Friday, October 31, 2014

You Win Some and Some are Just a Draw!

For our overnight stay in Kearney Nebraska, I did my usual on-line research in an effort to find a good restaurant for our evening repast… When I found an upscale restaurant that was ranked #2 out of 90 in town and the ratio of Excellent/Very Good customer reviews vs. poor/terrible was 62:3, I promptly added this restaurant to our travel itinerary…

This is the Alley Rose Restaurant in downtown Kearney Nebraska.  We both love the idea of successful local restaurants in the downtown areas of small towns across the country… So far, so good!   

My photos didn’t come out too well but as you can see, Alley Rose has a large bar and it is quite a big restaurant.  It was a little dark inside and it wasn’t quite as classy looking as I’d imagined.  From the photos I’d seen on line, I expected a more upscale interior.  Our waitress was nice enough but she didn’t know much about food…much less about what the ingredients were in the items on the menu.

Here’s another view of the interior of The Alley Rose.  The website refers to “elegant dining”…but this isn’t our view of elegant.  It’s OK…but it’s definitely not an elegant atmosphere.  So…perhaps the food would step it up a notch!

Dinner came with a modest salad bar…definitely not a feature in an ‘elegant’ dining venue.  Again, there was nothing wrong with the salad bar or its contents, but words such as average, OK, standard, etc. come to mind.

I know that this isn’t the most appetizing salad photo you’ve ever seen.  Perhaps I put a little too much salad dressing on my salad bar creation?!  I like to mix blue cheese and French dressing.  It was a decent salad even if it was a somewhat unhealthy creation…

Laurie ordered a Ribeye Steak for dinner.  In addition to the salad bar and soup, her steak was accompanied by a baked potato and some grilled vegetables. ($25.99) Her steak was medium rare as requested but it was a bit tough and it didn’t have a lot of flavor.  We rated it as average…

With our entrees being accompanied with a trip to the salad/soup bar, a potato and vegetables, we skipped any appetizers.  The Artichoke Bruschetta looked interesting though…flatbread topped with an artichoke and Roma tomato compote with prosciutto, mozzarella and parmesan cheese. ($9.99)

For my entrée, I went with the New York Strip Steak Au Poivre. ($25.99) My sides were identical to Laurie’s… The vegetables were cooked correctly and my strip steak was medium rare as ordered.  The peppercorn sauce gave me plenty of flavor, but the steak was a bit chewy.  It was OK…

The Alley Rose’s menu included several beef items, seafood, pastas, sandwiches (with burgers, wraps, etc.), chicken, pork shanks and something we don’t normally come across…potato casseroles. There is something for every taste offered, that’s for sure.  The drink prices were reasonable…$4.25 for a double vodka and tonic. 

With tip and taxes, dinner cost $75.00.  In our opinion, it was just average considering the money spent.  Many people really like Alley Rose, so perhaps you should read the many reviews on Trip Advisor in order to balance out our feedback.  Go to

The Alley Rose is located at 2013 Central Avenue in Kearney Nebraska.  Phone: 308-234-1261.  Website (with lots of food photos):
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

History Along Nebraska’s Highways (Part IV)

Continuing with our exploration of west central Nebraska’s towns and byways… Our search for buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places was well rewarded in Kearney.  In addition to the Barnd and Bartlett homes which I pictured and wrote about last week, we struck ‘pay dirt’ three more times before we headed west along US 30 (Lincoln Highway).

This is the Walter Klehm House.  It was built in 1931 and it was designed in the English Cottage style.  The home was built by by Manual Arts professor Walter Klehm.  It’s located in a neighborhood adjacent to the University of Nebraska at Kearney.  When Klehm arrived in Kearney, he found that there was a tight housing market with very few vacant kcts.  Klehm bought an existing plot which consisted of two half lots to build his relatively modest yet well-crafted house. Once his design was complete, he hired students to help complete construction of the home.

Kearney is located about midway across the state on a transportation corridor that has included migrant trails, the Union Pacific Railroad, the Lincoln Highway and Interstate 80.  This location earned it the nickname, 'The Midway City of the Nation', as it is 1,733 miles west to San Francisco and 1,733 miles east to Boston.  One of the town’s most prominent citizens, Moses Sydenham, was so confident that this central location was truly significant that he proposed relocating the nation's capital to Kearney.

To learn more about Moses Sydenham, who definitely had an interesting life, just click on

This is the former home of Dr. A. O. Thomas.  The Thomas House was designed by Nebraska architect George A. Berlinghof in 1906 in the Neo-Classical Revival style. Dr. A. O. Thomas, a native of Illinois, was the first president of the Kearney State Normal School, now the University of Nebraska at Kearney. (7,100 plus students) The home is now owned by the University of Nebraska – Kearney’s Alumni Association.  It’s used for offices, meetings and receptions…

August O. Thomas, (1863-1935), was from Illinois.  After earning his Doctor of Philosophy degree, he migrated to Nebraska in 1891.  Initially he served as the Principal of Cambridge in Furnas County.  Thomas served 10 years with various public school systems in the State.  Then in 1901, he became Superintendent ofthe Kearney City Schools.  While serving in this position, Thomas was elected as the first President of the Kearney State Normal School.  Thomas served as president of the college until 1914, when he became Nebraska’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.  In 1923, he was one of the founders of the World Federation of Education.

The George W. Frank House was constructed in an exclusive suburb of Kearney developed by the George W. Frank Improvement Company.  Frank was involved in many of the town's industrial and commercial affairs. Built in 1889 of Colorado sandstone, the house represents the prosperity Kearney enjoyed during this period.  It is a product of Eclecticism, combining the Shingle style and Richardsonian Romanesque architecture.  Much to our surprise, this impressive home was built in 1889.  To our eye, it looks like it’s from a later period.  The Frank house was built from Colorado sandstone and the ‘shingles’ are actually tiles imported from the Netherlands.

Sadly, George W. Frank only owned this particular home for 4 years, losing it in the Panic of 1893.  Still, his name is synonymous with Kearney's boon period from 1885 – 1891.  During this period, Frank was President of Kearney Electric Company, Kearney Canal and Water Supply Company, the Nebraska Ice Company and the George W. Frank Improvement Company.  He built Kearney’s first electric plant and he owned much of the real estate in and around the city.  Excessive speculation coupled with a business slow down brought Frank’s empire down…

Moving west along the Lincoln Highway, we came to Lexington Nebraska, which has a population a little over 10,200.  This is the Dawson County Courthouse.  By 1871, the area’s population had reached the point that residents successfully petitioned to have Dawson County established.   The Union Pacific Railroad platted rail stops in the county, including Plum Creek (present-day Lexington). This town was the principal commercial center in the area and the first courthouse was built in 1874.  In 1912 voters passed a measure to finance a new courthouse.  Construction began in 1913 and by 1914 the Beaux Arts-style courthouse was open for business.

Lexington is the home of the Heartland Military Vehicle Museum, which is located just north of I-80 at the Lexington exit.  We didn’t have time to stop and peruse the collection but my on-line look revealed an extensive collection of vehicles and other military equipment.  There are even a couple of WWII German vehicles on display.  To learn more, just go to

This beautiful home was built for Ira Webster Olive.  The Ira W. Olive House, constructed in 1889-90, is an excellent example of Victorian Queen Anne architecture, which is characterized by asymmetrical forms, hipped and gabled roof lines. It also uses various elements such as decorative woodwork to break up the appearance of smooth walls.. Other Queen Anne features are wrap-around porches with spindle-work supports, second-story porches with balustrades, and decorative bargeboards, all of which are found in the design of the Olive House.

Ira Webster Olive relocated to Nebraska from Texas in 1877.  The Olives were a family of ranchers but Ira branched out to banking and other business ventures.  He was also instrumental in bringing about the town’s name change…from Plum Creek to Lexington.  Ira lived in this house until he died in 1928.  His brothers, Isom “Print” and Robert were both gunned down and killed after many adventures and misadventures.
“Print” Olive was pretty ruthless and had a reputation as a gunfighter.  I read a short 2-page biography about him on the Internet and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the ‘old west’.  He apparently was one tough character!  You can check his story at  A book was even written about Print Olive…it was entitled “The Ladder of Rivers”.  For more information about this book, go to

That’s about it for this segment of our historic tour of south central Nebraska.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Winner…from “Off the Beaten Path – Nebraska”

When we visited our son and his family over Labor Day, I knew that we were going to take 3 extra days after the holiday and wander along the side roads of Nebraska.  Knowing our tendency as to how we wander along the side roads and explore, plus my love of trip research and planning...for my birthday Dawn Marie had purchased a guide book for my use.  It is entitled “Off the Beaten Path – Nebraska” by Diana Lambdin Meyer.

This was a "very useful book"…leading us to restaurants, attractions and even a place to stay, the Cambridge Inn in Cambridge Nebraska. (You can check out the posting about our stay at the Inn by clicking on this link: (

In this case, Off the Beaten Path led us to a lunch stop along our route…

This is the Chances “R” Restaurant and Lounge in York Nebraska.  We liked the old-fashioned sign and the copper awnings… It was a little after regular lunch hours but the restaurant still had quite a few customers.  I’m guessing that this is the ‘go to’ restaurant in York!

As per the author of my guide book, Chances “R” is a “very pretty place with paneling, nice lighting and lots of brass”.  It did have a nice upscale look to it, which is a bit of a surprise considering this is a breakfast, lunch and dinner establishment…

The bar area of the restaurant carries through on the wood, brass and fancy lighting theme.  For lunch, the bar was set up with an extensive buffet.

I checked out the breakfast menu on line… All of the standard breakfast fare items are offered until 11 am.  This includes eggs, omelets, hash browns, American fries, sausage, bacon, French toast, waffles, pancakes, ham, fruit, sweet rolls, etc.

We didn’t partake of the buffet, but rather ordered off the menu.  My lunch came with a salad.  It was OK…about what one would expect as a side salad.  All of the salad dressings at Chances “R” are homemade.  I went with the blue cheese option and it was very good.

The menu includes several salads, including a spinach salad with sliced mushrooms, egg, bacon, croutons and onion…with hot bacon dressing and a muffin. ($8.65) You don’t see a hot bacon dressing on the menu very often… In keeping with the classic old time offerings on the menu, you can also order a bowl of French onion soup topped with melted Swiss cheese. ($4.95)

As per the advice offered in the guidebook, I ordered the Chances “R” Famous Country Pan Fried Chicken. (Luncheon Special - $8.95) To quote…”Order the chicken and judge for yourself if they do not have some of the best pan-fried chicken you’ve ever eaten.”

AMEN!!  I would rank this pan-fried chicken right up there with Stroud’s version in Kansas City…maybe even a little higher!  Moist, lots of flavor, just the right spices…and accompanied by some nice mashed potatoes with some very tasty gravy.  This was a real winner…!!!

Laurie ordered one of her favorites…a French Dip Sandwich with French Fries. ($8.45) The beef wasn’t over cooked, it was tender and there was a lot of it for the money!  The French roll was toasted and the au jus was perfect… My better half was a happy camper indeed!

The Chances “R” menu offers a lot of variety. There are basket dinners, a variety of steaks plus prime rib, seafood entrees, “R” specialties (including the chicken!), a couple of pastas, plus a number of sandwiches.  If we’d been headed back to Omaha that evening, I would have been tempted to order the 10 piece, pan-fried chicken to go…for only $12.25! (Overall pricing at Chances "R" was very reasonable)

The Chances “R” Restaurant and Lounge is located at 124 West 5th Street in York Nebraska.  The restaurant was clean and orderly and the service was friendly and efficient.  This establishment is open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Phone: 402-362-7755.  Website:  We will go out of our way to return for another meal at this restaurant!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to have lunch with us!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Friday, October 24, 2014

History Along Nebraska’s Highways – Part III

Continuing with our tour of south central Nebraska, we homed in on various historical properties as a means to get a feeling for the area… Our goal is to see a bit of the towns or cities we pass through and not just to drive by on the highway.  We sure do find some interesting buildings and we discover a lot of interesting local history as well!

This is the Hall County Courthouse in Grand Island Nebraska.  It seems that each county must have been trying to outdo the next when these huge edifices were designed and built!  This beautiful Beaux-Arts style structure built with brick and limestone was completed in 1904.  The building has a domed interior rotunda.

Hall County has a population of a bit over 58,000.  It was formed in 1858 and it was named after Augustus Hall, an early judge in this territory.  One unfortunate distinction for the county is that it has the highest density of tornado activity in Nebraska, with 121 tornadoes per 1,000 square miles, about 4 times the state average.

This is the Evangelische Lutherische Dreinenigkeit Kirche (Trinity Lutheran Church) in Grand Island… Construction began on this church in 1894.  Two German-born brothers who were members of the congregation were the primary builders.  This Romanesque Revival style structure is considered to be a great example of Nebraska’s small town church architecture.  The church is still in use…as the “Cristo Cordero De Dios”…moving from one immigrant population to another.

In 1857, 35 German settlers left Davenport, Iowa, and headed west to Nebraska to start a new settlement on an island known by French traders as La Grande Isle, which was formed by the Wood River and the Platte River.  In fall 1865, a surveyor for the Union Pacific Railroad discovered a vast prairie dog village near present-day Grand Island.  He said, "For a distance of ten miles the prairie is one vast prairie-dog village. For miles and miles the ground is completely covered with their holes."  In 1868 the railroad reached the area, bringing increased trade and business. By 1870, 1,057 people lived in the town and in 1872 the town was incorporated as Grand Island.  Today, with a population of a little over 48,500, this city is the 3rd largest in Nebraska…after Omaha and Lincoln.

I was so lucky that this store in downtown Grand Island was closed.  This looks like one of those operations that recovers and repurposes pieces, parts and architectural items from old houses, buildings, businesses and other objects.  Laurie loves this kind of stuff… I would have been in serious trouble but, as they say, timing is everything!

Grand Island Factoids:

On June 3, 1980, Grand Island was hit by a massive supercell storm. Through the course of the evening, the city was ravaged by seven tornadoes, resulting in 5 deaths.

·        Tornado Hill is a local landmark created as a direct result of the tornadoes. Debris that could not be recycled was burnt and buried within Ryder Park, on the west end of town. The base of the hill was a hole 6–8 feet deep and nearly 200 feet across, and the hill is 40 feet high. It’s now used for sledding.  
·        Grand Island is the home of the Nebraska State Fair.

·        Academy Award winning actor Henry Fonda is from Grand Island. 

This is the John Barnd House in Kearney Nebraska.  This big beautiful two-and-one-half-story frame home was built about 1892.  It’s a good example of the Queen Anne style.  Barnd came to Kearney in 1874, established a law practice, and later was elected Buffalo County judge for two terms. In 1888 Barnd established the Mutual Loan and Investment Company of Kearney; the following year he became co-owner of the Commercial and Savings Bank. 

To learn more about John Barnd and the home itself, you can go to

For a totally different look, this is the John J. and Lenora Bartlett House.  Constructed in 1888, this house is a well-preserved but idiosyncratic example of residential Queen Anne architecture.  This style, with variations, was popular from approximately 1880-1910.   It was just beginning to gain popularity in Nebraska during the period in which the house was built.  The house was certainly built with style and attention to detail.  Mr. Bartlett spent $30,000 to build this home… That’s $705,000 in today’s dollars!

This handsome carriage house sits to one side and back a bit from the house.  Bartlett was an early captain of commerce and industry in Kearney.  He was into banking, milling and commercial real estate.  He was hit hard by the economic downturn of 1893.  The businesses failed and the Bartlett’s had a hard time holding onto their home.  In 1903, the house was seized and sold at auction due to the family failing to pay their taxes.

To learn more about this home, its architecture and the Barlett family fortunes, go to

This beautiful home isn’t listed on the National Register of Historic Places!  However, Laurie and I really liked its looks.  Plus the landscaping and flowers really made this home pop!

Kearney Nebraska is the county seat for Buffalo County Nebraska.  It has a population of about 31,000.  Before Kearney was named Kearney, it was called ‘Dobytown’.  Later the city was moved and renamed after the nearby Fort Kearny, a United States Army outpost along the Oregon Trail in the middle of the 19th century.  The fort was named after Colonel and later General Stephen W. Kearny.  Legend has it that the 2nd "e" was added to Kearney by mistake sometime afterwards by postmen who consistently misspelled the town name.  Eventually it just stuck.

That’s it for this chapter of our explorations… There will be more on Kearney in an upcoming posting.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Searching for a Great Breakfast!

We are always looking for that elusive restaurant…the one that serves the best breakfast around!  We were in Omaha and our son and his wife suggested a couple of restaurants for a family breakfast.  I got on-line and did some research to see what I could find.  I shot down one idea that had been suggested because although the menu was creative, it was just too ‘fussy’ for my taste…

Then I found what looked like the ideal breakfast joint…at least from our viewpoint!

This is Vidlak’s Brookside Café…a family owned restaurant that has been in business for 18 years now.  The on-line reviews were generally favorable and I really liked what I saw on the menu.  It was “Breakfast 101” with enough variations to be interesting.

The interior of Vidlak’s was plain and simple, just what I would expect from a local family owned restaurant.  It’s all about the food at the right price…especially since I was buying for the 6 of us!  The restaurant was clean and the service prompt.  Coffee came promptly and it kept coming… 

This is the “Gut Buster”, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 large sausage patties and 2 German potato pancakes…served with either toast or a couple of silver dollar pancakes. ($8.49) It received high praise from David II!

The menu includes 6 different Egg and Potato Casseroles; 6 different scrambles (including roasted turkey breast and broccoli topped with hollandaise sauce); 9 old fashioned favorites; 4 ‘Benedicts’; 8 Pan Omelets and; a plethora of pancakes, French toast and other items.  There is also a kid’s menu.

Our grandson, David III, is a growing boy! (Almost 14 years old) He ordered the French Toast ($4.49), an order of Hash Browns ($1.99), and a couple of sausage patties ($2.49).  He was a happy camper!

His brother, Emmett Lee (soon to be 11), had cereal…

The table was awash in Biscuits and Gravy! (Half Order - $2.99/Full Order $4.99) The biscuits were good and the sausage gravy was loaded with pieces of sausage.  It was given a score of 4 out of a possible 5 by our table.  It wasn’t the best ever but it was pretty good…

I’ll bet you can guess whose breakfast this was?!  Yours truly went for the Hungry Man’s Breakfast. ($8.49) It consisted of 3 eggs over easy, 3 strips of bacon, 3 sausage links and some very nice hash browns… I chose the toast over the pancakes so I could make a sandwich and mop up the yokes!  This was a very good and satisfying breakfast…

My picture of our daughter-in-law’s breakfast didn’t come out well… She had a breakfast scramble.  This is Laurie’s breakfast…the basic!  Two eggs over easy (perfectly done), 4 nice slices of bacon and hash browns done medium crispy, just the way she likes them! Another winner for sure…

I think that Amy ordered this Cinnamon Roll on the side. ($2.99) It was as advertised…gooey, hot and delicious!  Looking back at the menu, I noticed Cinnamon Roll French Toast ($4.99).  Maybe the next time!

We all enjoyed our breakfasts!  The prices were reasonable too… This may not be the best breakfast ever, but it was superior to 90% of the places we’ve eaten at.  We will return to Vidlak’s during future visits to Omaha.

Vidlak’s Brookside Café is located at 156th and West Center in Omaha Nebraska.  Phone: 402-330-0914.  Website:  Vidlak’s is on Facebook as well.  Go to

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, October 20, 2014

History Along Nebraska's Highways (Part II)

Continuing with our brief visit to southern Nebraska… As we moved westward along the Lincoln Highway (US Hwy 30), we continued to search for places that are listed on the National Register of Historical Places.  Our efforts always ensure that we take a better look at the communities that we’re passing through…and we learn a little bit about history too!

As per its listing on the Nebraska National Historic Sites website, this is the IOOF Opera House.  It was built by James M. and Joshua Cox in Hampton Nebraska.  This two-story brick building originally housed retail businesses on the first level, with the opera house and Independent Order of the Odd Fellows meeting hall on the second floor.  The stage has a wooden proscenium arch and a vintage curtain, depicting a nude with flower garlands, fringes, and tassels.  

As the last frontier approached an end, nearly every town of any distinction on the Plains boasted an opera house. The term "opera house" was preferred over theater" since opera was considered a highly respected art form rather than mere popular amusement, even though grand opera itself was seldom actually performed.  What the management offered on its stage depended primarily on the town’s proximity to a railroad, which in the late nineteenth century served as the major link to the outside world.  Whether or not opera troupes ever sang for local audiences, an opera house was viewed as the crowning achievement…re: tangible proof that a town had come of age!  In addition to performances per se, these ‘opera’ houses provided a venue for community gatherings and activities.

There wasn’t much going on in Hampton…and yet there was obviously pride in the community with these colorful flower baskets hanging from the old fashioned looking light poles.  This building wasn’t listed on the National Register but I liked the look of it… It was the First National Bank and the dates on this building are 1884 and 1912.  It looks more like a 1912 structure to me…with modifications. 

Hampton, which was originally called Murray, was surveyed and platted in 1879.  Joshua Cox of Illinois was the driving force behind Hampton’s founding.  The town was incorporated in 1883.  Hampton quickly became a local shipping center for agricultural goods—in 1887 the Hampton railroad station shipped out 1,065 railroad cars of grain!  Today the population of Hampton has declined to just over 400 residents.

Hampton was the center of a celebrated legal case regarding the teaching of foreign languages. As per a 1919 Nebraska law, the ‘Siman Act’ imposed restrictions on both the use of a foreign language as a medium of instruction and on foreign languages as a subject of study.  With respect to the use of a foreign language while teaching, it provided that "No person, individually or as a teacher, shall, in any private, denominational, parochial or public school, teach any subject to any person in any language other than the English language."  The law was struck down by the Supreme Court.  To learn more, go to

This is a view from the courthouse square in Aurora Nebraska.  Aurora is just 6 miles from Hampton and it’s the county seat for Hamilton County.  Note the brick streets.  Laurie and I saw more brick streets in Nebraska than we’ve seen in many, many years.  The good news is that people do not speed on brick pavement! 

This is the bandstand in Aurora’s very attractive courthouse square.  The bandstand dates back to the late 1800’s…very classic indeed!

The current population of Aurora is roughly 4,500.  The town was laid out in 1871 by David Stone…who named it after his home town of Aurora Illinois.  The Burlington and Missouri Railroad came to town in 1879 and that spurred a period of fast growth. 

This impressive structure is the Hamilton County Courthouse in Aurora Nebraska.  This massive red limestone building was built back in 1895 and its construction cost was $60,000!  In today’s dollars, that would come to roughly $1,720,000…

While in Aurora, we were also looking for this historic building…but all we found was a vacant lot on the corner.  It was originally called the Royal Highlanders Building.  Designed after the Balmoral Castle in Scotland, construction on the building began in 1904 for the Royal Highlander Insurance Company.  It was originally known as the Royal Highlander Douglas Castle No. 1.  The building, which sat on Aurora’s courthouse square, was destroyed by fire on July 10, 2008. 

While checking out what had happened to the Royal Highlanders Building, I ran across some information on the company that built it.  This photo is of the Royal Highlanders drill team from Ida Grove, Iowa.  The Royal Highlanders was originally a fraternal insurance organization.

There were two classes of membership, benefit and social.  The ritual of the Royal Highlanders was based on the story of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce in their struggle for Scottish independence, and was intended to teach “Prudence, Fidelity and Valor”.  Degree teams wearing kilts and glengarries and carrying shields and swords initiated new members into the Order.

In 1930, the Order numbered some 17,000 members, both men and women, with “extensive investments” in Nebraska farmland.  Seven years later, the Order reincorporated to become a mutual life insurance company, and it was renamed as Lincoln Mutual Life Insurance Company in 1946.

Many of the buildings surrounding Aurora’s courthouse square are over 100 years old.  Almost all of the structures were occupied…always a great sign in a rural community in this day and age.  These 3 buildings are dated 1908, 1904 and 1899.

·        Harold Eugene Edgerton was from Aurora.  He was the inventor of the strobe light and for strobe flash photography. 
·        In 2003, the largest hailstone recorded in US history fell near Aurora.  It measured over 7 inches across.  However, in 2010 a hailstone was recovered in Vivian South Dakota that set a new record for size and weight.  It was over 8 inches across and weighed almost 2 lbs.  Those dimensions were documented after some melting occurred when it was preserved in a freezer where the power had been out for a few hours! (FYI…a soccer ball is 8.6 inches across) 

Moving west we crossed the beautiful Platte River near Grand Island Nebraska.  The Platte River is a major river in the state of Nebraska.  Measured to its farthest source via its tributary, the North Platte River, this watershed flows for over 1,050 miles!  It is a tributary of the Missouri River.  Over most of its length, the Platte is a muddy, broad, shallow, meandering stream with a swampy bottom and many islands—a braided stream.  These characteristics made it too difficult for canoe travel, and it was never used as a major navigation route by European-American trappers or explorers.

However, the Platte River Valley did play an important role in the westward expansion of the United States, providing the route for several major emigrant trails, including the Oregon, California, Mormon and Bozeman trails.  The first Europeans to see the Platte were French explorers and fur trappers about 1714.  They first called it the Nebraskier, a transliteration of the name given to the river by the Otoe people, meaning "flat water".

Our next stop was Grand Island Nebraska.  Grand Island is the county seat for Hall County.  This imposing structure is the Liederkranz… In 1870, German settlers met to organize a German singing society or "Liederkranz" to provide musical and social entertainment and to cultivate the members' musical talents.  This large brick building, constructed in 1911-12, was designed by a Liederkranz member, and it demonstrates influences of the Neo-Classical Revival style.  The hall has long been a community meeting place, an auditorium for civic activities, and a polling place.

There will be more on Grand Island and its historic building in a forthcoming posting, but that’s about it for now.  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit and a brief historical tour!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, October 17, 2014

You Win Some and You Lose Some!

So… We were in Omaha visiting our son, his wife and our grandsons and it was time for dinner.  David and Amy took us to a great looking semi-upscale restaurant that they hadn’t been to before. 

As the title of this blog indicates…you win some and you lose some!

This is Lazlo’s Brewery and Grill in Omaha Nebraska.  The exterior was interesting and promising but perhaps we should have heeded the storm clouds.  They were a harbinger of what was to come…

Note: My photos for this blog are mostly blurry...which is fitting given our overall dining experience.

The interior of Lazlo’s Brewery and Grill was a nice mix of warm wood and color offset by an industrial style ceiling and doors.  

Our first problem was encountered when we were waiting for a table for the 6 of us.  The hostess had failed to give Amy one of their vibrating units to let us know when our table was ready.  Fortunately, one of the staffers who were seating patrons found us and took us to our table.

One positive finding was unanimous…the drinks at Lazlo’s were very good!  David II and I liked the beer, the boys were happy plus Amy and Laurie enjoyed their mixed drinks.

Despite the fact that this photo is blurry, I liked David III’s successful effort to photo bomb this portrait I took of his parents!

Service was slow.  Our waiter was nice enough but he wasn’t very efficient.  As a matter of fact, I watched the staff and management from my vantage point near the grill and they seemed disorganized and perhaps a bit unhappy.  This wasn’t an effective team designed to provide great service to Lazlo’s customers… 

This appetizer was another positive in our experience at Lazlo’s.  This is Lazlo's Original Lahvosh – sweet cracker bread topped with melted Havarti cheese, baked with any three toppings of one’s choice: tomatoes, green peppers, mushrooms, bacon bits, turkey, ham, grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, or jalapeños.  It was very good!

Note: The dark portion in the photo is just a shadow…

Amy ordered the Fresh Salmon entrée.  She’d requested butter sauce for the salmon…but our waiter forgot to bring it.  The salmon was a bit dry.  The green beans were a little too undercooked. They should be a firm but not almost raw. 
Both David II and Amy had Lazlo’s Beer Soup.  Neither of them liked it.  I tasted the soup and I felt that it had a strong and strange flavor. 

This is a terrible photo…but it is appropriate too.  Emmett Lee (10 years old) had this cheeseburger.  It’s one of the few foods he eats, but he didn’t really like it, giving it a score of 3 out of 10! 

Laurie and I both had Caesar Salads with our entrees.  Caesar would have been unhappy too!  These salads had no flavor at all…bland to the extreme…

For our entrees, we went with the Voodoo Chicken, boneless breasts blackened with Cajun spices then topped with a three-cheese sauce.  The chicken seemed to have been pre-frozen and it was saved only by the cheese sauce.  Our opinion of the coleslaw may be a matter of taste.  It seemed to have fennel mixed in with the cabbage and we didn’t like it.

The best news about this dinner on the town was that our son and his wife paid for it!  We were all disappointed with our dining experience to include the food and service.  There are no plans for our family to make a return visit to Lazlo’s…  However, I would welcome second opinions.  Maybe we just had an inefficient waiter, ordered the wrong items from the menu or the restaurant was having a bad night.  

If you would like to try Lazlo’s Brewery and Grill, they have 3 locations, 1 in Lincoln and 2 in Omaha.  They must be doing something right as the first restaurant opened in 1991.  The Lazlo’s we visited is located at 2425 South 192nd Street in Omaha Nebraska.  Phone: 402-289-5840.  The company’s website is at

Just click on any of the blurry photos if you’d like to enlarge them and critique my photographic abilities!

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave