Monday, October 26, 2015

A few days in Nebraska City

Friday-Sunday (Oct 23-25):

On Friday morning we awoke to the sound of light rain falling on The Duchess. I spent the morning trying to update all of our financials through Quicken. With the recent cancellation and reissuing of our main credit card, I ended up having to make several changes in Quicken to have all of the transactions downloaded. In the afternoon the sun came out and we went back over the Lewis & Clark Museum to walk the prairie trail located on the property. We finished the walk and it started to rain again. That evening Connie made a pizza from scratch in our convection oven (even making the pizza crust). She tried using a baking stone to help make the pizza crust crisp and it did seem to help.

On Saturday we visited the Arbor Day Farm and the Arbor Lodge. Arbor Day was started here in Nebraska City during the 1870's and later became a state and then a national celebration of tree planting. J. Sterling Morton, an early Nebraska businessman & entrepreneur, is credited with being the founder of Arbor Day. It is reported that over 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska during the first few years of the Arbor Day celebrations. Most of Nebraska was prairie land with trees only located along creeks and rivers.

Our first stop was the Arbor Day Farm. The farm was started to celebrate Arbor Day with a number of activities for families to learn about trees and their benefits.

We saw a 20 minute movie about "Trees in the Movies" in the Visitor's Center for the farm and then walked through an exhibit with information about trees around the USA. From there we proceeded to a paved trail around the farm that had several informational areas along with a tree house that was 50 foot tall at the top. We both climbed to the top of the treehouse and enjoyed the view.

I climbed through a maze located along the trail.

After finishing the paved trail, we hiked a longer trail located along a creek that runs through the property. Lots of information about the trees that have been planted on the property along with some native to Nebraska trees.

After finishing this trail, Connie did a wine tasting at the small restaurant located on the property. She liked the reds but not the whites. The wines were $19 a bottle so we passed on buying any. From the Arbor Day Farm we walked across the street to the Arbor Lodge.

Arbor Lodge
The Arbor Lodge is a 52 room mansion built by J Sterling Morton on an original 160 acre property.  It started out as a small two room house in the 1850's and was added to over the years as the family prospered until it ended up this size. Mr. Morton was a businessman and politician. He served as territorial governor before Nebraska became a state along with being Secretary of Agriculture under President Grover Cleveland. He had four sons who all went into business for themselves. His oldest son, Joy Sterling, went to work for a company that supplied salt throughout the Midwest. He ended up buying the company and renaming it the Morton Salt Company. The slogan of the Morton Salt Company is: when it rains it pours. We watched a short video about the house and the Morton family. Then we toured the first, second and third floors along with the basement (a one lane bowling alley is located in the basement). Some of the furniture located in the house is original and some of it has been donated as period pieces. President Cleveland and his wife stayed in this house during a visit to Nebraska. The house and grounds were donated to the State of Nebraska in 1923 and have been overseen by the National Arbor Day Foundation for a number of years. The Morton family planted over 270 varieties of trees and shrubs on the property during the years they lived there. Several of the trees had turned to beautiful reds, oranges and yellows.

Located on the grounds is a statue of J Sterling Morton along with a whispering bench. You can sit at one end of the bench, speak in a whisper and be heard by someone sitting at the other end. Connie and I tested the effect and it does work. I don't know how it done, but it is amazing.
Connie at one end of The Whispering Bench.

J. Sterling Morton statue dedicated by Ex-President
Grover Cleveland in 1905.

We walked back across the road to the Arbor Day Farm restaurant and shared a piece of apple pie made with apples from the farm. It was delicious. We then drove back to the Lewis & Clark Museum to take the short trail down from the Visitor's Center to an overlook of the Missouri River.
Both of these photos are looking across the Missouri River
into Iowa.

On Sunday we drove over to Peru Nebraska and rode our bikes along the Steamboat Trace Trail. This trail runs along the Missouri River for about 22 miles (we did not do the entire trail). The trail is level with only a few inclines along the way.

While in Peru NE we drove through the Peru State College. This is the oldest college in Nebraska beginning with it's roots as a Methodist college in the 1850's. We only saw a couple of students walking around the campus which we thought was unusual even for a Sunday.

We drove over to visit the Indian Cave State Park but most of the park (including the cave) were closed due to a road repaving project. Back to the Duchess for dinner and then started our preparation for travel tomorrow to Chapman Kansas.