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After getting into the car, I look at my husband and ask if he wants to see where Holdrege, the major street near our house, goes.  He smartly replies, “Uh. . . to 84th Street?”.  I ensure him that I’m fairly certain that Holdrege goes past 84th Street, so he replies with a shrug and a “Sure”, and off we go on a new adventure.

Sure enough, 84th street does go beyond Lincoln and after a couple minutes outside of town, we start seeing where the rich people live, with huge expanses of yard that my boys would go crazy over, and gazillion square foot houses.  Hubby and I actually enjoy looking at these, and we play a version of “the car game” that I played as a kid; pointing out which ones we would like to live in.  I make jokes about how I’d never want to live in a huge house like those, because who the heck is going to clean it, but secretly yearning for a separate room for each of me and Jay’s many crafts, with room to spare for actual space.

As we continue along Holdrege, we start trading out the ostentatious mansions, for quaint little farmhouses, and before long, we come to an intersection, around two-hundred-somethingth and Holdrege, where we can turn on a fancy highway, or continue straight on a dirt road {as seen in the picture above}.  Of Course, even though I’m hearing choruses of “Left Mama”, and “Right Mama”, I know that we must continue forward, as dirt roads are the roads I was raised on and I was feeling the pull. We mosied by some more farm houses, pointing out cows and windmills, until we came to a T in the road, and someone, Noah I think, must have said to go right, towards the water towers.  Our drive through Eagle was quick and uneventful, going in a square and ending up back where we came from, so off we went to the right this time.

Fast forward through a few more lefts and rights, a quick stop to see the “Bridge Out” near the Pleasant Something or Other Cemetary, and a couple more lefts and rights, we passed a big, old barn, and came to a stop at a highway, with another choice to make.  Either way water towers stood in the distance, like sentinels, and ahead, a sign pointing to Grandpa’s Woods Golf Course, which of course sounded like the PERFECT place to get a snack for the increasingly cranky boys in the back.

Old Barn

After driving through some pretty desolate back roads, without the green of Spring yet gracing the landscapes presence, Grandpa’s Woods was a pretty oasis of green grass and snacks.  I entered the red barn looking clubhouse and asked the lady behind the counter if they had any snacks, and if she’d be kind enough to tell me where the heck we were.  She said something about being between Elmwood and Murdoch, two towns of which, even having been born and raised in Nebraska, I’d never heard of.  Then we chatted about golf (a sport in which I have the equipment, but not the coordination for), about taking Sunday Drives when younger and then I paid for my four packaged danishes, bottle of water and can (yes, can!) of pop and left giving myself a strict lecture that one day I would return to this beautiful little course to play a round with my husband (pun most definitely intended).

Grandpa's Woods Golf Club

From here, having staved off the worst of hunger tantrums, from both the boys And Jay, we decided to go check out the small town of Elmwood where we followed the signs to a Historal Marker and found an old house, that was once inhabited by someone that I now cannot remember; and a remarkable playground with one of those tall, old metal tornado slides that used to scare the pants off of me when I was a girl, but that my boys were fearless while climbing.

An hour and a couple bumps and scrapes later, we decided to head on so that we could find a good place to stop and eat before the next hunger attack.  The gas station attendants in Elmwood recommended the new pizza place in Murdoch, but as we neared the small town, Jay had remembered a BBQ place that he’d passed a few weeks ago, which is how we found ourselves pulling into Parkers Smokehouse just west of Ashland.

As we pulled up, we found that the place was already hopping for the 6:00 Sunday supper rush, and as we got out of the car to sounds of some classic bluesy music, Noah exclaimed in delight, “Mama!  I smell sumpthin!!!”

I admit that I figured a road housy joint along side the road, and an auto parts store, would be somewhat divey, but as we entered, I was surprised at the new (est. 2008) fine dining appearance that this joint had. . . almost so much that I almost walked my children, who were certain to terrorize and destruct before our apps arrived, right back out to the car, and to safety (for Parker’s, of course).

We were led to a booth near the back, and a young blond waiter came up to take our drink orders.  Bloody Mary for my husband, and coffee and water for me and the boys, and after a quick glance at the menu, we decided to share the Cajun Catfish for an appetizer and the 12 bone rack of pork ribs for our main course.

{And this is where I learn that I might, at times, be a bit overbearing.}

The waitress comes up to the booth next to us and proceeds in doing this fantastic demo of all of the BBQ sauces, to which I’m both impressed, and a little more than irritated that our young waiter must have forgotten to give us ours!  My husband takes this opportunity, being boozed up on a very well mixed bloody mary, to tell me that the poor guy was about to give us our demo when I bulldoze ahead with ordering our apps and meal and more coffee and more napkins and. . . well, you get the picture.  Thankfully, despite my tactlessness, the service was wonderful, and we were all very happy with our meal, and our experience.

And now we know that Holdrege Street goes past 84th.


POINTS OF INTEREST

Grandpa’s Woods Golf Course

5505 310th St
Murdock, NE 68407-2509
402-994-2100

Parkers Smokehouse

Hwy 6 & 63
Ashland, NE 68003
402-944-2040

Walking out our front door this morning, we were met with drizzle and clouds, so we quickly loaded up the three passengers and headed North on 14th Street, out of Lincoln and (for us) to the Great Unknown.

While jamming to Caspar Babypants in our CD player, we decided to let the boys help us navigate our journey, each getting to pick a direction.  How this works is, when we arrive to an intersection, they get to choose, ‘Left’, ‘Right’, or ‘Straight’, so after one left and one right, we find ourselves entering the little town of Valpraiso, Nebraska:  Population 563.

Population: 563

As usual, we’re nearing lunchtime with cranky boys, so we find main street and drive down to see what our mealtime options are, and between the two bar/restaurants in town, we stroll up to Val Tavern, with the obligatory muddy Chevy parked out front, as you will always find at small-town haunts, inviting all in for a warm Sunday lunch on a drizzly Spring day.

Walking in to this place where, if from Valparaiso, everyone will literally know your name, we walked past the bar where nearly every stool was occupied with men who were gathered for their morning coffee (or whatever).  We had obviously beat the lunch crowd, so we found a seat near the back, sat down in the metal folding chairs, and waited for the friendly waitress to bring us our menus, water and coffee and watched the Sunday morning church crowd slowly dwindle in.

Asking the waitress what Val’s was known for, she replies that they are famous for their chicken, and with Jay’s three piece chicken meal, my chicken fried chicken sandwich (and some mini corn dogs for the boys), we were certainly not disappointed, and with meal + tip, this family of 5 was able to eat for $20!

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After our meal, we march the troops out and we head back the way we came to check out the small country store, whose sign we passed while going into town.  It’s one of those places that you need to be paying attention, or you’ll blow right by it, but walking up to it, and looking around, you can see the orchard where they grow the apples for their famous apple sauce, and you can tell that in the spring and summer, Page’s Countryside Market will be a popular and beautiful place to stop to get your fresh produce and jams.

Page's Country Store

Helen Page of Page's Countryside Store

Owners Leon and Helen Page opened Page’s Country Store approximately four years ago, and Helen was pleasant and helpful answering my many questions about all of their jams, jellies and meat, as well as pointing out all of the Buffalo Skulls that you could purchase  from them.   While I was busy perusing the jams, jellies,  honey and more, my husband headed over to the meat  freezer and picked out a nice chunk of Elk, and some  summer sausage. It was difficult for me to tear myself  away from Helen, but as my husband was dragging my  boys out before they did too much damage, I did finally  pay for our wares, sweet talked Helen into letting me take  her picture and left, excited about getting home to try out my new jar of Page’s Countryside Store’s own Vidalia Sweet Onion Mild Salsa!

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After having a small melting down moment with our oldest son, we do finally get on our way again, still going from whence we came.  On the way, I remembered passing a small inconspicuous sign for a winery, so heading south back onto 14th Street, or whatever street is is when you’re deep into the country, I finally see the sign for Windcrest Winery, and take a “west”.  For some reason I was under the impression that it would be only a mile, and either my sense of mileage was off, or it’s longer than a mile; but as I had just given up, thinking we had passed it, I see another little sign on the right for the winery and I turn in and see that we are on a hill, with a beautiful house on the right, and a couple smaller outbuildings on the left and a magnificent view of the vineyard with a beautiful blue lake nestled in the valley.
We also see a sign that says “Open”, so decide to check it out, in shifts so that one adult can stay with the boys in the car.
Of course I opt to go first, and as I’m walking towards the shop, a man comes out of the house and over to meet me, and escort me into the Tasting Room.
As I walk in, I decide right then and there that, despite the fact that I’ve never done one, I’m the type of gal that loves doing wine tastings.  It doesn’t take wine for me to decide this, but the decor, which when I commented on it, was told by Dale, the owner “when it came time to decorate, my wife and daughter kicked me out.”
The room was so calming and warm, that I wanted to grab my book out of the car, and just sit in the tasting room for hours, reading and sipping wine.  I pictured romantic dates with my husband, and fun and boisterous wine tastings with my girlfriends.
Once I shook myself out of these fantasies, I start talking to the owner, Dale, and tell him that I’d love to buy a bottle of wine, but that I knew next to nothing about it.  He immediately starts asking me if I prefer white or red, if I like dry or fruity and a multitude of other questions, until he pulls out a couple of bottles and lets me taste one.  For a moment, I consider trying to act like I know what I’m doing, smelling and swishing like I’ve seen in the the movies, but after one sniff, I decide to nix that plan and just have a taste.  From my experience with wine out of a box, I’m pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t make me shudder, and I actually like it!  Now I know for sure I’m going to become a wine taster!
At this point I do remember that I’ve left my husband in the car, so I ask Dale to keep the wine I just tasted on the counter so that I can send in my husband, the Real wine conessieur, to taste it and to pick out anything else he might want.  Dale invites me to bring my boys in, and against my better judgement I do, gripping there hands tightly so that we don’t have to end up purchasing any broken bottles of wine.
Keeping one eye on the boys, I find out that Dale’s Tasting Room has been open for about a year, and was  “a hobby turned profession”.  Open to the public, you can either taste you wine “Your way”  where you            choose what you want to taste from a menu of WindCrest Wines, or “His way”, where Dale  chooses the    wines   for you, based on the same questions he asked me upon my arrival.  His Tasting Room would be  perfect for  a Friday night out with the girls, or for a company appreciation night, which he was waiting for a group of such to arrive shortly.  Dale was so personable, and the winery was so beautiful, that I was absolutely stoked to have happened upon it, and am now currently looking for a babysitter so that I can go back to enjoy this magnificent place, sans little boys.
After such and eventful drive, we decided it was time to head home, stopping for potty breaks at the corner store near Raymond, NE and then home.
PLACES OF INTEREST

Windcrest Winery
3110 W. Branched Oak Rd.
Raymond, NE 68428
402-783-2875
402-890-3932
Page’s Countryside Store
2455 Country Road A
Valparaiso, NE 68065
402-784-9302
402-310-9305
pageproduce@windstream.net
Val Tavern
210 West 2
Valparaiso, NE 68065
402-784-9911

Freecycle is a wonderful thing, unless it takes you 40 minutes out of town to pick up four wooden doors, that your husband is NOT happy about trying to shove in between the seats of three screaming boys.  But such is life of the creative mind who sees a multitude of creativity stemming from these paint peeling, doggy poo covered pieces of art.

Let's see how much we can cram in the van with our boys!

And driving 40 minutes out of town, then another 30 minutes to find out your aunt and uncle Aren’t home for the “pop-in”, would normally be ok if you weren’t doing it with three screaming and HUNGRY boys at 12:00 p.m.

Thus where our Sunday Drive winds us up in Crete, Nebraska quickly searching for a place to eat that is more interesting than Runza or Amigos, which at one time when not living in Nebraska, I craved, but since have indulged on more than any self-respecting, semi-health conscious gal should do.

And this is how we find ourselves walking into Gladys’ quaint little Mexican Food Shop near downtown Crete, with wonderful smells hitting my nose, that I can only assume are authentic. . . (but that’s really just an assumption as I’ve never been to Mexico to eat and it smelled better than Amigos).

I LOVE cute little downtowns!

We sat down and a nice motherly lady brought us a basket of chips and three different dipping bowls, which my sons immediately devoured, with only one choking incident when Son #2 took a gulp of his dad’s Horchata with a large chip traveling down his windpipe at the same time.

After perusing the menu, thankful that part of it was in English, I decided on the Chicken and Rice Burrito Meal with beans and “whit” rice.  As the idea of writing this blog was still in my subconscious, I sadly did not note what husband ordered, though by my initial glance at the menu, his came with “whit” rice as well.  I did later find out that meant “white” rice, so all was good.

My first few bites of this dish, and I was in heaven.  This was one of the best burritos that I’d had and was about ready to relay this to my husband when I started noticing some things in my burrito that did NOT look like chicken.  I slowly started picking around these oddities and at one point held something up and had to ask my husband, “What IS this?”  He looked at it and said, “You don’t want to know”.  Almost ready to reply that, of course I wanted to know, I thought better of it (I’m a firm believer in ignorance being bliss) and put the rest on Son # 2’s place as he’s a bit like Mikey and ‘will eat anything’.  I finished off my beans and whit rice and started getting the troops ready, as we had already used up our alloted “out” time, which parents of young children will totally understand.

Jay paid the bill, brought the two boys I’d left with him and we all hopped into the car with our new freecycle doors.  As we were driving away, Jay looks at me and asks if I want to know what it was that was in my burrito.  By this time I knew that I really did not want to know.  “Please don’t tell me!!!  I really REALLY don’t want to know”.  He laughs at me and of course proceeds to let me know what Tripe is. . .

Something I most certainly could have done without seeing, eating, or even knowing about.

All in all, Gladys Mexican Food was a pleasant experience.  The atmosphere was friendly, the bathroom was clean, the price was way reasonable ($14.95 total) and the food, as long as you don’t mind the additives, was good.

It's good when there isn't much food left