Blogversary: Has it really been five years?

The Walking Tourists
A fall foliage trip led off our travel blog. Hopefully, the content has improved since Sept. 28, 2011.

It all started with a fall foliage trip to southeastern Nebraska. It seems weird that we’re celebrating our fifth anniversary as The Walking Tourists. From posting trip and weekend outing photos on Facebook to sharing our adventures on a blog, it’s been a fun and challenging ride.

As a one-time journalist, I thought I had put my writing days behind me. But, as the years have passed, I’ve enjoyed blogging about our trips, be them to faraway places or just down the street. I hope we’ve been able to entertain you and maybe make you smile and wonder about checking out a place. To have more than 3,200 people follow our adventures humble us. We appreciate each and every one of you.

Over the past half-decade we have met so many new friends and developed some great relationships. We believe the blogging world is a close knit community. The friends we continue to run into around the Midwest and other parts of the country boggles the mind.

We don’t say these words in passing. We have met with “blogger” friends outside the world of blogging. That says a lot about the relationships people develop in this ilk.

Travel blogging since Sept. 28, 2011 has helped me check things off my bucket list, opened my eyes to the attractions all around us, and renewed my appreciation not just for Nebraska, but the entire Midwest. The Midwest offers so much that the rest of the country – and the world – can appreciate. We have the St. Louis Arch, Chicago and its gifts. We have Kansas City, Omaha, and the Twin Cities, four of the five Great Lakes. We have so much for people to see and things to do. We need to stop calling the Midwest “fly over country” and instead “Must see country.”

The Walking Tourists
Clear Lake, Iowa, quickly became one of our favorite Midwestern spots. We’ve made five stops there in one year. It’s a beautiful area with friendly people.

As for my bucket list, I can cross off seeing all of the Great Lakes. Lake Huron was the last one I needed to visit. I was able to do that during a 2013 trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We stayed across the water from Mackinac Island. It is a beautiful island with so much history.

The Walking Tourists
St. Ignace, Michigan.

As a native Nebraskan, it took me more than 50 years, but I finally saw Chimney Rock in person. Check that off the bucket list.

The Walking Tourists
Chimney Rock, Nebraska.

How about a Cubs baseball game at Wrigley Field (before the recent renovations). I love old ball fields and really enjoyed that visit.

The Walking Tourists
Wrigley Field in Chicago. We enjoyed watching a game there.

The Midwest is home to some of the world’s largest attractions. OK, they may be manmade and touristy, but we love them anyway. The world’s largest bull is a short drive from Omaha in Audubon, Iowa. The world’s largest bison (or buffalo, your choice) is in Jamestown, North Dakota. The largest cow is in North Dakota.

The Walking Tourists
The world’s largest buffalo in Jamestown, North Dakota. In front is a white buffalo.

The Midwest has turned out some famous and great presidents. Abe Lincoln called Springfield, Illinois, home before his assassination in 1865. He is entombed there. Dwight Eisenhower hailed from Kansas. His presidential museum and visitors complex in Abilene is quite impressive. Herbert Hoover was blamed for the Great Depression in 1929, but he was a decent man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Rapid City has an impressive Presidents walk to complement Mount Rushmore.

The Walking Tourists
Statue of Dwight Eisenhower during his military days as a five-star general.

Great sports teams and events come from the Midwest. Omaha hosts the College World Series. Chicago has the Cubs. Missouri is home to two World Series champion franchises in Kansas City and St. Louis. We’ve seen some teams play and have visited several stadiums.

The Walking Tourists
Cleats and baseballs once used by Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland Alexander, who hailed from small town Nebraska. He is the star of the Nebraska Museum of Major League Baseball in St. Paul, which honors Nebraskans who have played Major League Baseball.

We’ve been privileged to see some beautiful natural attractions, including Minnesota’s North Shore along Lake Superior. Wisconsin has several amazing nature attractions.

The Walking Tourists
Split Rock Lighthouse along Minnesota’s North Shore.

When we started The Walking Tourists, I had no idea that we would encounter places that would have a family connection. Recently, I learned that my great-great-grandparents and great-grandfather were among the Santee Sioux imprisoned at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, during the 1860s. Shortly before we started the blog, we visited Alcatraz Island, where my oldest brother John had been involved with a Native American occupation during the late 1960s. I knew about his involvement, but I had a sense of pride when a park ranger told me he had read about John and was impressed with his communication skills and personality.

The Walking Tourists
Memorial to the Native Americans imprisoned at Fort Snelling.

I could go and on about all the great and impressive places we’ve seen and visited. We truly appreciate the opportunities we have received the past five years and the people we have met. We look forward to what the next five years bring and the new friends we will meet along the way.

Thank you again for the support and we look forward to the opportunity to continue to share our stories with you.