A few of years ago, I told Ann that I was going to plan a trip, book it, pack her bag, pick her up from work and take her directly to the airport for a surprise weekend away. With a horrified expression, she told me that I should never do that because there is no way I could pack her bag and match the right shoes with any of her outfits. (I couldn’t argue, she had a valid point there.) We worked out a compromise, and the Sine Die Adventure was born.

Let me pause to explain where we got “Sine Die Adventure.”

[well]To adjourn “sine die” means that a body (like a state legislature or a school board) is stopping business and will not meet again.[/well]

This fits for us because Ann has worked as a lobbyist and when the legislatures she covered dismissed “sine die” it meant that business was done and she could finally take a much needed break. Typically, the legislatures’ end of session coincides with the end of my school year, so the term fits there, as well. And after 10 months of being surrounded by pre-teens as a middle school principal, nothing sounds better to me than a few days out of town.

Here’s how the Sine Die Adventure works:  There are three of us in our family — my wife, our daughter, Meghan, and me. Two of us plan the trip (generally a long weekend), and one of us doesn’t get to know where we are going until we are at the airport. Two days before the trip we give a few hints about the weather and address any special needs for the trip (ie. swimming suit, nice dinner out, etc.).  The two planning the trip try to put together a trip the one who doesn’t know where we’re going would enjoy–a trip built around her/his interests.  The first year Ann had no idea where we were going. It wasn’t until they called our flight at the Omaha Airport that she learned the destination of our first adventure and that we’d be spending time at the spa and having dinner at her favorite restaurant.

The next year was my year, and Ann and Meghan planned a trip especially for me. The destination was ideal for my somewhat new-found interest in country music and, I got to meet the stars of one of my favorite TV shows. Last summer, we took Meghan and a friend on our Third Annual Sine Die trip and can I just say … it was quite the adventure.

We’ll be posting highlights of all three Sine Die Adventures soon. As for our next Sine Die Adventure — it’s Ann’s turn to be surprised again. I have a pretty cool idea for where we should go. Sorry, but I can’t say where it will be until we’re at the airport.

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Note: The picture at the top of this post was taken by Ann from inside the Kansas state capitol when she was working as a registered lobbyist for a communications company. 

  • 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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