Happy 50th anniversary, Mom and Dad

Happy 50th anniversary, Mom and Dad

Fifty years ago today, something pretty special happened — my mom and dad got married.

I feel pretty lucky to have had them both as my parents and we are so excited for them to celebrate 50 years together. Over the years they have been a great example of what it means to be dedicated to family. To this day, they are there for us if we need them, and we know we are blessed because of that.

Mom and Dad have always liked travel; they spent their honeymoon in Estes Park, Colo.

John and Gayle on a vacation to Colorado.

John and Gayle on a vacation to Colorado.

Twenty years later they returned to Estes, only that time with 14-year-old me in tow. I had a great time on that trip, my first time seeing mountains. We didn’t travel far every year. Some years, we only went as far as Minnesota or South Dakota to see grandparents, but I always knew my parents enjoyed exploring new places.

Over time, they’ve taken vacations to Hawaii, Jamaica, and Ecuador. They have visited many countries in Europe, and have been to Alaska. In fact, they just got back from a trip through the St. Lawrence Seaway and along the northeast coast of the United States to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Recently, they surprised us when they told us of some exciting plans they have to travel through the Panama Canal this winter.

We’ve loved traveling with my parents over the six years since we’ve been married to places like Las Vegas, Mason City, Iowa, and Key West. This summer, we had a great time exploring the Nebraska Sandhills as we took a road trip together around our home state.

We had a wonderful trip around Nebraska with Steve's mom and dad, including stops at Smith Falls near Valentine.

We had a wonderful trip around Nebraska with Steve’s mom and dad, including stops at Smith Falls near Valentine.

I think much of my love for travel came from my mom and dad. They always made sure that we had opportunities to learn about the world. They worked closely with a foreign exchange program for high school students, hosting several students in our home and working with even more across the midwest region. Each student brought something into our lives that we wouldn’t have had. Each one of those experiences opened an enormous world to me yet made it feel a bit smaller at the same time.

John and Gayle a charity fundraiser in the Florida Keys earlier this year.

John and Gayle at the Sweetheart Ball in 2017

As they celebrate 50 years together today, Ann and I just wanted to say congratulations, Mom and Dad. We couldn’t be happier for you, and we look forward to seeing where life’s adventures take you next.

See where our parents have been

See where our parents have been

We thought we’d kick off this summer travel season with a series of blog posts featuring some of the postcards that we’ve received. We love going down to the post office, opening our P.O. box, and finding postcards from far-away places. It is so neat to think of all the places in the world our readers have visited. Occasionally, it is somewhere we’ve been. More often, we add it to the growing list of places we’d like to go. In any event, it’s our hope that you’ll see something in this series that sparks your interest and makes you want to set off on an adventure of your own.

We love getting postcards from our Postcard Jar followers.

We decided that it would be best to start our “postcard parade” with postcards sent to us by our greatest fans (don’t laugh) — our parents. They’ve been sending us postcards since the beginning of our blog, and we couldn’t appreciate it more.

My mom and dad have taken a few trips over the past few years. A couple of summers ago, they headed to northern Minnesota. There they made stops in Duluth, Gooseberry Falls State Park, and at Split Rock Lighthouse on the northern shore of Lake Superior.

A different trip to Minnesota took them to Stillwater and they sent a postcard not of that quaint town, but a fun one about traveling in the state (complete with a “Minnesota rest area” photo on the back of the postcard.)

My folks have gone other places, as well, including a stop at the Lewis and Clark Visitors’ Center in Nebraska City, Neb.

lewis and clark barge

Finally, they took a trip across southern Florida this winter, and came across a gallery of work by environmental photographer Clyde Butcher. They absolutely loved it and said it was on the Tamiami Trail and was located in a cypress swamp.

Ann’s mom, Carol, has done quite a bit of travel, as well. She has made a couple of trips to see her brother, who lives in North Carolina. When she goes, they typically explore the region. With her brother, Carol has been to Washington D.C. where she saw the cherry blossoms, and to Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello.

They have also visited George W. Vanderbilt’s Biltmore estate, a not-so-modest 250-room “French Renaissance-style chateau,” which Carol said was beautiful. Finally, they have also visited some of the beaches that make the Eastern Seaboard such a wonderful place to visit.

Carol and her late husband, Mark, had a cottage on Hamlin Lake near Ludington, Mich. As a result, Carol has made many trips over the years across Iowa and Illinois on their way to Michigan. On a more recent trip with one of her daughters, Carol realized that just steps from where she and Mark had gotten gas for years in Leclaire, Iowa, was the store from the show, “American Pickers.” They stepped in, met one of the show’s stars, and had a wonderful time.

Carol pointed out that it was just one more, “reason to stop and smell the roses along life’s journey.” Of course no trip to Ludington, Mich. would be complete without a visit to the city’s iconic lighthouse to watch the S.S. Badger head out for its crossing of Lake Michigan.

Finally, Carol’s travels have taken her to see friends in far-off places. She’s visited Estes Park, Colo., where she stopped in at the Stanley Hotel. One night spent in the Stanley was all it took for Stephen King to come up with the story of The Shining.

Carol has also visited some friends who have a home in Arizona. There she visited the Biosphere 2, where eight people lived for two years eating only what they grew while inside.

Finally, Carol also visited my parents in the Florida Keys, where she made a stop in Key West. Among other things, she toured the “Little White House,” where President Truman would go for vacation.

Looking back at all these postcards, we’re really proud of our parents for their willingness to set off into the unknown and do a little exploring. In fact, it sort of answers the question as to where we got the travel bug. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing more postcards sent in by our readers. We hope that they inspire your imagination and give you some new ideas on where you can go next!

Have you been to any of these places? Let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from you. And if you do take a trip, please don’t forget to send us a postcard at Postcard Jar, P.O. Box 334, Crete, NE 68333.

As always, thanks for sharing!

Postcard from Rocky Mountain Natl. Park

Postcard from Rocky Mountain Natl. Park

Estes Park, Colorado, is a favorite vacation spot for our friends and neighbors, Matt and Linda Hanson of Crete, Neb. They have vacationed there for years and continue to rave about the Golden Aspens, the wildlife, and the variety of outdoor activities available for visitors. The Hansons go there often and we know from their stories and the postcards (like this one) they’ve sent, that fall is a great time to go.

Rocky Mountain National Park

According to an Estes Park website, fall brings “clear blue skies and crisp air punctuated with occasional snows, bugling elk and bighorn sheep butting contests. Aspen start turning in late August at higher elevations and the golden leaves work their way down to lower elevations in October. The peak of the gold rush in our mountains is usually in late September. Daylight and elevation set the timing of the color season. Rain, snow, cold and wind affect the intensity of color.”

Sounds like a fantastic fall vacation spot to us. Thanks, Matt and Linda, for sending us postcard!

[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]