Tag Archives: Fontenelle Forest

Bit O’ Everything, Honey

February 8, 2018 by

Pick of the Week—Friday, Feb. 9-11: Celebrate your love of all things anime and show your appreciation of the multifaceted aspects of Japanese pop culture at Kanpai!Con 2018. Happening at Hotel RL, this three-day event will have games, tournaments, prizes, and a variety of special guests. Panels, meet ups, and autograph sessions will be held, as well as dances on Friday and Saturday nights. Dress to the nines if you want to attend the special Formal Fantasy Cosplay Ball on Friday, though. To get all the information you need, click here.

Thursday, Feb. 8: Take a long lunch today and head to UNO’s Milo Bail Student Center to listen to some stimulating jazz music from violinist Daniel Davis (Daniel D). The young artist hailing from Charleston, South Carolina, began performing live at the age of 12, so he knows how to entertain. So hurry and tell the boss you need a little mental health break and get to Urban Jazz Violinist | UNO Black History Month because the show starts at 11:30 a.m. Learn more about what’s happening this month at UNO here.

Saturday, Feb. 10: Still trying to find the perfect, one-of-a-kind gift for your Valentine? Then head to Bench’s Open House—Valentine’s Day Edition. This collaborative community hub provides space and tools for local artisans, and this weekend you get the chance to check it out and purchase some of their wares. Whether for that aforementioned Valentine, or to add to your own collection, there’s bound to be something to lift your spirits and bring a little much-needed sunshine to your life. Get more info here.

Saturday, Feb. 10: If your interest in pop art is more Kendrick than Kanpai, then this art show may be more your style. The Prince and Michael Jackson Tribute Art Show Opening Reception happens this Saturday at The Get Down Ultra Lounge. Art Pop Omaha is bringing you 15 local artists paying tribute to the purple one and the gloved one, respectively. Come early to mingle with the talent before the dancing starts. Don’t stop ‘til you get enough. Dress the part, and you might just win a prize, so go crazy and check out more here.

Sunday, Feb. 11: Abandon all things traditionally associated with the upcoming holiday and show your love for nature by attending Love at First Flight: Valentine’s Day Edition of Raptors…Live! Check out Fontenelle Forest’s beautiful birds of prey and learn more about them from “raptor ambassadors” and experts. Predators love too, so head out and show them a little love this weekend. This event starts at 1 p.m. and goes until 3 p.m. Swoop on over here for more details and to check out other events at the forest.

 

Hitting the Trail

July 8, 2014 by

Beyond Fontenelle Forest and DeSoto Bend National Wildlife Refuge, most of the significant day hikes in Eastern Nebraska or Western Iowa take you up and down the steep bluff lines of the region’s major rivers. Basically, in our landscape, if you don’t want to hike cornfields, you have to get back to the rivers.

Those bluffs in places such as Mahoney, Platte River and Indian Cave State Parks often offer the closest thing to a wilderness experience in the area, but they also present the closest thing to a real hazard. Typically, you’re walking on loose dirt, wood chips, rock aggregates, or compacted clays. The footing can be tricky when dry, downright unnerving when moist.

Not trying to alarm, here. Just be mindful when you hit the trails, especially with older parents or young children.

A few tips for a safe and enjoyable hike:

The right shoes
You don’t need $500 mountaineering boots. You just need good traction, something that protects your ankles from twists, something that limits the bend in your foot, and, depending on the forecast, something that either breathes air or repels water. Gore-Tex optional. Any light hiker will usually do. Kids will probably lobby to wear their athletic shoes. This isn’t the Front Range. Unless it’s muddy, the Nikes are usually okay.

A walking stick
This may feel like you’re overdoing it, but, again, those slopes can be trickier than you realize. Walking sticks are cheap (even sometimes free on the forest floor) and they can be the difference between a close call and a fall.

Water, water, water
In our area, hikers very often ignore the hydration issue. Sure, you’ll survive on these relatively short trails. But you may be awfully thirsty, especially if you make a few wrong turns.

Bug repellent
What the region lacks in 14,000-foot peaks, it makes up for in mosquitos and ticks.

Sunscreen
You may be out longer than you planned and you’ll still get plenty of sun in the woods.

A snack
Again, this may not be a life or death issue, but, especially
with kids, you’ll be a hero when you pull out treats at the halfway point.

Making Tracks

February 1, 2014 by

The frostbitten months carry additional and sometimes frustrating challenges when taking my two preschool-age grandsons for the weekend. The problem is that there seems to be an inverse relationship between the temperature and the CFQ.

The what?

That would be the Cabin Fever Quotient, that restless, bouncing-off-the-walls void created when you run out of indoor activities capable of entertaining the little ones. But Saturdays are a snap if you possess an intrepid spirit and a decent pair of boots.

One of our fave winter outings is to go critter tracking in expeditions that offer a fascinating peek into the sometime-secret winter habits of area wildlife. Start by doing a web search on the subject of “animal track identification” and you’ll find gobs of online field guides and other useful resources, several of them in easily printable, carry-along formats. It’s also fun and informative to gather the children in front of the computer to watch any of the zillions of YouTube videos available on the topic in preparation for your woodland trek.

A fresh, unblemished snowfall is the perfect palette for such wilderness adventures. Virtually every interruption in the pristine blanket at your feet—yes, droppings, too—holds a mystery waiting to be unlocked by young, inquisitive minds. Forgot to print out that field guide we discussed earlier? Smartphone web search to the rescue. While you’re at it, take close-up photos and have the kids start their own wildlife journals to match prints (and poop) to the animals that left them. Pocket a small measuring tape to have the children record the dimensions of the markings and make note of where they were found. Do those raccoon prints lead to or from water? Do those squirrel tracks disappear at the base of a mighty oak?

Sprawling spaces like Fontenelle Forest, Hummel Park, and area state parks offer a staggering array of snowy finds, but even the more expansive of city parks will reveal evidence of almost everything short of deer.

Take along a thermos of hot chocolate and find a log to carve out some quiet time during your treasure hunt. Especially because the snow acts as an acoustic muffler, there is nothing quite so serene—even spiritual—as the dead silence of a winter’s morn. Be quieter still and you increase the odds of encounters with all manner of creatures.

The awe-inspiring majesty of nature never hibernates. Introduce your grandkids to the wintry landscape, and soon there will grow in them a deeper reverence for the natural world and their special place in it.

Fashion: Into the Woods

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Megan Hunt, 26, shows off her youthful, free-spirited, summer style with outfits from her local retail
business, Hello Holiday, on an outing to Fontenelle Forest with her daughter, Alice, 3.

Hit the Trails

Photography by Nebraska Travel & Tourism

Allow the beauty of Nebraska to inspire your family to get out and play together. Experience miles of renowned bike trails and hiking paths that wind through scenic splendor and offer breathtaking views. Nebraska is crisscrossed with dirt, gravel, and hard-surface trails that will guide you through some of the most beautiful parts of the state. So load up the bikes, lace up your hiking boots, and get the family moving.

One of the state’s premier destinations for trail seekers is Chadron State Park, tucked into the northwest corner of Nebraska. Mountain bikers come from far and wide to ride what are considered to be the top single- and dual-track destinations in the nation.

If hiking is more your style, head to Toadstool Geologic Park north of Crawford, Neb. Here, you will discover an unexpected, lunar-like terrain that’s perfect for exploring. Or take in the natural beauty and winding trails of western Nebraska’s Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area near Gering, Neb. Here, trekkers will discover rocky buttes and picture-perfect wilderness virtually unaffected by the passing of time.

The eastern end of the state offers a bounty of outdoor adventure as well. Hikers and bikers alike will enjoy the Cowboy Trail between Norfolk and Chadron, the nation’s longest rail-to-trail project in progress. The trail’s signature sites are its long bridges that offer spectacular views.

For mountain bikers, the Steamboat Trace Hike/Bike Trail along the Missouri River or the more metropolitan MoPac Trail West in Lincoln are great choices for an invigorating excursion.

Despite being surrounded by nearly a million people, Bellevue’s Fontenelle Forest is a haven of deep solitude with 17 miles of walking trails. In North Omaha, Neale Woods Nature Center’s nine miles of trails weave through heavy forests, hilltop prairies, and riverside woodlands.

With a state park system that stretches from border to border, you don’t have to go far to find quality trails. Spend a weekend camping at Branched Oak Lake State Recreation Area or rent a cabin or teepee at Platte River State Park—parks near the metro that offer several hiking and biking trails. Indian Cave State Park is almost 30 minutes southeast of Nebraska City, Neb., and near the city of Shubert on the Missouri River. It’s a 3,052-acre region that’s ruggedly pristine and has 22 miles of hiking and biking trails.

Hundreds of trails are waiting for you to explore, so go to VisitNebraska.com to find one to tackle today. Or order the new Nebraska Bicycle Map at transportation.nebraska.gov.