A to Z April Challenge

During the month of April I will be doing a different spin on my memoir posts. It starts with a song. Each song will be followed by a brief essay that is evoked or inspired by that song. You might want to click on the YouTube link to hear the song as you read the piece I've written. Or you can listen to the song lyrics first and then read. Whichever way you choose, I mostly hope you'll read and leave a comment with your thoughts about my post. Thank you for visiting and please follow the blog if you are not doing so already.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Grand Island, Nebraska

Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, Grand Isl...Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, Grand Island, Nebraska. Building designed by Edward Durell Stone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         I'm not sure what it is about Grand Island that fascinates me so much.  It's kind of like right in the center of the country.  The true center of the contiguous states lies about 100 miles south, but Grand Island kind of seems like the center.   Grand Island is about half-way across the state of Nebraska on Interstate 80. If you're crossing the country on I-80 you go right past Grand Island and there's a good chance you might even stop to eat or fill up with gas.  Or you might stay there like we did.

       We weren't just passing through, but we were working there.  When I was with the World of Fantasy Players we played Grand Island every year.  We would also play a few of the surrounding towns and always have at least one day off while we were there so we used Grand Island as a home base.  It was a welcome respite from our typical one-nighter schedule.

       Every year we would visit the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer.  The museum is a beautiful facility with a fine collection of artifacts and exhibits depicting pioneer life.  There is a recreation of a railroad village and other outdoor exhibits.  When we used to visit they had a steam train that would take visitors around the sizable grounds, but apparently the train is no longer operational which is too bad since that was one of the highlights as far as I was concerned.

        One year we went to the horse races and bet on horses.   I've not had much experience with betting on horses--in fact I believe this is the only time I've done it.   We had a grand time at the horse race in Grand Island.

         As was often the case in our repeat yearly visits to towns, I had certain places where I looked forward to eating.  In Grand Island I always made at least one visit to Runza Burger.  Runza is a regional fast food restaurant where the specialty is a stuffed pastry filled with ground beef, onions, and cabbage.  The bread  was not really like the typical hamburger bun, but the German influenced concoction was so savory that I looked forward to it every year.

          If I could I'd go to Grand Island just for the Runza burgers, but another visit to the Stuhr wouldn't be bad either.  Grand Island sits there in the middle of the United States hoarding Runzas and Americana.   Most Americans probably don't even realize what they're missing.

          Have you ever been to Grand Island?   Am I overstating its appeal?   Have you had a Runza sandwich?

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Pam said...

Never been to Nebraska; never had a Runza--but your post has made both very appealing. I love learning about "off the beaten path" foods and places. Thanks, Arlee!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Never been to Nebraska or had a Runza, but found this post very interesting to read.


Sally said...

It sounds a really interesting place and it's good to know you had some enjoyable food there. I love learn more about the US.

Jane of JaneZworld said...

I thought Nebraska was land locked?
I found you through the
A-Z 2012 Challenge.
Here is my link.
I am JaneofAustralia
I have Google problems

Gregg said...

I am very sorry, but I have never heard of let alone been to Grand Island. Sounds like a place I would like to explore however.

Kathleen Valentine said...

The only place in Nebraska that I have ever been is Omaha but I have to say I had the best steaks of my life there.

Arlee Bird said...

Pam -- I love exploring our own continent and all the diversity it has to offer.

Yvonne -- Nebraska is not a typical destination for visitors from other countries--in fact not many Americans choose to go there.

Sally -- It's heartland America.

Jane -- The name has something to do with an island in the river I believe. Nebraska is very land-locked.

Gregg-- It's in the center of things. Small town America.

Kathleen-- Omaha is famous for steaks.


Cheryl Klarich said...

Nope, never!!

But the older I get the more I'm open to new places and trying new things.

Sue McPeak said...

Yep, I've been to Nebraska, but not to Grand Island or to the Runza Burger Place. Just to the airport in Omaha. Is that even close? If ever I'm close again, the Stuhr Museum is on the List...afterall, I am from Pioneer Stock...just from a different part of the country.

Thanks for another Grand Tour!
Sue, CollectInTexas Gal

Lynn Proctor said...

sounds very interesting and full of great food!

sue berg said...

Never heard of the Runza but it does sound interesting. Your description of Grand Island makes me wish I lived closer so I could plan a quick weekend trip down there. LOL!

ediFanoB said...

Every place you post about is new to me because I have never been to the States.

Therefore I read your post with great interest because the differ from travel books.


Huntress said...

Yep, I've been there and it is AbSoLutely Fascinating!

Nebraska has other cool historical spots like Scotts Bluff and Chimney Rock.

Ashley said...

That sandwich sounds amazing!

Trisha Faye said...

Oh no! MORE fascinating places to put on my "must go and see one day" list! The list keeps getting longer instead of shorter.

Arlee Bird said...

Cheryl -- We should stay open to trying new things.

Sue -- The Stuhr Museum has a fine collection.

Lynn -- I won't say that Grand Island is the paragon of fine eating, but I do like Runza.

Sue -- If you lived close to Grand Island you'd either be living on a farm or another small town.

Edi - What I'm writing about probably won't be in many travel guides.

Huntress -- I always liked Scottsbluff as well. Nebraska is not a bad place to visit actually.

Ashley -- I thought it was amazing and it's a pretty popular place.

Trisha -- I hope no one would be disappointed going there on my advisement. It's not Disneyland or Yellowstone, but it's a nice bit of smalltown U.S.A.