Neva Molzer, left, and Carolyn Lee are pictured holding their Nebraska Passport program stamp books. The Balcony House B&B, in the background, was on the Passport program list of stops in 2014. Cheri Burke of Imperial is also a Passport program enthusiast. (Johnson Publications photo)

Nebraska Passport program is great way to see Nebraska

    Three Imperial women have been involved with the Nebraska Passport program, utilizing the program to suit their own travel goals.
    The Nebraska Passport program is a unique system put into place to encourage Nebraskans and other travelers to visit sites across Nebraska, supporting businesses and attractions while giving people experiences and great adventures. This program showcases what makes Nebraska special.
    The Passport program provides booklets or an app that can be downloaded. Travelers can get a list of 80 sites across Nebraska that give them a literal or digital stamp showing they were at a certain site.
    The program operates from May 1 to Sept. 30 each year. Travelers can turn in their books each year to receive prizes for the stamps they have collected. There is no fee to participate.
    Since its inception eight years ago, the program has increased in numbers of people  joining the Passport program. Last year, 87,000 stamps were collected.
    Passport stops include museums, parks, restaurants, wineries, shops and more, offering unique travel experiences. The list of Passport stops each year gives travelers throughout the state of Nebraska fresh ideas of where their paths can take them.
    There have been a number of sites in the immediate area that were listed on the program in recent years. The Balcony House B & B in Imperial, Sehnert’s Bakery & Bieroc Cafe in McCook and the Petrified Wood and Art Gallery in Ogalalla are just a few.
    This program can be used any way a traveler might want to,  just as three Passport program travelers in Imperial have chosen to do.
    Carolyn Lee has been participating in the Passport program for three years, she said. She doesn’t concentrate on completing every section of the stamp book.
    Lee said that some people plan their trips around the program list, where as she checks the list to see if there are sites where she is planning to travel. She said she is more of a “hit or miss” traveler.
    Lee said that the Passport program is a way to see things you might not normally do and learn at the same time.
    Over the last few months, she said she has collected 10 or 12 stamps in her book. She couldn’t say that she had a favorite site in Nebraska that she visited, but one of the more interesting ones was the Fort Sidney Museum and Post Commander’s Home where WWII Italian POWs were housed.
    Lee grew up in Omaha but never visited the incredible botanical landscape and sculpture gardens called Lauritzen Gardens until this program led her there.
    When she is going somewhere, she will check the program list to see what locations might be in the area she is traveling to, she said. Just last week, Lee said she got a stamp from Odyssey Restaurant in Hastings.
    “You never know what might be in your path,” Lee said.
    Neva Molzer used the Nebraska Passport program two summers ago to travel the state with her sister and her husband. She said it was a great way to see Nebraska. They drove many of the back roads in eastern and western Nebraska in order to see something different than you would see on the main roads or interstate, she said.
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