Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Contemporary Fare in a Victorian Setting at Billy’s in Lincoln, Nebraska

After a guided tour of the Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln — one of the top five U.S. state capitols — I headed back to my rental car, parked in the leafy residential neighborhood adjacent to the grounds of the capitol. The dull-green Victorian-style house with a pitched roof, lawn statues, and red, white, and blue bunting caught my attention. On second glance, I noticed the sign that read, Billy’s Restaurant. Intrigued by this location for a restaurant, I made an impromptu decision to lunch here. My choice was rewarded with a terrific meal in a lovely setting, and a new Iranian friend. Read more >

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Comfort Food at Its Best at Omaha’s Twisted Fork

I had already found, somewhat miraculously, a fantastic upscale seafood restaurant in the heart of cow country in Omaha, Nebraska. But now I was feeling a bit more carnivorous, with a yen for beef and something self-indulgent that would never be approved by a personal trainer or a nutritionist or a cardiologist. But treats like that are what vacations are for, and the Twisted Fork delivers in every way. Read more >


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The Best Depictions of the Real Meaning of Christmas

The Adoration of the MagiDecember 25 is rapidly approaching, and for 2.2 billion Christians around the world, the Christmas season is in full swing. Although the secular aspects of this important holiday increasingly garner all the attention and overshadow the real meaning of Christmas — the birth of Jesus Christ — all you have to do is look at a Nativity scene (or listen to Linus’ beautiful soliloquy in A Charlie Brown Christmas) to be reminded of what it’s all about. For centuries, artists have been depicting that day that changed the world in Nativities in every type of media imaginable. Some of these painters, sculptors, glaziers, woodworkers, and other talented experts broke the traditional mold of just showing the Holy Family in a stable with some hay, farm animals, a couple of shepherds, and the Three Wise Men. I found these works in particular to be the most imaginative, and most memorable. Read more about my top five Nativities in the world >


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When Orange Is More Than Your Morning Juice

Puente del Inca, ArgentinaFor those of us who live in certain climates, autumn brings a joyful change of season, when comfortably brisk days replace oppressive summer heat, and green foliage gives way to all-too-brief displays of flashy colors — especially a vibrant orange. If you don’t reside in a locale that’s blessed with this annual switch, you can get your fix of orange with an intricately carved jack-o-lantern or a Cincinnati Bengals game. And if you’re not privy to any of this, there are still plenty of oranges around the world that will capture your attention. Read more about my top five oranges >


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Fish in a Sea of Steakhouses at Plank Seafood Provisions

A fine seafood restaurant dead center in America’s heartland, nowhere near the Great Lakes, seemed, perhaps, not the best choice for dinner. But the recommendations I had been receiving from everyone around town — the staff at my hotel, the saleslady at the art gallery, the masseuse at the day spa — were uniform in their zeal. So, putting aside the ribs and steak knives for a night, I enjoyed a fantastic meal at Plank Seafood Provisions, one of the top seafood restaurants in Omaha, Nebraska. Read more >


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An Emporium for All Tastes in Scottsbluff, Nebraska

The “Coffeehouse and Café” part of the restaurant’s name seems to understate its offerings. But the “Emporium” part gets it right. Serving everything from buttery steaks to Greek salads, from wild mushroom ravioli to shrimp orecchiette, and boasting the most expansive wine list in the Nebraska panhandle, the Emporium Coffeehouse and Café in Scottsbluff prepares something for everyone. And after you’ve driven more than 400 miles across the entire state in one shot with barely a break, you’ll be ready to devour the entire menu. Read more >


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A Night in a Barn in Scottsbluff, Nebraska

Barn Anew, Scottsbluff, NebraskaOccasionally in my youth, if I ever happened to leave a door open, my parents would ask me if I lived in a barn. I never understood that commonly employed expression: Do people in barns leave the doors open? Wouldn’t the horses and cows and pigs get out? Was it just something that city dwellers said to disparage rural folk? I never found out. But now that I have stayed overnight at Barn Anew, a terrifically unique bed and breakfast in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, I can say for the first time that, yes, I have lived in a barn. Read more >