How we spent our Valentine’s Day

How we spent our Valentine’s Day

We love being home together on Valentine’s Day. Typically, we spend the evening cooking together while listening 80’s love songs and then enjoy a nice dinner by candlelight. This year, our Valentine’s Day celebration started a bit earlier in the day, as we were invited to give a lunch presentation to the PEP (People Encouraging People) Club at Capitol City Christian Church in Lincoln.

What we love about midlife travel

What we love about midlife travel

Tami Shefford, a friend of Ann’s who works there, recommended us to Todd Grove, the church’s pastor of communications and care. He invited us to come present to the church’s PEP Club for its February meeting, which happened to fall on Valentine’s Day. We happily agreed, and were excited to celebrate with new friends. We got there early, in time for a potluck lunch which included incredible chicken and noodles as well as delicious ribs and desserts.

Valentine's Day table decor

Valentine’s Day table decor

As a bonus, we got to hear singers from Lincoln Christian School before it was our turn to speak.

PEP Club at Capitol City Christian Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.

PEP Club at Capitol City Christian Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.

We called our presentation, “Falling in Love With Midlife Travel,” and shared some of what we’ve come to love while traveling. Given the day, we just had to start with the most Valentine-y of cities: Valentine, Nebraska. Regular readers of this blog know that we’ve long been fans of Valentine, its people, and all the amazing things there are to see and do while there like visit Smith Falls, float down the Niobrara, or drive through the wildlife refuge.

Valentine, Nebraska slide

We began our presentation with this slide about Valentine, Nebraska.

From Valentine, we expanded a bit and talked about our love of small towns. Over the past year or so, we’ve really come to appreciate the time we’ve spent in towns and smaller cities. We talked about the rich history of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, its friendly people, and the Pioneer Woman Mercantile. We discussed dinners on the plaza in Salamanca, Spain, where Meghan attended Spanish classes for a summer and where we delighted in relaxed dinners with amazing wine.

Salamanca, Spain slide

We used this slide to talk about some of the things we loved in Salamanca, Spain.

Finally, we talked about our hometown of Crete, Nebraska, and how we even surprised ourselves by finding so many things to do right in our own backyard.

Next, we moved on to the incredible travel opportunities we love in our home state of Nebraska. From Toadstool Geologic Park to Ashfall Fossil Beds to North Platte, Nebraska has amazing travel destinations that could easily fill a family’s summer vacation calendar.

A Nebraska event we simply had to include, though, was the annual sandhill crane migration. As we told the folks in PEP Club, if you have not spent time in a blind along the Platte River and seen the incredible sight of these huge birds descending onto the river, you have missed out. It is a humbling experience in the grandeur of nature that takes place in late February and March every year.

Sandhill crane migration, Nebraska, screenshot

A slide from our presentation talking about the sandhill crane migration.

We also shared some of our favorite destinations in the tropics. We talked about the Florida Keys, where I’ve been going since I was a child, and all of the places we love there like the Dolphin Research Center. We discussed plane spotting on Maho Beach in St. Maarten. And of course, we talked about our wonderful day touring St. Kitts with Michael, one of the Doane University students we know though our work with our church’s college ministry program.

St. Kitts screenshot

One of the slides we used to attempt to show the incredible beauty of St. Kitts.

Next, we spent a little time talking about how much we’ve come to love cruising and some of the advantages we’ve found in this form of vacation. For instance, you only have to unpack once, and your resort moves from location to location providing you with new scenery each and every day. There is so much to do on the ship, you simply can’t be bored, and the food and drink you’ll find provide an incredible culinary experience.

Cruise cuisine slide

A slide we used to show the beautiful presentations of food and drink on a Celebrity cruise ship.

Finally, we moved on to the most apropos topic of the day: Where we travel for romance. We shared memories of our honeymoon in Costa Rica and the time we spent wallowing in the volcanically heated river that flows off of Arenal Volcano. We talked about long lunches sipping wine and savoring freshly made pasta carbonara at a sidewalk cafe in Rome. And we talked about Bath, England, a place people have been going to relax since Roman times.

We began with the history of Bath; that the Romans built a temple there and brought naturally heated spring water into a pool. Clear 2,000 years ago, today, the water is green because it is exposed to the sun allowing algae to grow. The original pool isn’t considered safe to use today because it is lined with lead, but you can walk around it on the same flagstones that held Romans 2,000 years ago.

Roman Bath, Bath, England slide

The slide we used to show where Bath, England is, and to show the original Roman bath there

But no visit to Bath, England, is complete without taking some time to enjoy the ancient thermal waters for yourself. Our hotel was able to tap into them, and this was their modern day version of a bath that was part of the hotel’s spa. We spent one of our most relaxing afternoons ever in this pool. If the picture makes it look amazing, it’s only because it was. Yes, it seemed a little expensive when we booked it, but then we actually went there. Worth. Every. Penny.

Hotel Spa, Bath, England

The modern spa located in our hotel in Bath, England. They prepared personalized pouch for visitors with specially selected scents to inhale throughout your treatments.

At the conclusion of the presentation, we took a few questions, and then had a wonderful time hanging around for a while and meeting some of the friendly PEP Club members.

We were super excited when one person told us that we’d inspired him to take his daughter on a Nebraska trip to see the cranes. That affirmed for us why we take the time to write this blog. Nothing makes us happier than when we hear that someone is taking a trip they wouldn’t have taken had it not been for something we said or wrote.

We live in a big, beautiful world and you only have to step out and go places to enjoy it and find new places to love.


We’d love to come present to your club or organization. If you’d like to partner with us, just send us an email at postcardjar@gmail.com.

Eclipse 2017: An earth-shadowing experience from our home in Crete, Nebraska

Eclipse 2017: An earth-shadowing experience from our home in Crete, Nebraska

When science writer Trudy Bell said to never let anyone convince me that 99% of the sun covered was the same as totality, I didn’t know what to think. She then went on to say, “It’s 1% of the sun’s surface, but it’s 100% of the experience.” The moment the moon fully covered the sun during the recent total solar eclipse that passed over our hometown of Crete, Neb., I knew exactly what she meant. And she was right.

Total solar eclipse, photographed by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

Total solar eclipse, photographed by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska. If you look closely, you can see solar flares along the edges of the moon.

Ann and I had been looking forward to the eclipse for some time, and we couldn’t wait to welcome travelers from around the nation and the world to our hometown. On the Saturday before the eclipse, we had a booth downtown where we sold t-shirts as well as souvenir postcards — something for the special stamp and cancellation mark from our local post office.

We designed five total solar eclipse postcards that we sold throughout the weekend of the eclipse. They made a great souvenir from the event.

We designed five total solar eclipse postcards that we sold throughout the weekend of the eclipse. They made a great souvenir from the event.

We had an absolute blast meeting people from all over the country who were in Crete for the total solar eclipse. We met and talked with people from Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Oregon, California and Nevada. We learned so much about eclipses from people like Trudy Bell.

 

More eclipse fun!! This will be Trudy’s SIXTH total solar eclipse! She is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to eclipses and we’re so happy to welcome her and her daughter to Crete this weekend!

We also met people from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, who were excited to be in town for the eclipse. Their description of what was to come just added to the excitement of the day.

 

Talking eclipse in downtown Crete, Nebraska.

 

Our little t-shirt and postcard sales gig proved to be pretty popular and we found ourselves a little busier than expected answering calls and texts from people all weekend.

We sold several hundred of these 2017 total solar eclipse t-shirts during eclipse festivities in downtown Crete, Nebraska.

We sold several hundred of these 2017 total solar eclipse t-shirts during eclipse festivities in downtown Crete, Nebraska.

By Monday morning, we were ready to be done with postcard and t-shirt sales and just settle in to watch the eclipse. But people kept contacting us. In fact, the owner of our local Ace Hardware store had some people from Iowa who really wanted some postcards so he just drove them up to our house to get some. That’s what we do in small town America.

We sold more than 2,000 total solar eclipse postcards and our local post office offered a special cancellation stamp.

We sold more than 2,000 total solar eclipse postcards and our local post office offered a special cancellation stamp.

While they were here, we got a call from friends in a local park–apparently, people were clamoring for more postcards, so we were off again, making arrangements for their sale and distribution. In the meantime, we’d met a couple other folks from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada who wanted a t-shirt. They seemed nice, so we invited them up to our place to watch the eclipse.

We met great people from all over the world, including these eclipse chasers from California, Nevada, and Canada.

We met great people from all over the world, including these eclipse chasers from California, Nevada, and Canada.

We were so tickled that they accepted our invitation. We also had our friends and fellow travel bloggers, Sara (and her husband, Todd) of Travel with Sara, and Lisa and Tim of The Walking Tourists, a friend of mine from college and his family, Ann’s mom and my parents, friends who were just back from Sri Lanka, a dozen or so college students and suddenly, we had a houseful.

Friends and fellow travel bloggers look at the eclipse through a telescope in our front yard.

Friends and fellow travel bloggers Lisa and Tim Trudell and Sara and Todd Broers look at the eclipse through a telescope in our front yard.

I threw some burgers on the grill, Ann and my mom made some great salads, we cooked some locally grown Behrens family sweet corn in a cooler, and lunch was served.

We learned a great way to make sweet corn for a crowd is to pour boiling water over the corn in a cooler and just shut the lid for about 20 minutes.

We learned a great way to make sweet corn for a crowd is to pour boiling water over the corn in a cooler and just shut the lid for about 20 minutes.

Clouds were all around that morning, threatening our eclipse viewing, so I said a prayer. Still, the whole group had a lot of fun chatting and getting to know each other. Finally, after so much anticipation, the solar eclipse began.

Steve and his dad, John Teget, watch the total solar eclipse from our front yard in Crete, Nebraska.

Steve and his dad, John Teget, watch the total solar eclipse from our front yard in Crete, Nebraska.

We all put on our eclipse glasses and at first, we couldn’t really see any difference in the sun. Then, it became more clear. As the moon transited the sun, anticipation (and cloud formations) grew. We couldn’t wait! Thankfully, God answered my prayer and the clouds held off until just after totality ended! What follows is a series of photos of the eclipse. We’d like to thank our friend Ronald Koch who took these photos right here in Crete.

Partial eclipse before totality. Photograph by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

A view of the partial eclipse before totality. Photograph by Ronald D. Koch, in Crete, Nebraska.

The "diamond ring" effect, photograph by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

Just before the moon completely covers the sun, we could see the “diamond ring” effect. Photograph by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

Total solar eclipse photographed by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

The moon completely covers the sun during totality allowing viewers to see the sun’s light shine out around the moon. Photograph by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

Partial solar eclipse photographed by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

Just a little bit of the moon still covers the sun following the total solar eclipse. Photograph by Ronald D. Koch in Crete, Nebraska.

After experiencing totality, I feel confident in saying that all the positive hype we’d heard about the eclipse didn’t adequately describe it. It was a sight unlike anything I’d ever seen and I can’t find the words to describe the experience.

I go back to what Trudy Bell said in the video above, that 99% covered means that 1% is uncovered. And that 1% is 100% of the experience. Seeing the sun completely covered, looking at the rays of the sun shining out around the moon, seeing a metallic, teal colored sunrise in all directions, all while hearing the crickets chirping and frogs croaking at 1 o’clock in the afternoon was an incredible experience.

Ann and I had run all over town in the days and weeks leading up to the eclipse, we’d done so much to prepare. Those 2 minutes and 26 seconds of totality were worth it to us and to all those who had traveled from near and far to see it.

Steve's friend, Scott drove with his family from Wisconsin to see the total solar eclipse.

Steve’s friend, Scott drove with his family from Wisconsin to see the total solar eclipse.

We wish we could have had all our blog followers in Crete for this event. We know that isn’t possible, so Ann took a video during the eclipse while on our deck. While watching video isn’t the same as being here, I hope it at least gives you an idea of what the experience was like. Listen to the cheers and the spontaneous reactions of those who saw this awesome sight.

 

From our back yard at totality.

Posted by Postcard Jar on Monday, August 21, 2017

We are now officially eclipse junkies, and are already beginning to make plans to travel to the path of totality for the next eclipse in the U.S. on April 8, 2024. That one will enter through Texas and exit through the northeast. Visit [HERE] for a map showing its path as well as the path of all the eclipses in the US between now and 2050. If you have not yet seen a total solar eclipse, you should strongly consider making plans to do so. If you do, I think you’ll find that you have a hard time finding words to describe the experience, as well.


Were you able to watch the total solar eclipse? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below.

70+ things to do in Crete, Nebraska

70+ things to do in Crete, Nebraska

As you have probably noticed, Steve and I are very excited for next week’s total solar eclipse! We are really fortunate that Crete, Nebraska, (where we live) is in the path of totality and because of that, we’re expecting lots of visitors to begin arriving here in the next few days.

We’ve encouraged people to come to Crete early, enjoy all of the eclipse activities our city has planned and see what else this rural Nebraska town has to offer.

As we’ve been making recommendations of things for visitors to see and do in Crete, I was curious about what contributors to Trip Advisor listed as their favorite activities. Sadly, a search for “things to do” in Crete produced zero results. Zero! 

So, we decided to come up with our own list for people, whether you’re visiting our town for the first time or have lived here all your life.

Here are more than 70 things to see and do in Crete, Nebraska (along with some fun pictures of Steve doing them).

Cheese Runza

Runza is a Midwestern favorite that makes you forget you don’t like cabbage.

1. Eat a Runza

This warm, fresh-baked bread is filled with ground beef seasoned with a top-secret blend of spices and mixed with cabbage and onions. It is one of our favorite foods and a Midwestern tradition. Pick one up at our local Runza Restaurant as you come into town on Highway 33.

2. Learn a new language

Crete Public Schools offers English as a second language classes for all ages and you can learn Spanish online through resources at our public library. With many languages spoken here, there’s always someone wanting to learn and finding a conversation partner is a great way to connect to others in the community.

3. Gather with friends at The Brew House

This is one of our favorite places in Crete! The Brew House is a coffee shop by day and a beer and wine bar at night. They serve coffee from The Mill in the morning and feature mostly Nebraska beers and wines during their evening hours along with some great food (try the pretzel bites and pulled pork sliders) and entertainment. The Brew House has quickly become a favorite meeting place and venue for special events.

The Brew House in downtown Crete, Nebraska

The Brew House has become a favorite gathering place for locals.

 4. Take a stroll around the Doane University campus

Doane University is undoubtedly one of the most scenic college campuses in the Midwest. This liberal arts university was established more than 140 years ago and is a beautiful place to take a walk and enjoy nature when you’re in Crete.

Walking at Doane University, Crete, Nebraska

You can take a leisurely stroll on the picturesque campus of Doane University.

5. Visit the one-room school house

The Saline County District 1 Star School depicts the 1910-1915 era of schools in this area and is very well preserved. Renovated in part by a few dedicated retired school teachers, this schoolhouse is open for special occasions or by appointment by calling Larry Shestak at (402) 826-0182 or Deb Prokop at (402) 826-4249. 

Star schoolhouse, Crete, Nebraska

Not too far into his visit to the historic Star school house, Steve found himself in the corner.

6. Sidle up to the taco truck

Rico’s Tacos, usually located just across the street from City Hall near 13th and Linden, is a food truck associated with and in the parking lot of Carnicería San Fernando. There they serve some great food including a variety of authentic tacos made with asada (steak), adobada (pork), cachete (cheek), buche (stomach), tripa (tripe) and pollo, (chicken). We aren’t as adventurous as some, but we do love the steak quesadilla.  

Rico's Tacos truck, Crete, Nebraska

Steve peruses the whole menu at Rico’s Tacos truck.

7. Admire the trees

In 1978, just two years after the new Crete Junior/Senior high opened, teachers Mildred Conkling and Mike Coe established the Crete Public School Arboretum at 1500 E. 15th St. For years, they had students collect recyclables to sell and the profits were used to purchase trees for the arboretum. The building near the arboretum has changed a lot over the years and is now a middle school. However, many of the trees remain the same. Come admire the trees and see how the arboretum has grown over the past 40 years.

Crete Public School Arboretum, Crete, Nebraska

Take a moment and admire a tree in the arboretum at Crete Middle School.

8. Jump out of a plane

Skydive Crete is located at the Crete Municipal Airport (yes, we have an airport). They are a student orientated dropzone and their mission is to make your skydive a safe, successful, and fun experience. Skydive Crete has been around since 1983 and we often see their parachutes gliding through the air from our house.

9. Try a pastry at Crystal’s Bakery

A variety of fresh pastries and baked goods are available daily at this Main Street corner shop. Stop in and load up a tray of baked good to share with family and friends. Our favorites include the flaky oreja, peanut butter cookies, guava pastries, and colorful conchas. Crystal’s also carries other grocery items and has a wide variety of fresh produce. 

Pastry at Crystal's Bakery, Crete, Nebraska

The “Concha” pastry at Crystal’s Bakery in downtown Crete is definitely worth a try.

10. Take a class at Gold Star Martial Arts

This local studio offers classes for ages four and up, including Traditional Taekwondo, ATA Tigers, Karate for Kids, Leadership and Legacy Training, Xtreme Martial Arts, and Hyper Martial Arts Athlete Training. Students of all ages learn respect, honor, integrity, courtesy, goal-setting, and other important leadership life skills at Gold Star Martial Arts.

Gold Star Martial Arts, Crete, Nebraska

AAAAAGH!! These kids scare me!

11. Plant something

Crete has a great community garden hidden away just off of 10th Street and Thornwood Ave. Residents can apply for a lot and grow their own healthy food at a very low cost. The community garden is also a wonderful place to share growing and cooking techniques with others.

12. Tour a historic home

The Jesse Bickel house, also known locally as “The Maples,” is considered to be the first house in Crete. The home sits on the southwest corner of a 20-acre tract near Tuxedo Park.  A museum today, it is filled with period furniture and provides a look back in time to when Crete was a new town. Looking at the house today you’d never believe it started out as a log cabin or served as the town’s first post office. It is open for special occasions, or by appointment by calling Scott Kuncl at (402) 826-9461.

Kitchen at the Maples

Steve pretends to churn a little butter in the kitchen of “The Maples,” Jesse Bickle’s house on the first homestead in Crete.

13. Check out a book (or a cake pan)

The Crete Public Library provides access to more than 27,000 print and audio visual resources, including books, audiobooks, DVDs and videos, large print books, newspapers, and magazines. The library also provides access to eBooks and audios through OverDrive. You can also borrow other things like LEGOs, games, and even specialty cake pans!

14. Get a mani/pedi

There are several places to get a great mani/pedi in Crete and my favorite is Le’s Nail Spa on Main Street. Pick a color and relax in a massaging chair while the professionals pamper you. Le Nails offers great prices on manicures and pedicures as well gel and acrylic nail options. I appreciate the nice women who work there and the fact that they keep a special box with my name on it with supplies used just on me.

Le's Nails, Crete, Nebraska

This chair is way better than my desk chair was in my principal’s office.

15. See why ACE is the place

Yes, Crete’s ACE Hardware can meet all your hardware needs, but they also have complimentary popcorn and friendliest staff in town. Stop by Dan and Val Papik’s store in downtown Crete and see what makes this place so special. We love their products and the customer service is second to none (they often carry things out to our car for us). We especially like that they keep a file with the paint colors we’ve used in every room of our house in case we forget.

Crete Ace Hardware, Crete, Nebraska

Enjoy a bag of free popcorn while you shop in this home of the helpful hardware folks. They have about one of everything in this store.

16. Impress your guests with a custom cookie

Hands down — best custom cookies we’ve ever seen. The owner of Crete Custom Cookies does amazing work that is customized just for you or your special event. Need a cookie shaped like an octopus? Crete Custom Cookies can do it! They bake tasty cut-out sugar cookies and frost them with royal icing before decorating them with the most exquisite details you can imagine. Speciality orders available for pick-up or delivery 24/7 by appointment by calling (402) 461-4410.

Crete Custom Cookies, Crete, Nebraska

Check out the detail on this cookie at Crete Custom Cookies. They look almost too good to eat. Almost.

17. Read the paper

Founded on May 5, 1871, as the Saline County Post shortly before the first train pulled into town on fresh tracks, The Crete News continues the legacy of publishing a community newspaper every week. Read all about local news and sports and remember what happened decades ago in the Days Gone By section. We love that our small-town paper still includes engagement and wedding notices and you can see who got a speeding ticket in the weekly record.

Crete News, Crete, Nebraska

You’ll never guess who got a speeding ticket last week.

18. Have breakfast at 9th Street Grill

The breakfast at 9th Street Grill is just what you want in a small-town cafe: fast, delicious, and inexpensive. The bacon and eggs are always on point, and the sides are good, as well. If you’re hungry, try the big boy breakfast: hash browns, sausage, onions, peppers and diced ham topped with swiss cheese, served with two eggs, toast and a cup of sausage gravy. Stop by for lunch or dinner and enjoy a burger or steak from beef raised on the owner’s farm. On Wednesday evenings, burgers are just $3.00 and place is packed. 

9th St. Grill, Crete, Nebraska

The $3 burger at 9th Street Grill looked so good that Steve ate it before he remembered we were supposed to take a picture!

19. Camp at Tuxedo Park

Tuxedo Park is a 96-acre facility in northwest Crete, west of the Blue River and is the largest park in Crete. The park has restroom and shower facilities, 20 RV camping sites and dump station, picnic areas and playground, ski trail and a hiking trail. 

Camping in Tuxedo Park, Crete, Nebraska

Steve takes a minute to unwind and enjoy the outdoors at a campsite at Tuxedo Park.

20. Watch the game at Elle’s on Main

Elle’s on Main is a great sports bar and restaurant. On Thursday nights after 8 p.m., stop by for a $1 street taco. Or six. Once you bite into one of these tasty treats, you’ll just want to keep munching away. Elle’s also offers a variety of sandwiches and sides for a reasonable price to go along with your favorite frosty beverage. We really like the cuban sandwich and the fact we can get tater-tots as a side. They seem to taste even better when we’re watching the Huskers on one of the big screen TVs there.

21. Support a sport

Crete is home to the Crete Cardinals, the Doane Tigers, and several active youth sports programs all with quality athletic traditions. This means there is always some type of competition happening somewhere in town. From Tuxedo Park to the campus of Doane University to the middle and high school gymnasiums, fields, and tennis courts, Crete has excellent facilities capable of hosting sports contests year round. Crete Schools offers free athletic passes to those 65 and older.

High school soccer, Crete, Nebraska

We love watching the CHS Men’s Soccer team play.

22. Savor the alambre platter at Cristina’s

Cristina’s is one of our favorite (of many) Mexican restaurants in Crete. It has been a local favorite for years and the service is just fantastic. Using fresh ingredients, they serve up some of the best chips, salsa and guacamole in town. And when you’re really hungry, try the alambre platter. It’s a pile of delicious meat (steak or pork), onions  and peppers topped with melted, toasty cheese and served with corn or flour tortillas. Try it. You’ll be glad you did.

23. Search for a Geocache

Geocaching is an activity that can be done almost anywhere, and Crete is no exception. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here for a description. In any event, some clever people have hidden caches throughout our town. Ann and I have spent afternoons searching — see if you can find a cache that lists Postcard Jar — our name is out there.

Crawling under an old merry-go-round in Crete, NE.

24. Watch a high school musical

In January of 2016, Crete opened its new high school, which includes a 650-seat auditorium perfect for theatrical and music performances. During the school year this facility is used for choir and band concerts, musicals, and plays. Many of the performances are free although there is a small fee for the high school musical in the spring. 

25. Admire the “Goddess of Liberty”

In 1915, the Bohemian Park Club donated a statue of the “Goddess of Liberty” (a replica of a statue in Myers Park on Long Island) to the City of Crete. The statue stood in Crete for nearly 100 years until vandals knocked it over in early 2014, breaking it into about 50 pieces. City workers picked up the pieces and had the fountain restored, rededicating it in the summer of 2015. Today, it again stands atop a fountain in City Park and has become an iconic centerpiece for the community.

Goddess of Liberty fountain, Crete, Nebraska

Don’t fall in!

26. Have a beer at Red Dog Tavern

Owner and Crete native Tyler Lothrop spent several years in Nashville before returning to his hometown to open Red Dog Tavern on Main Street. A popular establishment with locals (espeically the college crowd), Red Dog Tavern is a great place to kick back and relax with a brew, shoot some pool, play Jenga, try a pickle shot, and visit with friends. They also periodically have live music and karaoke.

Red Dog Tavern, Crete, Nebraska

After a long day doing things in Crete, Steve is happy to get a cold brew from Tyler at Red Dog Tavern in downtown Crete.

27. Play frisbee golf

Doane University has a nice disc golf course near the parking lots at Hanson Leadership Hall. Bring your own discs and see if you can land yours in the baskets.

28. Stop by the Farmer’s Market

Every Thursday afternoon in the summer months, locals bring their fresh produce and baked goods to the Farmer’s Market in downtown Crete. Located in the Shopko parking lot at the corner of 9th and Main, you can find fresh produce, jams, jellies and crafts. You can also buy cookies, breads, cinnamon rolls (the peanut butter ones are our favorites), and amazing kolaces. Speaking of kolaces…

29. Try a kolace

Kolaces are a Czech tradition and another favorite around these parts. Kolace is a type of buttery pastry, shaped in a circle with a dollop of fruit in the middle. My favorite is cherry, but apricot, poppyseed, and cream cheese are also among the most popular, it seems.

Kolaces at Foodmart in Crete, Nebraska

Try a kolace when you’re in Crete. Steve is a big fan of the cherry ones.

30. Climb a caboose

Until we wrote this blog post, we didn’t really know much about the Burlington Northern caboose that is situated on the Doane campus near the golf course on Iris Avenue. Thankfully, several people wrote to tell us about its significance. The caboose at Doane was given to the university by Burlington Northern Railroad Company as a symbol of the historical connection between the college and the railroad. It stands at the center of a tract that was donated by the Burlington Missouri River Railroad Company to the trustees of Doane College in 1871 for a Congregational college campus. The tracks were completed through Crete that same year. Thomas Doane was a chief civil engineer for the railroad and was also instrumental in establishing the college. With the assistance of Harold Jones and David Osterhout, the caboose was placed in Crete in 1996 in recognition of the original Burlington land gift.

31. Catch a movie

The ISIS theater, which has had its name since 1926 (way longer than any group in the Middle East), was recently updated to the latest digital video and sound technology. It also offers some of the cheapest concessions you’ll ever find in a movie theater — and you can even stop in during its business hours to get popcorn to go. I bought this box of popcorn for $1. Believe it.

Isis Theatre, Crete, Nebraska

Steve munches on his $1 box of movie theater popcorn in front of the Isis Theatre.

32. Dip up some creamy queso

La Carreta serves up a creamy warm white cheese queso dip that always pleases. Order a bowl to go with your chips and salsa as you wait for your meal. A word of caution –  it’s addictive. 

33. Take a picture by the mural

Locals often take this iconic mural for granted, as we drive by it all the time. Find a parking spot (they’re all free here) near the mural at 13th and Norman and snap a photo of this mural of downtown Crete in the early days. And while you’re at it, turn 90 degrees to your left and you’ll have a great view of one of Crete’s longest running businesses, The Crete Mills, owned by Bunge.

Large mural in downtown Crete, Nebraska

Don’t miss this Instagrammable look into the past!

34. Appreciate architecture

Take a drive around the College Hill Historic District, bounded by Juniper, 15th, Boswell, and 9th streets. Most of the homes in this area were built by founders and supporters of then Doane College and Crete’s business district. Many of these homes remain single family dwellings and are an excellent representation of 19th and early 20th century residential architecture.

35. Hit the links

College Heights Country Club is a semi-private 9-hole course that offers something for beginners as well as scratch golfers. The short tree-lined fairways, not-so-subtle greens, and curvy par-fives offer a great challenge. A round of golf is only $15 on weekdays. I grew up on this course and especially love trying to stick a shot on the hilly green on #3 and hitting over the big tree in the middle of the fairway on #6.

College Heights Country Club, Crete, Nebraska

Steve claims he got a hole-in-one on number 7. You’d be right to be skeptical.

36. Make a run to De’Leons at 1 a.m.

Do you like Mexican food? Do you really like it at 1 a.m.? De’Leon’s has Mexican food for reasonable prices and they are open late. Try the superfries. You can thank us later.

37. Play in a park

Crete has nine City-managed parks that have a variety of playground equipment, green space, ball fields, and more. They include:

  • City Park – 12th & Kingwood
  • Tuxedo Park – 13th & Tuxedo Road
  • Wildwood Park – 4th & Grove
  • Rotary Park – 9th & Kingwood
  • Gus Stoll Park – 7th & Pine
  • Armory Park – 515 E. 1st
  • Old Mill – 3rd & Norman
  • Northward Park – 20th & Main
  • Westwood Park – Heather Drive
Slide in City Park, Crete, Nebraska

Steve would have gone down the green slide, but he doesn’t like heights. (And how would he get through the opening?)

38. Visit a church

One of the things we love most about our hometown is our church family. We attend Crete Berean Church just east of town on Hwy. 33 and help lead the college ministry there. There are also lots of other great churches in town offered in both English and Spanish languages. Crete Berean offers a worship service Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. as well as adult and children’s activities and studies throughout the week. The church is especially active on Wednesday nights with AWANA (for kids pre-K through 6th grade), TREK (middle school youth group), and OASIS (high school youth group).

Crete Berean Church, Crete, Nebraska

Crete Berean Church is located just a couple of miles east of town on highway 33.

39. Bump, set, spike

Crete has two lighted sand volleyball courts at Tuxedo Park as well as additional courts on the Doane University campus. Gather your friends and practice your serves, sets, and spikes!  

40. Find a bargain

New Beginnings is one my favorite places to go thrift-store shopping. This second-hand store has lots of home goods, dishware, clothing, and books. There is also a pretty extensive Christmas and holiday section on the third floor. New Beginnings is also a great place to donate items you don’t need anymore, as all of the proceeds benefit Crete Cares.

New Beginnings, downtown Crete, Nebraska

You can find some great bargains at New Beginnings in downtown Crete.

41. Sip a cup of Starbucks coffee

Yes, you can get a Starbucks coffee in Crete! The coffee shop in lower level of the Campus Center at Doane University now serves Starbucks coffee!

42. Stop and smell the roses

We love to drive around town and look at all the pretty flowers and landscapes, including the  lovely rose garden in City Park. You can also purchase fresh flowers and arrangements from local florists,  Crete Floral, which also carries some of our postcards, and Abloom.

Abloom Floral, Crete, Nebraska

Some beautiful arrangements can be found at our local florists.

43. Check out our tank

I remember playing on this Sherman tank as a kid and it still is one of Crete’s iconic structures. For several years, it was caged behind a fence, but was recently moved, repainted, and freed from the barriers. Today, it is displayed in a corner of City Park but visitors are asked to NOT climb on it.

Tank in City Park, Crete, Nebraska

With a Sherman tank, our city’s park is well defended.

44. Show your team spirit

Our local sporting goods store, Heath Sports and Tees, is right in the middle of downtown Crete and offers a variety of activewear and t-shirts featuring all our favorite teams. Stop by for a Crete Cardinal tee or a Doane Tiger jacket. They can also do custom logos and embroidery.

Heath Sports and Tees in Crete, Nebraska

Even though he’s not principal anymore, we still love to support Crete Cardinal activities.

45. Ignite your taste buds

Mahlon Kohl’s beef jerky at Blue River Meats is a local favorite and a great treat for those passing through town. The Firehouse jerky (slightly sweet with medium heat) is a favorite of ours, but you’re sure to enjoy the Honey Bee and Holy Habanero flavors, as well. We also like to buy fresh-cut steaks for our out-of-town guests at the full-service meat counter and finish off a great meal with fresh-baked Village Pie Maker pie that we pick up from the freezer there.

Firehouse beef jerky, Blue River Meats, Crete, Nebraska

Steve was so excited to take this photo he couldn’t wait to get to the car to bite into the firehouse beef jerky.

46. Take a walk

There are lots of great places to walk in Crete whether you want lots of hills or a flat surface. One of our favorites is the walking trail just west of the Crete Area Medical Center. This 5-foot wide cement trail is just a half a mile around (so you can make a few laps), but it is quiet, picturesque and surrounded by nature. It loops around a wooded area that is shaded by trees in the summer and is a great place to unwind and get a little exercise.

Walking Trail by the hospital, Crete, Nebraska

Take a relaxing stroll on the Walking Trail by the hospital.

47. Try a new food

We have lots of speciality grocery stores that offer unique foods from a variety of countries. Try some Mexican candy or add a new sauce to your stir fry from our Asian market. We’ve found these stores to be very welcoming and the staff are happy to make recommendations.

Mi Costeñita candy, Crete, Nebraska

Chili flavored candy at Super Latina in downtown Crete is nothing like a Snickers bar. Just Sayin’.

48. Chow down on chow mein

Just about everyone I know loves Chinese food, and Crete has two options for your dining pleasure. First is King Buffet, which, in addition to an a’la carte menu, offers a vast all-you-can-eat buffet for less than $10. The other is Great Wall on the west side of town which serves up a great plate of orange chicken.

49. Kick a soccer ball

There are many soccer enthusiasts in Crete and it isn’t terribly difficult to get a pickup game going. There are fields available through the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, as well as facilities at the public schools and university in town (but check with them first for scheduling).

Soccer in Crete, Nebraska

Steve tries his hand (foul!) at soccer at the Den soccer field on the campus of Doane University.

50. Watch the birds

Crete’s Youth in Governance group installed several blue bird boxes at the Riverside Park Cemetery years ago and they’ve attracted quite a few blue birds. Take a walk or drive through this scenic resting place and see if you can spot a colorful blue bird.

51. Peek inside an octagonal barn

Located in Tuxedo Park is octagonal building was originally the ticket office and information booth during assemblies at was then called Chautauqua Park. This eight-sided building is the last remnant of the Nebraska Chautauqua. 

Octagonal building in Tuxedo Park, Crete, Nebraska

Take a look into the past and see inside the former ticket office of the Nebraska Chautauqua.

52. Go boating at Bluestem Lake

This state park is just a few miles outside of Crete on Sprague Road (go east out of town on 13th Street). Bluestem is 325 acres in size with six miles of shoreline and provides places for boating, picnicking, and primitive camping with over 200 campsites to choose from. There is also a swim beach and playground. A state park permit is required for entry.

53. Remember those who served

Doane was one of 131 colleges and universities in the United States selected to participate in the V-5 and V-12 program during World War II. This vital wartime program trained more than 60,000 Navy and Marine Corps officers and a total of 787 men received training conducted at Doane between 1942 and 1945. An anchor now serves as a centerpiece at the Navy Memorial Plaza that was installed on the university campus in Crete in 2002.

Navy Memorial Plaza, Doane University, Crete, Nebraska

Anchors aweigh! This anchor says that it is 6000 lbs., and is small!

54. Learn about the prairie 

Located between Crete and Denton is the Spring Creek Audubon Society tallgrass prairie. You can take a walk along the trails of this 850-acre preserve and witness native tallgrass prairie ecology firsthand. This also makes a great venue for special events and family gatherings. 

55. Shout, “pull!” at Izaak Walton

Located on the back side of Tuxedo Park, the Izaak Walton lodge hosts some fierce trapshooting competitions. If you’re a sport shooter, head down and test your skills.

56. Go stargazing

Built in 1883, the Boswell Obesrvatory on the campus of Doane University is one of the more unique buildings in town. It still houses its original, eight-inch equatorial telescope. Now restored, the telescope continues to be used for sky viewing during special events. The observatory, which used to house a museum and the Doane Family Association archives, is the now the office of the president of the university. 

Boswell Observatory, Doane University, Crete, Nebraska

The Boswell Observatory on the campus of Doane University.

57. Treat yourself to ice cream

Dairy Queen ice cream treats are a favorite in the Midwest (owned by Omahan Warren Buffet’s Bershire Hathaway). Crete has a new DQ Grill & Chill as you drive into town on Hwy. 33 and the Dilly Bars and Blizzards seem to be popular items. Also, there’s a great ice cream cone next door at Runza Restaurants that typically sells for about $1. We like to order in the drive through — “One vanilla cone and one twist cone, please.”

Dairy Queen hot fudge sundae, Crete, Nebraska

A cool treat at Crete’s DQ Grill n’ Chill is the perfect end to a long summer’s day.

58. See a show

We’d lived in Crete for more than a decade before either one of us attended a Doane University theater production and boy were we missing out. Doane has a fantastic theater arts department and everything we’ve been to has been just terrific. Tickets to shows are also reasonably priced.

59. Take your dog to the dog park

Crete has a fantastic dog park located just east of town on Sprague Road and County Road 2400. Created through a partnership of Nestlé Purina and the City, there are grassy areas for both large and small dogs to run and play and plenty of tables and benches for people to sit and visit with other dog lovers.

Waggin' Tail dog park, Crete, Nebraska

Steve and Finn had some fun at the Waggin’ Tail dog park in Crete. (Dog, [not photo] courtesy Jenn Lampila.)

60. Learn to dance

Crete has several dance studios, including one called POYDS, which stands for put on your dancing shoes! POYDS started in 2013 when a student at Doane University decided to do her senior religious studies capstone on an interpretive dance of the first three chapters of the book of Genesis. Owner (and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director) Kayleigh Schadwinkel, encourages dancers of all dancing backgrounds to always put on their dancing shoes, to learn life lessons of confidence, hope and much more while learning to love and appreciate the wonderful art of dance.

61. Buy sweet corn from the back of a truck

Every summer, our friends from Behrens Family Sweet Corn park their pickup truck at the filling station at 13th and Linden and sell the best sweet corn we’ve ever had for $6 a dozen. There is nothing like husking fresh corn on a hot summer day, boiling it, and then covering it in butter, salt and pepper and eating it for dinner. It’s a must when you live in the Cornhusker state.

Sweet corn for sale in Crete, Nebraska

Steve loves sweet corn on the cob this time of year–but he should probably cook it first.

62. Take a swim

Offering a zero-entry area, water slides, diving boards, space for laps, and a play area where water pours over the kids as they dodge sprays of water, our pool offers something for everyone and is a happening place in the summer months. Private and group swimming lessons are also offered, as well as an adult water exercise class. The last day of the season is typically reserved for dogs.

 63. Explore nature

If you have young children, they will love the outdoor classroom at Doane! We just discovered it while writing this blog post and we were so impressed with what we found there. The Nature Explore Classroom is located just across the parking lot from Hansen Hall on the Doane University campus and is full of all kinds of fun learning stations. You can stack pieces of wood, read a book, play instruments, and even crawl through hollow logs.

Outdoor Classroom, Doane University, Crete, Nebraska

Steve: You’re never too old to try to crawl through a hollowed out log, right? Ann: Ummm…

64. Go sledding

During the winter months, there’s often enough snow for sledding here and the hilly fairways on #7 and #9 at Crete’s golf course make College Heights Country Club a great place to sled.

65. Order a pizza

There are several options for pizza in Crete and we like them all.  You can never go wrong with a made-to-order pizza from Pizza Hut (and throw in a few wings while you’re at it). Or try a Valentino’s original special with hamburger, sausage, ham, pepperoni and mushrooms, or a taco pizza from one of our two Casey’s convenience stores.

66. Enter something in the Saline County Fair

For over 120 years, the Saline County Fair has brought together young and old to showcase their talents in a variety of venues. We love going through and watching the 4-H kids show their hogs and cattle and always enjoy perusing the exhibit hall where you’ll find everything from homemade pickles and pies to sewing projects and photography.

Showing cattle at the Saline County Fair, Crete, Nebraska

Some good looking cattle come through the Saline County Fair. Steve will let expert Alexa K. handle the livestock.

67. Join a service club or organization

Crete has a Rotary Club, Lions Club and a Sertoma Club along with other service organizations, and all do many great things in and for our community.

68. Volunteer

There are also plenty of opportunities to volunteer in Crete. Help out with the CPS Backpack Program, be a TeamMates mentor, or help distribute food at the mobile food bank once a month.

69. Watch a sunset

I know we’re biased, but we think Crete (and really much of Nebraska) has some of the most beautiful sunsets we’ve ever seen. Take a drive, find a hill, and watch the sky turn into the most amazing colors right before your very eyes.

Sunset in Crete, Nebraska

We get some beautiful sunsets here in Crete.

70. Pick out a pumpkin

Crete’s Great Pumpkin Festival happens each October and is quickly becoming one of the area’s most popular festivals. Visit downtown Crete for all kinds of food and fun for the whole family and pick out your favorite pumpkin. The 2017 Great Pumpkin Festival is planned for Sunday, Oct. 8. We’re planning to be there again this year as sponsors of the photo booth.

71. Drive across the new bridge

I get it. If you’re visiting Crete for the first time, this may not be for you. But for locals who feared driving across an old rickety bridge and then waited more than two years while the new one was built, this is a BIG DEAL.

The new bridge on 13th St., Crete, Nebraska

Steve inspects the new bridge on 13th St. He approves.


Which things are your favorites to do in Crete and what we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments sections below. We’d love to hear from you! 

As always, thanks for sharing!

 

An earth-shadowing experience planned for eclipse in Crete and Wilber

An earth-shadowing experience planned for eclipse in Crete and Wilber

I have to admit, we’re pretty excited about the total solar eclipse that is about to happen. We follow a lot of travel bloggers, and know that many are making plans to travel great distances so they can experience what it’s like to be plunged into the shadow of the moon and witness “totality.”

Ann and I are no different. We have plans to travel all the way to our own driveway to watch. Living in Crete, Neb., we’re lucky to be smack-dab in the path of the moon’s shadow, and we get to experience nearly two and a half minutes of totality right in our own hometown. If you don’t have a place set to go watch the eclipse, you might consider coming here.

Nebraska eclipse path

The path of totality of the 2017 solar eclipse passes right over Crete and Wilber, Nebraska

Our town of Crete has teamed up with nearby Wilber and has put together a series of fun events designed to create a weekend to remember for anyone traveling to the eclipse.

Saturday in Crete, Nebraska

The weekend festivities kick off in Crete on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. with a 1 or 5 mile fun run in Tuxedo Park. If you’re like me, you may want to sleep in a bit and come to the park to cheer on the finishers of the race and enjoy the pancake feed there sponsored by the Crete Volunteer Fire Department which starts at 8 a.m. Later in the day, Crete’s businesses will host a community shopping tour–look for Ann and me, we’ll be in City Park from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. selling commemorative postcards along with the special stamp the US Postal Service created for the eclipse. Crete’s post office even has a special one-of-a-kind cancellation stamp for the occasion.

Total solar eclipse postcard from Crete, Nebraska

We are selling commemorative postcards with five different designs, including this one.

back of postcard

The back of our postcard has plenty of room for the special postmark.

We will also be selling a limited number of Postcard Jar eclipse t-shirts at our little stand in the park. Please come down, we’d love to meet you.

Steve and Ann Teget, founders of www.postcardjar.com

Stop by the total solar eclipse events in Crete and say hello! We’d love to meet you.

At 2 p.m., Doane University is hosting an expert panel of university professors who will discuss the eclipse and what can be expected. That panel repeats at 3 p.m., but with a Spanish translation. Both are in the Chab Weyers Education Building on the Campus of Doane University.

Starting at 5 p.m. that evening, come to downtown Crete for a food fair and beer garden. Two blocks of Main Street will be closed off to car traffic, and attendees may purchase a beer (and other beverages) in bars and restaurants up and down the street and carry them outside.

The Brew House in Crete, Nebraska

The Brew House in Crete is one of the establishments that will have a wristband for Saturday evening.

Each establishment will have its own colored wristband for patrons over age 21. See if you can collect all five! If you’re feeling daring, stop by Red Dog Tavern where Tyler has a special concoction for the occasion: the Eclipse Viewfinder which includes five different liquors, Monster energy drink, and a splash of pineapple juice in a souvenir cup for $12.

In addition to great food inside Crete’s restaurants, people attending the festivities will also be able to purchase food from a variety of street vendors including barbecue, sno-cones, sloppy joes, funnel cakes, tacos, kettle corn, sandwiches, and Italian ice. At 6:30 p.m., the POYDS Dance Company will offer a free line dancing class. You’ll want to take that so you’re prepared for the street dance in that same area from 8 p.m.-midnight featuring the band, Panama Road. Ann and I will be around somewhere downtown selling postcards and t-shirts, so please stop by.

Postcard Jar postcard stand

Our Postcardjar.com stand in City Park.

Sunday in Wilber, Nebraska

On Sunday, the activities are centered in Wilber, located about ten miles south of Crete.

Wilber, Nebraska sign

Wilber, Nebraska, is the Czech capital of the USA.

Most events in Wilber take place in their Legion Park. They kick off with a sand volleyball tournament at 9 a.m. If you missed pancakes in Crete, or you are hungry for more, the Wilber Volunteer Fire Department is also hosting a pancake feed Sunday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Maybe you should go to both and then decide who makes better cakes? Starting at 10 a.m. will be the “Pork in the Park” barbecue competition.

From 1-2 p.m., Doane University is bringing its educational panel to Wilber High School. Also in Wilber on Sunday will be a kids carnival from 1-5 p.m., a photo booth from 4-6 p.m., and polka lessons and a performance by the Wilber-Clatonia Alumni Band from 5-6 p.m.

Wilber Czech Dancers

Stop by the park for Polka lessons Sunday from 5-6 p.m.

The day’s activities are capped off with a barbecue meal from 6:30-8:30 p.m. featuring food from the entrants in the Pork in the Park contest.

Monday is the big eclipse!

Monday is the big day for the Eclipse. Start your morning off right with sunrise meditation and yoga in Crete’s City Park at 7 a.m.

Crete City Park

City Park will be a great place to start your day on Monday with meditation and yoga beginning at 7 a.m.

From there, enjoy more shopping in Crete and a farmer’s market in Wilber. To watch an eclipse, you need plenty of open sky, and both towns have a lot of that. Be sure to head to Armory Park in Crete or back to Legion Park in Wilber to watch the eclipse starting at 11:36 am.

Armory Park in Crete, Nebraska

Armory Park is located near 1st and Hawthorne Ave. in the south side of Crete.

Armory Park in Crete, Nebraska

Wide open space at Armory Park will be ideal for viewing the total solar eclipse in Crete, Nebraska.

For about 90 minutes, the moon with gradually cover the sun until it blocks it completely just after 1 p.m. This phase of “totality” has not happened in the U.S. since 1979, and will last only about two and a half minutes before the sun peeks out from behind the moon again. During totality, it’s possible to look at the sun and see its corona coming out from behind the moon. Stars will be visible in the sky. Watch the video below from Smarter Everyday for the best description we’ve seen yet.

I’ve heard that nothing can fully prepare you for experiencing a total eclipse of the sun, so I hope you can find a way to get into the path of “totality” and see for yourself just what it’s like. We’re excited to live in a town that is really working hard to make this an earth shadowing for everyone!


Are you planning to watch the total solar eclipse August 21, 2017? Where will you be along the path of totality?

As always, thanks for sharing (and pinning)!

Total solar eclipse events in Crete and Wilber, Nebraska

Finally home for the Fourth of July

Finally home for the Fourth of July

After having spent the Fourth of July out of the country three of the past four years, we’re excited to be home this year to celebrate our country’s Independence Day. In 2013, we were in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2015 we celebrated in Barcelona, Spain. And last year, we had cream tea at a restaurant called Boston Tea Party in Bath, England.

 

Last summer, we spent the Fourth in Bath, England, and were very excited to stumble across a restaurant called Boston Tea Party. We celebrated our independence with English cream tea.

In 2015, we disembarked from the Celebrity Equinox after a cruise through the Mediterranean and then spent the day in Barcelona, Spain.

In 2013, we spent the Fourth of July touring Chinatown in Vancouver and then went to a BC Lions football game that night.

It has been kind of nice to be home this year. Last night, we had a cookout with friends and family and then enjoyed our city’s fireworks display from our deck.

Today, we’re doing a little yard work and relaxing at home before joining friends tonight for more food, games, and fireworks. While we love to travel, being home this year has been a good reminder of how blessed we are to live in a country like the United States of America. We don’t take any of our freedoms for granted, and we’re thankful for those who fought and continue to fight for us to have them.

God bless America.


If you are in the United States of America, how do you celebrate the Fourth of July? Do you have any special traditions? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you.