Thanks to Jane, I have a refrigerator magnet (proudly displayed) that declares, “You haven’t been anywhere until you’ve been to Arapahoe, Nebraska.” So now my list of worldwide destinations seems more complete, because I have, in fact, been to Arapahoe.
Arapahoe, located in the southwest of the state, is a busy rural community with a population of just over a thousand. While a lot of the population of Arapahoe lives on the surrounding farms, the tidy, little town is still bustling and well supplied with schools, stores, restaurants, newspaper office, library, parks, churches, and a lovingly cared for little museum, recounting the area’s history.
I would spend three days exploring the area with Jane and her mom, Cathy. In that time, not only would I learn a great deal about the history and reality of farming in the region, but I’d also come to really respect and love the people here. They are as open and honest as the land, friendly, energetic, and happy to share. As Cathy would tell me later, “Transparency and honesty are vital in an area where everyone’s life depends on helping one another.”
And speaking of things in town, one night we enjoyed dinner at Cunningham’s Feed, an old feed store that has been wonderfully restored and turned into a terrific little restaurant. The wood floors and pressed-tin ceiling were preserved, and the décor reflects both a sense of the past and modern sensibilities in the handsome space. The menu is surprisingly varied and pretty ambitious, and the things we had off the menu were excellent (I particularly liked the truffle fries with asiago cheese). Homemade bread. Salad bar was simple but perfectly fresh. Not on the menu is BBQ, but someone comes in once a month with a smoker and produces pulled pork, ribs, and brisket. I had the brisket. Nice smoke ring and good flavor. Our meal was enhanced by the opportunity to meet just about everyone who came in, as they are all friends of Cathy’s. It’s easy to like Arapahoe!