Sometimes getting out of town without the dogs is exactly what I need.
Especially when I know there will be plenty of cute animals and cool people where I’m headed.
Stop 1: Lincoln
That’s Megan, one of my second cousins on the Wiebe side. When I said I was coming to Nebraska for a recent weekend, she and her partner Claire kindly allowed me to crash at their Lincoln apartment.
I first stopped for a dinner of homemade noodles and sauce with my best friend Kenton at his mom’s house.
The kitten Megan and Claire recently rescued from a tree welcomed Kenton and me when we arrived at their door.
Sadly, I captured no photos of my other cousin Kyle – Megan’s brother – slaying the karaoke crowd later that night at the Ding A Ling Bar in Raymond, Nebraska. (He’s a braver soul than me. I stay far away from karaoke mics.)
I did, however, snap a few pictures – and throw down some cash – the next day at the Old Cheney Road Farmers’ Market.
I’ve been meaning to get to Lincoln on a Sunday ever since Megan helped me put together a post about the farmers’ market for this blog.
I picked up some fresh produce for a veggie tray I was tasked with providing for my mom’s birthday party later that day.
I also picked up something for the dogs – chewy beef heart treats from Chisholm Family Farm.
The booth next door held exactly the kind of gifts I had in mind to present to my mother on her 58th birthday – all-natural beauty products.
Wingsets is a Lincoln-based business operated by a husband and wife team. In addition to a huge array of bath, skincare and hair products for people, they have developed a robust line of pet products. I look forward to trying some of those on our pack in the future.
Stop 2: Beatrice
My next stop was my hometown for a family portrait. I let the professional photographer take care of those shots.
Before everyone got together, though, I snapped this shot of my Dad’s friend Rosie’s adorable Yorkshire terriers.
After the photo session in the park, my dad took me out to the farm where he helps take care of a real menagerie of critters raised for pleasure and food.
Jag and Prowler, the resident German Shepherds he’s been training, greeted us when we rolled up.
Named after the rottweiler I grew up with, Prowler is growing up to be a handsome and mischievous fellow. The advice is to be careful when leaving small items, from caps and t-shirts to plastic bottles, unattended in his presence.
Dad loves zooming around the farm on the John Deere Gator. I hopped in the passenger seat, and we said hello to some of his animal friends.
Zipper the horse is a sweet old thing who peacefully resides with a small pack of burros. They have all learned to equate the arrival of the Gator in the pasture with treat time.
The bison herd on the other side of the fence knows what the Gator means, too. My dad’s favorite bison is this big-headed bull whose tongue is bigger than my wrist.
Apparently, the resident elk aren’t feeling very friendly this time of year.
But in just a couple hours, on the last stop of my whirlwind Nebraska tour, I would see another hoofed creature.
Stop 3: Peru
From Beatrice, I zoomed to Peru, Nebraska, a very hilly, very small college town where the Rains side of my family has roots.
My grandfather, who is buried in Peru, grew up in the town. He was a hometown football hero there, and it’s where he met my grandmother.
Peru is also where my mother originally met my stepfather in the 1970s. Decades would pass before they came together again and began to build a life together.
We celebrated my mom’s 58th birthday at the gazebo in Neal Park where they were married in 2005.
On this Sunday afternoon, my mother was showered with thoughtful and useful gifts, including a leather jacket, an iPhone and this hoodie I wish I could take credit for:
Of course, there was cake!
Catfish the Boston Terrier resented that no one offered her any.
After the food was devoured and presents unwrapped, nature treated us all to another gift – a not-so-distant view of a deer.
My mom squealed with delight at the beautiful sight.
As you can imagine, by the end of this little roadtrip, I was exhausted. But what a great weekend!