Mary Conley 

Dear friends, 

Have you noticed when on vacation, we are interested in everything, including listening to the tour guide's stories, and reading all the signs, plaques, memorials, and historical markers? But, do we have the same interest locally? How many times have we driven past a historical marker and never once stopped to read it, or taken the time to visit a site that others come from a distance to see?

We live in Nebraska and this week we did something fairly local that was on my bucket list. Our son and his wife, Perry and Kim, came to the farm to help us celebrate Larry's birthday and our anniversary. On Sunday we drove to Red Cloud to visit the Willa Cather Foundation and Memorial Prairie. If you live in Nebraska, I'm sure you've read Cather's "O Pioneer," and possibly "My Antonia" and "The Song of the Lark." But, have you visited her childhood home?

Memorial Prairie marker

Our favorite part of the trip: The first thing we did was drive five miles south of Red Cloud to the Willa Cather Memorial Prairie, which consists of 612 acres of never-been-plowed native prairie. What could be more country? We only read the historical marker and looked at the beautiful, treeless rolling hills of prairie and unbroken horizon, but there are 2 miles of walking and hiking trails. It is also a Nebraska birding site. Knowing this area has been preserved did our hearts good, and I believe you would enjoy reading about how the foundation has removed thousands of non-native and invasive trees in order to preserve native species of plants. After returning home and reading the brochures we were given, we realize that this effort to restore the prairie to its pre-1900 condition and save some species of plants and animals is the part of the trip we are the most excited about. 

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