Ann insisted we go to Toadstool Geologic Park on our Nebraska trip because it was such an incredible and unique place.  As we rounded the bend into Crawford, Ann reminded me that we had a 19-mile ride on a bumpy road to get to Toadstool.  I decided then and there that it would be best if we stopped at the local C-store to use the restroom before our adventure began.

Once inside, I thought I’d firm up what I knew about the directions to the park.  It was then that a friendly rancher overheard us and told us the usual route was closed because they are replacing a bridge and they need to hurry up because they are taking way too long so we would have to take an extensive detour.  As I asked questions, the rancher showed a little “Nebraska Nice” and offered to lead us on one of the detours.  As he talked, though, he realized he wasn’t quite going all the way to Toadstool so suggested we should go over the the Crawford Visitors’ Center by “that caboose just over there,” for more complete details.

We hopped in the car and made the 15-second drive over to the caboose and saw a lady watering the flowers along the sidewalk leading to the center.  She led us inside, gave us a map of the detour and said she wasn’t sure which of the two possible routes would be easiest but the one to the south would be more well traveled.  The map was a good one, and very clear, so the stop was definitely worth it.

If you are going to go to Toadstool, be ready for a long, difficult drive–especially with the detour that’s in place.  On that south route, you’ll go up hills and down dales, around corners and over washboard dirt and gravel roads.  All that being said, you should know that the drive is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever taken–around each of those bends is a view even prettier than the one before.  Simply breathtaking and well worth the trip!  One more lesson that sometimes detours are little gifts given to us by life.

After the long drive, you’ll finally arrive at the park entrance, your head spinning from all the beautiful sights you’ve seen.  The park has spaces for about six campers and has two modern (but not plumbed) outhouses.  The day we went, there was only one other group, so we really enjoyed the solitude.  At the entrance you need to put your daily use fee in an envelope and drop it in the metal tube–I think it was $3 –which turned out to be three of the best dollars I’ve ever spent in my life. Leave your car, and hop on the one-mile looping trail through the park.  The first quarter mile is universally accessible.  You’ll see some interesting formations at the end of that quarter mile–huge rocks propped up at impossible angles.  You’ll take photos of these phenomena, think they’re neat, but wonder why we raved so much about this place.

Some of the many unique rock formations at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. Steve (who is 6'4") is in the picture for scale. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

Some of the many unique rock formations at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. Steve (who is 6’4″) is in the picture for scale. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

Huge rocks standing at impossible angles at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

Huge rocks standing at impossible angles at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

The real treat comes when you follow the trail through the rest of the park.  It is not an easy trail, but it is definitely worth taking.  You’ll walk along dry creek beds (unless it’s been raining), and climb up and over crazy rocks that give you the feeling that you are on the moon.  You’ll cross chasms, and skirt along small cliffs (nothing too dangerous, although you can imagine it is at the time).  You’ll do all this to see some of the most amazing, unique geology you’ve ever seen.

A "toadstool" at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

A “toadstool” at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

You’ll see large rocks standing at impossible angles, or rocks hanging in the air, supported by only a thin column of dirt (these are the “Toadstools” because that’s what they look like).  This looks like stuff in Roadrunner and Coyote cartoons.  Near the end of the mile-long loop trail, your wife will tell you she’s going back to the car the way you came because she’s lost all confidence that you know where you’re going.  It’s about then that you’ll look up and, with a smile, tell your wife you can see your car.

A view at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

A view at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

A view at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

A view at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

When we left, we took the northerly detour route. This is a much easier drive, and while the views were beautiful, they weren’t quite what we saw on the southerly route.   When you get there, check in with the visitors’ center in Crawford as the main road may be open again.  Even if it is, though, you might consider taking the southern detour route for its sheer beauty.  Plan 2-3 hours for your visit which includes drive time to and from Crawford.

A view at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

A view at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska. (photo by Ann Teget for www.postcardjar.com)

Toadstool Geologic Park is a place you should plan to go if you are ever within 200 miles.  It is incredible, beautiful and unlike anything you’ve ever seen anywhere else.  It is worth the drive to get there and definitely worth leaving I-80 to find. It is also #2 on our list of Nebraska’s Nicest Nine.  If you go there, you’ll know why.

  • What a privilege to be in @visitbentonville this weekend to celebrate the opening of @themomentary and our friend, @addie_roanhorse. Addie’s Osage ribbon work- inspired design is featured on this tower at the Momentary and it is just fabulous! 
This new space opens to the public Feb. 22 and general admission is free, thanks to the generosity of the @waltonfamilyfdn.
  • In @visitmasoncityiowa, you'll find the boyhood home of famous composer Meredith Willson. Perhaps best known for his musical, "The Music Man," Willson based the show in large part on his experiences growing up in his hometown.⁣
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Mason City has kept Willson's memory alive through an extensive museum and convention space, which we got to see on our hosted tour of the town, called The Music Man Square. A part of the experience at Music Man Square is a tour through Willson's childhood home.⁣
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Now is the perfect time to head to Mason City for a visit. Hugh Jackman is set to play Professor Harold Hill in a Broadway revival of, "The Music Man." With that show opening in 2020, all eyes will be back on Mason City.⁣
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@thehughjackman @musicmanbway
  • When the @museumofamericanspeed invited us to come for a complimentary visit, we weren't sure what to expect. ⁣
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Yes, the museum is chock-full of race cars, engines, history, and car-related memorabilia. But it also houses other collections like one of old lunch boxes.⁣
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We had so much fun standing and taking in the lunch boxes, looking and trying to find the ones we had when we were kids. Ann had "Charlie's Angels" and Steve had "Super Friends." ⁣
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If you're ever near Lincoln, Nebraska, check out the Museum of American Speed. It's a true hidden treasure in the midwest. ⁣
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What kind of lunch box did you carry to school? Any kids of the 70s and 80s who had the ones we had?
  • Sometimes you find things in your own backyard.⁣
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Just up the road from our home in Crete, Nebraska, we found the National Museum of Roller Skating. Our curiosity piqued, we stopped in and took a look around. There we found the world's largest collection of historical roller skates, costumes, and memorabilia. ⁣
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It took us back to our childhood and spending time at the roller skating rink (do kids even skate anymore?). We remembered crossing over on the turns for the first time and bending at the knees for "Downtown" by Petula Clark. So many great memories. ⁣
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Sometimes, we focus so much on getting away that we forget that we have some really interesting places close to home, as well. The next time you feel a hankering to go somewhere, maybe try going down the street. You never know what treasure you might find and what memories it evoke.
  • This was our Valentine’s Day dessert last year. Chef Kurtess Mortensen at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile created this memorable dish he called “Fat Elvis.” It was a chocolate bread pudding, served alongside banana brûlée and caramelized peanuts then topped with marshmallow cream, homemade peanut butter ice cream, and a candied bacon garnish. We are giddy with anticipation to see what he comes up with tonight! We are budgeting our calories accordingly. 😉
  • “Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.”
– Lewis Carroll
  • It's been a long winter. I need to see flowers again! Are you with me?Let's talk about these flowers. ⁣
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We are often asked about our favorite place we've ever visited. While that question is hard to answer, we almost always mention Tallinn, Estonia, as a contender.⁣
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Estonia has an interesting history. Conquered in 1227 by Denmark, it never again enjoyed independence until  1920. That freedom was short lived, however, as the Soviet Union occupied the country in 1940. Finally, in 1991, Estonia regained its independence and has remained free ever since. The country joined NATO in 2004. ⁣
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Visiting Estonia, we could see the remnants of Soviet control. Large block buildings dominate the landscape. They are of Soviet Communist design: utilitarian in nature with no thought given to design. They look just like the buildings you've seen in movies about the Soviet Union. ⁣
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Now free, Estonians have done what they can to erase the gray days of Soviet control. The Soviet-style buildings are painted bright colors, and flowers abound in the streets. The people are warm, cheerful, friendly, and welcoming. ⁣
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Yes, Estonia is a wonderful country, and we can't wait to return.
  • Each year from late February to early April, hundreds of thousands of Sandhills Cranes migrate through Nebraska on their way north to their breeding grounds. It's considered one of the greatest spectacles in nature, so thousands of people come to experience this incredible time.⁣
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We traveled to Kearney, Nebraska, one of the best cities for crane viewing, last year. Because the best times to view the cranes is sunrise and sunset, we found ourselves with some free time during the day. It turns out that Kearney has a lot to offer in terms of things to do.⁣
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Scroll across our highlights on Instagram, and you'll find the stories highlights we made during our time there. On our blog (link in bio) you'll also find a post we wrote with ideas for 20 things to do in Kearney while you wait on the cranes. ⁣
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Put crane viewing on your bucket list. It really is one of the most amazing experiences we've ever had in nature. And don't worry about being bored between sunrise and sunset--Kearney has too much to offer.

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