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

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

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.

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.

Valentine, Nebraska slide

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.

Salamanca, Spain slide

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.

Next, we moved on to the incredible travel opportunities we love in our home state of Nebraska. From Toadstool Geologic Park to Ashfall Fossil Beds to North Platte, Nebraska has amazing travel destinations that could easily fill a family’s summer vacation calendar.

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.

Sandhill crane migration, Nebraska, screenshot

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.

St. Kitts screenshot

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.

Cruise cuisine slide

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.

Roman Bath, Bath, England slide

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.

Hotel Spa, Bath, England

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 postcardjar@gmail.com.

  • 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.⁣
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.⁣
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.⁣
@thehughjackman @musicmanbway
  • When the @museumofamericanspeed invited us to come for a complimentary visit, we weren't sure what to expect. ⁣
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.⁣
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." ⁣
If you're ever near Lincoln, Nebraska, check out the Museum of American Speed. It's a true hidden treasure in the midwest. ⁣
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.⁣
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.

Second most popular blog in Pawhuska