Taking in the sights of Fall in the Midwest

Fall in the Midwest

Beautiful colors in Mason City, Iowa

We usually seek out a specific area for Lisa’s annual Midwest “leafing.” However, this year, we thought we’d stick around home and check out the Omaha area and combine it into a “Fall in the Midwest” theme. As nature would have it, not only did we check out the fall foliage action in our hometown, but we ended up adding a few more areas in the Midwest. We ventured to the Nebraska communities of Lincoln, Nebraska City and Hebron, as well as a trip to the North Iowa community of Mason City.

In Omaha, our favorite spot to take in the fall colors is downtown Omaha. The Gene Leahy Mall provides a great setting for the colors, with a backdrop of some skyscrapers. The trees line the lagoon that features small waterfalls and eventually ends in the Heartland of America Park.

Fall in the Midwest

Turning colors in Omaha

The Mall features sculptures, an arch and giant slides popular with adults and children. The slides are a local attraction unto themselves. People will bring plastic wrap or card board to help increase their speed coming down the slides.

Fall in the Midwest

Gene Leahy Mall slides in Omaha

As we strolled through the Mall area, we came upon a squirrel that was either enjoying the warmth of an early Fall day or was just plain lazy. Either way, he was getting his picture taken. Our family, as we have previously mentioned, is a squirrel-loving group.

Fall in the Midwest

Squirrel taking a break in the shade on a warm Fall day

A favorite building of mine is the Landmark Center. The 15-story building is made of glass and I love (as many people know, right Mallory?) I love me some reflection photos. I thought the colors of the tree really popped against the background of the building.

Fall in the Midwest

Omaha’s Landmark Center accented with fall colors

The iconic “Omaha” mural stands out above some leaves changing colors. The “Omaha” mural is shown quite often during nationally televised events from Omaha.

Fall in the Midwest

The iconic “Omaha” mural

A trip to Fort Omaha (main campus of a community college) yielded some nice colors. Prairie grass was rustling in the wind. Love that prairie grass.

Fall in the Midwest

Colors of Fall – prairie grass and the colors

Poinsettias and some flowers were showing their bright colors near one of the century-old buildings.

Fall in the Midwest

Flowers still blooming

Nearby, I encountered a new friend, Manny. Manny the Mantis. He was a bit curious as to what I was up to during our visit.

Fall in the Midwest

Mantis checked me out while taking his picture

Our state capital – Lincoln – is about a 45-minute drive from Omaha. Lisa and I visited JK’s Pumpkin Patch, just north of town. Pumpkins just shout “Fall in the Midwest,” right? We checked out the pumpkins, of course.

Fall in the Midwest

Fall means pumpkin patches

But, we had a lot of fun walking through the corn maze. Fall is harvest season, and as the corn stalks turn beige or brown (whichever you prefer to call it), they present folks with a different view of natural beauty. The field corn grown on most farms goes to making animal feed, ethanol, clothing and other markets. Sweet corn is the delicacy we all enjoy during the summer.

Fall in the Midwest

Harvest season

The corn maze presented us with some neat views. The sun was shining at the right angle and with a blue sky as a background, the stalks looked magnificent.

We even encountered a new friend – George the Grasshopper. He was willing to pose for a few pictures before moving along his way. Lots of plants to take a bite out of during his day.

Fall in the Midwest

Hello, Mr. Grasshopper

Speaking of taking a bite, Nebraska City is home to some of the best apples in the land. We visited Arbor Day farm, where a wide selection of apples are raised. Lisa loves Honeycrisp apples, while I favor Sonjas. Each apple has a specific look and taste. So, it’s definitely up to the person on what they prefer.

Fall in the Midwest

Apple season in Nebraska City

The Arbor Day Farm includes a variety of attractions besides apple picking. You can visit the theater and learn the history of Arbor Day. You can climb a 50-foot tall tree house. There are paths to walk and hike, encountering games and sculptures along the way.

Fall in the Midwest

Checking out the trees at Nebraska City’s Arbor Farm

A favorite of mine are the three large chairs in the middle of the woods. Who do they belong to? The three bears? Possibly. Or some giant people. Either way, they look nice, but I don’t want to be there when the owners get home. LOL.

Fall in the Midwest

Some big chairs

Another thing we like are the wooded carvings you see along the way. You can see a bear, birds and even a tortoise and hare racing.

Fall in the Midwest

The race is on!

We stumbled upon one of the cutest things we’ve seen in the woods – a small door at the base of the tree. Is this where the Keebler elves live? Maybe some other wood varmint?

Fall in the Midwest

A tree house

And, of course, a Fall walk will always bring out some of the most beautiful butterflies you’ll see. Arbor Day Farm had quite a few of the winged bugs flying around.

Fall in the Midwest

Who doesn’t love a butterfly?

We stopped in Hebron, which is about a two-hour drive southwest of Omaha, to check out the area. The city park had some pretty colors on its trees.

Fall in the Midwest

Tree colors

The park has a lot of interesting things to check out. I especially enjoyed the view of a bear sculpture in the middle of the park with some nice colors as backdrops.

Fall in the Midwest

Hebron, Nebraska

Our Midwest Fall tour didn’t keep us within the boundaries of Nebraska. Lisa attended a seminar in Mason City, Iowa, so I thought it would be nice to check out the foliage there. After her classes were finished, she also enjoyed checking out the leaves as we headed home.

Fall in the Midwest

Fall season summed up here

Mason City had some great colors on its trees. The leaves in town had a nice mix of orange, red, green and yellow.

I visited Pilot Knob State Park near Forest City, Iowa. The park is the second highest location in the state. There is an observation tower made of stone, built in the 1930s.

Fall in the Midwest

Pilot Knob State Park in northern Iowa

As I entered the park, I saw a nice set of trees with yellow leaves. I grabbed the camera and headed over to check out the spot. I ended up going down a hiking rabbit hole. I planned to shoot a few photos, and then head back to the car and drive to the tower.

Fall in the Midwest

This path started my rabbit hole adventure at Pilot Knob State Park

Instead, I started walking a path because the view was so beautiful. I snapped a few more photos, then thought that I should head back. But, then, down the path a few hundred feet, some more tree attractions for me. So, off I went. I found myself looking at forks in the path, and deciding which ones to take. I was soon walking along Dead Man’s lake, where I spotted some beautiful swans in the water. But the brush and trees prevented me from getting a good angle on them. So, on I walked. And walked.

Fall in the Midwest

Leaves

I came upon another fork in the path. I chose to go left. Mistake. A few hundred feet down the path, I walked out the woods and into a camping area. For a brief second, I thought, “Uh-oh.” You know how these stories. Guy walks into a remote campsite and is never heard from again.

I headed back into the woods and found the path I should have taken. It actually led to the observation tower. So, after spending several minutes there, I thought I’d take the paved road back to my car. A little more than a mile down the road, there it was! The car? No. More colors to check out. I eventually made it back to the car and back to Mason City.

Next time I decide to do some of Lisa’s “leafing” for her, I’m taking her with me. Anyway, we had a great a 2015 “leafing” season. Now, I hope the snow blower is ready for the winter…

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