Saturday, September 29, 2012

fresh

There are so, so many things to love about this city. The year-round-right-outside-our-apartment-building farmers' market is pretty high on that list

Today's find: a bouquet of my favorite flowers for $4.

Um, yes. I think I love you, San Francisco.


Friday, September 28, 2012

idaho

Whoa. We've been living in San Francisco for two weeks and I'm still talking about the road trip. Oops!

Did you know that Idaho is actually really gorgeous? We certainly didn't. At times, it felt like we were driving through a painting. Rolling hills, distant mountains, reflective lakes, and pristine farms in every direction, all the time.

To be honest, we knew very little about Idaho in general.

They have the potato, of course.

And then there's Napoleon Dynamite.
(I actually begged Dave to take me to Preston, where the move was filmed, but alas, there was no time.)

And...

Yep. That was the extent of our knowledge about Idaho.

Well, a few hours into Idaho, we reached an unprecedented level of boredom and again turned to our faithful friend, Wikipedia. Turns out, there is an interesting story behind the origin of the name Idaho, which you can read here. Interesting being a relative term, of course :)

Ultimately, we left Idaho knowing more than when we arrived and that is something, I guess.

Monday, September 24, 2012

anniversary


One year ago today, I married my very best friend. (And no, I cannot believe it has been a year already.)

Dave and I spent most of our anniversary weekend lingering in restaurants, sipping wine, and reminiscing about our wedding day. There is plenty of material to keep us laughing for a lifetime...

Like how unbelievably nervous we were -- not nervous to marry each other, but to have to speak in public (oh, the horror!). I mean, we were petrified.

About how unseasonably cold and rainy it was that day, and how I had to keep applying lipstick to hide my blue lips.

When our friend Evan, who performed the ceremony, recited the words to "Never Gonna Give You Up" during the pronouncement of marriage and essentially rickrolled our wedding. It was awesome.

My mini-meltdown when we got the wrong rental car. Instead of the chic hybrid SUV we reserved, we got stuck with a bright orange minivan that we not-so-fondly nicknamed the Great Pumpkin.

When we excitedly cut the cake, only to discover it was not ours. (Apparently, there was a mix-up at the bakery.)

Upon learning that not one -- but three -- of our guests went missing during the reception. (Don't worry, they turned up... eventually!)

When a few drunk football fans wandered into our venue to munch on the late night snack for our guests - macaroni and cheese pizza from Ian's (it sounds weird but trust me, it's the BEST).

It was a day filled with so much love and laughter, I would relive it again and again.

When I think back to that day, to how deliriously happy I was, I know I'm the luckiest girl in the world. Especially because the happiness felt I that day absolutely pales in comparison to the happiness I feel now.

Davey, thanks for giving me the world. I look forward to many, many more years of loving you... and being loved by you.



Photos by the lovely and talented Anda Marie.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

wyoming // tetons

Just south of Yellowstone is a small little place called Grand Teton National Park. I'm so glad we did not overlook this hidden(ish) gem.

We originally thought a teton was a tree (not even kidding) and boy, we were pleasantly surprised to find ourselves wrong. The tetons are, in fact, mountains and wow, they are magnificent.


As we left the Grand Teton area (the Grand Teton being the highest peak of the range), Dave noticed a strange cloud in the distance. We didn't think much of it until we started approaching Jackson, Wyoming. Once we saw the orange flickers at the mountain peaks, we knew it couldn't be good. Indeed, it was a wildfire. 




We pulled over near Jackson Hole to find out more about the fire (it was huge), and see if it would force us to make a detour (it did not). At the rest stop, we saw a woman crying as she watched the tremendous clouds of smoke cross the sky. As soon as she noticed Margot, our little people magnet, she rushed over to dote on her. As we chatted with Margot's new friend, we learned that she had lost her home in Colorado to wild fires just last year. She and her husband had subsequently moved to Wyoming.

I cannot even imagine.

I hope the people of Jackson, and their homes, are safe.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

wyoming // yellowstone


And then there were mountains.

Probably every Midwesterner feels this way, but aren't mountains awesome? I adore them. Well, not so much driving on/through them (those roads are curvy and man, those drops are steep), but definitely looking at them. Mountains are my absolute favorite. You know, as opposed lakes or deserts or just plain hills :)

Lucky for me, Wyoming has an abundance of mountains. And a ton of horses too. Like South Dakota and billboards, we are convinced there are actually more horses than people in Wyoming. Often, we would drive for miles and miles and miles and never lay eyes on another human being. The emptiness was at once terrifying and serene.

Of course, the whole point of going to Wyoming was to see Yellowstone. While I don't consider myself outdoorsy in the least (Dave has at least camped and even gone skiing), I loved every single rocky, rugged, nature-y minute of it. We had such a fantastic time, we vowed to return at some point in our lives -- and maybe even camp (like for real - outside).

Because of the long drive still ahead of us, we only had a few hours to spend in Yellowstone. Luckily, the weather was perfect and it was not crowded at all.

Overall, the scenery was gorgeous and the natural wonders were breathtaking. The animals, however, seemed to be hiding. Dave really wanted to see a bear; I was hoping to see a moose. No luck. But we did see a lot of bison and even got to experience a "Bison Jam," which was just plain surreal. We also happened to stumble upon some cute little river otters hamming it up for the tourists.

Even though we got lost once or twice, it was so worth the detour.

When I asked Dave if he had anything to add to the above, he responded, "It was fine, but we didn't even see a yellow stone." Sigh.

Some highlights:
we made it!
stinky mud pot
margot had a good time - lots to sniff
otters
grand canyon
just a little lost
lower falls
yellowstone express
painters pots
he was pretty excited about the sulfur volcano
approaching the springs
prismatic spring
bacterial mats
texture
damage from forest fires
pretty excited about the geysers
lone buffalo
warned...
... ignored
color
where the buffalo roam
see you next time, yellowstone!

And last but not least, the Bison Jam:

video





Friday, September 21, 2012

south dakota

If I told you that Dave and I put a lot of effort into plotting the actual road trip portion of this move, I would be lying. Big time.

Rather than be bothered by travel details, we opted for a more romantic approach. Let's just see where the road takes us, we thought.

Except, I do not drive. Technically, I know how to drive (Dave says that is highly debatable), I just never got a driver's license. So, without the option of sharing driving duty, the entire trip fell to Dave. For anyone, 40+ hours of driving is no small feat. But for Dave, who has relied almost exclusively on public transit for the last ten years, it seemed an especially daunting task. Keeping Dave alert would be key. Our solution? Take the scenic route!

Well, at some point, we decided we could bypass the monotony of the Great Plains by driving above Nebraska and through South Dakota. Because all of South Dakota is like Mt. Rushmore, the Badlands and the Black Hills, right? Turns out, no. That is not the case at all. Had we actually looked at a map at some point, we would have quickly learned that South Dakota is actually 99% flat and man, it is enormous.

By the time we realized our mistake, it was too late, of course. And so we drove on...

Almost as soon we crossed the state line, the lush green trees of Minnesota disappeared and an infinite golden-yellow flatland emerged. Soybeans mostly (we think?), accented by the occasional sunflower field. It was... well, not interesting. At all.

Soon the billboards began to pop up. So many billboards! Actually, I am certain there are more billboards than people in South Dakota. To keep us entertained (no joke), I would often read aloud from Wikipedia (again, wish I was kidding here). The South Dakota entry fails to mention the billboard-to-person ratio, but I'm pretty sure my assessment is spot-on. Also, did you know that South Dakota is the fifth least populous state in the U.S. and the state insect is the honey bee? No? Well, now you do. You're welcome.

We skipped almost every single tourist attraction (Corn Palace, Wall Drug, Mt. Rushmore, etc.) in favor of making good time. We did, however, visit the Badlands and they were... strange. Strange but spectacular.

As we made our way through the park, the formations grew and receded and grew again. With each turn, the shadows shifted and the colors changed. For miles, we saw no one else and the only sound was that of the wind. Seeing the long history of this earth so exposed in the layers of rock, well, it was a pretty humbling experience.

While I did take a lot of photos, I'll share you just these two. Let's be real, no one wants to see a gazillion photos of rocks :)

the badlands // south dakota
more badlands // south dakota

Yes, the Badlands were awesome indeed. But my favorite part of South Dakota? Deadwood. Dave and I are huge fans of the HBO show and it was thrilling to drive through where it all went down. In fact, it inspired us to watch the series all over again. I highly recommend that you do the same. (Or, if you can't get your hands on the DVDs, the Deadwood Wikipedia entry is a riveting alternative, if I do say so myself...)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

wisconsin + minnesota

Here we are about to leave my parents' house, and all things familiar, to officially begin the long drive to California:


After a lovely, and very early, breakfast at the Original Pancake House (one of my favorite Madison spots), we were off! 

Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos during the drive through Wisconsin or Minnesota. We were so busy plotting out our whole new life (and ok, getting lost) that I completely forgot about my camera until we pulled into our hotel in South Dakota. Oops! Blogger fail :(

But I can assure you, Wisconsin is a magnificently beautiful state. In fact -- and I am not biased in any way -- it is my favorite state :)

To be fair, this favoritism is a somewhat recent development. Only in the last five years or so have I come to appreciate all Wisconsin has to offer. The charm was definitely lost on me as a kid. Cows and farms, yeah, whatever. All I wanted was the city; skyscrapers and subways for this girl.

My momma, on the other hand, grew up in west Philadelphia and moved to Wisconsin in her thirties. After all these years, the quaint red barns, rolling hills, and spotted cows of the Wisconsin countryside still astound her. Whenever my mom and I would drive down a scenic country road (which, in Wisco, is rather often), she'd frantically tap my arm, point, and exclaim with such a childlike enthusiasm, 'Look, a COW!!!' Every. Single. Time.

As Dave and I drove north (or 'up nord' as the locals say) toward Minnesota, I found myself doing the exact same thing. 'Ooh, Davey, look at that cute little farm! I see a little baby cow! Aw, and there's a whole family of cows! Weeee, a hill!!'

Ultimately, I'm really glad we opted for the Wisconsin detour. It was wonderful to be home, if ever briefly. My only regret is that we did not stop for a cheese curd break or pick up a case of New Glarus Beer to enjoy upon arrival in California. Oh well, it's not like we'll never be back...

Oh yeah, and Minnesota was nice too. Crossing the Mississippi River was definitely a highlight -- the rock formations that jut out of the earth were really awesome, and such a stark contrast against the otherwise forested landscape. We were just a few weeks too early, but in the fall, I could see this little nook of the country being absolutely breathtaking.

P.S. I think it goes without saying that leaving my parents was really emotional too. I cried. A lot.
P.P.S. Thanks for lending us the GPS, guys. We probably would have ended up in Mexico without it!

Monday, September 17, 2012

departure

The first leg of our journey began with the (relatively) short drive from Oak Park/Chicago to Madison. Don't worry -- we realize that Wisconsin is not actually on the way to San Francisco from Chicago; however, we decided to take a small detour to see my parents on our way out. This northern route also gave us the opportunity to avoid Nebraska (sorry, Great Plains) and drive through Yellowstone, which was definitely a highlight of our trip. More on that later...

Leaving my sister, niece, and nephew in Oak Park was harder than I even imagined (and trust me, I am a hardcore worst-case-scenario kind of worrier). As we sat down to a nice farewell dinner, I glanced at the the piles of packed bags by the door and the tremendous weight of regret began to take hold. I am not going to lie -- in that moment, this whole grand moving scheme felt like a huge mistake. It was unnerving and I cried. A lot. 

After I stalled our departure for several hours (during which my sister basically had to talk me off a ledge), we finally loaded up our suitcases, and Dave dragged me to the car. We said our goodbyes. It was heartbreaking and I cried. A lot. 

But then as we pulled away, everything felt right. And everything was right. As difficult as the departure was, it marked the beginning of our new adventure, our new life - just me, Dave, and our silly little brown dog. The best part? As if just for us, 'Lake Michigan' by Rogue Wave played on the radio while the city skyline (and Lake Michigan) faded in the rearview mirror:



We dried our tears, smiled, laughed, screamed, and set out on the long drive to California...

Sunday, September 9, 2012

sunset

Wow.

We have seen a lot of amazing things over the last few days. We have also seen a lot of not-so-amazing things (wheat fields that go on forever, for example). There are so many images to share and so many stories to tell, I don't even know where to start.

That being said, traveling nonstop for three days straight is utterly exhausting. It's amazing how quickly driving (or, in my case, managing the iPod and setting the GPS) can deplete your energy. At this point, we could probably sleep for months.

So -- until I can sort through all of our photos and find the brainpower to actually write, a small preview will have to do.

sunset // idaho
Four states down, three to go! Halfway there!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

lovies

Love these kiddos.




For the last 14 years, I have had the pleasure of watching these two grow up. They are the best kids in the world (no bias whatsoever) and I have loved every single moment of being their aunt (except maybe that one time at H's piano recital when she played first and then we had to listen to 15 other kids sing Disney songs in a very hot, non-airconditioned room in July -- that was a little rough). But moving across the country means no longer being around for birthdays, plays, concerts, games, graduations, etc. It's going to be heartbreaking, to say the least. These two mean the world to me. 

But I am determined to stay close, no matter how many states are between us. 

H&B: I may not be there physically, but I will always be rooting for you. Always. No matter what. Miss you already.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

so long, chicago

picasso // daley plaza

Today is our last day in Illinois. And wow, what a perfect, beautiful, sunny, magical day.

As I was strolling around downtown this afternoon (avoiding the trip back to Oak Park on the dreaded blue line), it finally hit me. We are actually leaving. Like, for real. TONIGHT.

The thing is, we will always be in touch with the friends and family we're leaving behind. We can always come back to visit our favorite spots in the city. But from now on, we will be mere tourists in a place we once called home. How strange it will be.

Of course, we will make new friends in San Francisco (and reconnect with old ones, too!). We will find new favorites - restaurants, bars, parks, sights. We will even, eventually, call San Francisco home.

But until then, I sure will miss my beloved city by the lake.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

the hardest part

We had a few, small goodbye gatherings over the last two weeks. Boy, it's tough to think that we won't be seeing our friends for a while. But we will skype/facetime often, right guys? RIGHT?!























  
But really, this is not goodbye. 

It's see you later.