This week marks the fourth year of our travel blog, Postcard Jar, and we can’t thank you enough for following along on our journeys. Since we wrote that very first blog post from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, we’ve been collecting all kids of data and analytics to gauge the success of our blog. We’ve kept track of page views, Facebook followers, bounce rates, comments, shares, and retweets.

But at the end of the day, we’ve come to realize that at least for us, the most important number of all is how many wonderful relationships we gained.

Chamber of Commerce staff with Postcard Jar, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Two of our favorite new friends, Reba Bueno and Joni Nash from the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

When we look back over the past year, what makes us the happiest are the trips we took with family, the new and interesting people we’ve met along the way, the readers we’ve inspired to go places, and the incredible opportunities we’ve had to partner with businesses, community groups, and destinations.

Cocina Economica Los Chilangos, Cozumel, Mexico

We had a wonderful meal at a restaurant in Cozumel, Mexico. The Cocina Economica Los Chilangos is actually in the living room of some local residents. The truly authentic Mexican food is amazing and we really enjoyed the company of others at our table.

Instead of giving you a detailed summary of our year of blogging by the numbers, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite travel experiences and a some of the relationships that have impacted us the most.

After Steve quit his job as middle school principal last summer, we took a wonderful vacation with our daughter, Meghan, through Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, eventually arriving at the port in Galveston where we boarded the Carnival Valor for a five night cruise to Mexico. It was wonderful for just the three of us to spend time together, reconnect, and relax after a grueling school year.

Carnival Cruises Valor

Carnival Cruises Valor

Then, just one day after returning to our home in Crete and doing six loads of laundry, we loaded up a 12-passenger van and took four young college men from our college ministry on a vacation to The Ozarks. We have really grown to love these young men (and many others from our college ministry) over the past few years and we counted it a real privilege and blessing to be able to take them on a family vacation, since their real families are far away.

We took Meghan and four of the young men from our college ministry on a family vacation to The Ozarks. They loved the Ride the Duck tour and all of them got their licenses to drive the duck.

We took Meghan and four of the young men from our college ministry on a family vacation to The Ozarks. They loved the Ride the Ducks tour and all of them got their licenses to drive the duck.

We also took an end-of-summer trip with Steve’s mom and dad across the Nebraska Sandhills. We enjoyed the relaxing time we spent with them, exploring new towns and places while admiring the incredible scenery that a drive off the beaten path of Interstate 80 provides. Because of busy work schedules in the past, our time with Steve’s folks has been somewhat limited and it was great to have these experiences with them and the memories that will last a lifetime.

Smith Falls, Valentine, Nebraska

We had a wonderful trip around Nebraska with Steve’s mom and dad this summer. Here we are at Smith Falls near Valentine, Nebraska.

After our Nebraska adventure, we returned to Crete just in time to prepare for our hometown’s celebration of the total solar eclipse. We sold t-shirts and postcards that weekend and invited friends and family over to share the experience with us at our house, which was right in the path of totality. Fellow travel bloggers Sara Broers of Travel with Sara and Tim and Lisa Trudell of The Walking Tourists also joined us, which was so much fun!

Lisa Trudell (and her husband, Tim of The Walking Tourists) and Sara Broers of Travel with Sara have become good friends. We were thrilled that they traveled to our home in Crete, Nebraska, to watch the total solar eclipse with us.

Lisa Trudell (and her husband, Tim of The Walking Tourists) and Sara Broers of Travel with Sara have become good friends. We were thrilled that they traveled to our home in Crete, Nebraska, to watch the total solar eclipse with us.

Along with our parents, college ministry students, and long-time friends, we also had a few new friends we met that weekend who joined us on our front lawn to view the moon crossing over the face of the sun. I’ll never forget introducing our new Canadian friends to Nebraska sweet corn (served from a cooler full of hot water with a thin layer of butter at the top) and sharing the experience with others from far away places like Sri Lanka and St. Kitts.

We had such a good time with Ann's mom, Carol, on a trip to Oregon to see the coast and watch the Nebraska Cornhusker football team play the Oregon Ducks.

We had such a good time with Ann’s mom, Carol, on a trip to Oregon to see the coast and watch the Nebraska Cornhusker football team play the Oregon Ducks.

In the fall, we took my mom on a trip to Oregon for a Nebraska football game and a little Pinot Noir tasting before heading back to Pawhuska, Oklahoma, to judge the National Indian Taco Championships there.

Indian Taco fry bread being cooked in oil at the National Indian Taco Championships in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

Indian Taco fry bread being cooked in oil at the National Indian Taco Championships in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.

That trip back to The Pioneer Woman’s hometown was the start of many wonderful relationships with so many new friends there. The Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce had invited us to be “celebrity” judges for the contest.  When we called them back to say we weren’t really celebrities, they responded, “Well, you’re celebrities to us!” and they welcomed us with open arms. We enjoyed our time in Pawhuska and were made to feel a part of the community by everyone we met.

We loved Pawhuska so much, we took our moms back a few weeks later to visit The Pioneer Woman Mercantile and explore the town a little more. Needless to say, they loved it and we will always cherish that special time with our moms.

Pioneer Woman Mercantile morning coffee, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

Our moms enjoy an expertly crafted cup of morning coffee at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile.

Over the course of this last year, we’ve met fascinating people wherever we’ve gone and we’ve gotten to know so many of you through your comments. Your encouragement means the world to us and we’re so thankful you enjoy reading our blog.

What you’ve said


From Mary Hughes:

“I really enjoy the road trips you take, and the food pictures you take and share. You pretty much cover everything I like. Just keep up the great work! Lol”

From Anonymous:

“Thanks so much for sharing all your stories and pictures! I truly enjoy all of them.”

From Alicia:

“I stumbled across your blog thanks to Twitter and I am glad I did…Love this blog!”

From Neodyssey:

“You all write such a great blog. Thanks for continuing to share about your travels!”

From Anonymous:

“Love reading your blog! Keep up the good work.”

From Jana Fulton:

“Really enjoyed this tory! What fun u two have! Can’t wait to read more.”

From Natasha:

“OH MY GOODNESS! What a GREAT combination of personalities in the writing. I loved walking through Magnolia with you Ann as I live in Canada and it will be a LONG time before I am able to cross that off MY bucket list…and could hear so many men’s sentiments in your quips.

Just want to say that I will definitely subscribe to your blog. I don’t subscribe to many but I certainly don’t want to miss out on your dual adventures. Thank you for sharing…

Bless you both!”

From Dee Williams:

LOVED this! What a fun way to blog. In between all the great descriptions, Steve kept me laughing.”

From Anonymous:

“Love your story! My husband did too. I think he’s ready! [to go]”

From Donna Rutherford:

“Love your blog! Keep it coming!”

From Dorothy Pavel”

“Awesome pictures!”

From Lois Lilleholm:

“Great picture! You two have so much fun!”


What’s next for us:

We’re off to a very busy start this year, having just returned from a month-long trip to Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Mexico, and the Florida Keys. We’re at home catching up this week and then it’s back to Pawhuska for the Chamber of Commerce Gala and quick trip over to Tulsa to check out an apartment for our daughter, Meghan.

She’ll be moving there this summer for nursing school and we’re so excited to this next step in her journey (plus, we just love visiting Tulsa).

Despite being raised a Nebraska Cornhusker, Meghan will be attending nursing school at OU.

Despite being raised a Nebraska Cornhusker, Meghan will be attending nursing school at OU.

We have several speaking engagements planned for this spring, including a talk on Social Media in Tourism at the Plains Safaris Conference in Kearney, and we’ll be making another trip to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for some tests and follow-ups.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota

We’ll visit the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, this spring where Ann will have some more tests and meet with her doctors.

May will be a busy month with graduations and getting Meghan moved and we’ve got a wonderful trip to Italy and Greece that we’re finalizing plans for this summer.

It’s exciting for us to think about these plans, but more importantly, we look forward to the time with family, the people we’re going to meet, the stories we’re going to tell, and the many ways our words and pictures will hopefully inspire extraordinary travel for everyday people like us, and like you.

Thank you again for coming along. And let us know what you’d like to see more (or less) of in our fifth year of blogging. We’d love to hear from you.

  • Last week, we had the pleasure of making handmade pasta (via the internet) with our friends, Deb and Massi, who were in their home kitchen in Italy. ⁣
You can read all about it, and get the recipe, on our blog. Yep, you guessed it, the link is in our bio. ⁣
We met Deb and Massi of @italyunfiltered a few years ago when they created an amazing food and wine itinerary for us. We've remained friends and it was so good to see them, even if they were a world away.
  • We were supposed to be in Rochester, Minnesota, this week for Ann to see a cardiac sarcoidosis specialist about some recent issues with her heart. Of course, we did not travel to Rochester for her scans and doctor visits because of the coronavirus outbreak.⁣
Instead, her cardiologists called her from their homes and her scans and tests will likely be delayed until June or July. We'll keep in close touch with them if anything changes, as well. We are so grateful for all of the healthcare professionals who are continuing to work crazy hours from home as well as in our hospitals around the world.⁣
This is such an unprecedented and stressful time for all of them. Words will never be enough to convey our gratitude for the roles they are playing in the battle against this deadly virus while caring for those with other diseases and illnesses at the same time. ⁣
Every healthcare provider we've talked with in the last two weeks has had the same message for those of us who don't have to go to work at a hospital. ⁣
Just. Stay. Home.
  • Yesterday was Day 16 of social isolation for us. Because of Ann's underlying heart condition and suppressed immune system, we've cooked all our meals at home (no takeout). We've starting to get more and more creative as time has gone by. ⁣
Last night, we made chicken and shrimp vindaloo and learned online how to make homemade naan.⁣
It wan't as good as our favorite Indian restaurant, The Oven, but it did satisfy the craving we've had for Indian food. ⁣
What are you craving these days?
  • We moved our living room furniture around this week and put two swivel chairs near the sliding glass door. Each day, we take time to turn around, rest our minds, enjoy in the view, and just be. #webelieveinhome
  • Our daughter, Meghan, is a cardiac ICU nurse. Despite all of the current uncertainties in healthcare during this pandemic, early this morning she put on her scrubs and went to work a 12+ hour shift. 
She is not alone. Across the country and around the world, healthcare workers are putting the safety of themselves and their families at risk to help others. It's what they do. Every. Single. Day. 
We are incredibly grateful that there are selfless people like this in the world and we pray for them and we hope you'll join us. 
We couldn't sleep this morning, so we wrote instead. Click on the link in our bio to read our morning thoughts and prayers.
  • Trying to decide where we’ll travel this weekend. Covered porch? Living room? 😉
  • We are staying home. 
We've been here for almost a week now because Ann is one of "those people." You know the ones. Those people with an underlying health issue. Those people with a suppressed immune system. One of those people who could become seriously ill, need hospitalization, and even die if exposed to the coronavirus.  Those people need your help to stay safe and live. And all you have to do is stay home when you don’t NEED to be out.

Over the past few days, we’ve seen photos, videos, and witnessed first hand people of all ages (but mostly young people) gathering in groups for what us mid lifers would consider “non essential” reasons: birthday parties, movies, youth sports practices, St. Patty’s Day celebrations at the bar, spring break at the beach, and the like. 
We don’t understand it. 
We try not to judge. 
But just for a time during this worldwide pandemic, could we ask people who are participating in non-essential activities to consider who “those people” most at risk really are?

Those people are already battling serious illnesses.

Those people want to see their grandchildren grow up.

Those people need to do their jobs as nurses and doctors.

Those people are first responders. 
Those people run the grocery store, and the pharmacy, and the gas station. 
Those people pray for you and your generation. 
And what about those other people? 
The ones you know.

Those people who made sacrifices to meet your needs.

Those people who took care of you when you were sick.

Those people who went to your games and cheered you on. 
Those people who taught you in school.

Those people who helped you pay for college.

Those people who cooked your favorite dish for you.

Those people who taught your Sunday School class.

Those people who have forgiven you.

Those people who will always love you unconditionally.

We keep wanting to scream, “It’s not about you, it’s about those people!” But the truth of the matter is, IT IS ABOUT YOU. 
You have the power to help.
You have the power to influence others.
You have the power to flatten the curve.

And by not changing your behaviors, you also have the power to harm. 
How will you choose to use your power?j
  • We’re sharing your postcards and encouraging you to help others and stay positive. 
If you’d like to send us a postcard, mail to: Postcard Jar, PO Box 334, Crete, NE 68333.

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