Lewis and Clark Lake offers spectacular water sports. There are so many state parks and recreation areas, not to mention the Missouri River that you would be hard pressed to experience them all in a lifetime. This area is also home to such attractions as the Fremont Dinner Train, the Johnny Carson Museum and the Neligh Mills State Historical Park.

Naturally, I have only mentioned the barest of minimums of the great things to do within each region of Nebraska. You'll have to do a little digging of your own to find it all! I fully intend to spend more time exploring all of Nebraska's diverse regions and sharing my experiences with you.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Telling Nebraska's Story: The Big Boys

If you are here reading this blog, and have followed me for any length of time at all, you know that what I live to do is to tell Nebraska's story. I'm not alone in this, and today I want to tell you about some others who are doing an awesome job telling Nebraska's story.

First off, I'm going to start with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. These are the folks responsible for NebraskaLand Magazine, which has been telling Nebraska's story in words and pictures since 1926. Possibly second to only Arizona Highways, NebraskaLand Magazine is one of the most popular state magazines. While it generally focuses on some aspect of hunting, fishing or other outdoor endeavor, you occasionally get a tourism article. If it has anything to do with enjoying Nebraska's outdoors - hunting, fishing, hiking, water sports, star gazing, bicycling and more - you'll find it promoted by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Online, we are fortunate enough to have not one, but FIVE blogs to read from them. First, there is Afield and Afloat:
Through Afield and Afloat, the magazine staff hopes to share some of its experiences in Nebraska’s great outdoors (both good and bad!), teach you a little bit about what goes into producing the magazine and offer the occasional photo tip, ideas on where to go and what to do outside, and other random thoughts and ideas as they pop into our brains.
Then there's Barbs and Backlashes, written by Daryl Bauer:

Daryl is a lifelong resident of Nebraska (except for a couple of years spent going to graduate school in South Dakota). He has been employed as a fisheries biologist for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 20 years, and his current tour of duty is as the fisheries outreach program manager.

Daryl loves to share his educational knowledge and is an avid multi-species angler. He holds more than 70 Nebraska Master Angler Awards for 13 different species and holds more than 20 In-Fisherman Master Angler Awards for eight different species.

He loves to talk fishing and answer questions about fishing in Nebraska, so if you have a question, e-mail Daryl.

Daryl's e-mail address:

Next comes In The Wild:
Greg Wagner serves as the public information officer in the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Omaha Office. On a weekly basis, you can catch him with various broadcast, print, social, or electronic media outlets creatively conveying natural resource conservation messages as well as promoting outdoor activities and destinations in Nebraska.

Greg's e-mail address:
Rounding out the offerings is Lock, Stock and Bedlam:
Aaron Hershberger and Jeff Rawlinson share straight forward and timely information on hunting, fishing, shooting skills, techniques, tips, and worldly insights. You also can catch Aaron and Jeff on their weekly radio show...Nebraska Outdoors, every Thursday evening from 6-7 p.m. on KFOR 140 AM.
They also share via their Facebook page, where they post all of their blog posts, plus other goodies like lake stocking and fishing reports. The Game and Parks Commission is also using Twitter. They have also taken advantage of the technology available on YouTube. From Public Service Announcements, State Parks, Outdoor Nebraska to just general uploads, you'll find a lot about Nebraska that you might not have known before. It's great to see such a venerable organization embracing the new social media to get the message out.

Besides all that they do to tell Nebraska's story, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is charged with making sure we have a story to tell. They manage all of our state parks, wildlife management areas and recreation areas, all of our hunting and fishing and wildlife populations. They are also responsible for all of our State Historical Parks: Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park, Ash Hollow State Historical Park , Arbor Lodge State Historical Park, Bowring Ranch State Historical Park, Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park, Champion Mill State Historical Park, Fort Atkinson State Historical Park, Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park, Fort Kearny State Historical Park, Rock Creek Station State Historical Park.

Being a tourism professional wouldn't be nearly as much fun without all of the resources managed by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

While they don't use social media very well, I couldn't write a blog post about telling Nebraska's story without mentioning Nebraska Life Magazine. Wow! If you are interested at all in Nebraska, you need to get a subscription to Nebraska Life. You can find them on Facebook, where they'll give you little teasers to entice you to pick up a copy. In six issues a year, and plenty of special publications, Nebraska Life explores all of the nooks and crannies of Nebraska, bringing you incredible stories of our people and places.

Professionals helping to tell the story of our great state are the folks over at the Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

The Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism exists solely to promote Tourism in Nebraska. They do this by partnering with our advertising agency, Snitily Carr, to create incridible marketing programs, and a myriad of other activities: Tourism Marketing Grants, Economic Impact Studies, the annual Nebraska Travel Guide, attending countless travel and trade shows each year, the Nebraska Passport program and Geopicting. They also use podcasts, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook and publish a regular e-newsletter to tell Nebraska's story.

This single blog post is way too inadequate to list everything that they do for our great state.

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development (the parent governmental agency of the Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism) is responsible for much more than telling Nebraska's story, although they do that well. The dedicated and talented staff is responsible for the economic well being of the citizens of our state. I highly recommend a visit to their website, subscribing to their Twitter feed, or their Facebook page to keep abreast of all that they do.

So this first blog post in the "Telling Nebraska's Story" series focuses on the heavy hitters. Next time, we'll explore the coalitions - those regional groups who have banded together to better tell their area's story.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Reflections and Resolutions

February 2011 will mark the beginning of my third year as a blogger, and avid user of all things social media. With that in mind, I've made a few New Years Resolutions that I'd like to share with you all, so you have an idea of what to expect from me in the coming year.

Editorial Calendar for Blog

- My goal is to make my blog more professional, offer more useful and interesting posts, and post more regularly. To that end, I resolve to create an editorial calendar so that I have an idea what I'm going to write about and when.

Blog Talk Radio

- I have taken the plunge and created a Blog Talk Radio show. My first live episode will air on Monday January 10 with Fran Snyder discussing all things House Concert. I'm committed to producing a live episode each Monday at 6:30pm, with content similar to my blog: Nebraska, House Concerts and Live Music and Travel

Listen to internet radio with Nebraska Outback on Blog Talk Radio


- In order to further the exposure of the content I create on my blog, I'm committed to having a professional website created to hold all of the content, and also aggregate the content I create on Facebook, Twitter, BTR, etc. My sweet Son-In-Law has gotten me an excellent price on getting this website created, but it's going to take me awhile to invest even that modest amount. Look for that later this year.

Social Media

- I believe that all forms of social media are invaluable to telling Nebraska's story. I resolve to become more professional in my postings to Twitter and Facebook, and to immediately embrace any new form of media that comes along (such as for livestreaming my House Concerts.) *gulp*

House Concerts

- I love hosting House Concerts, but sometimes the stress is almost unbearable - will I get the house cleaned, will I have time to get the food prepped, remembering all the (free) places there are to promote the concerts, WILL ANYONE SHOW UP? In 2011, besides learning to chill (yeah, right!), I am going to approach my House Concerts more professionally, making and following lists to do everything the same every time, thereby reducing the stress.


- Continue to HAVE FUN in everything that I do - and constantly finding more ways to HAVE FUN, and help everyone around me to HAVE FUN!

Then, of course are all of the usual resolutions - eat healthy, exercise, be a better person...

So keep checking back here to see how I'm doing with my resolutions!

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Through The Seasons Part Nine

For a little change up this time, I'm going to upload the pictures in reverse order, with the most recent one first. Here's the overlook on a frigid, snowy January 3 at 1:00pm. December 4, 9:00am.
November 2, 8:30am.
October 3, 9:00am.
September 6, 7:00pm.
August 7, 8:30am.
July 5, 8:30am.
June 5, 8:30am.
May 5, 6:10pm.
It's hard to believe that we have to wait until June before things really start greening up. Fortunately, the winter Solstice is behind us and the days are growing longer, although imperceptibly at the moment. If nothing else, these regular posts prove that time marches on, and the seasons come and go with regularity. We just have to learn to appreciate the qualities of each one.

Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on.