Trent Meyer and Derek Bergman are committed members of the United Methodist Church, and sometimes choose to practice their faith through tree climbing, zip lining, swimming, and laser tag. They direct the Methodist-run Camp Fontanelle, a year-round outdoor camp sprawled across more than 180 wooded acres of donated land. Both Trent and Derek draw from backgrounds as campers—and Trent from six years as a teacher—to lead summer camps for preschool through high-school students. They lead a team of camp counselors who coordinate harnessed-rope tree climbing, activities on low-ropes courses, archery lessons, and outdoor laser-tag matches.
They also draw visitors at different times of year with water slides, a 35'x65' jumping pillow and bounce houses, a petting barn filled with alpacas and goats, and pony rides. During the autumn-harvest season, they unveil the annual theme of a 10-acre corn maze filled with 5 miles of trails. A 3-acre pumpkin patch contains small and large carving pumpkins, gourds, mums, and Indian corn, which visitors can harvest and stuff into a large, horn-shaped wicker basket.
In 2000, a group of farmers decided to diversify their crop production by planting twirling wine grapes into the rolling Midwestern hills. The initial smattering of vines quickly grew into a 4-acre vineyard and led to the launch of Silver Hills Vineyards & Winery, a small operation intent on crafting 100% Nebraska wines. The vintners’ Midwestern pride can be seen in their choice of ingredients—all wines are made with fruit grown at local vineyards and tattooed with the state motto—as well as their choice of decor: the outdoor tasting deck is shaped like Nebraska.
Silver Hills produces red, white, rosé, and berry wines, which visitors can sample during the vineyards’ limited hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Bottle labels display woodcuts by John Schirmer, a resident of neighboring Iowa who has carved wood professionally for more than 35 years.
In the days before kegs and bottles, beer enthusiasts would have to cart a bucket to their local brewery, fill it up, and carry it (gently) home. Lucky Bucket Brewing Company pays tribute to brewing history both in its name and its traditional brewing techniques.
Lucky Bucket’s flavorsome creations are crafted inside an 18,000-square-foot brew house. Gleaming silver tankards give birth to bottles of a pre-Prohibition-style lager, a pleasantly floral IPA, and the dark, malty imperial porter Certified Evil.
The facility operates a craft brewery, as well as Nebraska's only craft distillery, which turns out hand-crafted spirits such as Cut Spike Single-Malt Whiskey and Cut Spike Premium Vodka. The distillery ages it's whiskey for two years in brand new American oak barrels.
When a major flood hit the Missouri River in 2011, it drastically changed the riverfront, creating new sights across its banks. With this fresh face, the river serves as a scenic stage for tours on the River City Star, a riverboat featured in USA Today's August 2009 article “10 Great Places to Stream Through Cities”.
At the wheel of a classic, double-decker riverboat is one of River City Star's two captains, Captain Ken and Captain Steve. Accompanied by an expert crew, the captains ferry passengers over the serene waters that make up Omaha's riverfront. They pass by antique structures such as the historic Old Iowa-Nebraska Swing Bridge, and newer fixtures including the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge, described in USA Today as “a one-of-a-kind design that looks like an art installation across the river.”
On dinner cruises, cooks prepare a lineup of cuisine that changes monthly, as passengers dance to the sounds of live jazz or island music. Back on land, weddings unfold beneath a 40'x80' tent set up at Miller's Landing.
Carl Busskohl began his career as a mail carrier in 1928, but soon he found he had passengers other than parcels. When folks increasingly asked to ride along on his route between Norfolk and Sioux City, Carl saw another opportunity: he traded his 7-passenger Buick in for a 25-passenger bus, making it the first vehicle of the Arrow Stage Lines fleet. After more than 80 years, Carl's enterprise has grown to include more than 160 luxury motorcoaches—all equipped with air conditioning, reclining seats, and spacious restrooms—that ferry groups, athletic teams, and big-window fan clubs to new destinations or on local and long-distance tours.
Give Advanced Air Incorporated an hour of your time, and their instructors can give you the power of flight. Their training aircraft climbs high above Council Bluffs, where the airport's 656 acres start to look like the world's most realistic Lego set. The instructor hands over the controls, and novices take charge of a plane for the very fist time. The experience is known as a Discovery Flight, and it's a fitting name. That short time in the air can plant the seeds for a lifelong hobby, or perhaps even a career.
The journey to private or commercial licenses begins in ground school, but skills solidify once on Council Bluffs Airport's runways. CBA offers new pilots an ideal location. The airport lies close to Class C airspace, so new fliers begin communicating with air traffic controllers right away. Here, Advanced Air Incorporated's instructors have led many pupils to success; their website's home page brims with words of congratulations for new fliers or pilots who have gained instrument ratings and advanced certifications.
These students don't set their autopilot to fly off into the sunset. Advanced Air Incorporated keeps pilots around with a rental fleet of 10 aircraft, including Cessna and Piper models. The maintenance team also works on privately owned planes.