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Fulda 125th

February 13, 2014

By Linda Beerman
Valentine. The Heart City. That is where we spent a couple days this past week joining up with our youngest son, Peter, his wife, Krista, and their four kiddos, Brayton, Ranissa, Tayden, and Anayah. It had been over seven months since we had seen them, and with the winter weather fluctuating so much this year, we decided we would "go for it" when the roads looked clear! They actually live in Grover, Colorado, in the eastern foothills, but Valentine, Nebraska, is about halfway for both of us. This was our fourth or fifth time to meet like this, and it always proves to be a fun time.

The traveling was cold, but crisp and clear with sunshine and blue skies. The roads were dry and nary a snowdrift in sight to block our path. Dan and I take turns at the wheel when we go on road trips, and he began that morning. I usually have a few bags of items to keep me occupied while I ride in the passenger seat. This time it included magazines, unread newspapers, and some greeting cards needing to be written and sent. Sometimes I get a lot accomplished on these journeys, but many times we get talking and looking, and the time just speeds by. When it is my turn to drive, I usually put some music on and he takes a well deserved nap! I am glad he trusts me to navigate us in the right direction. If we are both awake, we never lack for conversation or laughter to enjoy the day. There is always something to talk about!

We arrived in this little city of about 2800 about an hour before our kids. We noticed main street was full of cars and bustling with activity. Most of our visits here have been on weekends, but this Thursday morning was different. The stores, shops, and restaurants were busy with their daily customers. Located on the Niobrara River in Cherry County, this community of Valentine has a wealth of things to peak your interest. It is such a friendly place, and one older man said we were vacationing there just a few days too early! On Valentine's Day they have their annual chili cook-off and even a Chocolate Lover's Experience! Local eateries even serve heart shaped steaks, made to order. Maybe next year?!!

We are used to a turkey race just down the road in Worthington, but in this city of hearts there is a Heart City Bull Bash! It is included in their Valentine festivities each year. Because cattle ranching is the backbone of this area, the region's best bulls are penned up on Main Street for all to see. Area ranchers, vendors, and local merchants are present to chat with and purchase their wares. Supposedly Cherry County has more cattle than any other county in the United States. Every Thursday is livestock auction day, and men and women on horseback guide cows and calves to and from the sales ring. Dan and I would have fun sitting with the buyers on the bleachers watching the action.

Once our family arrived at our chosen motel, our focus changed to inside activities for the afternoon and evening hours. Swimming in the warmed pool and even dipping toes and more into the hot tub was at the top of all the grandkids' list! This is what they had been looking forward to since our plans had been made. I enjoy the water, and like to jump in and get wet right along with them. Dan more enjoys relaxing in the hot tub, welcoming the kids to sit with him as they scamper back and forth from the splashing action to his more sedate activity. When they get warmed up a little, back they come to the bigger pool of water. Shame on grandma, I had forgotten to bring the balls and floaties for some extra fun. Next time I will remember.

Swimming always makes everyone hungry, so off we went to a great Mexican restaurant which didn't skimp on the portions either. Everyone got their fill before we headed back to the motel dining room to play some games. Spot It and Farkle were the favorites that night. Soon, Anayah, age three, went off to bed with Mommy. Tayden and Ranissa got involved in a movie; grandma wound down too, so it ended up that grandpa, Peter, and Brayton finished out the evening together. Brayton was the ten year old Farkle champion in the end!

The motel that we always use, is actually owned by a man that my parents met in Arizona a couple winters ago. He invited us to come, and we have never been disappointed by their wonderful breakfasts and clean rooms and service. After a good night's sleep, there came a knock on our door about seven A.M. I was waiting for it actually. The little people were ready to swim again! But first we would have a delicious, warm breakfast. Then back to the pool we went. Tayden thrilled at jumping into the water with either his dad's or my waiting arms. He is five and a half, so he is getting tall and almost a little heavy for grandma to catch! But his giggles are worth the strain when he hits the water. Eight year old Ranissa was learning to float on her back from her daddy. She was a persistent novice!

When everyone was showered and dressed for the day, we exchanged some valentine surprises before checking out. Lots of hugs and laughter accompanied us both days, which gave Dan and I our "fix" for a few months to come. Later we strolled down a few blocks of Main Street to inquire in many fun gift shops. Oh, yes, we did do some shopping too. Even the kids found some treasures to haul home with them. And what fun people we met in each one. It truly is one of the friendliest places to visit! I am looking forward to our next adventure there already.

Our time together ended with lunch at Subway because they also have real ice cream for a great treat when we were done. It was just a great time to be together with family, and the only hard part always is saying good-bye. We always joke about the "Beerman" good-bye (or is it the "Minnesota" good-bye?) which includes several hugs with one another before we finally climb into our vehicles and wave the final farewell. We were so thankful to call each other several hours later reporting that each of us got home safely. That is always a relief and a blessing.

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