The Neon Bar and Grill, located in the Motel Raine in Valentine, Nebraska, makes #3 on our list.  Normally, we would not have expected to put a restaurant on our list, especially one located in a motel, but this trip around Nebraska made us learn to open our minds and expect the unexpected. If you are in Valentine, go to Neon, and you, too, can be blown away by this fantastic restaurant.  (If you are staying in Valentine, you should also stay in the Motel Raine–which is also a fantastic place.)

Before we even get to the amazing food, let me just say that the Neon Bar and Grill is absurdly clean.  After several days driving around western Nebraska worrying about picking up salt and pepper shakers, it was refreshing to go into a restaurant where they had so obviously been washed.  We even took a picture with my phone to remember the occasion!

Neon was, by far, the cleanest restaurant in which we ate during our week-long trip across Nebraska.

Neon was, by far, the cleanest restaurant in which we ate during our week-long trip across Nebraska.

Second, the service was fantastic.  The staff working that night went out of their way to ensure that we had everything we needed before we knew that we needed it.  And they helped us with a friendly, cheerful attitude that let us know that they actually enjoyed their jobs.

Third, and arguably most important, the food was terrific.   They said they specialized in steak, and that is no lie.  It is among the better steaks I’ve had in Nebraska, and you should know that I’m a guy who loves a good steak.  The owner ages the meat himself, and then grills it to perfection. And I mean perfection–both Ann’s and my steaks were done exactly as requested.   This is something that can elude the most competent chefs in some of the best steakhouses I’ve visited in New York, Chicago, and Kansas City.  But Tim (one of the owners of the Motel) nailed it.  He could (and should) be trusted with prime grade beef.  Wow.  The side dishes were also good, and the restaurant had a full bar and a surprisingly good wine selection that would provide options for even a more discriminating palate.

The steaks at Neon were suburb! The ribeye was seasoned and prepared well and and the strip was even better with a side of mushrooms.

The steaks at Neon were suburb! The ribeye was seasoned and prepared well and and the strip was even better with a side of mushrooms.

Finally, the owners of the restaurant and motel, Tim and Dana Colvin, are willing to bend over backwards to make sure you have a good visit. Stay in the hotel.  Enjoy a relaxing dinner in the restaurant, chat with the owners who are two of the friendliest, mosts personable people you’ll ever meet.  If you are interested in golf, talk to Tim when you make your reservation, and he can hook you up with a good price at the Prarie Club, a championship course located just outside Valentine.

Nebraska has given us a number of surprises, and Neon Bar and Grill was one of our favorites.  For this reason, it is #3 on our list of Nebraska’s Nicest Nine.

  • Last week, we had the pleasure of making handmade pasta (via the internet) with our friends, Deb and Massi, who were in their home kitchen in Italy. ⁣
You can read all about it, and get the recipe, on our blog. Yep, you guessed it, the link is in our bio. ⁣
We met Deb and Massi of @italyunfiltered a few years ago when they created an amazing food and wine itinerary for us. We've remained friends and it was so good to see them, even if they were a world away.
  • We were supposed to be in Rochester, Minnesota, this week for Ann to see a cardiac sarcoidosis specialist about some recent issues with her heart. Of course, we did not travel to Rochester for her scans and doctor visits because of the coronavirus outbreak.⁣
Instead, her cardiologists called her from their homes and her scans and tests will likely be delayed until June or July. We'll keep in close touch with them if anything changes, as well. We are so grateful for all of the healthcare professionals who are continuing to work crazy hours from home as well as in our hospitals around the world.⁣
This is such an unprecedented and stressful time for all of them. Words will never be enough to convey our gratitude for the roles they are playing in the battle against this deadly virus while caring for those with other diseases and illnesses at the same time. ⁣
Every healthcare provider we've talked with in the last two weeks has had the same message for those of us who don't have to go to work at a hospital. ⁣
Just. Stay. Home.
  • Yesterday was Day 16 of social isolation for us. Because of Ann's underlying heart condition and suppressed immune system, we've cooked all our meals at home (no takeout). We've starting to get more and more creative as time has gone by. ⁣
Last night, we made chicken and shrimp vindaloo and learned online how to make homemade naan.⁣
It wan't as good as our favorite Indian restaurant, The Oven, but it did satisfy the craving we've had for Indian food. ⁣
What are you craving these days?
  • We moved our living room furniture around this week and put two swivel chairs near the sliding glass door. Each day, we take time to turn around, rest our minds, enjoy in the view, and just be. #webelieveinhome
  • Our daughter, Meghan, is a cardiac ICU nurse. Despite all of the current uncertainties in healthcare during this pandemic, early this morning she put on her scrubs and went to work a 12+ hour shift. 
She is not alone. Across the country and around the world, healthcare workers are putting the safety of themselves and their families at risk to help others. It's what they do. Every. Single. Day. 
We are incredibly grateful that there are selfless people like this in the world and we pray for them and we hope you'll join us. 
We couldn't sleep this morning, so we wrote instead. Click on the link in our bio to read our morning thoughts and prayers.
  • Trying to decide where we’ll travel this weekend. Covered porch? Living room? 😉
  • We are staying home. 
We've been here for almost a week now because Ann is one of "those people." You know the ones. Those people with an underlying health issue. Those people with a suppressed immune system. One of those people who could become seriously ill, need hospitalization, and even die if exposed to the coronavirus.  Those people need your help to stay safe and live. And all you have to do is stay home when you don’t NEED to be out.

Over the past few days, we’ve seen photos, videos, and witnessed first hand people of all ages (but mostly young people) gathering in groups for what us mid lifers would consider “non essential” reasons: birthday parties, movies, youth sports practices, St. Patty’s Day celebrations at the bar, spring break at the beach, and the like. 
We don’t understand it. 
We try not to judge. 
But just for a time during this worldwide pandemic, could we ask people who are participating in non-essential activities to consider who “those people” most at risk really are?

Those people are already battling serious illnesses.

Those people want to see their grandchildren grow up.

Those people need to do their jobs as nurses and doctors.

Those people are first responders. 
Those people run the grocery store, and the pharmacy, and the gas station. 
Those people pray for you and your generation. 
And what about those other people? 
The ones you know.

Those people who made sacrifices to meet your needs.

Those people who took care of you when you were sick.

Those people who went to your games and cheered you on. 
Those people who taught you in school.

Those people who helped you pay for college.

Those people who cooked your favorite dish for you.

Those people who taught your Sunday School class.

Those people who have forgiven you.

Those people who will always love you unconditionally.

We keep wanting to scream, “It’s not about you, it’s about those people!” But the truth of the matter is, IT IS ABOUT YOU. 
You have the power to help.
You have the power to influence others.
You have the power to flatten the curve.

And by not changing your behaviors, you also have the power to harm. 
How will you choose to use your power?j
  • We’re sharing your postcards and encouraging you to help others and stay positive. 
If you’d like to send us a postcard, mail to: Postcard Jar, PO Box 334, Crete, NE 68333.

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