Sunken Gardens

The Sunken Gardens in Lincoln NE were by far the most lush and vibrant display I have seen in my travels. It is the only garden in Nebraska listed in the National Geographic Guide to Public Gardens 300 Best Gardens to Visit in the United States and Canada.

Built in 1930, the Sunken Gardens was a Depression-era project, built on a former abandoned neighborhood dumpsite. The 1.5 acres were originally donated by the Seacrests, the Faulkners and the Freys — long time Lincoln families.

Hamann Rose Garden

I love the look of pure joy on these statues in the Hamann Rose Garden in Lincoln , NE. They really outshine the rose garden that was a little past it’s prime. I do worry a little about the turtles and the frogs, but remind myself that these are inanimate objects.

Scheels

Scheels – What could it be?

I was coming out of Trader Joes when I noticed across the parking lot this large store, Scheels. I had no idea what kind of store it was so I decided to check it out. I love the anticipation of not knowing what to expect. I was definitely surprised. It was part Sporting Goods store, part Arcade, part Hall of Presidents, part aquarium, and sadly part taxidermy showcase. (In some areas there were so many mounted heads I couldn’t look. ) I walked around amazed all this was inside a fairly plain facade.

Spring Creek Prairie

Spring Creek Prairie

I love the sights and sounds of a good prairie walk. Spring Creek Prairie in Denton, NE, is a 850 acre tall grass prairie reserve. I walked through wetlands, woodlands, and of course the prairies. The insects were in full voice. The wind was strong the birds were hunkered down. I was hoping to see a bobolink. ☹️ It was hot and humid, I walked a little less than anticipated.

Des Moines Botanical Garden

Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is an innovative escape in downtown Des Moines. With a mission of exploring, explaining and celebrating the world of plants the garden inspires and engages visitors through education, experience and exploration. Featuring 10 distinct gardens, including a water garden, conifer garden, rose garden and iconic geodesic-domed conservatory with tropical and desert plants.

Bridges of Madison County

Madison County is the Covered Bridge Capital of Iowa, with the largest group of covered bridges that exists in one area in the western half of the Mississippi Valley. Madison County originally boasted 19 covered bridges, but just six remain today, five of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridges were covered by order of the County Board of Supervisors to help preserve the large flooring timbers, which were more expensive to replace than the lumber used to cover the sides and roof. Usually, the bridges were named for the resident who lived closest.

You might recognize these bridges in the movie: Bridges of Madison County with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.

Devils Tower

Devils Tower

There are several stories about Devils Tower. This one is my favorite: Seven little Kiowa girls were out playing, spotted by several giant bears, and were chased. The girls prayed to the Great Spirit, and sure enough the ground rose beneath them towards the Heavens. The bears tried to climb the rock but only managed to leave their deep claw marks on the sides. The girls reached the sky and were turned into the constellation Pleiades.

Today, visiting Devils Tower offers a journey full of Native American cultural discovery. The area is still an active, sacred location and is considered a place of spiritual significance and cultural history by over two-dozen Native American tribes! The monument is off limits to climbers during the month of June to respect the tribes’ cultural traditions and rituals that are still performed there. Some of these include sun dances, vision quests and prayer offerings.

Willow Falls

Willow Falls, located in Willow River State Park, about 10 miles northeast of Hudson, WI is an impressive waterfall. At least 100 feet wide, consists of several drops, the largest of which is about 15 feet high. This is a good sized river and creates an impressive display as it tumbles down on its way to meet the much larger St. Croix River.

In 1924 a dam was built here which diverted all the water from the main falls and drowned the upper drops. In 1992 the dam was removed, restoring the falls. It also restored the impressive gorge. There are still some remnants of the old dam, such as the main pipe through which the water was once diverted, but for the most part the area has been returned to its natural state.

The falls are easy to find. There are a set of trails that lead to the falls. See the park maps for details. The shortest walk to the falls is less than 1/4 mile on a paved but very steep trail down into the gorge. There is a bridge across the river just below the falls.

Glensheen Historic Mansion

Glensheen

It’s one of the most popular attractions in Minnesota, but Glensheen Mansion has a darker past than most historic homes you’ll find in America.

The 39-room mansion and estate on the shore of Lake Superior in Duluth will be forever associated with the shocking events of June 27, 1977, when mining heiress Elizabeth Congdon was smothered in her bed and her night nurse Velma Pietila was murdered with a candlestick.

I found many items inside that caught my attention

Here a few favorite exterior shots.

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

I love walking around arboretums. The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska, MN, welcomed, informed and inspired. The best part for me, was their reciprocal membership. I got a solo membership in Minnesota, and can now visit Gardens across the USA. Next garden stop: Des Moines, IA.