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Opt outside – there may be bighorns

November 27, 2015

Inspired by the #optoutside movement, which encourages people to get outdoors and be active on the day after Thanksgiving instead of buying ever-more stuff, Bugman and I headed for the (Wildcat) Hills. After all, studies show that experiences bring people more happiness than stuff.

We drove to Cedar Canyon Wildlife Management Area 20 minutes south of our house, and, boy oh boy, did this experience make me happy!

For years I’ve wanted to see the bighorn sheep herd in the Wildcat Hills, but I was never able to go on one of the guided tours with the radio telemetry folks (some of the sheep have collars), and I had no luck on hikes . . . until now.

As we were carefully negotiating the snowy curves to the WMA parking lot, WHAT THE . . .? I could hardly believe my eyes as a bighorn sheep appeared alongside the road ahead of us. Then another bighorn crossed the road. And another! And another!

Wow! Really? How did we get so lucky? We could not have timed things better!

sheep on road

The ram started walking back up onto the road, towards us. Was he going to come investigate our car??

ram on road

A few moments later, the bighorns scattered at the approach of a vehicle from the other direction. They joined up with a herd of about 40 animals on the west side of the road. (The people in the other car stopped for awhile to watch the bighorns, too.)

wandering off

One of the ewes wandered away from the herd back towards the road and looked up at us sharply when Bugman shifted in the car and the rustle of his jacket transmitted out the open window and through the still, cold air. You can hear for miles out there on a day like this.

sheep looking

If it wasn’t so cold and if I wasn’t wearing jeans, I would’ve liked to have laid down there in the snow, my face to the sun, and listened to the silence and the sheep moving about, pawing at the snow and chewing.

Later, as we hiked, we saw two more sheep off on their own, away from the main herd. They were very leery of humans on foot.

another couple of sheep

We found an area where the sheep appeared to have stayed awhile – the snow had disappeared and exposed the remnants of summer’s tender green flora, which was bedecked with brown piles of, um . . . sheep pebbles . . .

bedding area

Aside from the joy of the bighorn sheep encounter, there was the wonderment of walking through still-upright late-fall grasses frothy with delicately clumped snowflakes still cold enough to hold their shape and reflect the sunlight in a thousand twinkles, the air moving oh-so-gently, enabling the grasses to sway without unburdening themselves of their white coats. My pictures simply do not do the scenery justice.

snowy yuccasnow caterpillarsnow coral

Winter, when the seas of prairie grasses freeze mid-wave.

frozen prairie wave

Wow! What a day! So glad Bugman went along with my crazy scheme to go walk in the snow on a 20-something-degree day. He got some great photos, too, and some slo-mo cellphone video of the iced grasses’ dance (which he’s capturing in the photo below).

taking pictures

One final note, regarding hiking at this time of year and Bugman’s colorful chapeau: it’s hunting season, and the WMA is open to hunters. If you head out to hike, it’s best to stick out like a sore thumb in blaze orange, and mid-day is the best time to be out, since prime hunting hours are closer to sunrise and sunset.

So go ahead – #optoutside, people! You’ll have memories to treasure for years to come.

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

Fun new cycling event: Candy Corn Grab scavenger hunt

October 22, 2015

Katie Bradshaw:

Check out this new family-friendly cycling event, coming up on Halloween!

Originally posted on Wyobraska Tandem:

You guys! I’m so excited! There’s a new, fun, family-friendly cycling event in town: the Candy Corn Grab!

candy corn grab banner

For years I’ve wanted to re-experience the fun I had on a scavenger hunt ride back in Illinois. The great folks in the Western Nebraska Bicycling Club have pulled together the first such event here in the Nebraska Panhandle. (That I know about, anyway.)

Here’s how it works:

You show up before 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 31 in the parking lot of Caddie’s/Monument Shadows Golf Course in Gering (2550 Clubhouse Dr.) with 1-3 other cyclists to create a team. All of you must be riding bicycles, and all of you must be wearing helmets (and wear them the whole time!). Bring some kind of digital camera for your team as well. You will be given a series of clues about locations throughout Scottsbluff-Gering.

Your objective: ride your bikes – together, as a team, safely…

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Walkable, bikable Wyobraska

October 20, 2015

Originally posted on Wyobraska Tandem:

There is something of a sea change afoot in Wyobraska.

Seven years after Scottsbluff earned the dubious distinction of being the “seventh fattest city in America” due to its rate of overweight and obese residents, self-reported inactivity, and poor walkability rating, there are more than 30 area running races and triathlons listed on the Western Wind Running Club Facebook page, there is an active Western Nebraska Bicycling Club, many new workplace wellness programs are in full swing, and communities throughout the region are putting in new recreational pathways.

An Oct. 14 gathering in Sidney marked another deviation from this characterization of slothfulness. In cooperation with local government, business, health care, and education representatives, the Panhandle Public Health District organized a “Let’s Activate Sidney” summit, at which members of the Sidney community strategized about opportunities for and barriers to increasing biking, walking, running, and overall citizen health. The goal…

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A fun, healthy fall activity: the WNCC Fall Frolic

October 12, 2015

I am thrilled to see how 5K and 10K races have proliferated in Wyobraska (not to mention the Monument Marathon). I think that having events like this commonly available in the community helps to promote a culture of activity and health. (It does for me, anyway – it’s a constant motivation to get in shape.)

I need to get my act in gear and do a repeat of what Bugman and I did when we lived in Iowa: run a race pretty much every weekend, and make a t-shirt quilt out of all of our race shirts. It’s a great way to remember all that activity and to make space in the t-shirt drawer for more race shirts. (A good resource for finding Wyobraska races is the “Local Race Calendar” document on the Western Wind Running Club Facebook page.)

An image of our race shirt quilt, taken in our last Illinois apartment.

An image of our race shirt quilt, taken in our last Illinois apartment. This quilt represents at least 180 miles of racing.

Speaking of race shirts, TODAY (October 12, 2015), is the last “guaranteed shirt & size” day to sign up for my favorite fall race, the October 24 Western Nebraska Community College Fall Frolic (title sponsor: Valley Bank), which benefits the WNCC Foundation.

You can still sign up for the race on the day of, but you may not get a a shirt, and these early sign-ups REALLY help with planning for the event! Also, in addition to guaranteeing a t-shirt, you are eligible for additional raffle prizes by signing up NOW!

Here’s what the newly-designed logo on the race shirt will look like:

Nice, isn't it?

Nice, isn’t it?



You won’t regret it!

This race has a professional timing company coming in to chip-time the race, so it’s a great race for the speedy-minded. But there are also a significant number of walkers who just come out to have fun, as well as a kids’ run and costume contest.

Here are some Mark Rein pictures from last year that testify to the fun of the Fall Frolic:

You look mahvelous, dahling!

You look mahvelous, dahling!

Tutu fun!

Tutu fun!

Go, Team Minnie!

Go, Team Minnie!

Every race needs a superhero!

Every race needs a superhero!

And, a few pictures I took from previous years, of event volunteers getting into the spirit:

Heather clowned around at the kids' check-in table.

Heather clowned around at the kids’ check-in table.

Bugman and I got up at like 4 am to make sure we had time for pumpkin makeup before helping to set up for the race.

Bugman and I got up at like 4 am that year to make sure we had time for pumpkin makeup before helping to set up for the race.

Here’s a summary of the other benefits of the Fall Frolic:

  • cash prizes for the top three overall placers for men’s and women’s 10K and 5K
  • 5K/10K division prizes, with some fun stuff including WNCC gear
  • medals and a prize bag for the kids’ fun run winners, and a medal for the costume contest winners

And, importantly for me:

  • there will be a vendor selling breakfast burritos and coffee
Coffee is important!

Bugman and I are big into coffee!

Also have to give props to the other event sponsors, who help to make this wholesome fun possible. If you do business with these folks, and with Title Sponsor Valley Bank, please thank them for their sponsorship!

Elite Sponsors: Regional West Physician’s Clinic and CARE Chiropractic

Kids’ Fun Run Sponsor: Webb Orthodontics

Kilometer Sponsor: Print Broker

Other Sponsors: Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods, Panhandle Coop Main Street Market, Pepsi, Gatorade, City of Scottsbluff, Valley Ambulance, Advance America.

See you on October 24, Frolic-ers!

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw, except Mark Rein photos

Morning rainbow

September 17, 2015

When I woke this morning, the light outside was heavy with pink and orange. The view out the front door was nice. Then I looked out the back door.

first light rainbowI can’t recall ever seeing a sunrise rainbow before.

I stood out there for about 10 minutes, watching as the curtains of rain shifted and made the rainbow pulsate. I had to amp up the saturation on these photos to make them appear closer to reality.

The trees in the neighborhood aren’t yet turning to fall gold, but the rising sun gave me a preview.

rainbow gold

The rainbow went full double before it started to fade.

saturated huesWhat an amazing start to the day!

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw

Six days until Blinddog Smokin’ and a Husker guitar

August 14, 2015

So . . . six days until the Blinddog Smokin’ show – do you have your tickets yet? (See here for my original post on the August 20th concert.)

Look at these folks. Don't they look like the instigators of a raucous good time?

Look at these folks. Don’t they look like the instigators of a raucous good time?

The 10-day forecast has a ZERO percent chance of rain that day, and with the normally low humidity and evening cooling, it’s gonna be an awesome night out at Five Rocks!

gering 10 day forecast august 20 2015So go buy your tickets now! It’s $5 cheaper than at the gate to buy ahead, and you also help the concert organizers to sleep at night, when they see that, yes, tickets are selling for this fundraiser event. Tickets are available at Star-Herald, KNEB, Gering Citizen, Platte Valley Bank, Valley Bank Gering locations, ABC Nursery, Gateway Realty. Go get ’em!

Also, if you go to the concert and help the Soroptimists raise funds to help women and girls in our community, you will have the opportunity to buy in to a 50/50 raffle, and you could bid to win a custom Huskers acoustic guitar from Thrasher Music (complete with two free lessons from Steve Thrasher).

Now ain't that a purty gee-tar? If you play (or even if you don't), how can you call yourself a true Husker fan if you don't have a Husker guitar? The guitar that will be auctioned is #22 on the limited production run of 100 guitars. They aren't too common!

Now ain’t that a purty gee-tar? If you play (or even if you don’t), how can you call yourself a true Husker fan if you don’t have a Husker guitar? The guitar that will be auctioned is #22 on the limited production run of 100 guitars. They aren’t too common!

There will also be adult beverages and food for sale, so bring some money and come prepared to have a good time.

(Without me! *sob* Circumstances still haven’t changed. I still can’t go to the concert. Boo hoo!)

You can’t beat blues/funk at Five Rocks

August 6, 2015

You guys, I am seriously bummed!

There’s a blues/funk band – Blinddog Smokin’ – coming to play Five Rocks Amphitheater in Gering on August 20 for a fundraiser concert, and I can’t go!

*sad face*

Look at these folks. Don't they look like the instigators of a raucous good time?

Look at these folks. Don’t they look like the instigators of a raucous good time?

I attend a lot of charitable functions in this area, and I have fun, but I don’t always enjoy myself to the point that I would think, “Man, I would totally do that again, and invite all my friends!” I reckon I would at this particular benefit concert, though. (A couple of other fundraisers I would totally invite my friends to: that movie-themed costume party at the West Nebraska Arts Center and the Girls Night Out events at the Midwest Theater as well as the Greek Festival supporting the Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Bayard – which is, incidentally THIS WEEKEND!)

Blinddog Smokin’ has some serious professional street cred (is “professional street cred” an oxymoron?) – they were nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award for best blues album, which they worked on with Dr. John! (Those for those of you who don’t know blues, Dr. John is a funky N’awlins-influenced bluesman – NOT a sex shop on 27th Street in Scottsbluff. You’ll probably be familiar with his 1973 popular hit Right Place Wrong Time.)

Five Rocks is just an awesome venue. I think the flavor of blues comes out best either in a claustrophobic little club or out in the open air, where the notes can ring out and expand. And since the band has a good dose of funk, too – it’s better for it to be outside, where the music can have more room to breathe!

Kelly’s Liquor Cabinet will be at the event, too, selling adult beverages to further enhance the musical experience.

On top of all that, this event, with the help of sponsors Platte Valley Companies, Kelley Bean, Thrasher Music and media sponsors KNEB, Star-Herald, and Gering Citizen, will support Soroptimists International of Scotts Bluff County in their drive to help women and girls by supporting local charities with grant funding. You get to have a good time for a good cause – what could be better than that?

Disclosure: I’m a member of the Soroptimist club sponsoring the event. I happen to think the women and girls in this world could use a little boost. The frontman of Blinddog Smokin’, Carl Gustafson, agrees. Here’s a quote from him in a story in this week’s edition of the Gering Citizen:

“I have three daughters, a step daughter and two granddaughters,” he said. “They are the joy of my life.”

. . . He recalled when the band toured Egypt. He was appalled at the treatment of women.

“They were quite simply chattel creatures, subject in every way to men,” he said. “If the Soroptimists can bring some joy and enlightenment to the downtrodden women of the world, why on earth wouldn’t we be in favor of a benefit for them?”

Yes, this Chicagoland girl is sad to be missing Blinddog Smokin’. (Though I will have to admit, despite having grown up in the Chicago area, my personal blues street cred is pretty much limited to dressing up like a reasonable facsimile of Jake Blues from The Blues Brothers movie.)

jakeBut I will be happy again if I know that YOU, my readers, can go to the concert and have fun in my stead. I expect to have some tickets in my hot little hands this afternoon, 15 buck apiece – any takers?

Here are the deets on the event:

WHAT: Blinddog Smokin’ blues/funk concert

WHEN: Thursday, August 20; gates open 6:30 p.m., music begins 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Five Rocks Amphitheater, Gering

COST: $15 presale, $20 at the gate. Tickets available starting Friday at KNEB, Star-Herald, Gering Citizen, Platte Valley Bank locations, ABC Nursery, Gateway Realty, and Valley bank Gering locations, as well as from Soroptimist members (like me!)

FUN STUFF: adult beverages and food will be available, there will be a 50/50 raffle, and also an auction for a custom Husker guitar from Thrasher music. I’ll update the post if I can get a photo of said guitar.

HIGHER PURPOSE: to raise funds to help Soroptimist International of Scotts Bluff County help women and girls in Wyobraska

Go! Go, my pretties! Enjoy the music! And please – share this link, or the event on the local Sorpotimists Facebook page! Share away!

Copyright 2015 by Katie Bradshaw


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