Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Updated Chicago Itinerary

A while back, I posted about our Chicago trip and the itinerary I was making for us. Believe it or not, but that trip is next week! I promised I would update you all about what we plan to do, whether you care to know or not.


Wednesday, September 8

- leave Columbia @ 5:40a, arrive in Chicago @ 0829a
- Stephen Daiter Gallery (vintage B&W)FREE www.stephendaitergallery.com/
- Museum of Contemporary Photography FREE http://mocp.org
- Millennium Park
- Cubs v. Astros $20 (?) *Robert purchased these tickets so I'm not sure of the cost

Thursday, September 9
- Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum FREE http://www.chias.org/
- Eli's Cheesecake Factory $3 (Tour of a Cheesecake Factory)
- Lincoln Park Zoo FREE www.lpzoo.com
- Art Institute of Chicago FREE http://www.artic.edu/
- Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me $22 @ Chase Bank Auditorium

Friday, September 10
- Shedd Aquarium $27 www.sheddaquarium.org
free admission on Tuesdays*we're choosing to go this day even though it's not free because (a) our friend Robert would like to go with us and cannot the following week, and (b) it'll probably be a lot less crowded, thus more enjoyable this day (thanks Vanessa!)
- John Hancock Observatory $15 www.hancockobservatory.com
optional: go to lounge instead, free entrance but drinks start @ $12

Saturday, September 11
- Indiana Dunes FREE www.nps.gov/indu
West Beach -- Chicago/South Shore Train $6.80 one way
- Second City $27 www.secondcity.com

Sunday, September 12
- Church with Amanda
- Wavves w/ Christmas Island @ Lincoln Hall $12

Monday, September 13
- Chicago History Museum FREE http://www.chicagohs.org/
- Field Museum FREE
- Adler Planetarium FREE admission http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/
theatre show $7 -- Skywatchers of Africa (35-min) 1030/1230/1530
- Jenny/Johnny w/ Love as Laughter and Jaill @ Lincoln Hall $20

Tuesday, September 14
- Museum of Contemporary Art FREE www.mcachicago.org
- Museum of Surgical Science FREE www.imss.org
- leave Chicago @ 1635p, arrive in Columbia @ 2120p

If you've been keeping track then you know that it's about $150 per person, so $300 for the both of us. To do all of the above events. Without proper planning, all of those activities listed could have cost us well over $300 each! There is an opportunity for us to save almost $60 more total, but it's worth it to us to be able to spend time with Robert. Besides, he's giving us a home for a week!

Breakfast and lunches will most-likely be made at home, so I'm thinking it might be quite easy to keep our food budget at around $300.

To recap, our major travel expenses (airfare, lodging) have been taken care of by David's wonderful Uncle Mike and our dear friend Robert...so, figure about $300 each for airfare and over $1050 for lodging (for equal value to where we'll be staying - R lives downtown!! -- otherwise we would most likely be staying out of the inner city areas for a cheaper hotel/hostel). That totals almost $2000 savings in itself!


To note, if airfare and/or lodging hadn't been gifted to us like it has, we would most-likely dramatically reduce the amount of non-free things on the itinerary. But since we're able, we figure WHY NOT. Besides, Chicago is a center of arts in America, why not give the money to the community for its great productions and to the artists for their great talents?

A trip that would be costing us over $2300 will be about $600. And that makes me smile!

Multitude Monday, Week IV

Okay, and another late MM (but at least only by one day, right?)

31. Sustainable friendships
32. Safe travels
33. The geologically diverse country I live in (and love!)
34. Raw performances by over-the-top talented musicians
35. Car dancing
36. Illinois sunset at Garden of the Gods
37. Roadside picnics
38. Seemingly undiscovered swimming holes
39. Planning couples camping trips with newer friends
40. Knowing Jesus through prayer and the wonderful sermon I heard on Moody Radio on the way home last night

Multitude Monday, Week III

Night shift gets me all out of sync with the world (and the land of blogging!). Here's a very late MM! And I have to mention the great deal of "extra things" that David did for me last week. What a wonderful wonderful husband. I am so blessed in all ways!

21. A loving and forgiving husband
22. Time well spent at the gym attempting to run together (:
23. David being my best friend and partner in life
24. Being able to sleep at the same time in the same bed
25. Great Sunday worship!
26. Roller derby
27. International Ministry
28. Patients that humble me on a consistent basis
29. Phone conversations with my mom
30. Hearing about my brother's school schedule

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Weekend in North Carolina

I am an avid fan of A Prairie Home Companion which airs on NPR weekly. When I heard an advertisement a few months ago that Garrison Keiller was going on a summer tour (closest stop Brevard Music Center, about three hours way), I just knew I had to go. It took a little convincing to get David on that bus (at one point I really thought I'd be going alone), but eventually he saw how fun it would be and agreed to accompany me. We decided to make a weekend of it, planning to camp in the mountains and all. It actually took a while to find a nearby campground (we decided Asheville was too far away), and then just a few weeks ago David happened upon Ash Grove, which is a privately owned campground. We loved their website and their little video tours and within a few days had booked a site. David did a little travel research and decided on a few hikes and waterfalls to see. (Brevard calls itself "The Land of Waterfalls" so it's only suiting that we would make time to visit some of them!)

I had to work on Friday, so we left early Saturday morning with Looking Glass Rock in mind. Looking Glass Rock is a monolith right in the middle of Pisgah National Forest. The website David sent me described it as a 6.4-mile moderately difficult hike (later I discovered that other sites rank it as strenuous, which definitely seems more fitting). Here is a picture of the mountain we were set to climb:

The elevation gain during the hike is over 1700ft -- wowza! Nothing compared to our hike in Texas a few years ago (another monolith, Enchanted Rock) that was only a 400+ft gain. We arrived at the trail around 10:00am, ate PB&J sandwiches, drank water, stretched, and set out.

Within 10-minutes of hiking, we found this little off-trail path that led to a stream (and presumed waterfall, given the sound) below.

It was pretty steep going down ... and back up!

The hike was very shaded and cool (and actually reminded us a lot of hiking in Olympic National Park last summer!), the ground still moist from rain/humidity. We saw a lot of mushrooms along the way.

The only frustrating part of the hike (and mostly our own fault) was not knowing how far along we had gone. I can't even tell you how many times we said "Oh, we must be 1/3 of the way!" or, "Oh, I think the summit is right around this bend!" The trail is really well marked, but there just aren't any solid indicators of how far along you've gone (unless you research ahead of time and read others' descriptions of the jaunt). After a long series of switchbacks, we took quite a few breaks.

Because there was such a great elevation gain, it was easy to notice the terrain changes, along with the changes in flora. This is one of my favorite areas.

We saw this little booger on our way up but were in the middle of a motivated climb so didn't have time to stop and photograph it (so this is actually from on the way back down):

Aside from one other family (about six people), the trail was pretty isolated, which we enjoyed. After passing one another again and again (in the end, they beat us), we made it to the top and discovered it was still quite foggy outside. Oh no!

Eating lunch, balancing myself, and taking in the view

The skies beginning to open up!

A closeup of the plutonic surface

Dirty legs!

Handsome man straddling the edge

It took us about 2.5-hrs to make it up to the summit and less than an hour to make it back down (spending about 20-30minutes at the top). Afterward we were dirty and exhausted and excited to make camp.

Arriving at Ash Grove, the owners were very hospitable, showing us our site, bathrooms, amenities (like a sink outside the bathroom for washing dishes), and even brought a bucket of water to our site for us! We packed a wheelbarrow full of our gear, unloaded at the site, and had the place ready within 10-minutes (thanks to David).

We had no time to waste, as we still had to shower and get ready to head out for Brevard Music Center! The show was about four hours long, it rained (by rain I mean pour) for about two of those hours, and once people more-or-less evacuated and the sound was fixed, we had a delightful time! We came prepared for the rain with ponchos and umbrellas, and enjoyed people watching for about an hour before the show started. I think even David had fun!

The next day we planned for a few short hikes to waterfalls and to play in the water.

Triple Falls in DuPont Forest, photo by David

He climbed to the top of those falls... I wasn't up for that sort of climb that day. After spending some time there, we headed to High Falls.

viewpoint of High Falls, photo by David

Part of the trail down to the base of High Falls

Me enjoying the misty waters of High Falls

A nice man offered to take this photo of us on the way back down

The day was getting late, but before heading back home, we wanted to stop by Sliding Rock. Admission is $1/person and it's basically an all natural waterslide in 42-degree water.

David on his way down!

Both of us wet from our rides down, ready to go home.

What a fun weekend! We both really love Pisgah National Forest and plan on going back soon.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Multitude Monday, Week II

11. Being able to enjoy beautiful creations of God
12. A wonderful husband who will stay up past his bedtime to work on Thank You cards
13. Overcoming a 6.4-mile strenuous hike in Pisgah National Forest
14. Extremely restful sleep in none-other than a tent!
15. A Prairie Home Companion & Sara Watkins' talent
16. A "new" camera
17. Mushrooms that look like watermelons/grapefruit
18. Safe travels in spite of rain
19. A job that allows so much time for long weekends
20. Last BCCO class at work!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

NV/UT/AZ | December 2009

Last summer I (very) spontaneously purchased a plane ticket to Las Vegas for less than $200. As some of you might know, I am an avid researcher of all things travel. Part of what "got me through" nursing school was staying up late making fake vacations up in my head (when I should have been studying) whilst perusing sidestep. Anyway, that's how the whole Vegas thing came to be... a trip for the end of the year, a graduation gift to myself!

Of course the hope was that I could convince friends to travel with me.. and in the worst case scenario, I would have to enjoy the trip by myself. Luckily, an old friend of mine pulled through! Dawn ended up accompanying me on the trip - we flew into Vegas, rented a car, went to Valley of Fire State Park, Zion National Park, Coral Sand Dunes State Park, Grand Canyon National Park, etc. We even got totally stuck in the snow in Arizona, which is a "fun" tale all in itself...

I still have yet to post photos from this trip, aside from the normal Facebook default photos (though Dawn posted photos while we were on the trip, making each album 100 photos or less -- she's really good! I could never do that!). I have too many photographs to comb through, and really, I haven't even posted our photos from the Pacific NW yet (which was before the Vegas trip!)... At any rate, I have successfully developed and printed a short set of pictures. This of course has a story too and it goes like this:

My beloved Canon AE1 Program was purchased through an Ebay seller some time ago. Always reliable, I have loved it through and through. Naturally I took it on the trip with us, with many many rolls of film to boot! Somehow I only made it through one roll, shrugging my shoulders, figuring I had enough digital photos to keep me occupied for some time. Then "it" happened. January 2010 we go camping for a weekend at Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine (for my birthday!). Before departing for the beach one day, I take out the old trusty camera, get ready to wind the reel back up in my dark room bag, but something breaks, and well, I just can't wind it up. I broke one of the little thingies on it, and after exposing it to sunlight briefly, freaking out, spending too much time on it, I left it in the bag and that is where it has been since. Until Monday.

I took the bag to Ritz Camera and they (with my full permission) busted the camera open in their dark room with freaking pliers and salvage as much film as they can - 9 photos out of a 26 photo reel. Oh well. I'm still very pleased (and on the hunt for another one! St. Louis is just in two weeks!).

Las Vegas NV

Las Vegas NV

Overton NV

Overton NV

Overton NV

Springdale UT


Lee's Ferry AZ

Grand Canyon National Park AZ

Grand Canyon National Park AZ

Monday, August 9, 2010

Multitude Monday, Week I

1. Being able to celebrate my husband's birthday with him
2. Coworkers feeling comfortable enough with me to share their faith
3. Friends who share recipes
4. A "new" Sunday School class starting September 19th
5. Abdominal exercises with my husband
6. Salvaged film from a broken camera
7. Upcoming camping trip - our very first together since being married!
8. Patients that humble me
9. Authors who write wonderful stories of fiction
10. A chance to (accidentally) sleep in until noon!


Two things I have been very bad at this summer: housework & blogging. I only see the latter as "important" because between David and I, we've been doing a lot of traveling! I never posted, but here is a list of the tentative summer itinerary:

June 4-8: MD, DC, Richond VA (I actually posted pictures of this!!)
June 17-20: Savannah GA
June 9-13: Palm Beach Gardens FL
July 18-20: Cherokee NC
July 30 - August 1: St. Petersburg FL
August 14-15: Brevard NC
August 26-30: Nashville TN, St. Louis MO
September 8-14: Chicago IL

As you can see, more than half of these occurred, and we only have three trips left before our "season of traveling" will sort of die down. No worries! Aside from dedicating myself to writing thank you cards (No, we still have not finished our wedding thank yous, what's wrong with us?! Look above.), I plan to really catch up. Heck, photos from last year's trip to Washington or my graduation trip to Utah/Arizona/Nevada are still not properly documented on the internet! Between the two of us, we have three computers (plus three external harddrives) with a scattering of unorganized folders on the desktop. It's really just horrible.

As far as housework goes... well, it's really not as bad as I'm making it out to be. It's just our mudroom has become the catchall and that bothers me! I can take one look over my shoulder and see leftover programs from our wedding, a Twilight Blast Frisbee, poker set, Fodor's The Carolinas & Georgia, two camera bags, a multitude of cords, a stack of frames... the list goes on (and that's just over my left shoulder!).

What I'm really trying to say is that our life has just been incredibly busy. I'm so thankful for all of the opportunities both of us have had to travel since April, but I really am ready to hang out in town with friends at home, ya know? Our summer roommate, Karthik, moved out on Saturday (also David's birthday!), and I think that's when I realized just how quickly the summer has gone by.

So, here is a list of goals to help keep both of us focused on what's important:

(1) FINISH THANK YOU CARDS. Oh my gosh, you cannot even believe how much time I spent thinking about doing this, but then not doing it. We have a little over 30% complete. We started them in June. What the heckkk is wrong with us?

(2) MULTITUDE MONDAYS. Our friend Miriam told us about this, and I'm finally going to take the initiative and try to do this. (See next post.)

(3) RUN A 5K. Originally we were planning for September, but that month is already looking way busy (going to Chicago and all), so now we're shooting for October.

(4) KEEP OUR FRIENDS UPDATED ABOUT OUR LIFE. This maybe isn't a totally unselfish goal, but it would give me at least some semblance of organization in our life, which would help overall probably.

(5) WEEKLY DINNERS WITH FRIENDS. Before David had to leave a few times for work, we were having friends over semi-regularly for dinner. It was really nice. I want to continue.

Andddd it's time to fold laundry, do dishes, attempt to fix one of the external harddrives (and not enter panic mode!), and post my first Multitude Monday!

Hope you all are doing wonderful. God Bless!