Fifty years ago today, something pretty special happened — my mom and dad got married.

I feel pretty lucky to have had them both as my parents and we are so excited for them to celebrate 50 years together. Over the years they have been a great example of what it means to be dedicated to family. To this day, they are there for us if we need them, and we know we are blessed because of that.

Mom and Dad have always liked travel; they spent their honeymoon in Estes Park, Colo.

John and Gayle on a vacation to Colorado.

John and Gayle on a vacation to Colorado.

Twenty years later they returned to Estes, only that time with 14-year-old me in tow. I had a great time on that trip, my first time seeing mountains. We didn’t travel far every year. Some years, we only went as far as Minnesota or South Dakota to see grandparents, but I always knew my parents enjoyed exploring new places.

Over time, they’ve taken vacations to Hawaii, Jamaica, and Ecuador. They have visited many countries in Europe, and have been to Alaska. In fact, they just got back from a trip through the St. Lawrence Seaway and along the northeast coast of the United States to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Recently, they surprised us when they told us of some exciting plans they have to travel through the Panama Canal this winter.

We’ve loved traveling with my parents over the six years since we’ve been married to places like Las Vegas, Mason City, Iowa, and Key West. This summer, we had a great time exploring the Nebraska Sandhills as we took a road trip together around our home state.

We had a wonderful trip around Nebraska with Steve's mom and dad, including stops at Smith Falls near Valentine.

We had a wonderful trip around Nebraska with Steve’s mom and dad, including stops at Smith Falls near Valentine.

I think much of my love for travel came from my mom and dad. They always made sure that we had opportunities to learn about the world. They worked closely with a foreign exchange program for high school students, hosting several students in our home and working with even more across the midwest region. Each student brought something into our lives that we wouldn’t have had. Each one of those experiences opened an enormous world to me yet made it feel a bit smaller at the same time.

John and Gayle a charity fundraiser in the Florida Keys earlier this year.

John and Gayle at the Sweetheart Ball in 2017

As they celebrate 50 years together today, Ann and I just wanted to say congratulations, Mom and Dad. We couldn’t be happier for you, and we look forward to seeing where life’s adventures take you next.

  • We walked in to the @elevatepeople store in Kearney, Nebraska, by mistake. We'd been looking for a coffee shop. Elevate wasn’t a coffee shop, but what we found was a store full of beautiful, handmade leather goods. These ethically sourced products were actually produced around the world by artisans who are working to escape poverty. Elevate, a non-profit, provides them with small, low interest loans to start their businesses. When the money is repaid, it is then re-invested into the same community to help another person start a business. It's a purchase you can feel good about.
  • Florida is a wonderful place to go in the winter. There you'll find sunshine and warmth while much of the rest of the country is experiencing the chill of winter. We love seeing the plants and flowers in bloom when we visit.
  • When our daughter, Meghan, was younger, she wanted an affordable, easy to store souvenir from her travels with her mom. She settled on pencils. Over the years, she's collected a couple hundred pencils from various destinations including the ones that others have given to her. She keeps them in a jar in her apartment, creating a great conversation piece.
  • We won't lie, our cruise aboard the @CelebrityCruise Edge was more about the ship than the destination. We loved sitting in The Retreat while watching others head ashore for excursions. But let's be honest, we really loved just sitting in the Retreat, soaking in the beautiful sun.
  • There is nothing quite like preparing a perfect dish in your own kitchen. Courtesy of @thechefandthedish, Ann prepared a traditional Spanish paella with Cyndi Kane, a.k.a. Ree Drummond's BFF Hyacinth. Sure, learning to make the dish was fun. Savoring the meal, and the friendship that went with it, was the best part of that great afternoon.
  • In the chilly, pre-dawn light of an early spring day on the Platte River in central Nebraska you can be sure of one thing: soon you'll witness one of nature's greatest spectacles, tens of thousands of Sandhill Cranes taking to the air for a day of foraging for food. If you have never witnessed this incredible sight, you must make sure you @visitnebraska so you can experience this for yourself. @visitKearney
  • A good cocktail is an experience. Instead of just having a drink to throw back, we love savoring a well-crafted beverage. Something we love about @celebritycruise is that good cocktails are easy to find. We aren't huge drinkers. Instead, we are strong believers in quality over quantity.
  • Something that always impresses us is the sheer size of a cruise ship. The fact that something that large can move and float and provide great service never ceases to amaze. But one of our favorite views is when we're docked next to another ship, and walking down a pier suddenly feels like walking through a canyon.

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