Even though it may feel like your options are limited, there are still tons of things you can do this weekend in Pottawattamie!
1. Buy your flowers locally and get those flower beds, gardens, or planters filled! Blossoms and Sue’s Country Garden are both located at Oakland and EZ Greenhouse is in Minden with Guyers Greenhouse being the newest addition in Avoca (only open till May 31).
2. Grab some wine! Why not relax this 3-day weekend? And if you are needing an outing, head to the wineries. Prairie Crossing in Treynor and Breezy Hills in Minden are both known for prize-winning wines.
3. The last season of the Farmall-Land USA Museum starts on Saturday! If you haven’t been, it’s implement heaven and it’s your last chance to go. They close in September forever.
4. So the Avoca Library is offering curbside service and the Eckel’s Memorial Library in Oakland is open by appointment. Make your calls and get some reading in on these rainy days!
5. Botna Bend Park in Hancock is a nice shady venue with walking trails and my fave, the buffalo and elk. Definitely something to keep you entertained for an afternoon!
6. Nothing like a golf outing for getting a little exercise, a little frustration, and maybe a few drinks! Check out the Oakland-Riverside Course or Treynor Recreational Area. Neola and Avoca also have courses.
7. Check out the bronze eagles. There’s one in every town in Pott. Co. They are each different and honor the true American heroes: our military. Definitely perfect for this weekend!
8. So if you didn’t see my last blog, it was all about how you can use this weekend to do a cemetery tour and scavenger hunt! Go here to get all the details!
9. We have lots of trails for you to check out! I can’t even name them all! But I recently did one about the Stone Arch Trail in Shelby you might want to read about or Hitchcock is one of the most well-known out in Honey Creek, and it is HUGE! Plus, everything is in bloom!
10. Head to the Nishna Heritage Museum! They are back open for the holiday weekend. You may tour through from 1 to 3pm Saturday, Sunday, or Monday or you can call or text ahead 402.680.8912 for an appointed time if you prefer to be alone.
11. And, of course, here’s your chance to eat your way through the county! I have included a flyer of all the local rural eating establishments and it is updated as of today on what is available for eating in or grabbing and going!
Just when you thought there was nothing to do, there really is! Keep loving where we live, Pott. Co-eds!
So it’s Memorial Day Weekend and it sure doesn’t look like the usual. It’s always been the entrance to summer with picnics, vacations, weddings, etc. and a few people taking time to use Memorial Day for its purpose: to remember those who came before us. Well, life is different this year and here is your chance to remember those who came before us: the ones on covered wagons, the ones that served in World Wars, the ones that made our families happen. And I have fun ways to do it (they would even qualify as homeschooling for history and if you walk the cemeteries, it’s PE, too)!
Seriously, you won’t believe the recon I did to make this happen! If your family gets as much entertainment as I did finding these places, it will be totally worth it! I have created a cemetery tour! Yes, that’s right! A cemetery tour!
Grab the kids, the fam, or the dog and venture out for this one-of-a-kind tour!
Yes, I’m sure you all know where to find the in-town cemeteries in Pott. Co. If you don’t, go to this list. See them all if you want, but my tour is a little off the beaten-path!
Where are you headed? On an adventure!
What can you have your kids do to make it fun?
Please honor those on the scavenger hunt with utmost respect. With everything going on, we sincerely hope this brings you a breath of fresh air and a chance to celebrate the true meaning of Memorial Day.
May your memories be blessed.
May your weekend be unexpectedly better than planned.
And May you love the ones you're with…
My COVID-Safe location of the day: the Nishnabotna River, or the Nish, as it is often referred. So I admit it, I’ve spent my whole life driving over it, but I haven’t exactly gotten up close and personal with it other than some unfortunate flood waters. But guess what? There’s no time like the present to see it!
With outdoors being one of the best places to be in the midst of the pandemic, why not get a little closer view? There are actually access points for putting boats, kayaks, canoes, and tubes in the water all along the Nish whether you want to check out Botna Bend in Hancock and then the river, or check it out in Chautauqua in Oakland, next to the Rodeo grounds in Carson, or at Old Town Park in Macedonia. For all the water levels and inside scoops, the Friends of the Nish has you covered!
Now, the weather is supposed to get nice so maybe tubing or tanking are calling your name! Floating down the river sounds relaxing, right? Or grab that kayak or canoe and get a little exercise paddling, too!
Another fave: rubber duck races! The folks at Macedonia started this, but it’s perfect for family fun, too. Get your rubber duckies painted or numbered and set them free off one of the local bridges and head downstream to see who comes in first at the next bridge!
Personally, I'm a big fan of the island party! The Nish has a few sandbars that are calling your name. Pretend your on that Carribean vacation - grab the picnic basket, the cooler, and the beach towels! Lounge in the sun on the sand!
Not so much a fan of being in the river? NO problem! You can fish the Nish! There’s even a # for it! (Just make sure you have a fishing license though please.) Hey, they call fishing a sport, too!
Not a sports person? Again, no problem! You can feed the ducks, geese, fish, turtles, whatever you find! Make sure you get those pieces of bread crumbled up good or order some fish food! I promise you something will pop up to eat your food!
You might also want to take your binoculars! Do a little bird-watching or maybe we should call it wildlife-watching because you can always check for the West Nish Monster (related to the Lock Ness Monster, of course), too! I happen to know there’s an eagle nesting near the Oakland bridge waiting for you spot it!
What else can you do on the Nish? Well, I, personally, love to grab my camera or my phone and get some pics! Take those selfies. Find some birds or wildflowers or whatever you see and have a little fun with your camera. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? So stop and smell those… wild roses or fish or Canadian geese!
There really are lots of options of how to enjoy the river, get in your home-schooling, and just appreciate nature in general. Sometimes, we forget that we have fabulous resources sitting right next to us and here is a perfect example!
Take on the Nish, my friends!
But whatever you do – don’t forget your life-vest! Stay safe, Pott. Co-eds!
There’s a hidden gem I hesitate telling you about because I love it so much: the Rock Island Stone Arch Nature Trail in Shelby!
The Stone Arch Trail is 4 miles long and actually runs from the interstate where the giant cornstalk is located, all the way through Shelby (and through their park), and out into the country in a beautiful area of farmland. It is an old railroad bed and tracks still run parallel in some parts of the trail. It’s truly spectacular!
And it’s like the best kept secret!
Why do I love it so much? Lots of reasons, but one is that it’s mostly flat which is really nice when you have a kid with training wheels and you’re old like me! Did I mention that almost all of it is paved? Oh, yeah, that’s nice, too! Also, it has a ridiculous amount of shady areas which are a dream come true when it gets hot and humid outside as it always does in Iowa! At one point, I thought I was in a scene straight out of “Dirty Dancing” – it was shady, deep green and woodsy, and a tree branch was crossing the brook that runs literally right by your side for part of the trek! My other reason: it’s picturesque.
It’s peaceful and yet there’s plenty to see. You can find bird houses scattered throughout the trail, and they are especially to attract purple martins. So if you are a bird-watcher, this place is your haven! This time of year, trees are blooming and berries are starting to grow. There’s just so much to notice! Also, the brook babbles nearby and runs along your course for a good portion of the trail. It really works all your senses. Plus, the Rock Island train car and depot (with restrooms that in non-COVID-times would be open) can be spotted along the trail (Littles love it!). And then there’s the architecture of the old Stone Arch Bridge: it’s gorgeous (you just have to go under the trail to find it!) and the viaduct is actually listed on the National Register of Historic Places! (Get that homeschooling history lesson in, too!)
Normally, I’d tell you that the kids should check out the A-MAZ-ING play area, too, but obviously, that’s not an option currently, but the park is fabulous with a ridiculous amount of kids play equipment in a tree-covered area!
The City of Shelby obviously takes pride in their trail, and they should! They've done a rockstar job of preserving it! It’s well-maintained and has benches for resting or simply taking it all in.
In a hard time like COVID-19, it’s a great place to get away and forget your worries for awhile. It’s that stay-cation escape! Be sure to check it out!
It’s National Tourism and Travel Week which is ironic because people have been discouraged from traveling due to COVID-19! So maybe you have to stick a little closer to home, but it can still be done!
You always hear about stay-cations. So you maybe can’t go into all the businesses or spend time in the fabulous museums, but the outdoors in Pottawattamie are worth the time and so is the food!
Often times, we forget to appreciate what’s right in front of us! And let me tell you, Pott. Co. is amazing! My job has given me the opportunity to see all of the county up close and personal. It’s so impressive, quirky, and fun, and so few of us travel around from town to town because we are caught up in the daily grind.
I’ve included a video about the beauty of Pottawattamie. Whether you want to fish on the Nishnabotna or hike Hitchcock or whether you want to check out the buffalo at Botna Bend or do the mural tour in Walnut, there really are lots of things to see and do.
Need tips about a recipe for a staycation, check out some of my recent blogs from the COVID-19 era for all the details!
No bags to pack! No uncomfortable beds to sleep on. No loud adjoining room with crazy kids in it. Hit the open road. Use your lemons to make lemonade and have a stay-cation week in Pott. Co. instead!
#SupportLocal #SmallTownLifeIsTheBestLife #PottCounty
So Mother’s Day may not look the way it usually does, but we have tips to help you make it happen! Since it might take a little more arranging, start early! We wanted to get you on the right track to do so which means we are posting early, too! We have found as many ways as possible to help your mom have a perfect day despite the COVID-19 restrictions! Check them out!
Option 1 – Start mom’s day off right with breakfast in bed. The Bar’N and Grill in Carson will let you order mom breakfast and throw in a free pint of mimosas for her! (Preordering is encouraged!) Let her sleep in then lounge with breakfast and some Netflix binge-watching or a family Disney favorite.
Option 2 - Set up a special dinner for mom. Get that special vase of flowers for the centerpiece from Avoca Flower Shop or Blossoms in Oakland. (FYI: Avoca Flower Shop has 8 different arrangements to choose from and $25 hanging baskets and Blossoms has patio planters, garden décor, gift cards, special mom gifts and will be open on Mother’s Day!)) Buy some ribeyes to grill at Gress Locker or some filets at Minden Meat Market. Pick up some votive candles at the Country Store in Carson to light. Use placemats and fancy dishes. Have the kids make cards for her to read and have a jar of questions for the family to answer at the table while you eat.
Option 3 – Create a patio relaxation plan. Set out the lounge chair or the hammock. Order her that margarita from El Sol in Oakland or Garcia’s in Underwood and download that book from the Council Bluffs library or a free one if you have Amazon Prime. If she doesn’t have quite that much time normally, get her a magazine subscription to Real Simple (Meredith is an Iowa company!) or Our Iowa (best state mag ever!). Very inexpensive and it will remind her to relax once a month. Have the kids pick out some wacky sunglasses to order online and have shipped to her for laying in the sun.
Option 4 – Let her have that peaceful bubble bath! Pick up some of those bath fizzes at Blossoms in Oakland, B ReStored in Walnut, or an essential oils one from a local person. Grab that bottle of wine from Prairie Crossing Winery in Treynor or Breezy Hills Vineyard in Minden to have a glass or five while she soaks. (Breezy Hills is even offering buy a bottle get a Winerita free – their famous wine slushy and Prairie Crossing is doing gift baskets to purchase with local products, winery merch, and gift cards.) Have Alexa play some relaxing music or break out the radio. And get a couple candles out for mood lighting.
Option 5 – Make it a family trail outing! Get the bikes out or just use those feet. Head to one of my favorite hidden gems – the Stone Arch Trail in Shelby or Hitchcock Nature Center in Honey Creek. If you want to see the animals – Botna Bend will be open with buffalo and elk. You could probably even make a date to go fishing in the Nish! Just be sure you have a fishing license!
Option 6 – A family picnic with take-out! Check our list of take-out places and order to go! Have a picnic in your backyard or in Old Town Park in ‘Donia or ask a neighboring farmer if you can use their pasture! Dairy Queen in Oakland is offering a free small blizzard for mom that day so swing by there, too.
Option 7 - Canvas painting for the whole fam! Grab some canvases and paint! Use stencils or straws to blow the paint or check out the Quirky Canvas website! And if you do it outside, a little mess won’t hurt a thing! Or make mom a painted flowerpot and give her a plant! Head to EZ Greenhouse in Minden on Friday, May 8th from 5-7pm and let your littles paint pots and pot a plant for her! $2 covers it!
Option 8 – You can never go wrong with jewelry (if she likes jewelry)! The Painted Camel in Macedonia is going to open by appointment just for you! Head in to get homemade jewelry or pottery made by Paul (he’s doing a 10% Mother’s Day discount on all his pottery) or a print for your wall! Just call 712-310-4534 to make a date at the coolest art gallery around!
So it may seem like Mother’s Day can’t be as planned, but it can still be something special! Here’s your chance to show mom all her efforts lately are appreciated and she is loved. (While still supporting local!)
Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms (and those that step in for them) out there!
As things continue to change with the COVID-19 pandemic, we all are probably wondering what’s next? Where do we go from here?
I ask you to ponder where you specifically want to go from here. I ask as a person who is working in community development, as a person who is concerned with economic development, as a person who lives here in the greatest country in the world, as a customer, wife, mother, daughter, and human being.
I have questions. You probably do, too.
Will we have a renewed sense of family values? Will you want to spend more time with your family? Will someone stand up and say that as much as we all love sports they shouldn’t be played on a Sunday? Will we just be ready to see others and forget family bonding? Will game nights and family meals be expected again and wanted? Or will we be on to the next thing?
Will we realize what jobs are “essential” and encourage the trades? Will our kids see what pays the bills and how important education is?
Will we find a new appreciation for educators after attempting to home-school? Will they get the wage they deserve? Will we realize that farmers keep food on our plates even though the middle men are making all the money? Will the farmers make a union? Will we make more meals at home? Will more drive-thrus be built for the next time? Will there be a next time?
Will there be more gardens? Will there be more flowers for bees and butterflies?
Will our kids again know how to cook, clean, and hang out with us? Will they remember this fondly or as horrifying?
Will we have all our home projects done that had been put off for years and be ready to socialize? Will we jump at the chance to go to restaurants to eat in their environment? Will we go to town volunteer-driven events because we can? Will we appreciate those volunteers? Will we show up for our communities?
Will we change our spending habits after watching our bank accounts during this?
Will we slow down our instant gratification fix? Will we up it to reward ourselves for surviving?
Will we make our homes and our yards beyond fantastic so that we prefer to stay in? Will we work from home instead of going to the office? Will we isolate ourselves more out of fear or habit? Will we find ourselves even lonelier? Will the mental health crisis grow? Or will we find peace in helping our neighbors by sewing masks or picking up groceries?
Will we go see the people who can’t go where they want to because now we understand how it feels? Will we have a greater sense of empathy?
Will more people vote to make sure the right people are making decisions for us?
Will we order everything online? Will the malls and retail stores close? Will we flock to malls because we can? Or will we realize the value of boutiques and trying things on or a business owner that knows your personal tastes? Will we shop local because we realize the need for something close and attainable?
Will we continue to be a little nicer to those in the medical profession and to the grocers and discount store workers? Will businesses try something new?
Will we think ahead and make changes for the betterment of our new normal? Will we dream something bigger and better? Will we go back and enjoy the simpler times and ways of life?
Will we see a new interest in Iowa and the rest of the Midwest with its open spaces and beauty? Will Coasters visit or move here? Will the trails stay busy with walkers, bikers, and exercisers? Will more be built in case there’s a next time?
Will we not take spending time with others for granted? Will we hug more because we missed it or will we be too scared and miss out on human touch that they say provides healing and comfort? Will we push up against the next person at a live concert and just be glad we can be there? Will we realize that it’s safer to stay home?
Will we have a renewed sense of community? Will we love where we live more? Will we use our vacation days for family trips or mental health pick-me-ups instead of losing them because it keeps us healthy and much happier? Will we seek out cool things nearby? Will we stay home when we are sick without the guilt of missing work from supervisors and out of respect for the safety of others? Will we value our health more? Will self-care be even more important?
Will what “the Jones” are doing matter less? Will we learn to judge less and accept more because we all have our own set of battles? Will we realize the grass isn’t always greener? Will we try to do better?
Will we re-evaluate our priorities?
For every question I might have, the real answers come back to our priorities. As we struggle to deal with the new “normal” and adjust to all that has changed and remained the same, I ask that you ask yourself that one last question: What matters?
May the right things matter.
May you find your sense of community.
May you find the benefit in doing for others.
May you find appreciation.
And may you always remember we are all in this together…
Seek the light.
Be the light.
Amanda Rachel Prokupek
Riverside High School
Parents: Rob and Dianna Prokupek
If your kids attend Riverside Schools, you may very well have met Amanda because she works at the Riverside Child Care. Although she is currently working with littles, she hopes to be working in the criminal justice system in the future. Her extra time is spent sleeping, shopping, and hanging out with family.
Amanda has a witty personality and when asked what she won’t leave home without, well, she told me she can’t leave without her keys. You might also spy her carrying a bag of Hot Cheetos as they are her current obsession and she might be jamming to “Lose Control” by Missy Elliott although Pink is her idol because “she doesn't care about just herself, she cares so much about others.” She’s also a big fan of playing Cards Against Humanity.
However, I appreciated it most when she said that she hoped her classmates would remember the 50-year-old version of her as a crazy cat lady! Guess we will have to wait and see!
Best of luck to you, Amanda! Thanks for calling Pott. County home! And Happy Belated Birthday yesterday!
We have such a great story on the WIDA blog today! It’s our first Senior to Senior Spotlight! We are recognizing Pottawattamie County high school seniors and senior citizens! Today’s set just happens to be related!
Meet Taten Earl Williams and Earl Edward Williams.
Taten Earl Williams
Riverside High School Class of 2020
Parents: Todd and Shelly Williams
Yes, Taten was named after his grandpa! He proclaimed the best advice he’s ever gotten was from that very same grandpa who told him, “Good Way to live is to Work Hard and Play Hard.” And just like his grandpa, there’s agriculture in his future! Taten plans to major in Agriculture Studies and minor in Business as he plans to be a seed salesman. Someday, he hopes he gets to see the Pyramids in Egypt, too. What legacy does he want to leave behind someday? Well, he said he wants them to remember him as “just a good guy that was truly humble and worked hard to make others better themselves.”
Funny part is that Taten has very little to be humble about! His high school career includes a varsity letter for Football, Basketball, Soccer, and Golf all four years! His list of awards is second to none: All District 1st Team Defensive Linemen, All District 2nd Team Offensive Linemen, FFA Academic Achievement Award, Riverside FFA Member of the Year Award, Western Iowa Conference Academic Award, Riverside Boys Basketball Best Teammate Award, Riverside FFA Vice President, FFA Chapter Leadership Award, Western Iowa Conference Honorable Mention Award for Soccer, State FFA Bronze Medal for Experience the Action, Chapter FFA Degree, All District Honorable Mention, All District Academic Team Football, All District Academic Team Basketball, State FFA Degree, and District Golf Team. However, his highlights from high school were ending the TC-losing-streak in football at TC and his once-in-a-lifetime trip to China with 3 fellow FFA’ers and his Ag Instructor, Tyler Johannsen.
Other favorites he mentioned:
Favorite teacher: Mrs. Jennifer Elliott (Kindergarten)
Favorite Drive-thru food: Snickers Blizzard from DQ
Favorite Ear Bud Sounds: Garth Brooks or Mr. Johannsen’s Workout Playlist
Taten has plenty ahead of him, so he wanted to share a little advice: “If you're upset that you haven’t figured out what you want to do in life, it's fine, in fact, it's great. Go out and try anything that you want or think you will like. If it works out, then it works out, if not, keep moving forward. Don’t let others' decisions make you feel forced on what you need to do with your life. Be you….”
We agree, Taten – Be you. It seems to be working!
Earl Edward Williams
Oakland High School Class of 1948
Home: Hancock, Iowa
Earl has quite the personality, as well. He says if he could go back and do it all over again, he’d play football! He misses the days of left end on defense and right end on offense. He also fondly remembers walking to country school every day. He says the most impressive advancement he’s seen in his lifetime is that in farm machinery. Hard to believe you can run a combine via your phone nowadays. Of course, these days he enjoys spending his time telling his grandkids what to do and painting instead. You might also find him listening to “When the Saints Go Marching In” by Bruce Springsteen.
Earl’s a big believer in keeping busy and helping others out. That’s his advice to the younger generation – “Stay busy and work hard. Keep your mind occupied. Try to think about what you want to accomplish in life and go out and do it!” Earl, himself, has done plenty from farming, insurance, real estate, and his love – painting! What a role model for his grandson!
Earl and Taten – we are honored to have both of you be our first Senior to Senior interview! Thanks for making Pottawattamie proud!
Celebrate May Day COVID-19-style! If you know me, you know I love May Day! For those that don’t know about May Day, it’s an ancient holiday in which people ran around a May pole in celebration on May 1st. More recently, people would make May baskets and leave them on other people’s front steps and ding, dong, ditch – perfect for social distancing! Personally, I always thought of May Day as the entrance into summer. It is that sense of hope with spring flowers out, green grass, and school almost out for the year. It may look a little different this year, but we all need a sense of hope right now.
Normally, I wouldn’t break out my May Day post till closer to the day, however, with all the regulations, I thought it best to give you a few days to get supplies ordered and dream up your big ideas for others!
In my day, a May Day basket was a red Solo cup with popcorn and Red Hots or M&M’s, but seeing as how we probably shouldn’t touch other people’s food, it might have to be a bag with microwave popcorn not popped and a bag of M’s that they can wipe down!
Who do you leave May Day baskets for? Family, friends, neighbors, someone you know is living alone right now – whoever you want! There are plenty of DIY ways to make baskets on Pinterest, too, for you overachievers! I use a brown paper bag with a “Happy May Day!” written on it or it gets written on a Ziploc with their goodies! Anything will be appreciated right now!
Of course, you know I wouldn’t leave you hanging without other ideas, too!
*Knife their lawn – yes, you heard me. Get plastic knives and attach little sayings to each plastic knife then shove them in the ground! The kids will love sneaking in to do it, and the person will love the warm fuzzies.
*Have your kids make May Day cards! Older people love a happy pic to put on their fridge or have them go draw with sidewalk chalk and leave them a message!
*What about Blizzards from DQ in Oakland? In past years, your friends might not be home, but this year – they probably will be! Lol.
*I think flower seeds or mini plants would be great, too! Most people have time on their hands to plant and flower seeds are a cheap gift! EZ Greenhouse in Minden can set you up with plants, as could Blossoms or Sue’s Country Garden in Oakland.
*Fresh cut flowers are awesome, too! The Avoca Flower Shop can help you out, as can Blossoms in Oakland.
*Popcorn, M&M’s, and a Coke – head to Rubacks in Oakland, Countryside Market in Minden, Avoca Food Land, or Dollar General in Avoca or Oakland. Or if you want a bag of candied popped popcorn – Treynor Java Supply stocks it and they have a drive-thru window!
*Adult (or not) Beverages – A six-pack on the doorstep will definitely make some of my friends smile. Want to help out our local businesses – grab them a margarita-to-go from El Sol in Oakland or Garcia’s in Underwood and Glenn’s in Walnut has beers ready for take-out as does the Bar’N and Grill in Carson, too! And you can always get a box of Capri Sun or Kool-aid Jammers for the littles!
*Candles are great, too! Not a huge expense and you can find Candle Queen Candles at the Country Store in Carson or find soy candles at Amy’s Attic, also in Carson.
*No one turns down a gift card! Right now is the perfect time to support local businesses and it doesn’t have to be a big amount – every $5 bucks helps! Cornstalk Café just reopened in Shelby and they have specials every day, support The Back Forty in Macedonia as they continue to do meals on wheels, or try Henry’s Diner in Crescent!
*Meat. Lol. Whether it’s jerky that you can grab at Minden Meat Market or Gress Locker in Hancock or some Jack Links from Underwood, that’s always enjoyed! Or go big and get some steaks! Not only will Minden Meat Market and Gress Locker set you up but Jon’s Naturals in McClelland will, too!
*Hershey bars. You can never go wrong with chocolate! And if you are dropping off for kids – they will be happy with candy, sidewalk chalk, silly putty, coloring books with fresh crayons, punch balloons, animal crackers, or a pack of new markers!
*Something homemade like crocheted hot pads or a wind chime (they have all kinds of easy ones on Pinterest) would be perfect, too!
*Balloons – one helium balloon tied to your door can make all the difference.
*Leave them a set of fortune cookies – you can make them using craft foam sheets and put happy messages in them and staple together! So cheap and easy! Just a little time spent. Or you can get the real thing, too. Lol.
You can’t go wrong with anything if it comes from the heart. Right now, when we are all house-bound, a little gesture letting someone know you are thinking of them in the midst of all of this is really all people want. So go forth and leave little pieces of happiness this May 1.