Monday, July 29, 2013

Off the Grid

Sorry I've been non-existent on the internet in general! We had no service in Yellowstone and I couldn't  connect to National Park Wifi (if it even exists!). My mind is mashed potatoes right now, but I'll share some of my favorite photos from this trip thus far:

Badlands (c) Jon

Sunset at the Badlands

Cacti and some Badlands peaks in the distance

Goodnight, Badlands

Seen at a pitstop in Wyoming 

Hot spring in Yellowstone

Snuggles in Grand Tetons

Bison in Yellowstone

Bunny ears and hiker friends

Bison next to Old Faithful 

Hot springs and mountains

Water spout at our camp site

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chicago: City of Iron and Ivy

View from the Sears/Willis Tower

This is my first time visiting Chicago, but Jon has been here several times before. We're staying with his uncles who are kind enough to let us sleep in their spare bedroom, and have a lovely condo with excellent views (with three balconies and a roof deck!) Their condo is a mixture of warm woods and sleek modern furnishings, with the best part being a skyway from the living room that gives you a view of their library from the above floor.

Sky light view library

After breakfast our first stop was the Wrigley field to see the second oldest baseball stadium in the country. Coming from Boston and whose father is a big baseball fan, I was excited to see this historic landmark. The inside of the field is lined with ivy, which turns out to be a trademark of Chicago architecture. We didn't get to take a tour inside, but we peaked in for a moment to scope it out!

Iconic sign of the stadium

We then headed to the Willis tower, formerly known as the Sears tower, which once held the title of the tallest building in the world. We climbed to the top in a quick elevator up to the 103rd floor, and my ears popped the whole way up! There we were given a unique view of the city and the surrounding states. Lake Michigan seems to stretch on forever up there, and it resembles more of an ocean than a lake.

Never-ending lake

At the top

We then headed to the Chicago Art Institute where they currently have a Fashion, Modernism, and Impression exhibit, which if you're in the area, you must check it out. A lot of excellent Monets, Manets, Renoirs, and their contemporaries are juxtaposed with stunning gowns from the late 19th century. Impressionism is one of my favorite art movements, and I'm obsessed with large gowns in costume dramas, so this was the perfect exhibit for me! We then checked out a few other exhibits, one being a show on a man who does camera obscura photographs. I can't remember his name, but his pieces were fascinating. I don't take pictures of pictures in museums, so I have no photos to share there.

We then headed to Navy Pier to check out the ferris wheel which also gives you a great view of the city. I'm a sucker for all things carnival, so I couldn't pass this opportunity up! 

From the ground

From the sky

We then crashed for a bit at Lily Pond Park and are now waiting to head out to dinner with Jon's uncles and a few other family members. So glad we got to see this city and spend a whole day exploring it! I'll definitely be sad leaving it.

The astutely named park

Aaaaand they're off!

Ready to go!

After packing up the car Monday morning, Jon and I started on our adventure around 10am through the large state of Pennsylvania. The more we got out of the suburban areas, the more beautiful the scenery became. Out by the Poconos it becomes hilly and mountainous, a terrain that I know well by trips I've taken these past years. It felt surreal knowing that I wasn't quite sure when I would see them again.

Mountains in the distance

Ohio was boring and flat and barely worth photographing, and before we knew it we were in Indiana. After driving about 600 miles, I remember seeing a sign posted that said "Chicago: 270 miles" and thought to myself, "Yeah, we could do it." Well, apparently Jon had the same idea. We decided that we would stop for crappy dinner, call his family in Chicago to let them know our change of plans, and we then booked it all through Indiana to the Windy City.

Driving into Chicago at night was like looking at a Christmas tree! I didn't get a chance to take any photos, but we have the whole day today to soak it in, so I'll be posting some thoughts and images about this beautiful city later!

Bunnies on the road.

We can see a little bit out of the back! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Road Trip Map!

Leaving today and this is the map of our road trip! You can see the Google Maps version here to get a closer look of our stops. For the lazy, we'll be going to:

1) Chicago
2) Minneapolis/St.Paul
3) Badlands National Park
4) Yellowstone National Park
5) Olympic National Park
6) Victoria!

For those who are curious, stops B and G are arbitrary-- we'll probably just stop by a camp ground or motel in that vicinity, but that's about where we want to be during that time.

So excited!!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My vows to Jon

At our wedding

I'm notorious in our relationship for having the same conversation with Jon, and half-way through he says to me, “you already told me this.” And I say, “ I did?” Well, I'm going to tell a story that I know I've told you before, Jon, but I haven't told anyone else.

When I think about the time I fell in love with you, I'm always stuck and confused. It may have been our first date, as hard as I tried not to fall in love. It may have happened on that first date after I sniffed your shoulder for some weird reason, or after you made a sarcastic joke and I smacked your arm-- a sure sign on my part that I fancied you. Or it could have been during the most awkward hug in history after that first date, where we barely touched shoulders and our butts were sticking out.

I may have also fallen in love with you on our second date, after a week of chatting on the phone, internet, texting, where there was so much electricity in the air that we could power a small machine. Every corner we took in the art museum I could see sparks flying, and that minute you grasped my hand to run up the hill was like magic. There, on that hill, you fed me all of my favorite fruits and kissed the sweetest, most charming and impish kiss I've ever kissed.

I might have also fallen in love with you during our boat adventure that Grandma and Grandpa D saw take place on their docks, where we took a little antique motorized fishing boat out to a deserted island and found treasures and secrets lying in the sand. Or I could have also finally fell in love when we camped out on the beach, lying in the sand and staring up at shooting stars. That morning when we woke up to watch the sun rise and I was as grumpy as ever, I knew that what was happening was something special.

In all actuality, it was none and all of the those moments. While I like to think love runs up like a quick little bunny, it actually grows slowly and steady, like a turtle. It grows when you encouraged me to continue researching feminist issues, and when you remind me to bring my camera along to various adventures and non-adventures. It grows when you don't care and, in fact, want me to leave you for four or five days at a time to camp in the woods with some of my favorite ladies. It also grows when you constantly remind and suggest to me to do yoga to help calm my mind and give strength to my body, and it grows when you support my vegetarianism despite the fact that you have and will eat any type of meat. My love grows when you encourage and inspire my intellectual passions, pushing and helping me to apply to a graduate program up in Boston. Your unrelenting guidance to help me become the person that I wanted to be showed me how much you cared about my mind as much as you cared about my person. It also grows when you hug me as I cry after we said goodbye to all of our friends we made in Boston, and as you cup my head in your hands and tell me that it'll be okay, I know it actually will be.

I expect to cry more in the next few days, weeks, and possibly months after leaving everyone here, but I know I can rely on you for your comforting words and compassionate hugs. I may be weakened briefly by the notion of leaving my friends and family on the east coast, but I am strengthened by the fact that no matter what obstacles we encounter on the road and on the west coast, we will be together, to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and health. And I promise to love and honor you all the days of my life.

I love you.

Reading my vows to him

Friday, July 19, 2013

Exhausted & Excited

These last few weeks have been spent seeing friends, visiting favorite spots, packing, and sorting out our lives. We've gone out to dinner so many times I can barely count them, and I'm so happy I got to spend some quality time with some of my most favorite people. I couldn't have asked for a better last few weeks on the east coast.

Boating with Jon down the Jersey Shore

Despite all of this happiness, it's been bittersweet. Our cat, Mr. Clemens, has noticed the air of temporariness and has been crying almost every night, and Jon and I have both become exasperated with the endless packing and preparing with such a short time span. It feels weird to know that we're leaving in three short days while being in an area that I've known and lived almost my whole life. I've barely begun to process that I won't see my twin sister and her husband for a year and a half, except via Skype. They're moving to England for a year only a month after Jon and I leave, so even if we do get to go home for the winter holidays, they're not going to be there.

With so many exciting, nerve-wracking things to be handled, I feel simultaneously exhausted and excited. But right now more exhausted than anything. We're having our going away picnic/reception tomorrow (will it rain?) and then will be packing the car up on Sunday and leaving Monday. A part of me wants that time to be now so we can start the biggest adventure of our lives, but another part wants this time in limbo to never end.

Out to lunch with Karen

Dana's birthday vegan dim sum in Philly

The ladies at dim sum

Alex reading her vows to Matt near Boston

Some of my favorite Boston ladies

My sister Kate eating raspberries like Amelie

I guess this could be seen as a type of milestone in maturity. I was up in Boston for about three weeks before I made my first impromptu 8 hour bus trip back home, but I won't have that luxury now. We'll be on our own, supporting and relying on one another through the thick and thin, and I'm looking forward to that new stage of intimacy with Jon. I know whatever the future will bring will be saturated in great stories, happiness, and heartbreak-- all for a new life.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ode to: Philadelphia

The skyline from the Art Museum

Oh, Philly, my Philly. The city of brotherly love, my first city love. So many good memories, secret places, and delightful spaces that it's hard to name them all. Being a relatively large city (around 1.5 million people), it allows for a wide variety of cultures, people, and habits to mingle and marinate. A lot of people complain of Philly being dangerous and ugly, but the "sketchy" parts make it real, and a challenging place to live and love. My uncle always said Philly's grime was part of its charm, and I agree.

Two of my best friends live within the city, which may be a reason why I love it so much. I also went on my first two dates with my husband here, so there's an added sentimental attachment. It was also the first city I can remember going to as a young girl, and I remember my face being plastered against the school bus windows while craning my neck in a vain attempt to see the tops of the buildings. I think if I were to come back to the east coast at any point, I'd love to live in this city, even if only for a little bit. 

City Hall

Some of my closest friends and I at The Barbery 

Independence Hall

My twin sister in Old City

The Franklin Institue (aka the best place everrr)

Me at the Art Museum

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Spaghetti with Sun Dried Tomatoes & Spinach

As my first recipe post, I was excited, nervous and hungry! Jon and I just came back from Boston for a wedding, and this recipe was the perfect quick fix! Easy and relatively simple, it's both filling and satisfying. This could easily be made vegan by omitting the feta and gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta.

I was cooking for the second time in my sister-in-law's kitchen and I had some issues finding all of the utensils that I needed and forgot I needed balsamic vinegar at some point, and realized I (unknowingly and happily) bought Mediterranean feta instead of regular feta, but the meal turned out great despite all of that!

Whoops feta! Ended up adding great flavor to the pasta

Bizarre thin, plastic cutting board, but does the job!

Roasting up some garlic-- mmm! It ends up giving it a roasted garlic flavor

Mixing it up in the pan. Love those colors!

Done. Bad lighting.

1 (13.25 oz) box Whole Grain Spaghetti
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes, packed in oil
5 cups washed spinach leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Salt and black pepper, to taste
1. Start by peeling slicing the garlic; that's the most time-consuming part.
2. Cook spaghetti in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente, about 7 minutes. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water and drain pasta. (I forgot to reserve the cup, but it still turned out fine)
3. Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat until it shimmers, then cook garlic, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer garlic with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
4. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil from the sun dried tomatoes. Add sun dried tomatoes, spinach, and balsamic vinegar. Cook over medium-high heat until spinach is wilted, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat if pasta still needs a minute or two.
5. Toss spaghetti with the sun dried tomatoes and spinach. Stir in the 1/2 cup pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle spaghetti with feta cheese and toasted garlic chips. Serve warm.

Recipe credits go to Two Peas and Their Pod

Friday, July 12, 2013

Making Moves

Jon and I will be buying our first car together today! We already put a (non-refundable) deposit down on a 2002 Subaru Legacy Outback and we'll be picking it up later today before we head to Boston for a friends' wedding. This will be the vehicle that will take us from Philly to Victoria and will house the possessions that we can fit to bring for the first two weeks of our new lives. I won't bore you with specs, but it has a ton of room, and we'll also be attaching a hard bubble on top of it for some added space.

So excited for our little adventure car! Expect a lot of photos in and around this car on this blog within the upcoming weeks...