St. Louis & Joanna Ward

I flew to St. Louis this weekend. It was a last minute trip scheduled to celebrate Joanna Ward. I met Joanna around 1980 when she moved her family to Isabella Minnesota, population ~ 200, a 30 minute ride from my hometown of Silver Bay (population ~ 2,500). Joanna's daughter Jessie was in my 8th grade class, which had less than 60 kids. My view of the world was so small at the time.

Joanna Ward, 1928-2021

My first memory of Joanna is watching her cook crepes after a sleepover with Jessie. Since that day I have enjoyed crepes in several countries (including France) but at the time had never even heard of a crepe. Joanna and her family seemed so worldly to me. 

Sleepover  Shenanigans at the Wards
Day after a Ward Sleepover

The house was filled with people and it had so much energy it felt like a holiday. It wasn't. It was just a common day in the life of Joanna Ward's home. It was at the Ward's home I was first introduced to real cheese. I was 13. All I had known to that day was Velveeta. FYI, Velveeta is not cheese. I also had Tang, which I heard about on TV but had never had. I seriously looked at these people like they were from another world. Trust me when I say the Ward family is the most down-to-earth group of loving people you will know. But my world was just so small at the time they felt like foreigners.

Joanna introduced me to a world beyond my tiny town. She talked of travels and history and introduced me to exotic foods like…real cheese. Joanna was loved by so many, including myself. I will be forever grateful for Joanna teaching me there is a world beyond the confines of northern Minnesota and giving me the urge to explore. 

I flew to the ceremony and I'm here to say airports are feeling "normal". I found myself navigating past the slow walkers and it felt great! That crazy "award trip" I took to Chicago in December of 2019 (finally) paid off as I was upgraded to Comfort and First Class! Things are coming back my friends. 

New wanderlust Tattoo
Me, Mary Ward and Jeff Clement
The Pre-Flight Bloody Tradition

Get your vaccine. Don't lick doorknobs and wash your damn hands! More importantly, share your travel stories with the younger generation to instill in them there is a world beyond "their little world". 


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