Two years ago today, we sat in a Doubletree hotel in Rochester, Minnesota, where we had returned for a third time since that January for appointments at the Mayo Clinic. The next day, I was to have an electrophysiology study and a heart biopsy in hopes of helping doctors diagnose the illness from which I’d been suffering for several months. That day, as we waited to hear if I had a minor, treatable illness or an serious, incurable condition, we decided that regardless, there was no time like the present to get going on an idea we’d had for a long time.

The Mayo clinic in Rochester, MN.

The Mayo clinic in Rochester, MN.

We sat down in the executive lounge at the hotel, downloaded a picture we’d taken earlier that day of the Mayo Clinic, and wrote our first blog post for Postcard Jar. After several hours of maneuvering our way through a new WordPress website template, we nervously hit the “Publish” button and our first travel blog post was on-line.

No one read it. No one even knew we had a blog. But that was OK. It was more for us at that time. A few days later, I would be diagnosed with a rare inflammatory disease called cardiac sarcoidosis and the travel blog quickly became something to keep our minds off the serious health issues we were facing just two years into our marriage. It was also a way for us to share with others one of the things we enjoy most in life — traveling to someplace new.

Since we began Postcard Jar two years ago, we’ve shared 76 posts, including 7 tips for travelers, an overview of Nebraska’s Nicest Nine places and attractions, postcards from readers like you, and highlights our trip to Europe last summer. We’ve loved taking pictures of the places we’ve visited, the foods and drinks we’ve tried, and the people who have made our travels so special. We’ve learned a lot about other cultures and traditions. We’ve seen amazing cathedrals abroad and found unique museums close to home. Travel may not always be easy for me, but we’ve made adjustments to our expectations and done what we could, when we can. As my my cardiologist tells me often, life is short — go the places you want to go and see the things you’ve always wanted to see.

So we have.

A postcard from Jerusalem

A postcard from Jerusalem (via Italy).

And we couldn’t be more grateful for those like you who have come along on this journey with us. In just 24 months, we’ve figured out (mostly) how this blog works and through social media connections, we’ve been able to attract more readers like you every month. And YOU GUYS ROCK! You’ve liked, shared, commented, and even sent us more than 50 postcards for our jar!

 

Here’s a little breakdown, by the numbers.

Facebook

As of yesterday, we had 857 page likes on Facebook and our followers spanned 18 states in the U.S. and 17 countries across five continents. While most of our followers are from the United States, we do have a handful of readers from countries like Italy, Tanzania, Brazil, and even Saint Kitts! Not surprisingly, our hometown of Crete, Nebraska, has attracted the highest number of domestic followers (139), although we also have readers from places like New York City, Greenville, Mississippi, and San Diego, California.

 

 

Admittedly, we still struggle with some of the mechanics of integrating Facebook with our WordPress site and hope we can learn more about that this year. [If you happen to be an expert in this area, please message us immediately!]

 

Twitter

Steve typically keeps tracks of our Twitter account and has learned a lot about promoting our site through tweeting from other travel enthusiasts like @travelwithsara and @thewalkingtourists. A group of Midwest travel bloggers has also hosted several Twitter chats that have also helped us learn this medium a little better and share ideas. We’ve gained 146 Twitter followers in two years and recorded 407 tweets.

 

Pinterest

While Steve does a great job with our Twitter account, he won’t touch Pinterest. And that’s just fine with me! I thrive on ideas, so when I found Pinterest, it was a match made in heaven. I’ve created 34 boards for everything from business travel tips and gifts for travelers to travel quotes and decorating with travel (who knew?). It has taken little effort to collect 639 pins while gaining 119 followers.

 

Instagram

Instragram is probably my favorite social media outlet. It’s quick and easy and I just love all the filters (Amaro and Sierra are my favs) that make our pictures look great! In our first 24 months, we’ve posted 222 photos and videos and have 130 followers. We appreciate all of the love we get when post new photos, and are especially grateful for our niece, Emma, who is almost always the first one to click on the heart for every single photo we’ve posted. Love you, Em!

As we celebrate our 2nd blogiversary today, please know that we are so thankful for all of our followers and we want to get to know you even better. We love getting your postcards and seeing where you’ve been and here’s your chance to tell us even a little more about YOU! We hope you’ll take the time to comment (look for the speech bubble at the top of this post) or “leave a reply.”

1. Who are you? What’s your name? How old are you? Where do you live? What do you do?

2. What do you like most here? Travel tips? Places we’ve been? Postcards from readers? Pictures of pretty views? Review of museums and attractions?

3. Random question — what’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever packed in your suitcase?

4. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go and why?

5. If you could ask us any question, here’s your chance! Ask away …

We would be remiss without thanking Ciana Cloud for helping us get started, and other bloggers like Sara Broers of Travel with Sara, Tim and Lisa Trudell from The Walking Tourists for showing us how to navigate the travel blog world. We’re also grateful for Roger Yant and Patty Kreifels at Shop Nebraska who include an excerpt from Postcard Jar in each issue of their magazine. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

[well]When you’re traveling next, be sure to send us a postcard at Postcard Jar, P.O. Box 334, Crete, NE 68333. We’d love to hear from you![/well]

  • What a privilege to be in @visitbentonville this weekend to celebrate the opening of @themomentary and our friend, @addie_roanhorse. Addie’s Osage ribbon work- inspired design is featured on this tower at the Momentary and it is just fabulous! 
This new space opens to the public Feb. 22 and general admission is free, thanks to the generosity of the @waltonfamilyfdn.
  • In @visitmasoncityiowa, you'll find the boyhood home of famous composer Meredith Willson. Perhaps best known for his musical, "The Music Man," Willson based the show in large part on his experiences growing up in his hometown.⁣
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Mason City has kept Willson's memory alive through an extensive museum and convention space, which we got to see on our hosted tour of the town, called The Music Man Square. A part of the experience at Music Man Square is a tour through Willson's childhood home.⁣
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Now is the perfect time to head to Mason City for a visit. Hugh Jackman is set to play Professor Harold Hill in a Broadway revival of, "The Music Man." With that show opening in 2020, all eyes will be back on Mason City.⁣
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@thehughjackman @musicmanbway
  • When the @museumofamericanspeed invited us to come for a complimentary visit, we weren't sure what to expect. ⁣
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Yes, the museum is chock-full of race cars, engines, history, and car-related memorabilia. But it also houses other collections like one of old lunch boxes.⁣
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We had so much fun standing and taking in the lunch boxes, looking and trying to find the ones we had when we were kids. Ann had "Charlie's Angels" and Steve had "Super Friends." ⁣
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If you're ever near Lincoln, Nebraska, check out the Museum of American Speed. It's a true hidden treasure in the midwest. ⁣
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What kind of lunch box did you carry to school? Any kids of the 70s and 80s who had the ones we had?
  • Sometimes you find things in your own backyard.⁣
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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. ⁣
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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. ⁣
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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. ⁣
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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.⁣
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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. ⁣
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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. ⁣
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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. ⁣
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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.⁣
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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.⁣
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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. ⁣
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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.

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