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Essentials for Your Nebraska Tanking Adventure

Posted by on Jul 27, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on Essentials for Your Nebraska Tanking Adventure

Essentials for Your Nebraska Tanking Adventure

With Nebraska containing around 24,000 miles of rivers and streams, it’s no wonder that going on a river adventure has become such a popular pastime in our great state. Tanking in particular, which is when a group of people float down the river in a stock tank, has become the river adventure of choice among both Nebraska natives and visitors. If you’ve never been on a tanking trip, you’re in for a treat – it’s an inexpensive, safe and fun way to spend time with friends and family on the water, with lots of room to spread out, relax and enjoy the big, blue Nebraska sky. If this all sounds great to you, read our list of tanking essentials below to get an idea of what you’ll need to start planning your own tanking excursion during your Nebraska vacation!

  • Sense of adventure. This one is arguably the most important thing you could bring, especially since we provide all of your tanking equipment, including lifejackets. Every tanking trip is a little different and presents different opportunities to view area wildlife, making every journey a once-in-a-lifetime venture that you’ll look back on fondly for years to come.
  • Great company. This is the perfect time to grab your favorite people for a bonding experience unlike any other!
  • Make sure to regularly apply sunscreen throughout your trip so you don’t end up spending the rest of your vacation sunburned and miserable.
  • Card games, magnetic board games, charades – whatever games you choose are bound to be even more enjoyable while you float on down the river!
  • A great thing about going down the river in a tank is that there is plenty of room for a cooler, and we recommend making sure you load up on cold beverages and tasty treats for your venture! Our tanking trips last anywhere from 2-6 hours, so packing some food is a must if you don’t want your stomach grumbling by the end!
  • A good book. If you and your crew plan on taking a relaxing, quiet trip, unwinding with a book is a great way to spend part of your journey.

Add a tanking adventure to your itinerary for your next Nebraska vacation, you’ll be glad you did! Whether you’re looking for some fun or to relax, you’ll find what you’re searching for during our tanking tour. The Sandhills Motel & Glidden Canoe Rental is your one-stop destination for river fun during your vacation, simply give us a call at (308) 546-2206 to plan your visit! We hope to see you soon!

The 13th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race

Posted by on Feb 5, 2020 in Blog | Comments Off on The 13th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race

The 13th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race

Are you ready for another winter celebration full of friendly competition, food and friends? Then get ready for the 13th annual Polar Bear Tank Race! Festivities kick off Friday, March 6, and it’s the perfect way to say goodbye to the winter blues and enjoy a weekend of adventure, laughter and good old-fashioned rivalries on the river.

If you’ve never been tanking before, then this is a great opportunity to find out what all the fuss is about! During the summer months, tanking is a wildly popular and relaxing way to beat the summer heat. Floating down the Middle Loup River in a big round metal stock tank, enjoying the beautiful landscape and scenery while sharing a few cold beverages with friends, is a fantastic way to spend the day.

You can do all that during our annual gathering of tank racers, just be prepared to see teams of diehard tanking fans race past you as they holler out their battle cries and go full steam towards the finish line! The Polar Bear Tank Race is a timed event, and excessive decorations are encouraged, both on the tank and yourselves, so bring your creativity. Your team’s tank decorations must be completed while racing down the river, and prizes for most creative themes and tanks will be awarded.

This annual event is awesome in every way possible, and benefits the Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway through awareness and charitable contributions. Get your friends, make a game plan, and go for gold during the big race on March 7, 2020!

Registration Information:

  • Must be 21 to enter
  • There is a non-refundable $200 registration fee per person
  • A minimum of four people are required for each tank racing team
  • When registering your team, please submit a team name. If a name is not submitted, the team name will be the last name of the team captain or registrant

Registration Includes:

  • One racing tank per team
  • One life jacket, paddle, and Polar Bear Tank Race t-shirt for each participant
  • Two nights of accommodations (double occupancy) on March 6-7 in Thedford or Mullen
  • Welcome reception and soup cook-off
  • Breakfast before the race
  • Polar Bear Tank Race
  • Lunch following the race
  • Polar Bear Tank Race Awards Banquet – prime rib dinner
  • Team trophies for the top 3 men’s and women’s teams

Once your registration is received, you will be sent a complete informational packet that includes maps, lodging details and a complete schedule of events.

2019 Polar Bear Tank Race Agenda:

(All times are in Mountain Time)

Friday, March 6th

  • 4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Registration of Teams & Welcome Reception

Location: Mullen Event Center, fairgrounds west of Mullen on the north side of Highway 2.

You must attend the registration and the welcome reception in order to be a qualified racing team.

  • 5:00 p.m.

Soup Cook-Off

Various soups from Sandhills Journey Scenic Byway Communities will be available to sample.

Directly after the soup cook-off, there will be a drawing to determine race departure times.

Saturday, March 7th

  • 8:00 a.m.

Meet in Mullen for Breakfast

Location: Mullen Event Center

After breakfast, transportation will be provided to the launch site on the Middle Loup River.

  • 9:00 a.m.

First Bus Leaves Mullen, Race Begins

The tanks will be launched in short intervals according to the draw order.

Transportation is conveniently provided for travel from the finish line back to the Mullen Event Center.

  • 5:00 p.m.

12th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race Awards Banquet

Location: Mullen Event Center

So, get the gang together, and make plans to attend the 13th Annual Polar Bear Tank Race, the ultimate in winter warrior extreme sports! And just a really, really good time.

To stay up on the latest Polar Bear Tank Race news, visit the Sandhills Journey event page.

 

 

New Year’s Resolution: Travel More

Posted by on Dec 30, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on New Year’s Resolution: Travel More

New Year’s Resolution: Travel More

Well friends, it’s that time of year again, when we start getting excited about all the silly little promises we make to ourselves as we welcome a new year. We’re going to eat better, naturally. That gym membership we used last January, we’re renewing that, because well, we’re definitely getting in shape this year! We’re going to stop watching so much Netflix and pick up more books, and get involved in community service, and spend more time with our parents, and start doing yoga, and and and…

These are all great ideas, and you should totally get started on them. But if you really want to make 2020 the best year ever, you need only one resolution: Travel more!

We know, easier said than done, right? Traveling more is one of those resolutions we make every year for ourselves, but rarely truly commit to. So let’s do it different this year, and actually make it happen, shall we? Yes, we say that every year also, but this time we’re committed! And, we came up with some ways to make it more achievable. Use these tips to stick to your new year’s resolution to travel more! Your soul will thank you.

Take a Look Around You

Yes, we want to catch flights to faraway lands and explore the whole world one continent at a time too. But, unless we become sought after travel writers, our budget probably won’t let that happen just yet. So for now, take a look around your home town. No, we don’t mean look for things to do in your city, we mean take a look at other cities and states that are nearby. If you live in a place like Omaha, Nebraska, you’re only about six hours from St. Louis. St. Louis is an awesome place to travel to, especially if you’ve never been there. If you travel by plane, you can be there in just over an hour, and it’ll cost you far less than traveling somewhere distant.

This applies to nearly all of us, we all live close to some new destination or adventure. You don’t have to spend all your savings on one getaway, stretch that budget out and see as many places near you as you can! Do it every month if you can!

Don’t Wait for Others

One of the big reasons people don’t travel as much as they’d like, is because they haven’t yet embraced the idea that you don’t have to wait on your friends, or family, to get out and explore. I’m here to tell you this little secret, and it’s one you’re going to want to really think about; there is nothing more freeing, and soul cleansing, and memorable, than going on a solo adventure. Solo adventures give you a whole new level of freedom. You can eat whatever and whenever you want, you can spend as much or as little time in one place as you’d like, skip the famous sights and hunker down in the best dive bar in town for a while, strike up conversations with strangers you wouldn’t normally get a chance to meet. The possibilities are endless when you’re not tied to another person on your trip. So book your getaway, and spend a little time with yourself.

Short and Sweet Mini Adventures

Taking multiple mini adventures throughout the year is a great way to see and do more, while not worrying about coming up with thousands of dollars to spend on one vacation that lasts a week or more. If you’re good at planning ahead, a couple days is all you need to really get out and see the sights at your next destination. When your friends are talking about their annual vacation that took them to Florida this year, you can chime in and tell them about your seven mini vacations that took you all over the country. Who wins that conversation? You do!

Travel is Worth Sacrifice

If traveling more in the New Year is truly something you want to make happen, you may have to make some sacrifices elsewhere. Be ready to make some changes to your budget, your spending habits, maybe even a few of your vices (stop buying so many gourmet coffees is a good one). I promise you, it’ll be worth it. The memories of your adventures will be far more awesome than the memories that get made down at Joe’s Ale House every Tuesday night, where it’s always the same thing, with the same people, and the same headache the next day. No offense, Joe, we love a good pint as much as anybody, but we love adventures to new and exciting ale houses even more!

Whatever you have to do to make this resolution come to life, do it. There is nothing like traveling to new places, and experiencing as much life as we can. Our planet is filled with wonder and adventure, and it’s available to those who seek it. So make this year the year that you stick to that resolution, and make all the memories. Have you ever floated down a river in a big steel tank? No? Well then, while you’re mapping out your travel plans for 2020, be sure to include a stop at the Sandhills Motel in Mullen, Nebraska. We have all kinds of adventure for you to enjoy!

Snowshoeing for Beginners

Posted by on Dec 11, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Snowshoeing for Beginners

Snowshoeing for Beginners

Most of us consider winter to be our annual opportunity to hibernate for a couple months and really focus on the things that matter, such as naps, binge-watching marathons, and plenty of eating. While great in moderation, these activities don’t necessarily allow for getting the recommended daily activity you need in your day. Well, we have just the solution – snowshoeing!

Why snowshoeing, you ask? It’s simple – snowshoeing through a winter wonderland is fun! Beautiful scenery, challenging routes and a chance to get the blood pumping are all great things. Not only is it terrific exercise, it’s social and can be enjoyed by all ages. Best of all – it’s super cheap! For those of you who are new, here are some snowshoeing tips to get you started. Remember, thermal socks!

Quick essentials:

  • Buy or rent snowshoes that are right for your weight, the terrain, and the snow conditions
  • Wear warm, waterproof boots. Think insulated snow boots; they’ll keep your feet warm
  • Layer up! Wear clothing that can handle cold, wet conditions
  • Bring along a pair of adjustable poles with snow baskets
  1. Choose the right snowshoes

If this is your first time, renting some gear might be an ideal way to get a feel for what you are comfortable in. Then, when you’ve decided that this an activity that you’re going to want to do more of, you can shop for your own gear. Since we’re talking about beginners, we won’t get too in depth here; we want to keep it simple.

You’ll more than likely start your new winter hobby by adventuring on flat terrain, so you’ll want a pair of flat terrain shoes. There are several terrain options available for all skill levels, but you’ll get there when you get there. Flat terrain shoes are extremely easy to use, and allow you to simply slip your boots in, strap up snug enough that your feet aren’t moving around and get on your way.

  1. Layer up

Yes, it’s probably going to be a bit chilly, so you’re going to need to wear layers! Similar to skiing or winter hiking, layering your clothing is a must. That is, if you want to stay warm enough to enjoy your adventure. Take a look:

  • Base layers- Thermals, you’re going to need them. Leggings, such as long johns, and thermal tops should be wool or synthetic material. They help wick moisture and dry quickly if they get wet. Do not skip your base layers!
  • Mid layers- These can include fleece jackets, down jackets, down vests, or soft-shell jackets. On colder days, it’s important to keep your core warm. These are all great options to do so. Better to get warm and take it off than to be cold and not have one!
  • Outer shell- Outer shell jackets and pants keep you dry. They should be waterproof and breathable.
  • Accessories- Don’t forget about your fingers, ears, and toes! Wool socks, waterproof boots, waterproof gloves and a good wool hat will keep you trekking on down the trail.

 

  1. Stay hydrated

This often gets overlooked due to the fact that people forget that you’ll actually get dehydrated faster by cold, dry air. Keep some water bottles in your backpack, or use a CamelBak with a water bladder. If going on a longer trip, maybe pack a water filtration bottle that can be filled with water from a stream if you run out. Whatever your method, stay hydrated!

  1. Use snowshoe poles

When you’re first starting out, using poles is highly recommended to help you get going. Make sure the poles are the right height before you start, which should allow your elbows to be slightly bent when holding them. You’ll also want to put your wrists through the straps to have a sturdy grip on them the whole time and prevent injuring others should you lose control.

  1. Know your limits

Yes, we get it. You’re super excited to get in the game; you hike during the summer, go skiing in the winter and are an avid outdoor enthusiast. But be careful right out the gate, because snowshoeing is not the same. Don’t go taking on steep mountain terrain until you’re more familiar with your gear and your abilities. Try out some cross-country ski areas or even some open parking lots to get yourself acclimated.

  1. Know the terrain

Chances are, when you’re just starting out with the sport, you’ll be following in someone else’s well laid tracks. But if not, and you’re the first on a particular trail, you’ll need to move slower and really lift your feet up high to flatten out the snow. Those who come after you will be thankful that you broke the trail ahead of them!

  1. Downhill techniques

Heel to toe, that’s the ticket, when you’re going downhill, keep your knees bent, and keep your poles out in front of you. Your body should be slightly tilted backwards to avoid falling forward and eating snow. With each step, place your heel down first, then your toe. This will provide the stability you need to make it safely down the hill.

  1. Uphill techniques

This can be a tricky undertaking, but a must learn technique if you want to make the most of your adventure. “Kick stepping” is the most common approach to tackling those steep hills, and involves kicking the front of your shoe into the ground, past the snow, to create a sort of step. This will help ensure you don’t fall backwards and end your day early.

  1. Fall from grace

Don’t get discouraged, it’s inevitable. You will fall! Getting up gracefully is not always an option, but getting up at all is a must! If you go down, simply roll onto your front side, and come to a half-kneel on one knee. Get yourself steady and push yourself back up to a standing position. Then, keep on going!

There you have it, the basics of getting started with snowshoeing! This is winter recreation at its finest, and offers not only a chance to get out into nature and see some fantastic sights and scenery, but it’s also a tremendous workout. Not to mention the fact that getting out into nature is good for the soul. Give it a try this winter, you might be surprised just how quickly it becomes your favorite winter activity! And, as always, make the Sandhills Motel your destination for affordable, comfortable lodging to warm up in after your winter fun!

Five Travel Essentials for Your Adventure

Posted by on Nov 8, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Five Travel Essentials for Your Adventure

For some of us, the urge, or absolute need, to travel and seek out adventures is so incredibly strong that we simply cannot function or focus when our minds get set on the idea of our next destination. We become consumed by it – the research and planning, the time spent on Pinterest looking at photos from previous travelers, the budgeting, it all becomes a full time job! Which often interferes with our actual full time jobs, and so we begin daydreaming about ways to quit our jobs, and just get paid to travel.

Anyway, back to planning. While it may be tempting to take the carefree route and not do much in the way of preparations for your adventure, there are a few essential items that make the journey a whole lot easier. So, in no particular order, are five travel essentials (excluding hygiene items, that’s another blog for another day).

  1. First on the list, and most importantly, is a super sturdy daypack. Lightweight yet rugged, and full of carrying capacity, this pack is arguably the most important article on this list, as it will carry all of your other essentials. One that is hydration-ready, has a built-in rain fly and has the space to safely carry camera equipment is recommended for maximum convenience. Get one like the one pictured below, which has enough compression straps to carry a tripod, as well as backcountry skis if needed.

  1. Speaking of camera equipment, coming in at essential number two is, of course, something you can capture your memories on. Many times, the places we travel will only be a once-in-our-lifetime excursion, as we can’t go see ALL the places if we keep going back to places we’ve already been. It’s sad, but time is the big factor at play here; there’s simply not enough. And so it becomes absolutely necessary to take as many photos as we can of our adventures. As we get older and the mind and memory start to falter, photos might be the only proof we have that we lived an amazing life.

 

You don’t need anything too fancy, just a solid mid-range DSLR, lightweight, with a couple prime lenses for various scenarios and a wide angle lens for       landscapes, such as the one below, a Nikon D3300. Make sure to pack a tripod and battery charger! Simple, small, essential.

  1. Next up is a travel journal, which helps you capture memories a camera couldn’t. Make sure to get one that is durable and waterproof so it can withstand your journey. Inspiration can strike anywhere, at any time, and with this in your pack, you have the canvas you’ll need to capture it! Never, ever travel without one.

  1. The Leatherman tool. Do we even need to get into the brilliance of this thing? I’m sure you have three of these in your garage, begging to be put in a backpack and taken on adventures. This handy little life saver makes it so that you can leave 37 other items back home. What a creation! Shave, build a cabin, and even carve out perfectly square sized bites of fresh fruit with this masterful piece of gadgetry. Be smart, travel with a Leatherman.

  1. Hydration, one of the most essential elements of our existence, is last on the list but it certainly is not least. The importance of hydration when you’re out on any type of adventure cannot be stressed enough. Whether its backwoods backpacking or urban day tripping, keeping yourself hydrated will ensure you make it safely back to your home base. A solid hydro-flask should be a part of any adventure gear setup, so go to your nearest outdoor store, or Wal-Mart, and get one before you head out on that next retreat.

There you have it adventure fans, a list of the five travel essentials for going basically anywhere your heart desires. And if your heart desires a Nebraska adventure, there are plenty to be had near the Sandhills Motel! As a matter of fact, we’re your number one stop in Mullen for bird-watching, river adventures and lodging. Hope to see you soon!

Tips for Kayaking and Canoeing in the Fall

Posted by on Oct 7, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Tips for Kayaking and Canoeing in the Fall

Tips for Kayaking and Canoeing in the Fall

Just because there’s a chill in the air and the leaves are falling doesn’t mean it’s time to kiss river adventures goodbye until spring! We’re here to let you in on a few tips, like what to wear kayaking in the fall, to let you continue your kayaking and canoeing expeditions well into the autumn months while staying safe and comfortable.

Take advantage of the warmest time of day

This may seem simple, but many of us love nothing more than to get up early in the morning and head out on our ventures. Unfortunately, this isn’t the time of year to be the early bird, with it being best to wait until mid-afternoon until temperatures get to their peak to finally get your vessel into the water. Luckily, this time also can bring out the prettiest of the fall colors, so make sure to bring your waterproof camera along!

Dress properly

While it’s not unusual to see 60° and 70° days in October and November, it is best to anticipate colder temperatures if you plan on going out on your kayak or canoe. Dress in layers so you can remove items when it’s warmer and add them back on as it gets colder. Start with a good base layer, making sure it’s not cotton. This is a good time to just reiterate that cotton should be avoided at all costs during your outdoor activities, as when it gets wet it stays wet. This can get extra dangerous during these brisk fall afternoons.

Make sure to test if your lifejacket will adjust enough to accommodate the extra layers, otherwise you will need to get a larger lifejacket.

Pack Wisely

As is true with any outdoor excursion, making sure you have the right supplies on hand is important. This becomes even more crucial during times of the year when the weather can change course suddenly, such as when wintry weather and wind move in to chill an otherwise warm fall day. To be appropriately prepared for the season, make sure to bring:

  • A complete change of clothes in a waterproof bag
  • Plenty of fresh water
  • A first aid kit
  • A lifejacket. Enjoy the convenience of having lifejackets provided when taking a river adventure with us!

Stay nourished

Having a full stomach is a good way to warm your whole body, making it a necessity during those fall weather adventures. Carbohydrates are especially effective at providing your body heat, so pack bananas, oats, oranges, blueberries, apples – all of which are healthy, easily-packable sources of carbs.

If you’re like us, you’re looking for ways to get just one more kayaking or canoeing trip in before the snow really starts flying. By following these kayaking and canoeing tips, you can make sure to make the most out of these beautiful fall months on the water! Interested in taking a river adventure? Contact us today!

Fall Fishing Tips

Posted by on Sep 3, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Fall Fishing Tips

Fall Fishing Tips

The United States ranks among the top ten most biodiverse ecosystems in the entire world. Due to its diversity of freshwater and marine ecosystems, our country ranks particularly high in terms of fish species. That doesn’t surprise us here in Nebraska; in fact, the entire Great Plains region is home to some of the greatest fishing you’ll find nestled between the coasts. No matter the season, it’s always a great time to drop a line in the water.

When September rolls around, most people are putting away their fishing gear, winterizing their boats, and cleaning out their tents and campers for the season. Those folks are missing out on some of the best fishing of the year. We think fall is the perfect time to head out to the rivers, streams, and lakes, and reel in the long talked about whopper! Beautiful fall colors, cooler temps making it more comfortable to be out all day, and less people clogging up the usual fishing spots makes fall fishing ideal in our book! However, fall fishing can be a bit trickier than other times of the year, so we decided to gather up some great tips to help make sure your fall fishing trips are a huge success. As huge as that walleye you caught that one year, when nobody was around to see it, but you told us about later.

Largemouth Bass

If you’re fishing lakes or reservoirs in the fall, your top priority should be to find the bait fish that are swimming in schools. When you find those schools of bait fish, you will inevitably find hungry largemouth bass, because they’re going after them. During fall, bait fish are usually found hundreds of yards away from structure and in open water. You can use your sonar to locate them or just look for bait fish skimming across the water being chased by hungry fish. Circling and diving birds are also an indication of bait fish locations. Crank baits in shallower waters, along with reaction type baits to try triggering their instincts to attack, are a couple of your best options for landing largemouth bass in the fall.

Blue Gill

During the fall, bluegill go to shallow weeds and rocks and hang right on drop offs. Live bait is the best way to go. If it’s midday and bugs are hatching, using a sinking fly can also get a lot of strikes.

Pike

Once fall rolls around, the temperature of lake waters cool dramatically, and pike are no longer controlled by the temperature. This causes them to roam more than they do during the warmer months. They’re more likely to head into shallower waters to hunt bait fish. Your best bet is to start off using topwater baits in those shallow waters, especially near weed lines or any sharp break off points. If pike are near those locations, they’ll let you know by devouring your bait and putting up a good fight! If you don’t have any luck, switch it up and try floating/diving lures.

Perch

Those great-to-eat yellow perch move into shallow waters as the water temperatures drop in the fall and feed on schools of small bait fish. They are especially attracted to muddy areas. Try small minnow baits with a lot of action near structure. I like to use shiny, vibrating lures across structures and near drop-offs. Colors like chartreuse or bright red can be effective in clear or stained water, and flashing blades work well on sunny days.

Walleye

Walleyes move more towards the shallow waters as the surface temperature begins to cool in early fall. They also eat more during the day. Later in the fall when the water temperature begins dropping, they are usually found deeper. Trolling some crankbaits is almost a sure bet. Or at least as sure as you can be when it comes to fishing. You will have to experiment with your trolling presentation, as it can vary from lake to lake and location to location. Try to keep an eye on which direction the walleye are moving. Most of the time, they can be found near areas with big structures. Big baits will usually be more effective because walleye are wanting to bulk up in the fall.

Smallmouth Bass

Different from the other fish we’ve discussed so far, smallmouths tend to do their feeding in deeper waters in these fall months. Longer, diving crankbaits that dive from 15-30 feet are ideal for reaching them at these depths. Also, try matching the colors and size of the bait fish they are feeding on. Jigging spoons are a great choice for landing the smallmouth, letting them hit the bottom and rebounding before falling again.

Muskie

For big fall muskies, just like perch, follow the schools of baitfish. Cooler water means that they just won’t chase a fast moving lure, so go to large, slow moving baits. Prime places are clear weed-less water where big muskies will be patrolling for bait fish, such as river mouths, rocky points, narrows or in open water off big weed beds.

There you go, folks. You’re all ready to go set those hooks. Need a place to stay this fall that will keep you close to the fishing waters? Located in Mullen, Nebraska, Sandhills Motel is at the center of the Nebraska fishing experience. Take your pick- want to cast your line into the Dismal, South-Middle-North Loup, Niobrara, North-South Platte Rivers; or perhaps Merrit Reservoir or Lake McConaughy? All offer spectacular, unspoiled fishing experiences and peaceful, verdant scenery. And by staying at the Sandhills Motel, you ensure your evening is just as calming as your day of angling!

Landscape Photography for Beginners

Posted by on Aug 8, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Landscape Photography for Beginners

Landscape Photography for Beginners

The Great Plains of Nebraska evoke a feeling of simpler times. Whether it’s stunning sunrises, or dramatic sunsets, the visual of seeing the plains in their entire splendor is something that can have us daydreaming about the old days, long before the development of our beautiful plains. Capturing these lands in all their glory takes some time to master, but when you do, the results can be truly frame-worthy. Scenes of the Great Plains make for fantastic wall hangings in homes, offices, or anywhere else that needs some positive energy sprinkled into it. If you don’t know much about photography, don’t fret! We’re here to give you a few tips so you can take some of your own scenic photos home to show off. So grab your camera, dust off your lens, and follow some of our beginner tips for landscape photography!

  1. Invest in a quality camera

Sure, your fancy phone can take some awesome photos of you and your friends, and your point and shoot camera can catch some good photos now and again. But for landscape photography, you’ll truly want to invest in at least a beginner level DSLR or mirrorless camera. Mirrorless and DSLR cameras provide maximum control over camera settings, which means not only is the baseline quality of the image automatically superior, the possibilities of creating professional-looking pictures are endless.

Mirrorless and DSLR cameras also allow the photographer to swap lenses. For sweeping canyons and caverns, it’s best to go with a solid wide lens that can capture a wide range of your landscape. For more detailed images, don’t be afraid to use a zoom lens or telephoto lens, so you can capture the hidden beauty in your scenes. Experiment with different focal lengths (the distance in millimeters between the lens and the camera’s sensor) to see how the same vista can render in different ways. Keep in mind, there are plenty of high quality cameras and lenses out there that won’t deplete your bank account. You don’t need a professional grade camera to capture stunning photos, you just need to train your eyes to see the beauty you’re trying to capture.

  1. Your hands are not that steady, get a tripod

Yes we know, steady as an oak you are. Except, not really! The reality is, our hands are just not steady enough to create perfect images out on the plains. A sturdy, quality tripod is a landscape photographer’s best and most essential tool. A tripod is ideal in low-light situations or during night photography, as the steadiness allows you to lower the shutter speed without sacrificing ISO, or grain. A tripod is also useful for experimenting with angles and perspective; depending on the landscape, you may choose to photograph shooting up, across, or down to produce a desired effect.

  1. Know your exposure, aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

This topic may frighten some who are brand new to photography, but trust us, it’s not only simple to learn, it’s flat out necessary. These are some of the fundamentals of photography, and you’ll want to spend some time playing around with your cameras settings to become familiar with the way they work. You will be happy you did once you start shooting scenes in different settings out there, where weather and lighting can change drastically, and quickly.

Aperture is the size of the lens opening, which lets in light. Shutter speed is the duration of time the lens is open; low-light or long exposures depend on a lower shutter speed to bring in as much light as possible. ISO increases brightness, however, depending on the strength of light, ISO might also add grain. Some photographers use grain to their advantage, but for a crisp image, try not to rely too heavily on ISO to compensate for light. All of these elements lead to exposure, which is the combined light that enters the camera sensor after adjusting aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.

  1. Shoot in RAW format.

There are a variety of file formats, the most popular and familiar of which is JPEG. JPEG files automatically compress details, which results in image quality loss. RAW files, however, retain all data and information. While the processing time for RAW files is longer, the resulting images are easier to edit and higher in quality. All DSLR and large format cameras offer RAW as a file format. Advances in smartphone technology means your iPhone or Android can also shoot in RAW, with assistance from camera apps like Lightroom or ProShot.

  1. Prioritize Focus.

Most landscape photography relies on wide shots and a large depth of field to adequately capture the scene. A high aperture, adjusted with the f-stop, allows most of the subject to come into sharp focus. Use the gridlines in your viewfinder or screen to find focus. Begin at either the top or bottom third of the frame, but don’t be afraid to experiment. While there are some examples of landscape photography that prioritize the foreground, resulting in a blurred background (known as a shallow depth of field, or portrait effect), most landscape photography captures the entire scene at once. If you have trouble getting clear focus across the entire frame, it is always possible to take a few shots with different areas of focus then layer them together in Photoshop during the editing process.

  1. Composition, Composition, Composition.

We mentioned earlier that the key to great photos wasn’t having the most expensive or fancy camera, it was having an eye for shooting great scenes. That’s where composition comes into play. Crystal clear, detailed photos can be uninspired without great composition, and photos that aren’t perfect in a technical way, can be amazing with great composition.

An easy tip for beginner landscape photographers is to build your scene around the horizon. Refer to the Rule of Thirds, which is a popular trick for composing perfectly balanced and aesthetically-pleasing photographs. The Rule of Thirds crosses three horizontal lines with three vertical lines. You can set these up through your viewfinder or on the back screen of your camera. The points where those lines meet are the points of interest; place the most dynamic or compelling parts of your subject here. Take care to keep the horizon along that middle horizontal line, and you should have a foolproof formula for a picture-perfect scene. Get creative with your composition, and the possibilities are endless.

  1. Try to find the best lighting.

The best light is soft and diffused, with a dreamy quality to it. True tones pop against that subtle light, which makes natural landscapes look all the more breathtaking. Early mornings before sunrise and late evenings, just before sunset, offer this “golden hour” light that photographer’s chase. When preparing for a shoot, make a note of sunrise and sunset times and plan accordingly. Remember, in life, and photography, patience is a virtue.

  1. But also, the darkness is your friend!

Once the sun goes down, an entirely unique scene emerges. Experiment with long exposure photography to capture shooting stars, light trails left by passing cars, and other natural phenomena. Long exposure builds upon the basics of photography, but requires a few extra tools along with some additional know-how.

In order to take a proper long exposure photograph, set up your tripod and set the frame. If the tripod is in a precarious position, weigh it down with a bag filled with rice, sand, or rocks. Next, you’ll want to set the camera to bulb mode through the DSLR camera settings. Bulb mode manually forces open the shutter past the typical standard of 30 seconds. The longer the shutter is open, the longer the exposure. A remote shutter release or cable release connects to the camera so you don’t physically have to hold down the button to capture the exposure. Once you’re ready, click down to open the shutter and start the photograph. Once you’re done, click down again, and you will have completed a long exposure photograph. Setting your timer will also work to avoid having to hold your shutter button and stay still.

  1. Get creative, shoot more, learn more, and take chances.

The more you shoot, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more creative you will become. That’s the bottom line. Remember why you fell in love with photography to begin with. Always look for creative new angles, subject matter, and perspectives. Photography is one of those arts where the beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. You create what you think is appealing. There is no right and wrong when it comes to creating amazing art, only guidelines to help you along the path.

 

So, now is the time to go out and shoot. Shoot thousands of photos. Take photos of every single thing you can. Technical know-how is a great thing, but nothing beats the lessons you can learn by simply doing more. Remember this: There is an image worthy of capturing in every single moment we have. It’s up to you to recognize the moment, and capture it. And don’t forget to pack your camera during your next visit to the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental!

6 Fun Family-Friendly Camping Games

Posted by on Jul 9, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on 6 Fun Family-Friendly Camping Games

6 Fun Family-Friendly Camping Games

Camping season is here, and while simply getting out into nature and enjoying the fresh air and break from everyday life may be the ultimate goal, fun activities to do along the way only add to the experience. And for those camping with kids, games and entertainment are crucial elements in a successful outing for all. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of six unique things to do while camping that are perfect for all ages that you can take along for your next trip. And even better, unlike board games, these camping games don’t include small pieces that can get lost at your campsite during the excitement.

  1. Alphabet Hunt. This game is fairly simple and great for younger children that are learning their ABCs. Working together as a group, name an object that is either at your campsite or visible from your campsite that begins with each letter of the alphabet, working your way from A to Z. For example, a for ant, b for blanket, and so on.
  2. Squirt Gun Races. Be sure to pack the squirt guns for this one! To play, set up a line of empty plastic cups along the edge of a picnic table, which each team will then attempt to squirt the cups off of. There are many ways you can play this game, with one being to see who can knock the most cups off in a given amount of time, and another being a race to see who can clear the table of cups the fastest.
  3. Pass the Water. Like squirt gun races, this game is perfect for those hot, sunny days when you are looking for a way to cool off. Divide your crew into teams and have the teams stand in a line, one behind the other. Each person in the team gets a cup, with the person in the front receiving a cup full of water and everyone behind them getting empty cups. The first person then takes their cup of water, reaches it up and over their head, and pours it into the cup of the person behind them without turning around. If the last person in line has water in their cup, they then go to the front of the line and the process starts over. The last team with water wins.
  4. Catch or Don’t Catch. For this game, all you need is a ball of any size. Everyone stands in a circle except for one person who is in the middle with the ball. That player goes around the circle instructing others to “catch” or “don’t catch” and throwing the ball. If a player catches the ball when told not to, or the other way around, that player is out. This is a fast-paced game that is great for engaging all ages!
  5. Two Truths and a Lie. This one is a classic, with each player sharing three items of information about themselves – two of which are true, and one which is not. For example, “I know how to play the guitar, I’ve been to 42 states, and I can eat a whole bag of marshmallows in one sitting.” Each player then tries to guess which one is not true, and receives a point if they are correct. After each person has stated their ‘facts’, the person with the most points wins.
  6. Flashlight Tag. Keep the fun going once it gets dark! In this game, a person is chosen to be “it” and given a flashlight. They then attempt to “tag” another player with the light of the flashlight. This game is a great way to get out some energy before bedtime!

Take part in these fun camping games during your next visit to the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental! We offer camping sites nestled in the beautiful Nebraska Sandhills, call us today at (308) 546-2206 to make a reservation!

Fun Facts About Nebraska

Posted by on Jun 4, 2019 in Blog | Comments Off on Fun Facts About Nebraska

Fun Facts About Nebraska

Whether you make an annual family trip or are planning on visiting Nebraska for the very first time, you may not know some of the fascinating facts and history about our great state. For instance, did you know that Nebraska used to called the “Tree Planter’s State” before it was renamed the “Cornhusker State”? Read on to learn more about the beautiful Nebraska Sandhills and beyond!

Pioneers of Nebraska

There have been many inventions and discoveries made right here in Nebraska that have changed the lives of those all over the world, including:

  • The biggest mammoth fossils ever discovered were found in Lincoln County.
  • Charles Lindberg, the first person who flew nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean, learned to fly in Lincoln, NE.
  • The 911 emergency system was created and first used in Lincoln.
  • Kool-Aid was invented in 1927 by Edwin Perkins in Hastings, NE, and it has since become the official soft drink of Nebraska. Each year, Hastings celebrates the beverage during the second weekend of August with “Kool-Aid Days”, which contains festivities for all ages.
  • The strobe light was invented by Dr. Harold Edgerton of Aurora, NE.

The Great Outdoors of Nebraska

Our beautiful state is home to many extraordinary natural occurrences, such as:

  • The largest grass-covered sand dunes in the Western Hemisphere, which cover about ¼ of Nebraska. The only areas in the world that have bigger areas of sand are the Sahara and Arabian deserts.
  • The Niobrara River is one of the top canoeing rivers in the country and contains more than 90 waterfalls.
  • Nebraska has more underground water than any other state. This is due to the High Plains Aquifer being located beneath Nebraska, consisting of a layer of rocks and other materials that are filled with water.
  • Halsey National Forest, located near Thedford, NE, is the world’s largest hand-planted forest.
  • Four historical trails cross Nebraska: the Oregon Trail, the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Mormon Trail and the Pony Express.
  • European settlers dubbed Nebraska the “Great American Desert”, however, it is one of the top farming areas in the world.

Famous People from Nebraska

From sports stars to legends of the silver screen, Nebraska has been home to those known all around the world, including:

  • Fred Astaire, from Omaha, NE
  • Marlon Brando, from Omaha, NE
  • Puppeteer Bil Baird, from Grand Island, NE
  • James Coburn, from Laurel, NE
  • Gerald Ford, from Omaha, NE
  • The voice behind Kellogg Frosted Flakes for over 35 years, Thurl Ravenscroft, is from Norfolk.
  • Grover Cleveland Alexander, from Saint Paul, NE
  • Nick Nolte, from Omaha, NE

Wacky Facts

Like every other U.S. state, Nebraska has its share of unusual places, customs and laws, such as:

  • It’s illegal to go whale fishing in Nebraska. We hope that doesn’t change too many summer plans!
  • The Reuben sandwich was invented in Nebraska.
  • In Nebraska, it is illegal for a mother to perm her daughter’s hair without a state license.
  • Sneezing or burping during a church service is illegal in Omaha.
  • Chevyland USA, located near Elm Creek, NE, is the only museum in the world that is dedicated to a single line of cars.
  • Although Nebraska is nowhere near an ocean, there is a lighthouse located along the road in Ashland.
  • In Nebraska, it is illegal for owners of a bar to sell beer unless they are also simultaneously brewing soup.

Nebraska: Home to Big Things

As the 16th largest state in the U.S., Nebraska has plenty of room for some large endeavors, including:

  • The largest jewelry store in the nation, Borsheims, is located in Omaha.
  • The biggest collection of elephant skeletons in the world is housed at Elephant Hall in Lincoln.
  • Hastings is home to the largest U.S. ammunition plant, which produced about 40% of WWII’s ammunition.

We hope these fun Nebraska facts have inspired you for your summer vacation! While you’re here, enjoy the convenience of being centrally located to tons of outdoor recreation, entertainment, and Nebraska history by staying here at the Sandhills Motel and Glidden Canoe Rental. We’re proud to be locally owned and located in Nebraska, and can’t wait to share with you the beauty of our state!