This summer, we received a beautiful postcard from the Amana Colonies near Cedar Rapids, IA. The postcard was sent by a friend of ours, Jen Van Winkle and one of her friends, June Biggs. Jen and I have been friends for more than a decade. We met when I was working in the cable industry and Jen, a middle school language arts teacher in Lincoln, Neb., was awarded my company’s National Teacher Award. I had the privilege of taking Jen and some of her colleagues to the awards ceremony in Washington D.C. We sat next to each other on the plane, struck up a conversation, talked the entire flight, and have been friends ever since.

Like us, Jen loves to travel and has taken lots of opportunities to see the world and she continually inspires her students to want to do the same.

This summer, Jen and June decided to take a relaxing road trip before the start of their school year. They drove from their homes in eastern Nebraska across the state of Iowa to the Amana Colonies. The Colonies have been a treasure on the Iowa prairie for more than 150 years. Located just minutes from I-80, the seven villages of the Amana Colonies offer visitors the opportunity to step back from today’s busy pace, to relish in the comfort of locally crafted foods, furniture, art and more. The Colonies offer a unique history and culture found nowhere else in the world.

amana2

While Jen and June had a great stay at Rose’s Place Bed and Breakfast and enjoyed strolling through the Colonies in the warmth of summer, there are also lots of events in the winter months, as well. Next week on Jan. 23, the Colonies will host Winterfest in the Amanas. Winterfest is a celebration of the experience of winter in the Amana Colonies. You’ll find a wide variety of activities including a 5K run/Walk, Outdoor games, Open Fire Chili, a Wine Walk featuring samples of locally made wine and beer, and a dance to name just a few.

Sounds like a great place to celebrate winter in the Midwest — just dress warmly! Thanks again, Jen and June for sending us postcard from the Amana Colonies and for all you’re doing to educate tomorrow’s leaders (and travelers).

[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]

 

  • 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.

Second most popular blog in Pawhuska