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.

  • The Pioneer Woman's Boarding House in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, is a special hotel. There are eight rooms, each beautifully decorated, and no two rooms are alike. With large bathrooms, a mini-bar, evening reception, room service, valet parking, high-speed internet, and friendly service, a night here is a real treat. Ann snapped this picture of the arrangement of fresh flowers in the Butterfly Room. The bed in the background? That's a Tempurpedic mattress with some of the softest bedding around. We can't think of a better place to spend a cozy night when you @visittheosage and Pawhuska.⁣
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@pwboardinghouse
  • While in Italy, we took a cooking class in the home of a the owner of a small vineyard. During the class, we learned to make several dishes including pasta (which we rolled and cut by hand) as well as Tiramisu. Looking at this picture, we can still taste the freshness of the pasta, the tomatoes picked that morning from vines in the yard for the sauce, and the herbs clipped from a pot on the porch. It was a magical meal, paired with wines they had produced using grapes they'd grown on their own land. Talk about a farm to table meal.
  • The Enchanted Highway near @visit_dickinson, North Dakota, is a 30 mile stretch of road that runs from I-94 to Regent. Along the way you'll find a number of huge metal sculptures that have to be seen to be believed. The size and scale of these creations is such that you'll be filled with a sense of wonder, and a desire to drive on to the next one. This particular creation is called, appropriately enough, "Grasshoppers in the Field." This road is just one more reason for you to hop on up to North Dakota. @NorthDakotaLegendary
  • One of our favorite restaurants whether on land or at sea is @celebritycruises Luminae restaurant. Every morsel of every dish has been thoughtfully considered, prepared, and presented. Take this Chocolate Palet dessert for instance. It's so rich that more than a few bites would be almost overwhelming. But that's okay, as the serving size is perfect. Paired with the scoop of gelato on a bed of chocolate crumbles? Well, it makes a perfect end to a scrumptious meal. A true masterpiece.
  • One of the things we love most about traveling is discovering new things. New destinations, new foods, new cocktails, and new people. What do you like to discover?
  • Our imaginations run wild when we find ourselves in a place so chock-full of history like Deadwood, South Dakota. As we took in the town, we closed our eyes and listened for echoes from the past when Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok lived here. If only the streets could talk. @tripscout @midwestliving⁣
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  • Standing on a hill in present-day Rome, you can look down on the Roman Forum, the center of activity in ancient Rome. We've all heard of Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, Marcus Agrippa, and the Apostle Paul, and we know them as ancient historical figures who almost don't seem real. And then you see this space, the very streets where they walked and the buildings they knew. This is why Rome is the eternal city. You can still walk streets and cross bridges built thousands of years ago. Being there makes it's real, and suddenly history comes alive.
  • Is there anything more relaxing than the thought of a beautiful sandy beach? How about one with pink sand, like at Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda? We made a stop here during our visit to the island nation and loved seeing all the folks there enjoying their time splashing in the warm summer sun. ⁣
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Would you like to visit this beach?

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