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.

  • Sometimes you find things in your own backyard.⁣
Just up the road from our home in Crete, Nebraska, we found the National Museum of Roller Skating. Our curiosity piqued, we stopped in and took a look around. There we found the world's largest collection of historical roller skates, costumes, and memorabilia. ⁣
It took us back to our childhood and spending time at the roller skating rink (do kids even skate anymore?). We remembered crossing over on the turns for the first time and bending at the knees for "Downtown" by Petula Clark. So many great memories. ⁣
Sometimes, we focus so much on getting away that we forget that we have some really interesting places close to home, as well. The next time you feel a hankering to go somewhere, maybe try going down the street. You never know what treasure you might find and what memories it evoke.
  • This was our Valentine’s Day dessert last year. Chef Kurtess Mortensen at The Pioneer Woman Mercantile created this memorable dish he called “Fat Elvis.” It was a chocolate bread pudding, served alongside banana brûlée and caramelized peanuts then topped with marshmallow cream, homemade peanut butter ice cream, and a candied bacon garnish. We are giddy with anticipation to see what he comes up with tonight! We are budgeting our calories accordingly. 😉
  • “Actually, the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.”
– Lewis Carroll
  • It's been a long winter. I need to see flowers again! Are you with me?Let's talk about these flowers. ⁣
We are often asked about our favorite place we've ever visited. While that question is hard to answer, we almost always mention Tallinn, Estonia, as a contender.⁣
Estonia has an interesting history. Conquered in 1227 by Denmark, it never again enjoyed independence until  1920. That freedom was short lived, however, as the Soviet Union occupied the country in 1940. Finally, in 1991, Estonia regained its independence and has remained free ever since. The country joined NATO in 2004. ⁣
Visiting Estonia, we could see the remnants of Soviet control. Large block buildings dominate the landscape. They are of Soviet Communist design: utilitarian in nature with no thought given to design. They look just like the buildings you've seen in movies about the Soviet Union. ⁣
Now free, Estonians have done what they can to erase the gray days of Soviet control. The Soviet-style buildings are painted bright colors, and flowers abound in the streets. The people are warm, cheerful, friendly, and welcoming. ⁣
Yes, Estonia is a wonderful country, and we can't wait to return.
  • Each year from late February to early April, hundreds of thousands of Sandhills Cranes migrate through Nebraska on their way north to their breeding grounds. It's considered one of the greatest spectacles in nature, so thousands of people come to experience this incredible time.⁣
We traveled to Kearney, Nebraska, one of the best cities for crane viewing, last year. Because the best times to view the cranes is sunrise and sunset, we found ourselves with some free time during the day. It turns out that Kearney has a lot to offer in terms of things to do.⁣
Scroll across our highlights on Instagram, and you'll find the stories highlights we made during our time there. On our blog (link in bio) you'll also find a post we wrote with ideas for 20 things to do in Kearney while you wait on the cranes. ⁣
Put crane viewing on your bucket list. It really is one of the most amazing experiences we've ever had in nature. And don't worry about being bored between sunrise and sunset--Kearney has too much to offer.
  • Sometimes, you find great cocktails where you least expect...⁣
In the Mason City, Iowa, airport, (about halfway between Mason City and Clear Lake) we found a wonderful little restaurant called CAVU-American Kitchen and Coctail Lounge. It's different from any other airport restaurant and bar in the world because it is place so good, the airport becomes the destination.⁣
While there last fall, we sampled a couple of their specialty cocktails. On the left a refreshing take on a margarita, on the right, a cocktail featuring St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur. Both were fantastic and worth a trip to the airport, even if you're not flying anywhere.
  • Learn how to avoid being labeled "that annoying guy" on a cruise ship in a new post on our blog that Steve wrote this weekend. ⁣
You should know that 99% of the people we meet on cruises are nice people and fun to be around. However, it seems like there's always that one guy or gal who just gets under your skin. ⁣
Click on the link to our blog in our bio and see what made of our list of things to do to avoid being "that guy" on a cruise ship. ⁣
Are there some things we missed? Let us know - we'd love to hear from you.
  • The Sandhill Crane migration will be starting very soon, and @visitkearney, Nebraska, is the perfect place to go to witness this amazing sight. ⁣
Because the cranes are best viewed at sunrise and sunset, a good cup of coffee is a necessity. ⁣
During our hosted visit to town last year, we re-caffinated at a couple different coffee shops, including @baristasdailygrind. ⁣
Ann loved the way her coffee was served, with a barista's kiss--a chocolate covered espresso bean sitting in a little cloud of whipped cream. Talk about a great good morning kiss!

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