Exploring Central Nebraska

Continuing west after our visit to Omaha, we met up with friends in central Nebraska and spent a couple of days with them there. These are friends that we met through Full-time Families and camped beside in Florida last winter. In the spring, we met up with them to explore Mammoth Cave. This time, our itineraries didn’t sync quite as easily, but spending time with them made it worth it for us to take an extra couple of days to work our way across Nebraska. They were headed for the Pacific Northwest and we were headed for Southern California but we all had to get across the Rockies, and wanted to do so before the weather turned.

Mormon Island State Recreation Area

Our friends had family nearby, so they were much more familiar with the area than we were. They chose the campground at Mormon Island State Recreation Area and we chose to join them there. The cost per night was really reasonable, but the camping fees do not include the mandatory vehicle pass for all vehicles that enter state parks in Nebraska. The out-of-state fee is $8 per day, which really adds to the cost. (Annual vehicle passes are available and mitigate this cost for longer stays, but it wasn’t the best option for us.) We’ve encountered similar fees at state parks in other states and it always frustrates me. It seems like parking at your campsite should be included in the cost of renting the campsite. Often they will advertise very affordable camping fees then tack on all of these extra costs. As much as we love camping in state parks, we’ve learned to be careful.

Once again we were able to get neighboring campsites, though the weather made it much more pleasant to sit inside to visit. We did have pizza together outdoors for dinner one evening. The company was warm but the weather not so much. Our time at the campground was leisurely – the kids spent time in the playground and their boys gave our kids their first tries at fishing. The adults mostly did that “boring grown up talking” thing that we enjoy so much.

Mormon Island

Pizza Pizza!

Our friends made a Youtube video about this campground, including aerial footage they filmed with their drone. You can check it out here!

Edgerton Explorit Center

Cold weather arrived to central Nebraska at about the same time we did, which left us searching for indoor activities to do together. A 20 minute drive brought us to Aurora, NE and the Edgerton Explorit Center – a hands-on science center. Since our admission was free with our ASTC membership, we didn’t need to stress or worry about “getting our money’s worth.” So we went after lunch and just spent the afternoon. The museum is relatively small; a series of exhibits all in one room. A few hours was more than enough time to explore it well.

Since we were there on a weekday in the middle of the afternoon, we had the museum to ourselves. With no one else there and all the exhibits in one room, we could set the kids free to explore and try and experiment with what most interested them or caught their attention. Even Micah was free to roam, with supervision of course. So even though it wasn’t initially impressive, we had a great experience. Many of the exhibits were different than those we’ve encountered at other science centers, including a machine that allowed you to lift a ball by concentrating on doing so. There’s always so much to learn!

Edgerton Explorit

Focusing made the machine blow the ball up in the air. Sometimes science seems like magic!

 

Edgerton Explorit

Free to roam! Hooray! But why are there so many Micah’s??

 

Edgerton Explorit

The floor lights up when I dance!

 

Edgerton Explorit

Lying on a bed of nails!

 

Where’s Peter? Probably with the Robot Arm. He went back there over and over again. A definite favorite!

 

Making giant bubbles is fun. Being inside a giant bubble is something special! Also – a wading pool full of soap bubbles was the one place where Micah could NOT roam free!

 

Edgerton Explorit

Mirror array!

Our friends also included this museum in a video they made about visiting Nebraska. The Edgerton Explorit segment starts at 7:12. Watch for Staffan and Peter to make a cameo or two!

 

Sometimes our travels take us to exciting destinations that we’ve always dreamed of visiting. And sometimes we find ourselves in small places that we’ve never heard of before. We’re learning that every place has its own personality, culture, and charms. There is always something interesting to see or do, even if it looks empty from the interstate. And there are always opportunities to learn and explore something new!


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