Thursday, November 8, 2012

Everyone hunts...differently!

This is the big man week..cammo, weaponry, ammo, ammo, and more ammo.

 Or not.

Everyone hunts differently. Some hunt with all their buddies by walking all over the woods as more of a bonding ritual, never even firing a shot.

It's those who this is addressed to.

You're going to be needing supplies...snacks...frozen pizzas that can be microwaved, and all kinds of beverages. When you step into Henderson's IGA, you'll notice the food is hiding.

  Not technically, but it is sorta...behind brand new coolers. Ohhhh, they're sleek, modern, glimmering and a wee bit on the shiny side. Behind them are all the provisions you'll need.

 What's so fabulous about the new coolers is that it's also helping to save the planet by being more energy efficient. And you're a part of this every time you open and close the doors to get your Jimmy Dean breakfast sausages, Eggo waffles....

 ...or delicious caramel sea salt gelato - an Italian style ice cream.

 So, shopping at Henderson's IGA will keep the planet much greener for our four legged friends who appreciate those hunting the aisles and keeping the woods nice and pristine.

 Because we all hunt differently....

 Some in groups....

 Some the aisles for the sweet goodness of fruits and vegetables...

 There's every possibility there will be snow this weekend...

So enjoy your big man week and happy hunting at Henderson's IGA. Be safe and remember to pack your hunters orange. It's pretty manly after all.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Unused Vacation Time...come on over and GOLF!

 Labor Day is done and over are back to school, and dang, you have some vacation time left over...what to do?
 You can see the clubhouse overlooking the Snake River way below. This is also considered one of the most beautiful holes on the course. YOU could be here!

According to The Ryder Cup Issue of GOLF magazine, a Sports Illustrated Publication, we have a little something right here in the MIDDLE of NOWHERE that has been billed as one of the TOP 100 COURSES YOU CAN PLAY!
 Up close and nestled in with the landscape, the Prairie Club has all the amenities anyone would want after golfing. There are lunges, a pro shop, nicely appointed rooms and seclusion...fresh air...and  wonderful experience awaiting you.

The Prairie Club's Dunes Course wasn't listed as #1, but was listed as a new course in 2010, and they're already ranked as #78 in 2012.
 Go ahead....get your putter!

For those who are curious, #1 went to Pacific Dunes in Brandon, OR, and #2 went to Pebble Beach Golf Links in Pebble Beach, CA.
 But they're not nestled in the Heart of the Sandhills. Check out that you suppose designers Tom Lehman and Chris Brands made it look like a heart? 

While Gothenburg is a bit away from Valentine, Nebraska, they have a course listed in the Top 100 Courses: Wild Horse Golf Course and is ranked as #73 this year and was ranked #67 in 2010.
 Even the Easter Bunny needs a great place to rest. O.K., so it's not the Easter Bunny, but there's no telling what type of wildlife you'll see. 

But wait...there's more! The Prairie Club has not one, but two different courses in addition to the Dunes Course, there's the Pines Course. The Prairie Club has also built new accommodations that overlook the scenic Snake River.
 A bunker you will definitely want to avoid...but beautiful none the less. 

 Nice green fairways with a lot of rough spots typically which are typically seen on Scottish links. 

  The September 2012 issue of GOLF magazine suggests there's no reason to cash in your frequent flier miles to reach a trophy course, but if you do have vacation days left...and frequent flier miles to use, why not think about making the Prairie Club a destination?  You won't be sorry you did! And you won't b able tow ait till spring to try the course again. And we'll be waiting for you then as well!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day decisions?!

Imagine the decisions that need to be made this year for Labor Day...It's not like it's going to rain on you - right? The biggest decision might be if it's too hot! But the weather already shows that it will be in the low 90s during the day and mid 60s at night
So get yourself packed up and headed over to Valentine, Nebraska, where the beaches are pristine, white, sugar sand at Merritt Reservoir.
 While the water itself is low, you can still put a boat in at Cedar Bay, which has fabulous campsites nestled among the pines.
 What's missing in this picture? YOU!!!!

There are campsites and restrooms that are handicap accessible as well! Bring the entire family.

And because the water level is lower, there's a lot to love on the pristine, sandy beaches!
 How about that jewel of golden color from the Cottonwoods? Really, with this record breaking heat, it sure is nice to see the hints of color indicating that fall isn't too far away!

 Of course, the fish are biting, which is important.

Make some plans to get to Valentine this Labor Day weekend to enjoy the Sandhills and leave some footprints in the sand!

There's so many nooks and crannies that need to be explored! 
 Isn't this absolutely fabulous? Doesn't it make you want to get out and see what else is around Merritt Reservior?

 Here, you see a couple rings in the water...what is that? It's called rain drops. But it was so short lived....and who knows...maybe if Merritt Reservoir was completely packed with campers, boaters and folks fishing, it might help break the dry spell.

There's always something to look forward to out here...and as the summer comes to an unofficial close, don't let the sunset without you. Remember, only you can make memories special...why not make them at Merritt Reservoir with a bunch of sand, sun, and water this Labor Day?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Before summer the Niobrara!

The sun is beginning to sink into the western sky a little bit earlier each evening. The crickets are chirping and the nights are beginning to have a bit of a chill to them. BUT the days are certainly warm! And the Niobrara River is waiting for you to soak up the sun beams as you tube lazily down the scenic river.
You can canoe if you want....or kayak.  It won't matter. It's all about family time together...girl time...guy time...or even that one last hurrah before school starts!

You can take a few hours, or a few days and camp along the way. And when you're not on the river, there's so much else you can do, how about some golf?

Maybe some fishing at Merritt Reservoir or at the refuge lakes where there's even a map available to help you find your favorite fishing hole!

Fort Falls is a beautiful location at Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge.

As you take the stairs down to the cool depths of the Niobrara River Valley, follow the trail out to the Niobrara River and splash around a bit.

Smith Falls is equally as beautiful and has a campground for your enjoyment as well.

Summer isn't over. And if you've not had your vacation, you know you're about due...head over to the Sandhills of Nebraska and give yourself, your loved one, or your family a special treat from an area that can't be beat!!!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Cork has been postponed

There are simply some things in life that aren't controllable. And because of those uncontrollable things, The Cork Young Memorial Golf Tournament that was to be held tomorrow, has had to be rescheduled for a later date.
Keep tuned in for when that will be.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sign up now for 6th annual Cork Young Charity Golf Tournament

 Winning last years' event was the Renning family! It could be you this year...sign up ... and play to win. Because in the end, everyone wins at the Cork!

The sixth annual Cork Young Charity Golf Tournament will be held on Sunday, June 29, 2012 at the Deer Park golf course.  The three person scramble will begin at 10:00 a.m. A complimentary meal, flag prizes, and trophies for each of the three flights will be included in the $200/team entry fee. 
 Since its inception in 2007, the Cork has donated over $30,000 to local charities including the Sandhills Area Foundation, the Valentine Youth Activities Association, and the Valentine High School Foundation. 
This year the tournament’s proceeds will be donated to the Sandhills Cancer Fund to help with travel expenses for those seeking out-of-town medical attention.  This donation will be given in honor of Cork’s sister, Elizabeth Dorris, who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  If you are interested in joining the fun, call Deer Park at 402-376-1271 to register your team.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Nebraska Star Party...NOW!

That's right folks, the Nebraska Star Party is going on NOW at Merritt Reservoir! They had quite the show tonight I'm sure, complete with lightning, rumbling clouds, and maybe - GOD willing - some rain...something we're all praying for.
Except if you're in a tent at the Snake Campground trying to look at stars - which these folks are.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, July 18, there will be classes held at Valentine High School, something for you and your family...there are even classes for the kids! Make sure you stop in and see what the fuss is all about. Classes begin at 12:30 p.m.

Then, make the plan to stop out Friday night about 9:00 p.m., before it's dark. Come early even, and enjoy the pristine white beaches and cool waters of Merritt if it's hot. As the sun sets, the show will begin, the Star Party gang will have their telescopes ready for you to view different planets, gobular clusters, and things you probably didn't know even existed in deep space.

 The beauty of the "steam" rising from the tea-pot. The steam is really the Milky Way - and it's oh, so beautiful and is pictured above!

Park with lights facing the exit and bring a flashlight covered with red cellophane so as to not ruin your "night eyes" or the "night eyes" of others.  Dark skies are scarce, and ours are fabulous. Make the plan. Work the plan. And finally, enjoy the plan. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Henderson's IGA PRINT-AT-HOME Coupons

Henderson's IGA is a Five Star Store, and that's because they offer the best service and products.

They've added something new to help make shopping easier, faster, and more economical!

With the economy as it is, and vacation plans looming this summer, why not take advantage of Henderson's new feature - PRINT-AT-HOME coupons!

It's simple. It's fast. And it saves you money. You can either click the ad that looks like this on the front of the Web site which will take you directly to their Web site.

Or, go to and click on the coupon button on the red bar at the top of the page. From there, just select the coupons you want. When you're finished, print them and begin SAVING!

What's especially nice about this feature for travelers, is not having to deal with bringing food from "home." Melting ice, drippy coolers, possible spoilage...when you can get all your grilling, 'smores and more at Henderson's IGA, located on Highway 20 in Valentine.
And you'll get it all fast and with a smile! That's what makes them a Five Star Store!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Valentine National Wildlife Refuge Maps, Valentine, Nebraska

The Sandhills Prairie Refuge Association has helped the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge get these magnificent 24" x 36" maps of the south refuge, located on Highway 83, about 25 miles from Valentine, Nebraska.
These maps show lakes, markers, roads, and different areas for hunting and retail for $10.00 each.

They can be picked up at several local merchants in Valentine: Trade Winds Motel, Sinclair Gas Station, Valentine Visitors Center, Fred's Bait, Plains Trading Book Sellers, Shell Gas Station and  Sandhills Oil in Thedford.

Or you can have a map sent to your address by contacting Janet at 402-376-3789. A shipping charge will be added to the $10.00 price.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Nebraska Star Party July 15 - 20, 2012

Earlier this month, sky gazers got the opportunity to see something that is so rare, according to, that only six Venus transits have been observed since the invention of the telescope more than 400 years ago.

Here, the organizers of the Nebraska Star Party set up to see the Venus transit.

Organizer John Johnson took the photo below of the Venus transit. He is pictured above, near the vehicle, while putting his cowboy hat on.

We won't get to see the Venus transit at the Nebraska Star Party this July 15-20, 2012, but there are other things that you'll be able to see that are equally as stellar.

You have several options for luxurious accommodations including the Niobrara Inn, Trade Winds Lodge (Click on their advertisements along the side edge of the site to book your accommodations), or you can rough it by camping at Merritt Reservoir.

There are classes that can be taken for the beginner and intermediate sky watchers, along with classes for the kids. Classes on Wednesday, July 18, will be held at Valentine High School and will begin at 12:30 p.m and run through 4:30 p.m. at the school's auditorium. Here is a list of speakers with two of them using Skype to present their classes. 

Steven Lee works for JPL and is the Guidance, Navigation and Control Manager for the current NASA Mars Science Mission ( that is scheduled to land on Mars this August. He will share his presentation via Skype.

Also sharing via Skype, is Kevin Hussey, the JPL Manager of Visualization Technology, Applications and Development. He developed the Eyes on the Solar System and Eyes on the Earth programs.

Cal Beard, who will be at the auditorium live, is a comet hunter and will speak to the group about the science of comet hunting. (No bows and arrows needed for this hunt!)

Also speaking live, will be Mike McGlone, a NASA Education Specialist and will speak to the NSP attendees as well as to the teachers at the science teacher program.

The organizers will be co-sponsoring with the NASA-Nebraska Space Grant program, an extra middle and high school science teacher training seminar for teachers in the mid-part of the state plus Omaha area teachers.

You can find out more and register for a family filled week by going to the Nebraska Star Party's Web site at:

Look for clear skies and fun times. Last year, attendees were blessed with the most beautiful aurora borealis. You can see that photo by going to the events portion of this Web site. Who knows what our Creator will have planned for NSP 2012! Register now and see what that could be!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day...Prepare for the Cherry County Hospital Foundation's Fund Raiser

There's still time to get your swing perfected for the Cherry County Hospital Foundation's annual  Golf Tournament Fund Raiser that will be held at the Valentine Golf Club on Highway 12. You have until June 20, 2012, in fact. The Tournament will have a shot gun start at 10:00 a.m. with a four person scramble. Registration will be from 9:00 - 10:00 a.m. and the cost per team is $300.

They're still accepting donations for the raffle. 
The proceeds for the tournament will be used for a Bone Densitometer Unit for the Cherry County Hospital.

And a word from one of our sponsors Valentine's  Niobrara Lodge:

Call your mom it's Mother's Day this Sunday, May 13!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Vacation Planning for the second annual Andrew Claymon Memorial Fishing Tournament

It's May and time to definitely begin thinking about your Vacation. Planning a vacation is going to surge up the adrenaline, a count down to the day, and bring about a thrill of exhilaration!

Here's a few things that are new and haven't been advertised on Sandhills Western Vacations Web site. The first is about the second annual Andrew Claymon Fishing Tournament that will be held on June 9, 2012. It's an opportunity for adults and youth to team up and catch fish. Of course, there's always bonding moments, and memories of a day out on Merritt Reservoir, surrounded by the Sandhills of Nebraska.

Andrew's mother, Joni, shares how the fishing tournament began:

Andrew was a 15 year old energetic, athletic and happy freshman in high school. He was playing on the high school basketball team, lifting weights, snowboarding, hunting, fishing, learning how to drive and hanging out with friends. In early December 2008, Andrew noticed some weakness in his left arm. On December 31, 2008, after returning from holiday break at his grandparent’s house in Nebraska, Andrew had a MRI of his spine. The MRI revealed a large tumor in Andrew's epidural space of his spinal column. The tumor started at the base of his brain and ran about halfway down his spine - 8-10 inches long. The tumor had filled the space where the spinal fluid runs and was compressing his spinal cord. Instead of going to a friend's New Year's Eve party at the local bowling alley, Andrew was taken to Children's Hospital in Denver to begin the battle of his cancer, chordoma. Chordoma is extremely rare in children as on average there are only 5 children diagnosed annually in the entire country. It was discovered that the cancer had also metastasized to both of his lungs and many of the vertebrae of his spine.

Andrew at Merritt in June 2008; six months prior to him being diagnosed with cancer (he still has his hair).

In early January 2009, Andrew started an intense 54 week chemotherapy plan, as well as, 5 weeks of radiation to his entire brain and spine. While still on chemotherapy treatments, a CT scan on December 7, 2009, revealed a large inoperable mass in his right lung that had spread systematically to his blood and lymphatic systems, Andrew was given 6 - 12 weeks to live. Andrew instead lived for 7 months and lived greatly. He went on several duck hunts, pheasant hunts, ice fishing in North Dakota, bass fishing on Falcon Lake in south Texas where he caught his largest bass ever and spent every day living his life as fully as possible.

Andrew had always dreamed of having his very own fishing boat so we bought him a boat and took it to his favorite lake, Merritt Reservoir, in early April and spent as many days as he could in his boat on the lake fishing. He also wanted to get “his dream job" at the bait shop at Merritt Reservoir. We moved to Merritt in mid-May and lived out of a camper so Andrew could work his dream job. He was able to work for 3 weeks in May and early June before the need for oxygen and pain medications prevented him from continuing work.

This is Andrew at Merritt in May 2010, about 6 weeks before he died.

Scans on June 2, 2010, revealed the cancer spreading to numerous places in his body and the doctors said that it was absolutely astounding that he was able to work and fish and not be in extreme pain. Andrew was determined to continue living in a camper with his family on the shores of Merritt Reservoir and fishing when he was able. Five days prior to his death on July 5, 2010, it was time to leave his favorite place on Earth, Merritt Reservoir. We moved Andrew to his grandparent’s home in Arnold, NE, where he bravely told his close friends and family good-bye and peacefully went to Heaven.

A few days prior to Andrew's death, his mother was talking to him about ways that he might want his memory kept alive after he died. Andrew had fished in a youth/adult fishing tournament at Lake McConaughy the past six years. His mother asked him what he would think about his family organizing and hosting an annual youth/adult fishing tournament at Merritt Reservoir in his memory. His eyes lit up and he said, "that would be cool".

That was all it took. On June 12, 2011, at Merritt Reservoir, we proudly hosted the innaugural Andrew Claymon Memorial Fishing Tournament and the second annual will be held on June 9, 2012, again at Merritt Reservoir. We plan to have this be an annual event in memory of our boy who loved to fish.

This tournament is a non-profit event with all of the sponsorship funds and entry fees going back into the tournament in the form of expenses and prizes. Our primary goals are Andrew's memory, a fun
day at Merritt Reservoir and youth fishing.

Here are the rules and regulations for the tournament:

The second annual Andrew Claymon Memorial Fishing Tournament will be held on Saturday, June 9, 2012 at Merritt Reservoir. The team format is youth/adult; youth 17 years or younger as of June 9, 2012, and adult 18 years or older as of June 9, 2012. Fishing hours will be from 7:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. One team per boat and no spectators are allowed in the boat. A rules meeting/tournament dinner the night before at the Merritt Reservoir cabins/restaurant area and an awards ceremony immediately following the tournament at Beeds Landing boat ramp area.

The cost for entering the tournament is $60.00 and includes entry into the tournament, 2 tournament t-shirts, 2 hats, dinner on Friday night and a prize for every youth fisherman! Online entry is available or a mail in entry form can be sent to you by contacting Joni Claymon at or 970-926-1013. Teams will be “numbered and released to fish” based on the order that the entry forms are received.

Many of the tournament participants posing for a group photo.

There will be two age groups for prizes: 10 and under, and 11 to 17, with prizes and trophies going to the top three in each age group based on "total heaviest catch" of all allowed species. The prizes for top three in each age category are numerous and include one or more prize(s) from the prize table (value ranges from $10 - $40 per prize), cash, gift cards to Cabela's, etc.

Trophies will be awarded for "heaviest" fish in four categories - walleye, northern pike, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass - and an "overall heaviest fish" trophy from all allowed species. Every youth participant gets a prize from our prize table which consists of prizes for all age ranges that focus on outdoors, fishing, camping, etc.

Lexie, Andrew’s cousin, is sitting on Brian, Andrew’s brother. There's lots of fun to be had at Merritt Reservoir.

The following species are allowed to be caught and included in the "total weight caught": bluegill, crappie, perch, walleye, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and northern pike. No catfish, muskie, carp or drum are allowed in “total weight caught”. All Nebraska state 2011-2012 fishing regulations (bag, possession and length limits) will be enforced.

One of the highlights of last year’s tournament was the participation of two team members from the University of Nebraska Husker Bass Anglers fishing team. Before cancer took his life on July 5, 2010, Andrew Claymon had planned on attending UNL and being a member of this fishing team.

Husker Bass Angler team members from L to R: Jeff Brokaw and Noel Scott with the team of Adam and his son Dylan Naslund of Cody, NE, who won the random drawing to fish with the Husker Bass Angler team members the next day. They also won second place in the 10 and under age group.

Last year was a drawing from all youth participants and the winner of the drawing won a fishing outing for several hours on Sunday with these 2 team members. The same drawing will be held again this year in addition to the following drawings:

· Package 1 night cabin and 1 day guided fishing at Merritt – donated by Andrew’s grandparents, Jim & Sherry Davenport

· 1 day guided fishing trip for 1-4 people on Merritt Reservoir with John Nadolski – donated by John Nadolski

· Guided parent/child kayak trip with Kayakjak’s Outfitters, Benklemen, NE – donated by Marty Hughes

· Book a medium cabin for 1 night; get 1 night free at Merritt Trading Post Resort – donated by the John Bauer family

· Free fish mount with Niobrara Valley Taxidermy, Adam Naslund – donated by Adam Naslund

Third place finishers in the 11 – 17 age group, Brianna and John!!!

Please join us on June 9, 2012 at Merritt Reservoir for a fun day of fishing, great prizes and awards, the enjoyment of watching kids fish and their love for the outdoors; all in memory of Andrew. Sponsored by Cabela’s, Cherry County Visitor Promotion Board, Arnold Insurance Agency, Beshaler Gravel, Colorado Walleye Association, John Nadolski Fishing Guide Service, Jordan’s Sports Bar and Cafe, Merritt Trading Post, Mills Hardware, Nebraska Walleye Association, Pinnacle Bank, Winner’s Circle Auto Center (Ryan Porter), Young’s Marine and the Claymon and Davenport families.

We'll learn about the second fun event that will be taking place here in the Sandhills...stay tuned and get your swing perfected!