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.

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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]

 

  • Curious to see what Iowa has to offer to visitors besides corn? ⁣
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FOLLOW ALONG on our Instagram and Facebook stories as we travel to Iowa Sept. 19-22. We're going to be exploring Mason City and Clear Lake, Iowa, and we can't wait to take you with us!⁣
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We'll hit all the popular attractions like the Surf Ballroom, The Music Man Square, and the Historic Park Inn. And, we'll take you behind the scenes at several unique eateries and venues. ⁣
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Our coverage of our trip to Iowa begins the morning of Sept. 19. We hope you'll join us on what is sure to be another fun-filled Midwest travel adventure. ⁣
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Also, let us know your recommendations for things to see and do in the Clear Lake/Mason City area if you have ideas. We'd love to hear from you. ⁣
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@clearlakeiowa @visitmasoncityiowa @traveliowa @midwesttravelnetwork
  • Steve is 47 today! ⁣
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A definite advantage of getting older and gaining experience in traveling is not being so terrified to hop on the plane and go.⁣
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This is 17 year-old Steve, way back in 1990, as he prepared to leave for Argentina where he would spend six months living with a host family as an exchange student.⁣
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As it turns out, Steve's time in Argentina was wonderful, and he remembers it fondly. After his time in there, he went on to get a degree in Spanish, spend a semester abroad in Costa Rica, participate in missions and community-service trips in third world countries, and finally be a teacher and eventually a school administrator. None of this would have happened if he hand't conquered his fear and gotten on the plane.⁣
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So if you're nervous to travel somewhere, that's understandable. But put your fear aside and go--a life changing experience awaits you.
  • Just over two years ago, we stopped in Pawhuska to have lunch at Ree Drummond's @PWMercantile. From the person opening the door for us to the folks tending the line giving us water, we felt welcome from the moment we set foot in Pawhuska, Oklahoma.⁣
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But it turns out it wasn't just @thepioneerwoman and her husband, Ladd, who went above and beyond to welcome visitors. No, it turns out what they did was just par for the course in this town that's home to some of the friendliest and most welcoming people we've met in all our travels. ⁣
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So we bought a house there. We got it in part, so we could be a part of the community we've come to love. But we also got it so we could help welcome folks to town and let them know how glad we are they came to visit. Come and see Pawhuska. And when you do, stay awhile.
  • Fried dill pickles are a little different in North Dakota than they are in most other places we've been. Instead of just dipping some dill chips in batter, dropping them in the fryer, and then serving them in a basket with ranch, the folks there take their time and make a dish to remember.⁣
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They start with a dill pickle spear, wrap that in Havarti cheese, then put a wonton wrapper around it all. Then, they fry it, and slice it open just so before serving them alongside a spicy aioli dipping sauce. We had these at a complimentary meal at Outlaws Bar and Grill in @visitwilliston, North Dakota.⁣
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Let's be honest, these pickles are just one of many reasons we look forward to our return to @northdakotalegendary next year.
  • Have you ever had the chance to watch a cruise ship come into or leave port? These massive ships, often 1,000 feet or more long, can maneuver themselves by the dock so gently that you don't even realize you've stopped (or started) moving.⁣
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In Bermuda, we had the chance to watch the Norwegian Escape depart. We watched as she pushed away from the dock, then spun 180 degrees on a point before heading out to sea.⁣
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We've seen ships do this dozens of times. In fact, we've been on ships and have been part of this type of maneuvering dozens of times. And yet, given the sheer size of the vessels, it never ceases to impress.
  • You know you want to. Do it. Just book the ticket and go. At the end of your life, you likely won't remember most of the stuff you bought in 2019, but you will always remember the journey you took and the experiences you had. So enrich your life and go. We've never regretted spending money for a trip.
  • This just might be the sweetest, best pecan roll we've ever had. At the @PWMercantile, they bake these delicious treats daily. Covered in a luscious caramel and finely chopped pecans, these rolls are the stuff dreams are made of. Have you had one?
  • Smack in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we found the International Rose Test Garden. Set on 4.5 acres of land, the garden offers visitors a chance to see 10,000 rose bushes from about 650 different varieties. ⁣
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We spent more than an hour walking the carefully tended paths, snapping photos, and just enjoying the beautiful flowers. Our visit here made us glad that we literally scheduled time on this trip to stop and smell the roses.

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