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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, February 2014 Issue

Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright  2014 
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff

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In This Issue:
View of Missouri River from Missouri River Basin
Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Nebraska City, NE

view of Missouri River from Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center photo viewofMissouriRiverfromLewisandClarkInterpretiveCenter_zps5960ec3b.jpg

  • El Tovar Renovations Discount
  • Holland America Savings
  • Free Days at Callaway Gardens
  • Travel Free when Others Travel with You
  • Win Benihana Trip to Japan
  • Ultimate Survival Alaska Sweepstakes
  • Discount Airfare to Rarotonga, Cook Islands
  • Edinburgh Vacation with Air, Meals from $1,464
  • Special Disneyland Prices for California Residents
  • Grand Lake St. Marys 2014 Discounts
  • Mazatlan Golf Packages
  • Paso Robles Hotel Month
  • 10 Safest Airlines in the World
  • SuperShuttle Winter Sale
  • Perks, discounts on Winery-Hosted Cruises
  • Club Med Jump Sale
  • Bicycle Adventures 30th Anniversary Offer
  • 20 Europe Vacations Priced Under $1,000
  • Seeking Out Southeast Nebraska
  • Special Prices, Shipboard Credit on MSC Divina

  • El Tovar Renovations Discount

    The historic El Tovar Hotel at the Grand Canyon offers a 30 percent lodging discount during the hotel’s “Raise the Roof” sale through Mar. 6, 2014, except Feb. 14 to 16, 2014.

    Due to a change in the renovation schedule, hotel rooms that would normally be sold out are now available. The first phase of the renovation project begins in 2014 and includes roof replacement and structural work on the terrace level of the hotel. Work takes place 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. while you are out exploring the canyon.

    Reflecting the discount, rooms are priced from $130.38, while the regular starting rate is $186.25.

    Room availability fluctuates as rooms are taken out of service during the construction. Make reservations early and check the website for updated availability.

    Dining and retail facilities remain open during renovation.

    El Tovar is on the south rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Designed by Charles Whittlesey, chief architect for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway, El Tovar opened in 1905 and was owned and operated by the Fred Harvey Company in conjunction with the Santa Fe Railway. The hotel was built as a "destination resort," providing comfort and luxury on the edge of the wilderness, 20 feet from the rim of the canyon. El Tovar was one of the first such hotels in a national park and is an early example of the style that would evolve into the National Park Service’s rustic architecture found throughout the park system. It is one of only a handful of Harvey House facilities still in operation.

    To receive the room discount at El Tovar, use promo code “WINTER.”

    At Grand Canyon Village, there are five other lodges either on the rim or within easy walking distance. Xanterra South Rim, L.L.C.* manages these hotel properties, the only lodging inside the park at the South Rim, plus restaurants, retail shops and concessions such as mule rides and motorcoach tours.

    Grand Canyon Lodges or 888/297-2757.

    Holland America Savings on Cruises, Land+Sea Journeys

    Holland America Line launches an Above and Beyond promotion program where you can take advantage of four special offers, including an onboard spending credit. The Above and Beyond offers are available on select 2014 sailings June through December with savings for multiple destinations.

    Book select 2014 cruises and receive Above and Beyond promotional fares; a Signature Beverage package when booking ocean-view staterooms or above on select Europe cruises or an onboard spending credit of up to $400 per stateroom for other destinations; free or reduced third and fourth fares; up to 10 percent savings on select summer shore excursions when booked before Feb. 28, 2014; and reduced deposits of 50 percent off the normal deposit rate

    Cruise destinations in the Above and Beyond sale include Alaska cruises and Land+Sea Journeys, Asia, Australia/New Zealand, Canada/New England, Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii/Tahiti, Mexico, Panama Canal and South America itineraries.

    Book select Europe cruises in an ocean-view stateroom and above and receive a free Signature Beverage package. Other destinations and Land+Sea Journeys offer an onboard spending credit of up to $400 per stateroom. The credit can be used for spa treatments, gift shop purchases, shore excursions, beverages or a dinner at an alternative dining venue.

    On seven to 10 day cruises, receive $75 per person ($150 per stateroom) for ocean-view and verandah staterooms, and $125 per person ($250 per stateroom) for suites. On 11 to 14 day cruises and Alaska Land+Sea Journeys, receive $100 per person ($200 per stateroom) for ocean-view and verandah staterooms, and $150 per person ($300 per stateroom) for suites. For cruises 15 days or longer, receive $150 per person ($300 per stateroom) for ocean-view and verandah staterooms, and $200 per person ($400 per stateroom) for suites.

    Families reap benefits from Above and Beyond with free or reduced third and fourth fares to several cruising destinations, including Alaska, Caribbean, Australia/New Zealand and Canada/New England.

    You can receive up to 10 percent off select summer shore excursions on cruises to Europe, Alaska and Canada/New England.

    Holland America Above and Beyond promotion or 877/724-5425.


    Free Days at Callaway Gardens

    Admission to Callaway Gardens in Pine, Mountain, GA will be free on weekdays through Feb. 28, 2014. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Admission will be charged on weekends and Presidents’ Day Feb. 17, 2014.

    Even in winter, you can see butterflies emerging and taking flight in the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center and explore the floral displays in the horticultural center. Outdoors, you can exercise on the walking trails or the Discovery Bicycle Trail. Bicycles are available for rent or you can bring your own.

    Free admission in winter is a way for Callaway Gardens to show its appreciation for people’s patronage and support of our mission of connecting man and nature.

    Callaway Gardens or 800/225-5292.

    Travel Free when Others Travel with You

    Combine your passion for baseball with your vacation. Sports Travel and Tours, a sports tour operator, offers baseball tours for 2014 and the Follow The Leader promotion.

    The Follow The Leader promotion lets you bring 10 or more people to travel on a baseball road trip and you will go for free.

    The tours bring together an eclectic group of fans, ranging from teenagers bonding with parents to retirees, all gathering to spend a few days enjoying their favorite sport.

    All trips include tickets to baseball games, hotel accommodations and motor coach transportation to games and between cities. City tours, baseball stadium tours, and leisure time for sightseeing are included when possible. A tour host accompanies you to ensure that all participants relax and enjoy themselves. Most trips are scheduled in May, June, July and August, with trips geographically designed to see the East, West, Central and Southern ballparks.

    Sports Travel and Tours or 800/662-4424.

    Win Benihana Trip to Japan

    Benihana, an operator of Japanese theme and sushi restaurants, celebrates its 50th anniversary by launching the Passport Challenge promotion that rewards you for visiting participating Benihana locations throughout 2014. The grand prize trip to Tokyo, Japan will be awarded to the person who visits the most Benihana locations during the calendar year. In addition, the program will award two trips to Benihana restaurants in the U.S. and more than $10,000 in gift cards.

    Register to participate on the Benihana website and earn additional entries by uploading a digital photo taken when you visit any participating Benihana location in 2014.

      Prizes include:
    • The person who visits the most unique Benihana locations in the U.S. wins the grand prize trip for four to Tokyo and a $1,000 Benihana gift card.
    • The person who visits Benihana most frequently wins a trip for two to the Benihana U.S. location of their choice and a $1,000 Benihana gift card.
    • Person who visits more than 15 Benihana locations is entered to win a trip for two to the U.S. location of their choice and a $500 gift card to the restaurant.
    • Person who visits 10 or more locations is entered to win one of 10 $250 Benihana gift cards.
    • Person who visits more than five Benihana locations is entered to win one of 20 $100 Benihana gift cards.
    • Ten winners from all eligible entries will be selected each month to receive a $50 gift card.

    Benihana's 50th anniversary Passport Program.


    Ultimate Survival Alaska Sweepstakes

    Test your meddle like the survival and wilderness experts on National Geographic Channel's Ultimate Survival Alaska with the Ultimate Survival Alaska Sweepstakes, a multiplatform consumer contest. One winner will get the "ultimate" Alaskan adventure filled with outdoor survival lessons, hiking, fishing and the opportunity to meet some of the cast members featured in the show.

    Running to the season finale on Mar. 9, 2014, enter the sweepstakes online at www.natgeotv.com/winalaska. Each week during a new episode of the series, a unique keyword will be revealed on-screen. Correctly identify and enter all keywords on the sweepstakes' website makes you eligible to win a trip to Alaska for you and a guest.

    The five night trip will be led by cast member Dallas Seavey, the youngest winner of the Iditarod race and a member of the series' Endurance Team, with other cast members joining along the way. Possible activities include dog mushing lessons, overnight camping under the stars, a snowshoe walk, cross-country skiing, and survival "MacGyver" tricks and lessons.

    No purchase or subscription to cable or satellite television is necessary. Sweepstakes ends at 11:59 p.m. ET Mar. 11, 2014. Open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States, Alaska, and the District of Columbia, who are 21 years of age or older at the time of entry. Average value of grand prize is $10,000. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited.

    Click here to enter or for a copy of the official rules.

    Discount Airfare to Rarotonga, Cook Islands

    Travel to the Cook Islands, in the heart of Polynesia, on Air New Zealand from $894 per person. Northeast of New Zealand in the Pacific Ocean, the Cook Island’s 15 small islands host 7,500 North American visitors a year.

    Non-stop, roundtrip economy class flights at this fare to Rarotonga, Cook Islands, depart Los Angeles on Sundays and return on Saturdays, leaving Rarotonga just prior to midnight. Book by Mar. 1, 2014 for travel Apr. 27, to June 28, 2014. Your minimum stay is six days and maximum stay is 20 days. The fare is subject to availability and may be withdrawn at any time.

    The fare includes fuel surcharge and Government fees and taxes. Ticket must be purchased prior to travel. Online bookings must be purchased immediately with credit card. Changes are permitted for a $200 change penalty per adult or child.

    Air New Zealand

    Edinburgh Vacation with Air, Meals from $1,464

    The Great Value Vacations offers a three-night Edinburgh getaway from $1,464 per person that includes airfare, taxes, hotel and breakfast.

    The advertised price is based on select departure dates and includes roundtrip economy airfare from New York including carrier and government-imposed taxes and fees. Other departure dates and cities are available at higher rates. Prices are per person based on two people traveling together. Fluctuations in exchange rates may affect some taxes or fees.

    Packages are subject to availability and are capacity controlled. Full payment is made at the time of reservation.

    On landing in Edinburgh, a private transfer from the airport takes you to the Hotel Missoni on the historic Royal Mile, in the heart of the Scottish capital.

    As part of your getaway, you receive a two-course lunch at the rooftop restaurant at Harvey Nichols. From there you can shop and take advantage of exclusive discounts at designer and unique boutiques in Edinburgh city center.

      What’s included:
    • Roundtrip economy class airfare to Edinburgh from New York
    • Private roundtrip airport/hotel transfers
    • Three nights at Hotel Missoni, Edinburgh with free mini-bar, wi-fi, in-room movies and local phone calls
    • Full Scottish breakfast
    • Two-course lunch at Harvey Nichols Restaurant (including service charge)
    • Two free items at in-house laundry
    • Discounts and private shopping experiences
    • Service charges and tax, including 20% VAT
    • All local taxes, hotel service charges, carrier and government taxes/fees/facility charges on airfare.

    Meals, unless specified, and gratuities are not included.

    Great Value Vacations or 800/896-4600.



    Special Disneyland Prices for California Residents

    Southern California residents can "show their Disney side" in 2014 as the Disneyland Resort presents a ticket offer with options for two or three days at the parks at special prices. Southern California residents may purchase a two-day ticket with their choice of one park per day for $129, a two-day Park Hopper ticket for $164, a three-day ticket with their choice of one park per day for $159, or a three-day Park Hopper for $194.

    With these limited-time resident tickets, you can visit over two or three days through June 6, 2014. Blockout days are Mar. 31 to Apr. 20, 2014. Tickets are valid for residents within ZIP codes 90000 to 93599 and 21000 to 22999; proof of residency is required for purchase and admission. Each day of use constitutes one full day of use. You may purchase up to five tickets per person, per day with valid ID. Tickets may not be sold or transferred for commercial use. Offer may not be combined with other ticket discounts or promotions.

    Southern California residents must purchase tickets by May 30, 2014. Tickets expire on June 6, 2014. Tickets can be purchased online, at the Disney Stores, Vons, other retail locations and Disneyland Resort ticket booth. If you purchase online, you may print tickets at home. When purchased in advance, three-day tickets include one Magic Morning early entry to Disneyland Park, an extra hour of play before the park opens to the general public. This benefit is not available to tickets purchased at Disneyland Resort ticket booths.

    Additional offers are available if you want to turn your visit into a getaway, including a hotel stay at any of the three Disneyland Resort hotels.

    Disneyland Resort or 866/433-4763.

    Grand Lake St. Marys 2014 Discounts

    Grand Lake St. Marys State Park in Ohio will offer extended discounts in 2014, with camping and docks offered at a 25 percent discount. These special rates begin Apr. 1, and last until Oct. 31, 2014, excluding holiday and theme weekends.

    The Grand Lake St. Marys State Park discounts may not be used: May 23 to 25, July 3 to July 5, Aug. 29 to 31, Sep. 18 to 20 and Oct. 1 to 4, 2014.

    Contact the Grand Lake St. Marys State Park Office for questions about the discounts at 419/394-3611.


    Mazatlan Golf Packages

    Three El Cid Resorts: El Cid Castilla Beach, El Cid Marina Beach and El Cid Granada Country Club Hotel, located in Mazatlan, Mexico, offer a concierge all-inclusive resort package for golfers.

    The packages cost $159 per person, per day, and provide accommodations; all meals and drinks, including alcoholic beverages; green fees, including cart, caddie and driving range; roundtrip transportation to and from the airport; transfers to and from the golf courses; unlimited internet access; and golf concierge services.

    The Mazatlan Golf Confierge Getaway package is available through May 31, 2014.

    The five-night stay starts from $745 per person and includes three rounds of golf.

    The seven-night stay starts from $1,113 per person, and includes five rounds of golf.

    The 10-night stay starts from $1,490 per person, including seven rounds of golf.

    Golf Mazatlan Mexico or 855/772-7529.

    Paso Robles Hotel Month

    Paso Robles Hotel Month lodging deals throughout February offer savings for your getaway. The lodging deal where you stay two nights and receive your third night free at participating hotels in Paso Robles, CA, are valid from inns to boutique hotels. You also receive a free bottle of Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon and the amenities listed for each hotel.

    Adelaide Inn - receive a $5 per person coupon to Margie's Diner for breakfast daily, free afternoon cookies and wine tasting tickets to Paso Robles wineries. 800/549-7276 Ask for the February Hotel special.

    Best Western Plus Black Oak - Receive a $5 voucher good towards breakfast at Margie's Diner daily. 805/238-4740 Ask for rate code "HM."

    Courtyard by Marriot 805/239-9700.

    Holiday Inn Express & Suites – Includes breakfast and free WiFi. 805/238-6500.

    La Bellasera Hotel & Suites - 805/238-2834 Ask for February Hotel special.

    La Quinta Inns & Suites - Free wine tasting at San Antonio Winery. 805/239-3004 Ask for the February Hotel special.

    Paso Robles Inn – 800/676-1713. Book online.

    The Oaks Hotel - Free buffet breakfast and 10 per cent off dinner at the on-site restaurant. 805/237-8700 Ask for the February Hotel special.

    All lodging package details and disclaimers are available here.

    10 Safest Airlines in the World

    AirlineRatings, a safety and product rating website, announced its top 10 safest airlines for 2013 from the 448 it monitors.
      Top of the list is Qantas which has a fatality free record in the jet era, since 1951. Making up the top ten with seven stars for safety and in- flight product are in alphabetical order:
    • Air New Zealand,
    • All Nippon Airways,
    • Cathay Pacific Airways,
    • Emirates,
    • Etihad Airways,
    • Eva Air,
    • Royal Jordanian,
    • Singapore Airlines and
    • Virgin Atlantic

    AirlineRatings.com's rating system takes into account factors related to audits from aviation's governing bodies and lead associations plus government audits and the airline's fatality record.

    Of the 448 airlines surveyed 137 have the top seven-star safety ranking, but almost 50 have just three stars or less.

    Over its 93-year history Qantas has amassed an extraordinary record of firsts in safety and operations. In 2008 in its successful defense, to the British Advertising Standards Association, of its claim that it is the world's most experienced airline, Qantas was able to list almost 30 notable industry leading achievements.

    These included the war time operation from Perth, Australia of what was then, and still is, the world's longest air route by elapsed time from Perth to Colombo, Sir Lanka giving passengers an award dubbed "The Order of the Double Sunrise."

    This service, using Catalina Flying Boats, took about 28 hours non-stop and was performed in radio silence to avoid the Japanese. When the flights ended on July 18, 1945, the aircraft made 271 crossings and carried 858 passengers more than one million miles without a single accident.

    According to AirlineRatings.com, Qantas has been - and still is - a leader in the introduction of a host of technologies for the cockpit.


    Hotwire US

    SuperShuttle Winter Sale

    SuperShuttle, a shared ride service to and from more than 40 airports, gives you a break with a 10 percent discount on the total fare for airport transfers booked by Mar. 15, 2014. The Winter Sale is available system-wide including SuperShuttle's new service in Las Vegas from McCarran International Airport to the "Strip" and downtown locations.

    Travel on SuperShuttle allows you to earn airline points and miles on participating carriers including; Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways programs.

    SuperShuttle or 800/258-3826.

    Perks, discounts on Winery-Hosted Cruises

    Sonoma County wine-travel specialist Food & Wine Trails offers benefits and discounts on select 2014 winery hosted wine cruises.

    Food & Wine Trails’ specialty is having the owners or winemakers of US wineries take food and wine lovers to international wine destinations.

    Food & Wine Trails cruises include private parties, wine tastings and winemakers dinners, a $100 cruise credit, prepaid gratuities and airfare from 26 US cities. They all also include the option of joining a private shore tour to taste wine and/or have lunch at top-rated European wineries like Ornellaia, Tua Rita, Solitude and Domaine Sigalas.

    To add further enticement, there are new benefits to the June 28, 10-day Rome to Rome cruise hosted by Napa's Hess Collection and the Aug. 5, 10-day Barcelona to Lisbon cruise hosted by Long Island's Paumanok Vineyards and Maryland's Black Ankle Vineyards. The benefits include additional shipboard credits of up to $300 per cabin and free onboard Wi Fi. The new benefits expire Mar. 31, 2014.

    The price of the Paumanok and Black Ankle cruise is reduced by $300 per person, and the Oct. 29, 10-day Athens to Monte Carlo cruise hosted by Sonoma County's Rochioli Vineyards & Winery is reduced by $200 a person.

    Most Food & Wine Trails cruises are to the Mediterranean during late spring to early fall.

    All Food & Wine Trails ocean cruises are on Oceania Cruises, a small to mid-sized cruise-ship company. Stateroom prices start at $2,874 per person double occupancy including economy, roundtrip airfare from 26 North American cities.

    Food & Wine Trails or 800/367-5348.

    Club Med Jump Sale

    Club Med’s Jump Sale features all-inclusive escapes at more than 50 Club Med sun and snow locations around the world from $129 per person, per night based on double occupancy in a Club category room on select weeks at Sandpiper Bay and Turkoise. Prices on other dates and at other resorts vary. The offer requires a three-night minimum stay, a seven-night minimum for Columbus Isle.

    Prices do not include airfare and are valid for new individual bookings for select travel dates through Aug. 22, 2014 and must be booked by Mar. 4, 2014, subject to capacity control and may increase at any time.

    Children under four years of age stay free and must be lodged in the same room as the adults who are paying for their stay, or in a connecting room. It does not include Baby & Petit Club Med fees.

    Sale prices do not include airfare. Blackout dates apply. Club Med Membership fees of $60 per adult and $30 per child are additional. Other restrictions apply including brochure terms and cancellation/change fees.

    Club Med Jump Sale or 800/258-2633.

    Rakuten Travel, Inc.

    Bicycle Adventures 30th Anniversary Offer

    Bicycle Adventures celebrates its 30th anniversary by offering retro pricing, $1,984 for each of nine four-day tours in a new 1984 Tour Series including three urban-adventure tours, several National Park locales and an Olympic or sprint-distance triathlon.

    The 1984 Tour Series are three-night trips for a range of ability levels. Included in the $1,984 rate (per person, double occupancy) are lodging and dining, cycling with a mix of other activities, bicycles and necessary equipment, and full guide and van support.

    A sampling of 1984 Series trips includes:

    Death Valley National Park: The trip begins and ends in Las Vegas. Departures are Feb. 16, Mar. 2, 6, 13 and 16, and Oct. 12, 2014.

    Idaho Lakes and Rivers: The gateway town is Coeur d’Alene. Departures are June 15, July 6 and Aug. 10, 2014.

    Seattle Sampler: This urban adventure showcases waterfront trails, Bainbridge Island, Woodinville's wineries and kayaks the Ballard locks. The departures are July 17 and Aug. 14, 2014, for this Thursday through Sunday weekend escape.

    Three Lakes Triathlon Tour: This trip centers on Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes on San Juan Island. The trip begins and ends in Seattle. The departure date is June 19, 2014.

      Additional trips in the series are:
    • San Juan Islands
    • Glacier National Park
    • Bend Breakaway
    • Zion National Park
    • Portland Pedaler

    Bicycle Adventures or 800/443-6060.

    20 Europe Vacations Priced Under $1,000

    Monograms, a member of the Globus travel family, helps travelers going to Europe with 20 vacations priced under $1,000.

    For 2014, Monograms offers more than 60 European vacations, with destinations such as London, York and Edinburgh with Stonehenge and Bath; Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Munich; and Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Cordoba and Torremolinos with Toledo .

    Monograms vacation packages provide hotels and transportation between destinations, plus an on-site local host in each city to act as a personal concierge, arranging optional sightseeing and giving recommendations for what to see and do.

      The 20 European vacations packages for under $1,000 include:
    • London Getaway from $558
    • Sorrento Getaway from $654
    • Madrid Getaway from $678
    • Dublin Getaway from $744
    • Rome Getaway from $758
    • Vienna Getaway from $803
    • Barcelona Getaway from $841
    • Amsterdam Getaway from $846
    • A Week in London from $914
    • Budapest & Vienna from $999
    • Vienna & Prague from $999
    • Sorrento & Rome from $999
    • Munich & Berlin from $999
    • London & Edinburgh from $999

    All of the prices are per person, land-only, on select departure dates.

    Monograms gives you the option to personalize your vacation. Customizable options in Europe include experiences such as taking a trip to Normandy landing beaches, driving to Tivoli to view the ruins and a guided ghost tour of Venice.

    Monograms or 800/250-7614.

    Seeking Out Southeast Nebraska - article and photos by Nicki Chodnoff

    evergreen seedlings at Arbor Day Farm greenhouse photo greenhousearbordayfarm_zps90a7f4f0.jpgHeading south out of Omaha, Nebraska’s largest city, I had no idea what I would encounter once we got off the interstate and found the two lane highways and byways. I had the opportunity to experience Southeast Nebraska and the rural roads that lead you to river towns perched on hills and bluffs beside the coffee-colored Missouri River, sleepy towns in green valleys, good size cities such as Lincoln and Nebraska City plus parks and preserves devoted to nature and history.

    That experience brought to light the hidden gems waiting to be discovered in Southeast Nebraska. Here are a few of them.

    Brownville – Browsing seems to be a pleasure and luxury seldom experienced in our hurry, gotta-be-there world. Brownville, NE is a place to gaze and browse. Once an important river port, Brownville remained untouched for decades. Now, its streets are lined with 19th-century homes and used book stores. Brownville is an International Book Town, a small rural town or village where second-hand and antiquarian bookshops are concentrated. The initiative was started by book dealer Richard Booth in Wales. There are about five book towns in the U.S. with book towns scattered throughout Europe, Japan and Southeast Asia. The Antiquarium and Bill Farmer Gallery, on Water Street, is one of Brownville’s bookshops, a refuge for used and rare books. Browsing is a must in this former school gymnasium that holds more than 150,000 books and specializes in foreign language, cinema and fiction books. As owner Tom Rudloff explained that books are not stacked by way of the Dewey Decimal system, as in a library, forcing you to actively browse.

    library at Arbor Lodge, Arbor Lodge State Historical Park photo libraryatArborLodge_zpsf0b12451.jpgOne good idea can change the landscape and people for generations. Julius Sterling Morton (known as J. Sterling) had such an idea. J. Sterling and his wife Caroline moved from Detroit to the Nebraska territories in 1854. Both were nature lovers and planted their home with trees, shrubs and flowers as Nebraska’s Great Plains were primarily grasses. As a newspaper editor, he spread agricultural knowledge and love of trees to his readers. Morton’s philosophy was that trees were needed as windbreaks, to hold the soil, for fuel, building material and shade from the blazing sun. Morton advocated tree planting and encouraged groups to plant trees. Morton proposed a tree planting day, “Arbor Day.” On the first Arbor Day, prizes were offered to counties and individuals for planting the largest number of trees. It is estimated that more than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on that first Arbor Day in April 1872.

    Arbor Day Farm - 2611 Arbor Ave, Nebraska City, NE 68410 (402) 873-8717 is keeping J. Sterling’s dream alive and allowing you to enjoy trees and nature. Throughout the farm’s 260 acres, you’ll learn about trees without realizing it. For some solitude walk along the miles of scenic nature trails, resplendent with trees. Take the Discovery ride and you learn about the heritage apples being preserved in the Preservation Orchard. If the apples are ready for harvest, you can pick and eat one. The ride takes you through orchards, vineyards, over streambeds, and by hazelnut groves. For just sheer fun you can climb the 50-foot tall tree house where you see endless tree tops. In the farm’s green house, it is interesting to watch employees sort through harvested hazelnuts seeds to grow seedlings or tend the many evergreen seedlings which they give away free. The Tree Adventure, a forested area and pavilion at the heart of the farm, combines entertainment and education. Here you can watch the 20 minute movie dedicated to trees. It sounds corny, but the 90 scenes from 66 classic movies in which trees have the starring role was well presented and entertaining. Don’t leave the farm without buying a slice of fresh apple pie from the Apple House or tasting some of the farm’s wines.

    view of Missouri River from Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center photo viewofMissouriRiverfromLewisandClarkInterpretiveCenter_zps5960ec3b.jpgArbor Lodge State Historical Park 2nd Avenue, PO Box 15, Nebraska City, NE 68410 402-873-7222 The park consists of 65 wooded acres and Arbor Lodge, the Nebraska City showcase J. Sterling Morton and his wife, Caroline, began building in the mid-1850s. The first L-shaped wood frame building had four rooms and a porch. The house expanded over the years without tearing down the original four room structure or subsequent additions. Morton’s son, Joy, completed it in 1903. The founder of Morton Salt Company, Joy had little time for his home here. For two decades, the Morton family used the 52-room lodge as a summer retreat. Instead of selling it, Joy donated Arbor Lodge to the state as a monument to his father. You can tour the classically styled mansion with its period furnishings. The carriage house has a collection of rare carriages the family collected such as the Brougham carriage, a taxi from Chicago and a three seated carriage. Kids will find the live bee hive in the carriage house endlessly fascinating and entertaining. Leave yourself some time to walk around the grounds to take in the more than 260 species of trees and shrubs with the half-mile tree trail the original part of the arboretum planted by the Mortons. A true curiosity is the whispering bench and statutes of J. Sterling Morton and the goddess Daphne by Rudolph Evans. Dedicated by President Grover Cleveland in 1905, people from around the United States donated funds so the bench and statues could be built. It almost sounds like a magic trick, but the long bench behind the statutes is called a "whispering bench" for a reason. If a person sits at one end and whispers into the back wall, a person at the opposite end can hear what they said.

    Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center – 100 Valmont Drive Nebraska City, NE 68410 402-874-9900 Three floors of artifacts, re-creations, documents, photos and interactive exhibits about the Lewis and Clark expedition will keep you intrigued. President Thomas Jefferson ordered the epic exploration of the new Louisiana Territory which took three years, traversed about 3,700 miles from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean and eventually cost $40,000 ($2,500 was requested for the expedition). The expedition actually passed by this site where the Interpretive Center is located early in their expedition. From the center’s perch on the bluffs above the Missouri River, one large panoramic window looks out onto the impressive views of the Missouri River, a site that Lewis and Clark and company also viewed. You can see every plant and animal that Lewis and Clark discovered in the museum. Of particular interest are the one-fifth scale models of the keel boat and pirogue the explorers used and Merriweather Lewis’ invention, an iron boat. That pride was premature as a storm broke the boat’s seals, it took on water and sank. Once a month, the center has a muzzle loader demonstration, which is loud and smoky but gives you a true sense of what the men used for hunting and protection. The earth lodge, a separate building outside of the center, gives you an idea how the Plains Americans lived during this era. The men cut, hauled and set the post while the women worked on the binding, thatching, and sodding the lodge.

    original workshop at Kregel Windmill Factory photo originalworkshopatKregelWindmillFactory_zps8e69e4d8.jpgKregel Windmill Factory Museum - 1416 Central Avenue, Nebraska City, NE 68410 402/873-1078 Wind power has kept farms operating for centuries. And smaller scale windmill factories, once a common site all over the country, are now virtually non-existent. Given this scarcity, it is heartening to learn that a windmill factory has been preserved in Nebraska City, NE. George F. Kregel started producing Eli windmills in the factory he built in 1903 at 1416 Central Avenue and it continued operating until 1991. His son, Arthur, followed him in the family business.

    The firm started in 1879 as a general manufacturer of goods for the agricultural trade and transitioned to producing windmills developed by George F. Kregel. An Eli, Kregel’s brand of the windmill, is still on many ranches and farm homesteads. The plains and prairies of North America allowed farmers and ranchers in semiarid regions to get reliable water. Wells were dug and windmills pumped the water to a cistern or storage facility near the home or barn.

    Apart from the Kregel Windmill factory being the last intact windmill factory in the U.S., when you walk in, it looks like the factory is still in business and the employees stepped out for lunch. It’s a time capsule. Everything remains as it was. A typewriter, the desk in the front office, the Civil War era machinery, drill presses, saws, the hand tools waiting to be picked up, and buffalo hide belts which operated the vintage 1860's iron. Along the factory tour path are ultra-modern kiosks which give insights into the history of the Kregel Windmill Factory.

    Gallery at International Quilt Study Center and Museum photo galleryatInternationalQuiltStudyCenterandMuseum_zps276d21f7.jpgInternational Quilt Study Center and Museum - 1523 N. 33rd Street, Lincoln NE 402/472-6549 From the get-go you know this place is about quilts as the building's architect designed it to symbolize a quilt. You don’t need to be a quilt junkie to appreciate the design and work that quilting entails. Take a docent tour if you have a chance, to learn more about quilts. Only a small proportion of the quilts held by the museum are on display and displays change regularly. In 2014, the museum is doubling its gallery space to six and storage space. The number of quilts on display is not overwhelming, about 50 to 60, plus you can get close to see the enormous amount of needle work that goes into individual quilts. There is a balance between historical and contemporary examples. Interestingly, more men and kids are showing up at the museum. Once a month, there is a behind the scenes tour to the storage area. Four times a year, the museum hosts quilt days where anyone can bring in a quilt and get it documented or identified.

    Rock Creek Station State Historical Park - 57426 710th Rd, Fairbury, NE 402/729-5777 No, I don’t think I would want to be a pioneer facing the unknown daily, living the hardships Although it is out of the way, it is inspiring to stand on the Oregon Trail and still see the ruts from the many pioneer wagons that passed through. More than 150 years later, not much grows in the ruts. Close your eyes and you can almost hear the wagon wheels creaking and horses braying as wagons struggled up the hill. This was the Rock Creek Station of the Pony Express and the place where a young Wild Bill Hickok was hired in 1861, as a stock tender and eventually got the name "Wild Bill.” The park was a road ranch along the trail that served as a supply center and resting spot for the many travelers headed westward in the 19th century. Many of the reconstructed buildings are built from old photos, including the house where Wild Bill and a few of his men shot David McCanles, James Woods and James Gordon, in a controversy mele. The park includes some 350 acres, a visitor’s center, hiking trails, picnic areas and a camp ground. Prairie surrounds the museum and park, dressed up with wild flowers in the warmer months..

    reconstructed cabin and wagon at Rock Creek Station State Historical Park photo reconstructedcabinandwagonatRockCreekStationStateHistoricalPark_zpsedbaa1c4.jpgHomestead National Monument - 8523 Nebraska 4, Beatrice, NE 68310 402/ 223-3514 Free land. The Homestead Act of 1862 saw the government giving land to individuals in 30 states. More than 1.6 million people claimed 270 million acres. The Homestead Act gave 160 acres to a head of household who was 21 years old as long as that the person settled on the land for five years or “prove up” by building a home, planting crops and paying a small filing fee.

    Start with the introductory film that tells the story of homesteading from the people who came west and the Native Americans who saw their lands being divided up.

    There may be 93 million homesteader descendants throughout the world so it is good news that Rangers will help you look at National Archives and search for relatives who homesteaded. Put in a last name and you’ll get a list of homesteaders from various states, which you can download to your email and print out. You can find claims, receipts, applications, naturalization documents. There is a small fee for printing documents. Outside of the Visitor Center more than 100 acres of restored tall grass prairie are along 2.5 miles of walking trails. The Homestead Education Center features farm implement exhibits and the Freeman School is a reminder of the importance of public education on the frontier.

    Nebraska Tourism Commission.

    Places to Stay

    River Inn Resort – This bed and breakfast is a former casino boat now permanently docked on the river in Brownville. Ask for a room facing the water and you can step outside your exterior door, sit on the deck and watch the Missouri River flow by. If the weather permits, you can spend the evening on the top deck under the stars, listening to the sounds of the river. You feel like a passenger on a boat. Rooms are on the small side but clean, comfortable and well appointed. Breakfast won’t leave you hungry with quiche, fresh fruit, muffins, and fried potatoes. In the summertime, River Inn Resort is next to the riverboat dock where you can take a riverboat dinner cruise on the Spirit of Brownville.

    Lied Lodge – What you first notice as you walk in is the Adirondack style with huge timbers and stone in the lobby. That’s fitting as the Lied Lodge & Conference Center was designed as a resource for the Arbor Day Foundation with environmental programs that focus on trees, conservation, and environmental stewardship. Tranquil aptly describes the lodge as it is surrounded by nature and Arbor Day Farm. The terrace and views are what makes this hotel stand apart. You have easy access to trails from the lodge to enjoy the ranqtuil environment is great.

    Where to Eat

    Le Quartier – Like a little bit of Montreal in Lincoln, Le Quartier has fresh bread with a beautiful crust that’s crunchy, croissants even one filled with chocolate, macaroons, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls. You can buy whatever from the bakery and sit at a table and enjoy your goodies. In addition to their baked goods, you can get soup and sandwiches.

    Blue Orchid Thai Restaurant Lincoln – In one of Lincoln’s most historic locations at 10th and P in the old Federal Building, the open floor dining room has an elegant Far East look. Even if you're not great enthusiast of Thai food, you’ll find something you like in the wide variety of food. Tom Yum soup is one of their specialties along with Thai rolls with a plum glaze and red curry chicken with steamed rice.

    The Black Crow Beatrice Don’t assume small town America means culinary wasteland. Even in the backwaters, there are a few flavor oasis’ for travelers with trampled taste buds such as the Black Crow. This small town restaurant packs big city flavors acquired by owner Ray Arter’s culinary training in Philadelphia. It’s easy to drive by the store front on West Court Street. Locals know the restaurant as the place for that special day or celebration experience. Meals are made fresh and homemade, not thrown together from canned or instant ingredients. The beef dishes are a can’t miss option and the creme brulee is just right, a firm custard that’s not too sweet, firm and not runny or watery. If you’re on a budget, stop in for lunch.

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