Long before I started booking travel packages to Mexico and Disney World for a living, I grew up on my family’s midwestern farm in West Central Illinois—a little town called La Harpe. My farm holds my roots strong, but my wings grew early. I started lifeguarding at age 15 and started SCUBA diving at 16. I loved the water. I spent weekends I wasn’t working on my dad’s boat on the Mississippi River water-skiing through high school.
I started traveling as a child. Disney, Tampa, and Daytona, annual snow-skiing trips to places like Breckenridge, CO, Winter Park, CO, and Jackson Hole, WY, boating in the Ozarks, Mississippi River, Mark Twain Caverns and a historic trip to Washington, D.C. gave me a good start.
Off to college, my studies took me to Western Illinois University where I wanted to start my medical career as an anesthesiologist. I took a strong science-based curriculum and started EMT training. I went to the Netherlands, spent a month in Alaska and time in California, South Carolina, Texas, Mexico, Nevada, and Iceland. Not too bad, pre-bachelor’s degree.
The experiences of staying in hostels and traveling with friends and roommates on a budget were awesome for life experience, and we all met some great people from all over the world along the way—but I decided that a medical career wasn’t so much in my plans. With the family farm’s future in the air, I learned about parks, recreation, and travel and tourism. I did my internship at Spirit Knob Winery and helped with the business’s expansion plan. I learned how to care for the vineyard, how to make wine, and a little about marketing along the way.
I loved Breckenridge, CO so much that, after college, I moved there! I took full advantage of the 2007-2008 ski season, even with a full-time job working at Summit Combined Courts and a part-time job lifeguarding and teaching group and private swimming lessons.
With the gondola within walking distance from my apartment, powder days were aplenty. Breckenridge saw more snow than they had in 50 years. I had a lot of midwestern visitors that year, and I got married to my wonderful husband, Royce. The town was a lot busier than I remembered it, and I missed the farm back in Illinois—so, we trekked back down the mountain to the midwest, had a couple babies, bought a farm, and have been living the dream since.
My travels as a Soy Ambassador (2012-2014) then took me all over the USA, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. In Washington D.C., I took a few trips to learn about the USDA and how things are run in Ag Policy and how things happen at the Ag Outlook Forum. I went to Chicago for a few meetings and conferences. San Diego housed the Biodiesel Conference, where we experienced new biodiesel technology and clean fuel research utilizing soy (not a bad place to visit in January!). Orlando housed the Aquaculture Conference.
Guatemala was an interesting whirlwind of tours: a volcano outside Guatemala City, a lunch meat processing facility, and a meeting with Cargill in Guatemala to see their efforts at importing soy for nutrition. Guatemala has a great program implementing a soy dairy to make soy milk for Fundaninas orphanages that take in girls from the sex trade and teach them trades and the English language.
Nicaragua is partnering with U.S.-based soy exporters, WISHH Foundation, American Soybean Association, and the Illinois Soybean Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois to provide soy milk to schools. Fabretto was implementing soy in schools in collaboration with Delisoya through their missions.
We toured the Delisoya production facility to see how soy milk is made on a large scale. They were also teaching students to grow native fruits and vegetables to feed themselves from the land and make money for the school to keep operating. It was during these travels that I realized I could help people experience the same kinds of travels.
These days, I have my own children to show the world to. They get really excited about travel and seeing new things, but they also like to hear stories about other places and cultures. Each time I travel without my boys, I bring them back a book from a local author. It shows them that there’s life beyond corn fields and combines. They look forward to new experiences and aren’t so scared about the unknown of traveling.
I love sharing my experiences with others and helping them plan their own adventures. I’ve found my expertise in travel from experience is one of the best assets I have, and I love sharing it. I just love helping others experience their dream travels and experience the world, its history, and its cultures, whether it’s through travel packages to Jamaica featuring exciting tours or travel packages to Walt Disney World with VIP amenities.
In March 2015, my husband Royce and I took the boys, along with some friends of ours, to the beautiful 7 Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica. Can you believe a 3- and 5-year-old would pick Jamaica over Walt Disney World?! Grandpa goes to Jamaica, and they want to go, too, I guess.
7 Mile Beach has some of the most stunning, calm water in the world lapping a gorgeous beach. The sunsets are to die for! RIU Palace Tropical Bay left us wanting to return soon. The big boys went spear fishing and, at the end of a long winter, the getaway was perfect timing to ring in spring.
In March 2016, I traveled to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a much-anticipated destination wedding for some very special clients. I think they all had an amazing time. Great beach, amazing weather, comfy hotel, and beautiful scenery. RIU Vallarta gave us a comfy home for the week. I did get some fun in the sun worked into this mix, though. I visited the Marietta Islands and went swimming with the dolphins. Both were unforgettable experiences!
I came home from Mexico to a jealous husband. He wanted some sunshine, too. So we found a great beach in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. The RIU Palace Punta Cana treated us great. The stunning Bavaro Beach left us wanting a little more beach time on the powdery white sand.
We took a spa cruise, where we thoroughly enjoyed yoga, foot detox, floating in the ocean in Stingray Bay, a massage, an exfoliating coffee scrub, and a delightful lunch at the Swim with the Stingrays location (if that sounds as amazing to you as it did to us, ask me about our travel packages to the Dominican Republic!).
In February 2017, we headed back to the airport with the boys. They thought Mexico looked fun. So, we looked to the Iberostar in Punta Mita for a grand vacation. There were five whale calves that winter in the Bay of Banderas—talk about a baby boom! We saw the whales right from our oceanfront room at the resort! We went swimming with the dolphins and played on the water slides. The boys loved the kids’ club at the Iberostar Punta Mita, and Royce and I enjoyed a round of golf while the boys slept in (with a babysitter, of course).
I can’t wait to share our next adventure with you!
Learn more about my farm and see pictures of what we do for fun at our Covert Farms of Squirrel Ridge Facebook Page!