Ashfall Fossil Beds is located somewhere along Robert Frost’s “Road Not Taken” outside of Royal, Nebraska (population 63).  The truth is the road to this place should be taken.  By everybody.  Ashfall, discovered under a cattle pasture, is unlike anything you’ve ever seen or likely will ever see.

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About 12 million years ago, some prehistoric animals (like barrel-chested rhinoceroses, and three-toed horses) were hanging out, minding their own business when a giant volcano erupted in Idaho and spewed forth about 25 bazillion tons (give or take) of volcanic ash.  The animals (clear over in Nebraska, mind you) had no place to hide, no shelter, and no way to filter this cloud of volcanic ash (which was basically finely powdered glass dust).  They slowly suffocated near a pond–likely the only source of water around.  As they succumbed to the choking thick clouds of ash and died, they fell into the water and were buried in still more ash.  A few corpses were scavenged by some saber-toothed something-or-other, but not many, so the bodies really didn’t move much at all.

Let’s pretend for a moment that you have a budding paleontologist in your family.  Now let’s pretend you don’t.  Now let’s forget all that because you simply MUST go to this place whether you have an interest in paleontology or not.  I truly think I can safely say that there is no where else on Earth where you will find so many complete skeletons of prehistoric animals piled on top of each other that are still on the ground in the EXACT SAME SPOT where they fell and died 12 million years ago.  These are so well preserved that the scientists can even tell what these animals ate the day they died!  The paleontologists here haven’t tried to move much of anything.   Instead, they just built a building right over the top of the fossil beds, protecting the fossils from the elements, and providing a great place for visitors to stand to marvel at the phenomena that is right in front of them.

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Paleontologists are still at work excavating at this site.  If you visit in the summer, you can talk to them and their student interns as they work.  Slowly, delicately (with paint brushes if need be) they remove small layers of ash as they hunt for more fossils. They expect it will be about 25 more years before they are done excavating inside the building.

The Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park is well designed, informative, easily accessed by everyone and is just plain cool.  A Nebraska State Parks Daily Use Permit is required for your car, and there is a small admission charge.  Because it is so unique and so fun to visit, it comes in at #5 on this year’s 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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