A Spectacular Road Trip Through South Dakota Should Be on Your List!

A Spectacular Road Trip Through South Dakota

Our road trip through South Dakota was way bigger and way grander than we ever imagined it could be. I was in Medora, North Dakota (another place you should visit) to attend a travel conference. So because the Dakotas are so close to each other, our vacation plan was to visit Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, explore the other areas of the state we were familiar with like Custer State Park and enjoy the beautiful panorama.

road trip through South Dakota
You really understand how small and insignificant you are when you stand at the edge of a canyon like this. It was a powerful and moving vista.


What we didn’t realize was just how spectacular this South Dakota scenery would be! The sheer size (242,756 acres) and vastness of the South Dakota Badlands absolutely blew our minds. Located in southwest South Dakota, this national park protects buttes and pinnacles along with the largest mixed grass prairie in the United States.

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A Visit to Sylvan Lake – Why Didn’t Anyone Ever Tell Me About This Place?

Our Visit to Sylvan Lake, The Needles Highway and Crazy Horse

I kept thinking, “Why didn’t anyone ever tell me about this place?” Nearly speechless, I stood silently in awe. I knew the landscape was created by nature, but it was just so unusual, with the staggeringly huge rocks, so smooth and perfect it looked like a ride at Disneyland. How could this be real?

In addition to being blown away by the natural elements of the shores of Sylvan Lake, we also arrived just after a small rain shower and the sky was mostly clear and the lake like a mirror, not a ripple. The mirror image of the enormous boulders above and below on the water was magical.

visit to Sylvan Lake

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A Visit to Mount Rushmore: It’s even more spectacular than you imagined


Empty Nesters visit Mount Rushmore

A Visit to Mount Rushmore

Tomorrow is our nation’s birthday and besides slicing the watermelon and wearing red, white and blue, I will be thinking of how awestruck we were standing below the Four Presidents of Mount Rushmore, the friendly soldiers we met there and the Thomas Jefferson ice cream. Read on, it’s a great story. 

To find adventure is our personal mantra and therefore our travel plans are eclectic by choice. In just the first six months of 2019, we have been to Maui, Iceland, Seattle, Italy, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming! Pretty cool! But lately my curiosity for exploring more of our nation has intensified. I have visited 40 states thus far, so with ten left to go, traveling in the US is on my mind a great deal.

sunset at Mount Rushmore
Sunset on Mount Rushmore – Nearly 3 million people from all over the world visit and some become citizens here.

Read moreA Visit to Mount Rushmore: It’s even more spectacular than you imagined

Without a doubt, empty nesters love their dogs ~

Empty nesters love their dogs

Without a doubt, empty nesters love their dogs – An Update!

Does a dog fill in the space that has been left behind since our kids have grown and left the nest?  Can a dog fulfill a parenting need in the Empty Nest? In my opinion, yes. Yes on both questions. Don’t misunderstand dogs are not children, we just love them like they are!

Ultimately, it may not the best idea for enhancing our new-found freedom. The kids are grown, the house is quiet and we get… A DOG? Why now? Why complicate life with a new puppy? Because they are awesome!

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Happy Five Year Anniversary to Adventures of Empty Nesters!


Happy Anniversary
The Palio – Siena, Italy


We are five years old!

Happy Anniversary to me, to us, to you! Without you there would be no us! Adventures of Empty Nesters (AOEN) was created out of the need for me to share my feelings about our empty nest. After five years I have found my sweet spot(s).

I definitely focus upon more than one area of life. I find it imperative and somewhat comforting to share the happenings with our family and with our life as an empty nester couple. Additionally, my dream is by offering colorful details of my traveling adventures you too will plan your own. One of the many benefits of travel blogging is that it takes you inside of a trip or tour. This type of writing does not read like a brochure or pamphlet. We tell stories, but hopefully they enlighten you and perhaps delight you at times. However, most of all, my wish for you is to find adventure.

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The Empty Nesters Play : A Charming Production in LA

empty nesters play

Empty Nesters Play on Stage in LA!

Yep it’s true. Someone wrote a play about this very important demographic… US!

Recently, a local marketing consultant reached out to me to share the news of this fantastic play opening in Los Angeles. I was able to invite a few guests, so of course I asked my sweet husband to come. My good friends Tammy and Steve are always up for the theater so they also came with us on this very exciting Hollywood adventure!

empty nesters play
Photo: Paige Petrone LAArtsOnline.com Tammy, Steve, Pamela Gaye Walker, JW Walker

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An Empty Nest Christmas – It gets better and better

It does get better & better

Last year I wrote about an Empty Nest Christmas, this year, the players are the same, as are the general philosophies, but we continue to change and grow a little each year.

I am thrilled to have a new son-in-law! I have never been a mother in law before and I plan to try hard to be a good one. When we sent out our Christmas cards this year it was fun to include the newly married couple and our son and his girlfriend too. It just felt right to have ALL of us!

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Sunday in Seattle – A Christmas date with my adult daughter

date with my adult daughter at Chateau St. Michele

A date with my adult daughter

It was so easy when the kids were little. You knew the rules. You had a system. As a mom I was in charge of their calendar and almost everything else in their world.

Then they leave the nest, grow up, mature, and establish a life of their own.

It is what is supposed to happen, but no one warns you when you give birth that eighteen years later the rules change. You ultimately start over and create an adult relationship with your child.

I struggled with it at first, but now I embrace it, in a BIG way. I have written a great deal about what to do with your adult kids, as well as multigenerational travel (see links below). I see on my blog what readers search for and how they find my blog. Many parents are looking for suggestions and ideas for activities to share with their adult children.

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Want to Learn French From Dualingo ? – If can I do it, anyone can!


Welcome Back Laura! This Guest Adventurer writes the fun blog called CoastofIllinois.com. She is a land-locked beach bum who works days as a nurse and shares her land-locked life with her husband who recently retired from a career in law enforcement; just scratching the surface of their sit-com similarities. They have two grown children who still insist on Sunday dinner and a cat who has no interest in bettering himself, unless he can learn how to open his tiny food cans. A fixer-upper sailboat takes up a good portion of time these days, as does preparing for more travel adventures inspired by good food, Hemingway stories and Jimmy Buffet music.

Want to Learn French From Dualingo – I did it!

Je suis Laura.
Je suis 57 et j’apprende le francais.
I admit it. I cheated on the last half of that sentence and had to check everything with Google translate. But the feelings are solid.
I am 57 and I am learning French.
The first question I tend to get, when I admit this out loud is:
The most sensible answer is that my husband and I plan to do some pretty extensive travel in the upcoming years. We have traveled a small amount and when we have been in countries where English is not the first language we tried our best to learn at least some polite phrases: Hello, Good-by, Thank-you, Those aren’t my children…
We didn’t want to be those ‘ugly Americans’ who give the rest of us a bad name.
A more personal reason is the fact that, while I am a good one half German descent, I am a solid – one quarter, last name Jolie, drinks coffee from the saucer and loves bread, straight from Paris to the coal mines of the Midwest, French.
According to my husband, my mocking dismay of things with the typical French movie concierge ‘pftttttttt’ is genetically rooted.
The second question is sort of a quizzical, humoring, aren’t you a little old for this, HOW?
My answer to this is a little more convoluted.
The easy answer is: Duolingo. Which I will get to in a bit.

Read moreWant to Learn French From Dualingo ? – If can I do it, anyone can!

Please Give Me the Gift of Time – 25 Reasons to be Thankful

gift of time

Please give me the gift of time

I am thrilled to receive the gift of time whenever our kids can give it. Do you feel like that? Our family lives many miles apart and a plane ride away and I look forward to any time spent with them. Our daughter was married only a month ago and we were blessed with lots of time with family and friends. Lucky us! For me, I am content just soaking up the sunshiny moments and conversations we have. If I see the kids in person, I get this silly, happy, motherly grin on my face. Do you do that? Do you know what that looks like?

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