For us, travel is all about the experiences. Here’s a look back at our some of our most memorable travel-related experiences of 2018 (in no particular order). 

1. Touring Italy 

Our tour of Italy was simply unforgettable! Deb from Italy Unfiltered and her husband, Massi the Driver, took us on foodie tours, showed us breathtaking views of Tuscany, and demonstrated how to remove a cork from a bottle of Prosecco with a saber in Valdobbiadene. We visited Venice, Florence, and Rome and Arianna and Alessio from KM Zero Tours taught us all about agritourism through visits to unique family-owned farms and vineyards. 

Montepulciano, Italy

One of the beautiful views near the Podere della Bruciata vineyard.

One of our fondest memories of our 2018 trip to Italy was toasting Prosecco with Massi and Deb at Cartizze Hill in Valdobbiadene.

One of our fondest memories of our 2018 trip to Italy was toasting Prosecco with Massi and Deb at Cartizze Hill in Valdobbiadene.

2. Staying at The Pioneer Woman’s Boarding House 

The Pioneer Woman’s Boarding House in Pawhuska, Okla., opened this year and quickly booked full through December of 2019. We were fortunate to stay in five of the eight cowboy-luxury themed rooms this year. We loved the small-town hospitality of the staff there, the cozy beds and clawfoot bathtubs, and the the made-to-order (and delivered to your room) coffee service in the morning. 

The Butterfly Room at The Boarding House was our favorite.

Steve and Ann at the PW Boarding House

We are always super excited to get a room at the boarding house.

3. Cooking with The Chef and The Dish 

Our cooking experiences with The Chef and The Dish allowed us travel to Italy and Spain without leaving our own kitchen. Through the magic of Skype, we learned how to make an authentic Italian meal (including risotto) with our friends, Jeff and Ciana. Then, a few weeks later, Ann learned how to make paella with The Pioneer Woman’s BFF, Cyndi (Hyacinth) Kane. Taught to us by expert chefs, the recipes and techniques we learned will be with us for a lifetime. 

Cooking with Cyndi (Hyacinth) Kane and The Chef & The Dish.

Cooking paella with Cyndi (Hyacinth) Kane and The Chef and The Dish.

Finished bruschetta with The Chef and the Dish

The finished bruschetta with the blackened toast and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese was the most authentic tasting we’ve had in the U.S. Yum! (Photo by Jeff Cloud)

4. Moving our daughter to Tulsa 

In May we became empty nesters when we moved our daughter, Meghan, to Tulsa, Okla., for nursing school. With the help of our Facebook followers, we were able to select just the right U-Haul truck for the move from our home in Nebraska to her new apartment Oklahoma. It was a bittersweet trip, but we could not be more proud of her and can’t wait to have another nurse in the family. 

Meghan apartment

Meghan stands in her apartment in Oklahoma right after unloading the truck on the day she moved in.

Meghan complete apartment

With unpacking and setup done, Meghan sits and relaxes in her apartment in Oklahoma.

5. Exporing Greece 

Ann checked off the top item on her bucket list with several stops in Greece during our Celebrity cruise this summer. We’ll never forget the awe-inspiring views of the white-washed houses and blue-domed churches in Santori or our slow climb to the top of the Acropolis. Greece was everything we imagined and so much more. 

Oia Greece

A blue domed church in the town of Oia on Santorini Island, Greece enjoys a commanding view of the sea below.

We took a slow walk up to the top of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

We took a slow walk up to the top of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

6. Learning about beer, wine, and spirits 

We had several opportunities this year to tour breweries, wineries, and even a distillery. We took a mixology class where we learned to put the least expensive ingredient into a cocktail first (in case you mess it up). We loved our agritourism tour, including a stop at Kinkaider Brewing, in central Nebraska and we had the most incredible wine tasting in the woods in Montepulciano, Italy. 

Kinkaider Brewing company, Broken Bow, Nebraska

A sample of Kinkaider beer in the delicious duck breast appetizer we enjoyed during our tasting.

Our wine tasting in the woods experience in Tuscany was one of our favorite travel experiences of all time.

Our wine tasting in the woods experience in Tuscany was one of our favorite travel experiences of all time.

7. Watching the sunset in the Florida Keys

We spent several weeks with Steve’s mom and dad at their winter home in the Florida Keys this year. One of our favorite memories from that trip was watching the bright orange colors of the sun, as it set into the Gulf of Mexico. We’d walk out to a dock after dinner and sit in silence as we counted the blessings of God’s creation and each other. 

Marathon, Florida, sunset

We loved watching beautiful sunsets while in Marathon, Florida.

Steve with parents sunset

Steve with his parents on a dock in Marathon, Florida around sunset.

8. Walking the streets of Pompeii

After a morning drive through the gorgeous Amalfi coast, we were not prepared for how amazed we would be when we walked thought the streets of nearby Pompeii. This incredibly well preserved Roman city, with its original structures and frescos, astounded us at every turn. Joined on the tour by Canadian friends, Roger and Jane Speer, we all could easily imagine what life was like there more than 2,000 years ago. 


Steve and Ann with our friends, Jane and Roger Speer in the ancient city of Pompeii.

Amalfi Coast

The beautiful Amalfi coast in Italy.

9. Road tripping across Iowa 

In late September, we spent a week exploring Iowa. Highlights included a night at Hotel Grinnell, a visit to the kitchen at Lagomarcino’s in the quad cites, and an end-of-season boat ride on the Lady of the Lake in Clear Lake. By the end of the trip, we’d discovered dozens of new destinations and attractions that make the midwest a great place to explore. 

Hotel Grinnell Iowa Penthouse Suite

Inside the Penthouse Suite of the Hotel Grinnell.

Lady of the Lake

Looking back over the wake of the Lady of the Lake boat in Clear Lake, Iowa.

10. Driving through the south 

The last week of 2018, we set off on a trip through the south, driving from Oklahoma to Florida. Our first stop in Bentonville, Arkansas, was one of our favorites. We visited Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Walmart Museum there. In the Delta of Mississippi, we stoped in Greenville where Steve began his teaching career. He was reunited with school colleagues and former students. And, we enjoyed a big, juicy, broiled steak from the family table in the kitchen of the iconic Doe’s Eat Place. 

Crystal Bridges

“Trade (Gifts of Trading Land with White People)” by Jaune Quick-To-See Smith. This was one of the amazing pieces on display at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Cypress brake

The cypress swamp or, “brake,” in Greenville, Mississippi is one of the last remaining original brakes in the Mississippi Delta.

We are so blessed to be able to do what we love and share our journey with others. It is our hope that in 2019, whether it is someplace close to home or on the other side of the globe, you’ll have the opportunity to go new places and experience new things, too. 

Travel well. 


  • Strawberry fields forever...⁣
While traveling, we adore stopping in farmers markets and checking out the fresh produce available for sale. When we saw these strawberries in Tallinn, Estonia, we just had to take a picture.⁣
The vibrant color of the berries tells us they were ripened naturally on the vine. You just don't get that color trucked in to a supermarket. And that natural ripening means, of course, that these are some of the sweetest strawberries you'll ever taste. Yum! #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #celebritycruises #cruising #seastheday #cruise #sea #beyondborders #humansatsea #cruiseaddict #cruisecritic #tallinn #lifeisbeautiful #cruiseship #cruiselife #estonia #strawberries #farmersmarket #lifeisshort #visitestonia #adventuregirls #tallinngram #berries
  • On our Baltic Sea cruise, we stopped in Stockholm, Sweden. To get there, we had to sail through the Stockholm Archipelago. ⁣
For days leading up to our arrival in Stockholm, the captain of the ship kept telling us that we should plan to be up early so we could take in the scenery as we passed through the archipelago. After enough repetitions, we resolved to get up early to see what he was so excited about.⁣
We are so glad we set the alarm. That morning, we sat on our balcony and had breakfast watching some of the most beautiful scenery we'd ever seen pass by our cabins. We had an up-close view of land that we've rarely had from a cruise ship unless it was docked. ⁣
Sure, we travel to see specific things. Who doesn't? But we really love it when we find something like this that we didn't know existed, but it is so amazing it enriches our lives and makes us want to go back again and again.
  • In the @visitmasoncityiowa airport, is a new restaurant called CAVU American Kitchen & Cocktail Lounge. Offering chef-crafted foods and incredible cocktails, this restaurant has the best airport food we've ever eaten. In fact, we'll call this airport a destination.⁣
Pictured here is Chef Cassie's fried potato salad. This was her elimination dish from the show, "Master Chef." Apparently, Wolfgang Puck didn't think much of it. After trying it, we don't think much of Wolfgang Puck's taste.⁣
This dish, which is served warm, is composed of crispy fried potato chunks covered in delicious potato salad dressing. The combination of flavors and textures had us going back for more. #postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #midwestliving #midwestlivingmag  #midwestmoment #igersmidwest #midwestisbest #masoncity #clearlake @masoncity
  • In Rochester, Minnesota, in the shadow of the famed Mayo Clinic, is a beautiful pedestrian area called the Peace Plaza. Because of its location, it's often the last area a person walks through as they go to the clinic hoping for help. And, it's the first place people pass as they leave the clinic sometimes with good news, other times to confront their own mortality.⁣
The designers of the plaza seemed to understand the huge role the space would play in the lives of the people coming through. They designed it as a calming, meditative space filled with tranquility. It's a place you can refocus a little, and take some time to transition from the clinic to the world. And, it's just one more example of the ways that @minnesotas_rochester demonstrates humanity to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come each year to the clinic.
  • Are these salt and pepper shakers not the cutest?? Pawhuska, Oklahoma, is a magical place at Christmastime. We stopped by the @pwmercantile this morning and snapped a few new pics. Getting excited for the Holiday Lights Parade tonight!
  • We have four holiday gift guides up on the blog for the traveler, home cook, cruise lover, and road tripper on your shopping list! Just click on the link in our bio to check out our blog. ⁣
One of our all-time favorite items (it made two of our lists) are these @EagleCreek packing items. This starter set goes with us on every single trip. Last year, Steve packed 16 size XXL shirts in on of them. They are super lightweight, safe space in your suitcase, and help you stay organized as your travel. ⁣
What are your favorite gift ideas for travelers this year? ⁣
#postcardjar #midlifetravel #emptynesttravel #goplaces #emptynest #emptynesters #midlife #couplestravel #couplestrip #giftideas #giftsfortravelers #traveler #travelgifts #giftguide #roadtrippin #packingtips #packingbags #howtopack #packlight #eaglecreek #celebritycruises #travelblogger #packing #packinghack #giftsph #holidayshopping #giftidea #travelgram #packing101
  • Who's ready for some pumpkin pie??⁣
The thought of digging in to a piece of pumpkin pie (served with a cup of coffee with pumpkin spice creamer) takes us back to a small town festival we love. ⁣
A few years ago, our town of Crete, Nebraska, began holding the Great Pumpkin Festival during the first weekend of October.⁣
From spring to fall, local volunteers tend gardens filled with pumpkin vines so that folks who come to the festival can take home a reasonably priced, locally-grown pumpkin. ⁣
The festival is full of games, food, performances and fun. It's a wholesome day where the town turns out to celebrate another year together in a relaxed, calm atmosphere.⁣
Does your town have a festival? Tell us about it in the comments below.
  • ***NEW BLOG POST *** Today is exactly 8 months since we started our weight loss journey using the @noom app. See how we’ve lost 126.3 pounds while traveling. Just click on the link to our blog that’s in our bio to read our answers to your most asked questions about weight loss. And click to the second photo here to see our “before” pic.

Second most popular blog in Pawhuska