We love being home together on Valentine’s Day. Typically, we spend the evening cooking together while listening 80’s love songs and then enjoy a nice dinner by candlelight. This year, our Valentine’s Day celebration started a bit earlier in the day, as we were invited to give a lunch presentation to the PEP (People Encouraging People) Club at Capitol City Christian Church in Lincoln.
What we love about midlife travel
Tami Shefford, a friend of Ann’s who works there, recommended us to Todd Grove, the church’s pastor of communications and care. He invited us to come present to the church’s PEP Club for its February meeting, which happened to fall on Valentine’s Day. We happily agreed, and were excited to celebrate with new friends. We got there early, in time for a potluck lunch which included incredible chicken and noodles as well as delicious ribs and desserts.
Valentine’s Day table decor
As a bonus, we got to hear singers from Lincoln Christian School before it was our turn to speak.
PEP Club at Capitol City Christian Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.
We called our presentation, “Falling in Love With Midlife Travel,” and shared some of what we’ve come to love while traveling. Given the day, we just had to start with the most Valentine-y of cities: Valentine, Nebraska. Regular readers of this blog know that we’ve long been fans of Valentine, its people, and all the amazing things there are to see and do while there like visit Smith Falls, float down the Niobrara, or drive through the wildlife refuge.
We began our presentation with this slide about Valentine, Nebraska.
From Valentine, we expanded a bit and talked about our love of small towns. Over the past year or so, we’ve really come to appreciate the time we’ve spent in towns and smaller cities. We talked about the rich history of Pawhuska, Oklahoma, its friendly people, and the Pioneer Woman Mercantile. We discussed dinners on the plaza in Salamanca, Spain, where Meghan attended Spanish classes for a summer and where we delighted in relaxed dinners with amazing wine.
We used this slide to talk about some of the things we loved in Salamanca, Spain.
Finally, we talked about our hometown of Crete, Nebraska, and how we even surprised ourselves by finding so many things to do right in our own backyard.
A Nebraska event we simply had to include, though, was the annual sandhill crane migration. As we told the folks in PEP Club, if you have not spent time in a blind along the Platte River and seen the incredible sight of these huge birds descending onto the river, you have missed out. It is a humbling experience in the grandeur of nature that takes place in late February and March every year.
A slide from our presentation talking about the sandhill crane migration.
We also shared some of our favorite destinations in the tropics. We talked about the Florida Keys, where I’ve been going since I was a child, and all of the places we love there like the Dolphin Research Center. We discussed plane spotting on Maho Beach in St. Maarten. And of course, we talked about our wonderful day touring St. Kitts with Michael, one of the Doane University students we know though our work with our church’s college ministry program.
One of the slides we used to attempt to show the incredible beauty of St. Kitts.
Next, we spent a little time talking about how much we’ve come to love cruising and some of the advantages we’ve found in this form of vacation. For instance, you only have to unpack once, and your resort moves from location to location providing you with new scenery each and every day. There is so much to do on the ship, you simply can’t be bored, and the food and drink you’ll find provide an incredible culinary experience.
A slide we used to show the beautiful presentations of food and drink on a Celebrity cruise ship.
Finally, we moved on to the most apropos topic of the day: Where we travel for romance. We shared memories of our honeymoon in Costa Rica and the time we spent wallowing in the volcanically heated river that flows off of Arenal Volcano. We talked about long lunches sipping wine and savoring freshly made pasta carbonara at a sidewalk cafe in Rome. And we talked about Bath, England, a place people have been going to relax since Roman times.
We began with the history of Bath; that the Romans built a temple there and brought naturally heated spring water into a pool. Clear 2,000 years ago, today, the water is green because it is exposed to the sun allowing algae to grow. The original pool isn’t considered safe to use today because it is lined with lead, but you can walk around it on the same flagstones that held Romans 2,000 years ago.
The slide we used to show where Bath, England is, and to show the original Roman bath there
But no visit to Bath, England, is complete without taking some time to enjoy the ancient thermal waters for yourself. Our hotel was able to tap into them, and this was their modern day version of a bath that was part of the hotel’s spa. We spent one of our most relaxing afternoons ever in this pool. If the picture makes it look amazing, it’s only because it was. Yes, it seemed a little expensive when we booked it, but then we actually went there. Worth. Every. Penny.
The modern spa located in our hotel in Bath, England. They prepared personalized pouch for visitors with specially selected scents to inhale throughout your treatments.
At the conclusion of the presentation, we took a few questions, and then had a wonderful time hanging around for a while and meeting some of the friendly PEP Club members.
We were super excited when one person told us that we’d inspired him to take his daughter on a Nebraska trip to see the cranes. That affirmed for us why we take the time to write this blog. Nothing makes us happier than when we hear that someone is taking a trip they wouldn’t have taken had it not been for something we said or wrote.
We live in a big, beautiful world and you only have to step out and go places to enjoy it and find new places to love.
We’d love to come present to your club or organization. If you’d like to partner with us, just send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After having spent the Fourth of July out of the country three of the past four years, we’re excited to be home this year to celebrate our country’s Independence Day. In 2013, we were in Vancouver, British Columbia. In 2015 we celebrated in Barcelona, Spain. And last year, we had cream tea at a restaurant called Boston Tea Party in Bath, England.
Last summer, we spent the Fourth in Bath, England, and were very excited to stumble across a restaurant called Boston Tea Party. We celebrated our independence with English cream tea.
In 2015, we disembarked from the Celebrity Equinox after a cruise through the Mediterranean and then spent the day in Barcelona, Spain.
In 2013, we spent the Fourth of July touring Chinatown in Vancouver and then went to a BC Lions football game that night.
It has been kind of nice to be home this year. Last night, we had a cookout with friends and family and then enjoyed our city’s fireworks display from our deck.
Today, we’re doing a little yard work and relaxing at home before joining friends tonight for more food, games, and fireworks. While we love to travel, being home this year has been a good reminder of how blessed we are to live in a country like the United States of America. We don’t take any of our freedoms for granted, and we’re thankful for those who fought and continue to fight for us to have them.
God bless America.
If you are in the United States of America, how do you celebrate the Fourth of July? Do you have any special traditions? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you.
Christmas has always been a really important time for me. I love preparing for and celebrating the birth of my Savior, giving and receiving gifts, singing Christmas carols, and spending time with family and friends. So, it was’t easy for me to agree to taking a family vacation over the Christmas holiday, knowing I would be leaving behind traditions I’ve always cherished. However, Steve’s time off this year for the holidays was limited, and this was one of our rare opportunities to get away for more than a few days at a time, so we decided to just go.
We did our best to incorporate as many of our Christmas traditions as I could, and we enjoyed a wonderful vacation, along with our daughter, Meghan, and my mom, Carol.
We boarded the Celebrity Summit on Christmas Eve and awoke Christmas morning to sunny skies and the beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. We started our day with a lovely breakfast in Luminae where we were reunited with Gustavo — one of our favorite servers from a cruise we’d taken earlier this year on another ship. We loved his smile and bubbly personality, his strong work ethic, and all the ways he went above and beyond to make our last cruise so enjoyable.
Gustavo is one of the many incredible crew members on the Celebrity Summit whom we’ve had the privilege to meet.
He had mentioned when we met him this summer that he was going to be working on the Summit next, so we were anticipating seeing him onboard and wanted to do something special for him for Christmas. I remembered he was from Mexico and since the town where we live has several Mexican bakeries and grocery stores, I picked up a few treats that I hoped would be familiar to Gustavo and packed them in my suitcase, along with a Postcard Jar t-shirt.
We packed a Postcard Jar t-shirt as well as some snacks from Mexico for one of our favorite crew members for Christmas.
Christmas morning, I wrapped them up and brought the gift bag for him at breakfast. I know it must have been difficult for Gustavo to be so far away from home (and working) on such a special day, and we wanted him to know he was loved by God and by us. The smile it brought to his face was such a blessing!
After breakfast, we took a short walk around the ship’s deck, just soaking in the sun (which we hadn’t seen in a while) and enjoying the spectacular views.
It didn’t seem quite like Christmas to be surrounded by the sea and the sun, but we enjoyed every minute of it.
After that, we went by the grand foyer where Santa Claus was making an appearance and greeting all of the ship’s children with gifts.
Celebrity Cruises had the Grand Foyer beautifully decorated for Christmas and Santa was there to give gifts to all of the children on board. From what we saw, the older kids received beach towels and the younger ones got plush toys.
We got a kick out of the kids who were so excited to see Santa and we especially enjoyed watching the woman in this video who was concerned about someone not waiting their turn, only to find out he was the Captain of the ship. (oops)
Next, we returned to our cabin to exchange a few gifts and I surprised the rest of group with personalized stockings. While I wasn’t able to display them on a fireplace mantel or under a Christmas tree, I made do with a small chair in our room and we had a great time opening presents and celebrating Christmas together.
I chose gifts this year that were very small in size and packed wrapping paper and bows ahead of time.
Mom loved the Nebraska volleyball t-shirt we got her for Christmas.
To read more about how I was able to pack nine gifts, stockings, stuffers, and wrapping supplies in my suitcase and still keep it under 50 pounds, CLICK HERE.
We relaxed much of the afternoon and met up at the Martini Bar for a cocktail before dinner. We enjoyed another wonderful meal at Luminae, which even included traditional Christmas favorites like turkey and dressing.
Gustavo and Steve at dinner in Luminae on Christmas Day.
After dinner, we gathered in the foyer with other passengers and crew to sing Christmas carols while fake snow was blown in.
Fake snow fell for three decks as crew and passengers joined in the singing of traditional Christmas carols.
We ended the evening in the Celebrity Theater with a holiday show and then retreated to our rooms. There, I found this lovely ornament and message, which will both be nice reminders of our Christmas at sea.
This Christmas tree ornament was a nice gift from Celebrity and will be a great reminder of our Christmas at sea.
This Christmas was different than most we’ve shared. I missed our church service, the snow-covered landscape of our backyard, and watching the lights twinkle on our Christmas tree. But I cherished the time with family, the opportunity to travel someplace new, and the joy of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ — no matter where we are.
I love giving people gifts. I truly enjoy picking out just the right things, wrapping them in color-coordinated paper, and tying them up with fancy bows and name tags. I couldn’t imagine Christmas morning without the joy of watching my family unwrap presents. So, months in advance of our Christmas vacation, I began planning how I was going to get gifts, stockings, and wrapping supplies into my suitcase without going over the 50-pound weight limit and still have room for clothes. It wasn’t easy.
First, I had to select gifts that were small in size and low in weight so they could easily fit into my suitcase. Here’s what I came up with.
For my mom, I brought a tea towel we got for her in Bath, England, this summer, a Nebraska volleyball t-shirt, and her favorite perfume. The perfume set (Beautiful by Este Lauder) is something my step-dad had purchased every year for her at Christmas. Before he passed away a few years ago, he asked if we’d continue his tradition and get mom the Beautiful perfume she loved to wear. While we couldn’t see packing the large box set, it did come with a small travel-sized perfume, which I could easily pack without taking up much space.
For my mom, we brought a tea towel from our trip to Bath, England, last summer, a Nebraska volleyball shirt, and her favorite perfume. I pre-measured pieces of wrapping paper before we left, and brought tape and scissors in my suitcase.
Because you are encouraged by TSA to not wrap gifts that are in checked baggage, I laid out each gift and measured the exact amount of wrapping paper I would need for each item before we left. I also included a bow or ribbon and wrote out a name tag. Then, I just placed all of those items in a clear plastic freezer bag labeled with the name of the recipient, sucked out all the air, and packed it away.
For Meghan, we decided to get her a couple things she would need for her upcoming trip to England. We bought a her a new water bottle she requested, a travel safe toothbrush holder, and then decided to spoil her a bit with the perfume she’s been asking for for the past three years. Like mom’s gift, the perfume set was too big to bring along, so we wrapped the travel size perfume for the trip, and left the larger set at home.
For Meghan, we got a water bottle, a travel toothbrush holder, and the perfume she’s asked for for the past three years. We also purchased a share of a llama in her honor through World Vision.
Every year, we also purchase some kind of animal for a family in another country through World Vision. This year, we bought a share of a llama in her honor.
Meghan loved her Christmas gifts and was pleasantly surprised to get the perfume she really wanted (but would never buy for herself).
She loved everything and the water bottle came in really handy for packing all of the fluffy bows that I wanted to bring and needed to protect from getting squished.
The Contigo water bottle we got for Meg was a great place to store bows and ribbons for the trip.
It’s always a bit difficult to find the perfect gift for Steve. But this year, I had an idea back in June and wrote it down. The best part is … I remembered I had written something down five months later! On our last cruise, we took a mixology class where we learned the history of the cocktail and had a chance to craft some incredible drinks with professional bartenders. Steve loved it and has really enjoyed trying new recipes and honing his cocktail mixing skills. So, for Christmas, I got him a few new things for the bar, including a wooden muddler, a Japanese jigger, and a cocktail recipe book we’d used during our mixology class.
Steve got some new tools for his new cocktail making hobby, including a wooden muddler, a Japanese jigger, and a classic cocktail recipe book (or at least a picture of it).
I found the book on Amazon but when it arrived, I realized it was much too heavy to include in my bag. Instead, I made a photocopy of the cover, included a note saying the book was back at home, and wrapped the paper in a small box I’d brought along. All three gifts were easy to pack and Steve loved these new bar accessories.
As for the stockings, I didn’t bring the handmade stockings we usually use at home, but did purchase four inexpensive felt stocking at Walmart before we left. I think they were $0.98 each and I added a felt initial for everyone.
These $0.98 stockings packed easily and were a fun surprise on Christmas morning.
I gathered some small stocking stuffers before we left and separated them in individual freezer bags for each person (including myself). I packed things like gum, mints, hair bands, Kleenex, lip balm, and a family favorite — scratch-off lottery tickets. I received some great gifts, as well. My mom got us two marble cheese plates we’d wanted and some other serving ware that we’d opened at home before our trip. Steve gave me the Magnolia Story book and some new makeup I’d wanted and Meg got me a new lined sketch book and an accessory for one of my favorite bags.
We had such a great morning on the ship opening presents and celebrating Christmas. While it took a little extra planning to get everything there, it definitely made for a Christmas to remember.
If you like these ideas, please PIN photos to Pinterest!
After traveling in the Caribbean for 10 days over Christmas, Steve and I returned to our home in Crete, Nebraska, about 15 seconds before the clock struck midnight Saturday night and just in time for a New Year’s kiss to ring in 2017. Before we delve into our travel plans for the upcoming year, we wanted to take a look back at 2016 and thank all of you for coming on this journey with us.
Last year, we rang in the new year with friends and family at home spent most of the spring in our home state of Nebraska. In February, we drove to nearby Wahoo to pick up a half a beef and ended up spending a delightful day in the town previously known as the home office of the Late Night with David Letterman Show.
In March we drove to the central region of the state to witness, first hand, the incredible Sandhill Crane migration. It was an absolutely amazing sight.
Although I’ve spent most of my life in Nebraska and had heard lots about the Sandhill Cranes, for some reason, I’d never taken the time to visit the sanctuaries and see these majestic birds up close. Let me just say, if you live in or near Nebraska — GO SEE THE CRANES! I would rank this experience among my Top 10 best travel experiences ever. You can read more about our visit HERE.
The car driven by Louis Chevrolet in the 1915 Indy 500. It achieved a maximum speed of 81 mph.
We hadn’t really heard of this museum and were absolutely amazed by the quality and massive quantity of car and speed-related items in this hidden gem of a museum. Not only did the three-story building include car collections, it also had a metal lunch box collection, a taxi cab collection, and lots of guitars, record albums, and movie posters. It was absolutely amazing and great pit stop for those traveling Interstate 80.
In May, we returned for another visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and then went on to Minneapolis for the North American TBEX, a conference for travel bloggers. We loved the conference, met some great new contacts, and became even more exited about growing our blog. We also had a chance to spend a day in Stillwater, Minnesota, while we were there. You can read all about HERE.
In the summer of 2016, we took one of the best vacations of our lifetimes to northern Europe. We’d been planning (and saving) for this trip for a long time and it exceeded all of our expectations. I picked Steve up from work the day his summer vacation began and he was able leave the middle school where he is principal. We flew to London, England, and took the Chirton Grange car service to South Hampton with a stop at the iconic Stonehenge.
After a night in South Hampton and a visit to the local museum that chronicled the sinking of the Titanic, we gathered the courage to board a ship and set sail on a 14-night cruise on the Baltic Sea.
The magnificent gold fountains at Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.
We had an incredible experience on the Celebrity Eclipse and enjoyed stops in Belgium, Germany, Russia, Estonia, Sweden, and Denmark.
We disembarked in South Hampton and took a train to Bath, England, for a couple days and spent another three days visiting friends in Taunton before flying back to the States. It was an absolutely unforgettable vacation, filled with new experiences and adventures that we’ll always treasure.
Upon our return, we spent one day doing 12 loads of laundry, then packed up the car, picked up our daughter, Meghan, and headed out on a road trip across Nebraska. Less than a month after visiting Stonehenge in England, we found ourselves taking selfies at a cheesy replica called Carhenge in Alliance, Nebraska.
We had a great week exploring our home state as a family, including stops in Hastings (where Kool-Aid was invented), Grand Island, North Platte, Scottsbluff/Gering, Crawford, Chadron, Valentine, and Norfolk. We loved taking the highways instead of the interstate, stopping to explore small (sometimes abandoned) towns, visiting quirky tourist attractions (like the Fort Cody Trading Post) and eating peanut butter sandwiches in city parks along the way.
With the exception of a short trip for appointments at the Mayo Clinic, we spent much of the fall near home and enjoyed taking friends and family to Nebraska Cornhusker football games. We even got to go to one away game when we flew to Columbus Ohio to see the Huskers play the Ohio State University in the Horseshoe. Great flight. Awesome venue. Devastating loss.
While we typically are home for Christmas, this year we decided to escape the cold and did another Celebrity cruise — this time to the Caribbean. We flew to Puerto Rico on Dec. 23 and boarded the Summit on Christmas Eve. We spent Christmas Day at sea and then enjoyed stops in Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Martin, St. Kitts (our favorite island) and St. Thomas before returning to San Juan and flying home on New Year’s Eve. Can’t wait to share some of those experiences with you, soon.
All in all, we traveled to two U.S. territories, six states, and 11 countries in 2016. We are still working on our travel schedule for 2017, but will likely spend most of our time in the United States, as there is so much here we have yet to see and experience.
Where did your travels take you in 2016? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you.
For the past several years, we’ve decorated what we like to call our Christmas travel tree. [We wrote a blog post all about it that you can read HERE.] We had lots of help decorating for Christmas this year. Our daughter, Meghan, was home and we invited a couple local college students over. We also had the privilege of hosting Elodie, a young woman from France who we met on our cruise last summer.
Each year, typically Thanksgiving weekend, we empty our postcard jar and select a few postcards that best represent our year in travel and they go right onto the tree. We also hang new ornaments purchased from places we visited that year. It’s always fun to find and unpack the ornaments and reminisce about all of the wonderful things we were able to see and do each year. Here’s what’s new to the tree in 2016.
We purchased this ornament in St. Petersburg, Russia, this summer. It was our first, and quite possibly our last visit to this former Soviet city. While we enjoyed seeing iconic places like Peterhof and the Hermitage Museum, there was much about St. Petersburg that still represented very dark times for the people there. As a side note, when we get new ornaments for the tree, if they don’t already have a year on them, I usually try to add it with a Sharpie permanent marker to help us remember what year we traveled where.
We put lots of new postcards on the tree this year, including two from Stockholm, Sweden. We were in Stockholm this summer while cruising on the Celebrity Eclipse and enjoyed a walking tour of the city, eating Swedish meatballs with pickles and lingonberries, and visiting the Vasa Museum.
The Vasa Museum gave us a fascinating look at a salvaged ship that sank in 1628 and spent 333 years on the sea bed. Of course, we had to get a postcard there.
Seeing Stonehenge in person for the first time was just amazing. It was our first stop after landing in London, England, this summer before embarking on our 14-night cruise through the Baltic Sea. We had both wanted to visit this iconic structure and we joined hundreds of other tourists that day who walked around the enormous stone structures shaking our heads. CLICK HERE for five interesting things we learned about Stonehenge.
Just three weeks later, we were back in our home state of Nebraska and couldn’t resist a stop at our own iconic replica — Carhenge, near Alliance, Nebraska. This crazy creation in the middle of a field is a Midwest favorite and a must-see when traveling the western end of the state. We wrote a blog post about it that you can read HERE.
This beautiful, hand painted ornament was one we found at a small, local shop in one of our favorite places, Tallinn, Estonia. We just loved Tallinn and it’s pastel buildings, colorful markets, and welcoming people.
When we returned to England at the end of our cruise, we took a few days to explore some more of Great Britain. We took a train to Bath, England, and quickly wished we would have allowed more time in this incredible city. We toured the ancient Roman baths and even had a chance to soak in the thermal waters at the The Gainsborough Bath Spa. It was truly one of the most relaxing, luxurious days we’ve ever had.
In Bath, we also visited the Bath Abbey — twice. We stumbled upon it while walking the city streets and were absolutely amazed when we went inside. We’ve been to dozens of churches, cathedrals and abbeys on our travels, but there was something very different about this one. It was SO ACTIVE. There was organ music playing, children singing, and displays throughout that demonstrated the various ongoing ministries of the church. We spent a lot of time here and couldn’t resist purchasing a few books and this ornament from the gift shop before we left.
Just two days after returning from our summer vacation in Europe, our daughter, Meghan joined us for a week-long trip across Nebraska. We had a wonderful time exploring towns like Hastings, Grand Island, Scottsbluff, Crawford, Chadron, Valentine, and Norfolk. One of our favorite stops was Bailey Yard in North Platte. It is the largest railroad classification yard in the world and hosts a great display on the North Platte Canteen.
We picked up this ornament by local artist Beverly Clappsaddle at the Clear Lake Arts Center in Clear Lake, Iowa, this fall. We were on our way back from a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, when our travel blogging friend Sara, from Travel With Sara, mentioned a holiday open house in Clear Lake just as we were about to pass through there. We decided to make an unanticipated stop and were not disappointed.
The last postcard we decided to add to the tree this year was one we picked up in Norfolk, Nebraska, this summer. It is from our visit to the Nebraska Life Magazine office and is a great reminder that while we love traveling the world, it is always good to come home to The Good Life.
We’re Steve and Ann Teget. We spent more than two decades in corporate America and public education before Ann’s health and Steve’s aversion to middle school girl drama convinced us to try something new. Now we are making the most of midlife and telling authentic stories about extraordinary travel. And yes, we send ourselves postcards.