Tuesday, June 22, 2010

You say it's FREE?!

I don't know how well you guys know me, but I am a super planner when it comes to bigger trips. You should have seen the itinerary for our Washington trip last summer! I'm not saying that I don't like spontaneity, but I'm telling you, I have been on one too many trips that are uncoordinated, unplanned, and you waste precious vacation time trying to figure out what to do. There have been a few times this last year that we went on trips and I relinquished my power-trippin' abilities to others, and well, I came up feeling disappointed. You never know if you'll ever be able to visit the area you are vacationing at again, so it's only best to be prepared.

On this note, I wanted to share very exciting news regarding our Chicago trip! As a short update (I realize I never actually told you all that we are making the trip), David's very generous uncle gave us Delta SkyMiles as a wedding gift. We were able to book a 7-day vacation to Chicago (a city we have been wanting to visit for quite a while, and conveniently enough Amanda (David's sister) attends Moody in Chicago and a good friend of ours, Robert, just moved there this May!) for a grand total of $20 (which were taxes and fees that couldn't be paid with using the SkyMiles). Given that we will have free lodging, thanks to the lovely Robert, this has enabled us to possibly spend a little bit more money on things that we would normally be timid about. Can we say SAILING?! Actually that idea came to me last night, but before that we were talking about renting a car to see stuff outside the city...until we realized there isn't much outside the city, but that's a different post in itself.

Last week I checked out a great deal of books from our amazing library, one of them being Fodor's Chicago 2009 (btw, I am huge advocate of Fodor's - you may not be able to plan your entire trip with them, but they are definitely super informative and help guide how you should plan). Last night I stayed up until about 2:30am reading this delightful book, making a list the whole time of things we'd like to do. Best yet, the book has a section of FREE things to do in Chicago! This is especially wonderful, because the first thing I noticed when I did my initial planning for the trip is that their museums just are not as cheap as other cities (NYC, DC for example). Of course you have to attend on certain days and certain hours, but we can surely plan our itinerary around that, right?

The main places not mentioned in the book as having free days were Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and Adler Planetarium -- those are the main things you want to see in Chitown! So, my next step was to check out CityPass to see if the pricing was worth it. While going from site to site, calculating the whole time, I realized something big. As it turns out, all three have free admission days each month and it just so happens it's during our stay! We might have missed Lollapalooza, Blues Festival, and Jazz Festival, but free museums are almost worth it!

At this rate, we are going to be spending next to nothing on our vacation, aside from food, entertainment, (but even a lot of the popular ones have free second showings) and if the possibility of renting a car. How exciting!

When this planning is complete, I'll share our tentative itinerary with you all -- not that you care!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Maryland, DC, and Virginia

Some of you might remember last summer's kind-of crazy drive around some of my favorite eastern states -- I had camped with a great group of friends in Tennessee and then paid a visit to my grandparents in Virginia, my cousin in Richmond (and took a day trip to DC), hung out with a good high school friend in Chapel Hill, saw my other cousin in Charlotte, and then finally came home. Welp, this year I made a similar trip but not so long and not so miley (...not Cyrus, I just made up the word. Be quiet, it works!).

David is up in MD for about 3-weeks (which was okay when we were in a long-distance relationship, but is super hard when you're married and live together!) for work. I had five days off so I decided to make the drive and see my hubby. On Saturday we visited our friend, Jerin, who has an internship in DC for the summer. Not only did we get to hang out with him, but we also were able to have lunch with Alyson, who goes to Navy Medical School right outside of DC and is a super great friend of mine. The trip was too short and we were bum-tired, especially after all of the walking and being in the sun. David and I got back to Lexington Park, grabbed some Panera Bread and watched SVU the rest of the night.

Our plans for Sunday were simple: head over to Calvert Cliffs State Park, only 20-minutes away. Wellll Rose slept in too late (seriously 12-hours of sleep!) and by the time we finally attempted to go, dark clouds were looming in. When we pulled up to the Ranger station he told us to not go on any hikes on the trails because there was a brutal storm coming in. Darn! Back to the hotel and more SVU before dinner. We're pathetic.

Monday I was able to spend some time with my cousin in Richmond. We had fun and on Tuesday we enjoyed some time rock-hopping in the James River... with a yummy gouda-carmelized onions-thyme-with tomato sandwich and sweet potato fries *smacks lips* for lunch.

Too much text, more photos right?

Jerin atop the W!

Patuxent River

David & I in DC