Evening hike to California Bend on the Missouri River

 

California Bend
Peeking through the brush at the edge of the trail to view the sunset across a soybean field along the Lincoln trail at California Bend.

I drove down to Optimist Park Tuesday afternoon to hike and snap some fall color along the recently opened Lincoln Trail.  The new trail begins at Optimist Park and extends north to California Bend along the Missouri river.  Officials from the City of Blair and the Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District held the official ribbon-cutting on Friday, October 13.

Awe inspiring opportunity: Eclipse puts small town Nebraska on the map

Solar Eclipse August  2017
360 degree sunset during totality near Wymore, NE, August 21, 2017,

While Monday, August 21 was not an official holiday, it felt like one, and visitors from around the world came to Nebraska to join the celebration. The diagonal path of totality that crossed our state literally put some of our smallest communities on the map. And travelers in search of the optimal astronomical experience could not have asked for more agreeable and accommodating hosts.

I drove down to Beatrice on Sunday to join in the fun. While I grew up in Nebraska, I had never been to Beatrice or the Homestead National Monument.  There is no play book for preparing for a weekend influx of thousands of people, but Beatrice did an amazing job.  After returning on the shuttle from the Heritage Center at the Monument to Beatrice, I ate dinner at Valentino’s Sunday evening with a couple of friendly local volunteers who invited me to join the at their table. They had spent a long day helping with some of the kids’ programs, and would be back to catch the shuttle at 5 a.m. to begin again on Monday.

I spent Sunday night camping with friends on a farm near Wymore and lay in the bed of my pickup gazing at the stars.  In the morning clouds and thunder moved in from the south, and the chances of viewing appeared dim.  As the moon began to take a bite out of the sun the showers ended and the clouds began to part.  Thankfully we did get a magnificent view of totality.  As many have said, words cannot describe the experience.  I remember standing in awe, looking at the sky and saying to myself, “My God that’s it totality!”
I fumbled with my camera and fired off a few shots, and told myself again, don’t worry about the pictures, experience the moment.

For me and I presume for most of us, we will remember where we were and with whom we shared this maybe once in a lifetime event.

Solar Eclipse August  2017
Some light clouds did not diminish the experience of witnessing totality near Wymore, NE. during the total eclipse

Blair Balloonist Jaworski inducted into Hall of Fame

Jaworski Hot Air Balloon
Over hill and dale. Rich Jaworski pilots his passengers above the hills north of Blair in March, 2016.

We all look up to Blair balloonist Rich Jaworski when we see his brilliant red and white striped balloon float through the skies over Washington County on a calm morning or evening. Following his induction into the Nebraska Aviation Hall of Fame Enterprise on-line editor and reporter  Leeana Elis interviewed Jaworski, and I searched through my archive for photos I have taken over the years to accompany the article.

I have watched Jaworski and his crew prepare for take off many times, but the most memorable for me was standing in the parking lot of St.Francis Borgia  in the wee hours of a frigid morning in 2007 as the balloonist prepared for a long distance flight.

Congratulations to Rich, and thanks for the joy you provide as we view your balloon floating over the countryside. – Joe Burns

Saturday  Heritge Days
Rich Jaworski greets guests as they climb aboard for a bird’s eye view of Fort Atkinson during Heritage Days in Fort Calhoun.

2016 Summer scrapbook

Quilts in the Country show and garden walk

Winter in Washington County