Our road trip to Breckenridge for Spring Break was a pleasant surprise this year. The kids were flat out awesome in the car, which is a victory in and of itself. We didn't even have to bribe them with movies in the car or anything. I think a big part of it is that we try to stop every few hours, either to switch drivers or to fill up with gas, and we make sure the kids jump out and get moving: jumping, climbing, running. Definitely breaks up the possible monotony.
This year another pleasant surprise was Kearney, NE. We usually stop in Lincoln, but this year there were literally no hotel rooms available to accommodate our family. So we pushed on a bit and ran into some luck. Kearney is the home of a large regional state university, so there is a bit of culture thrown in as well as better dining options. The rest is typical strip malls.
On the way, we stopped for dinner at The Flippin' Sweet - a semi-hipsterish almost-dive pizza joint, with some fun design ideas and good food. Seat yourself if you can, not a lot of chairs available, but they have take-out as well. Write down your order on the handy forms, take up to the kitchen and get ready. (But not with a beer - Flippin' Sweet has no liquor license, which is really the only negative about the whole experience.) A friendly neighboring table suggested the mac 'n' cheese for the boys, which we ordered and all loved, and also told us that the servings were big. They were not kidding. While the owners say a calzone will feed 1-2, they are so huge that 4 people could easily be happy sharing one. Order 2 for 4 people only if you want to take it home. One other problem is picking just one (or 2), as there are SO many options!
On the way back home, we stopped in Kearney again, and I got to slake my thirst for Nebraskan craft beer at Thunderhead Brewing Company. Get a flight of beer ($1.50 a large taste of 5 beers), order the Nachos (yes, $15 is a lot for a plate of nachos, but it's a big plate). Calzones are undersized for the price, but tasty. Spuds are on the pricey size as well, but huge potatoes and plenty of toppings make it easier to swallow the cost. But really you're here for the beer. Housed in a former Schlitz saloon, the building was forbidden from selling alcohol after the saloon closed, but only for 20 years, so Thunderhead is good to go. The beers are well-made and cover a wide spectrum - beyond more typical craft brews, I tried a peach option as well as a jalapeño one, both better than you would think.
If you find yourself in Kearney, visit The Flippin' Sweet and Thunderhead Brewing Company for better-than average food and drink. Don't order too much, because this is the Midwest, and portion sizes are ENORMOUS.
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