Pre-marital competition: Estimating Distances

New layout thanks to web designer Ashley Joost!

While planning WVT (Still missing: an officiant and venue for actually getting married), it has become distressingly apparant that neither of us is very good at estimating distances between two cities. You can see the obvious problems this could pose when planning a six-week road trip. At first, our strategy was for me to ask Harrison “About how far is it between X and Y?” and then confirm his answer with GoogleMaps. We eventually realized that it’s far easier to ask GoogleMaps in the first place.

In general, Harrison is better at estimating distances than I am (except for small measures of length, such as one foot). Estimating one foot Estimating one foot

I suspect this is because he grew up in the suburbs and spent a lot more time on the roads than I did in the formative driving years of 15-18.

So, today, in the spirit of good-natured pre-marital competition, we will attempt to estimate the distances between two locations on Wedding Victory Tour and see who is closest based on directions from GoogleMaps.

Chicago, IL to Seattle, WA

Chicago to Seattle Estimates

Harrison: 1,750 miles
Mica: 750 miles

Google Maps says 2,064 miles. (Harrison!)


Boston, MA to New York, NY

Boston to NYC

Harrison: 275
Mica: 230

Google Maps says 216 miles. (Mica!)


Richmond, VA to Hanover, NH

Richmond to Hanover

Harrison: 600
Mica: 325

Google Maps says 597 miles. (Harrison! Full disclosure: He already knew the distance between Richmond and Boston.)


San Francisco, CA to Los Angeles, CA

San Francisco to LA

Harrison: 450
Mica: 680

Google Maps says 381 miles. (Harrison!)


San Diego, CA to Las Vegas, NV

San Diego to Las Vegas

Harrison: 300
Mica: 475

Google Maps says 326 miles. (Harrison!)


San Antonio, TX to Atlanta, GA

San Antonio to Atlanta

Harrison: 1,200
Mica: 863

Google Maps says 989 miles. (Mica!)

Lightning Death Round! Paris, France to Sydney, Australia (as the crow flies)

Paris to Sydney

Harrison: 10,000
Mica: 30,000

WolframAlpha says 10,537 miles. (Mica! Harrison!)


Final results – Harrison: 5, Mica: 2

Oh well, good thing I’m not getting a Master’s in estimating distances….



People who probably won’t marry us…

Well, the search for a venue and an officiant continues. I followed up on some potential leads this past week, but to no avail. I am still perplexed and frustrated that Richmond City does not do courthouse civil wedding ceremonies. Despite my compulsive scouring of the Interwebs, there just isn’t much to indicate that Richmond couples can do anything but get their marriage licenses through the city’s Circuit Court. If anyone can give us more information (ideally, to the contrary) about civil wedding ceremonies through Richmond city, please let us know or leave a comment.

In the meantime, we’ve generated a list of our top picks for wedding officiant if famous and/or deceased people were willing and able to marry us.

Athletes (currently playing or retired)

Harrison: Charles Barkley

Mica: Tyson Gay


Harrison: Richard Feynman

Mica: Nikola Tesla (only as portrayed as David Bowie in The Prestige–so wise and mysterious!)

Actors, female

Harrison: Dame Maggie Smith

Mica: Kristen Wiig

Actors, male

Harrison: John Cleese

Mica: Toss-up between Sir Ian McKellen and Jim Carter

Figures from Harrison’s mom’s blacklist

Harrison: William Shatner

Mica: Martha Stewart

Local Richmond celebrity

Harrison: Shaka Smart

Mica: Gene Cox


Harrison: Toss-up between Isaac Asimov and Douglas Adams

Mica: David Sedaris

Historical Political Figure (Living or Deceased)

Harrison: Xerxes I (but as portrayed in 300)

Mica: Elizabeth I (Also: Anne Boleyn, but she’s not exactly the poster child for marital bliss)

Humanities Professors 

Harrison: Noam Chomsky


Granted, not all these choices are necessarily great examples of having lived in wedded harmony, but they all seem like interesting people whom we’d want to meet and share wedding canapés with. If you happen to know any of these people (or are somehow gifted in the art of resurrection), do let us know. Meanwhile, I will be hunting down someone to marry us, which may or may not involve copious amounts of tweeting at celebrities.

What celebrity/historical figure would you choose to officiate your wedding? 


Harrison’s camping aspirations

What am I most excited about?

While I am anxiously awaiting delicious meals, sing-alongs in the car, and catching up with long-lost friends, my excitement for one thing trumps all others: the vast expanse of quasi-wilderness between Chicago and Seattle. If you study my expertly-drawn approximation of our route, you will notice that between the two aforementioned cities, there is nothing but frantic squiggles.

Rough map of WVT

Now, I labor under the likely mistaken assumption that in another life, I could have been an explorer. I should disclose at this point (because if I don’t, I have a feeling someone else will) that I have managed to become lost during a few brave adventures in my life, including locating fireworks over Boston Harbor and meeting friends at an Asian restaurant. [*Ahem* Lyric, if you are reading this….] Those isolated events, however, do not dull my desire to become somewhat more severely lost in the untamed wilds of Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana, and eastern Washington. I’m pretty sure people live in those places, but I’d prefer to stay out of their way. And what is the best way to get away from people?? Camping!

That’s right, it is my grand aspiration to camp at least part of the 5-day, 4-night trip from Chicago to Seattle. Another disclosure: my camping experience consists of a couple of isolated nights in a tent, plus sleeping in a cabin and eating McDonald’s for breakfast at Indian Guides. And yet I am undeterred. Here is how I envision this happening:

Mica: Hey big, burly husband! How is it going?
Harrison: Not bad, actually. I have pitched our tent, created fire by staring at a pile of sticks really intensely, and prepared a gourmet meal from edible foodstuffs foraged from the woods!
Mica: *swoon*

Just pretend it's a tent. And that this is camping...

Just pretend it’s a tent. And that this is camping…

Here’s how it will probably go in reality:

Mica: What are you doing?
Harrison: What the hell is this thing in our trunk??
Mica: That’s our tent.

Failed tent

Whatever. I will not be deterred. I shall experience the manly pleasures of camping, and there will be much rejoicing. Here I come, frantic squiggles, here I we come.

And…more pictures:

Failed swoon

Failed swoon attempt. It’s harder than it looks.

Not sure what we're doing....

Not sure what we’re doing….


Will you marry us?

I have recently discovered that one cannot have a civil wedding at the John Marshall Courts building in Richmond, VA.

My conversation with the woman staffing the phone on the marriage extension went something like this:

Me: Hi, um, I was trying to get more information about bringing a camera in if I wanted to get married by a Justice of the Peace at the Circuit Court.

Staff Member: Well, you can’t get married here. There is no one who will marry you.

So now, here we are. We have a date (May 24th!) and a photographer (for about two hours). We have no venue or officiant. I’m glad I checked up on this now instead of later.

This puts a slight dent in our plans because we were all ready to be married by a Justice of the Peace with very little pre-planning of the ceremony. It’s not just that we don’t have an officiant or venue; it’s that we now have to come up with a ceremony. I never really dreamed of my wedding, but, of course, I have had two niggling fears of my wedding day for a very long time: (1) rain on an outdoor ceremony [Cue Alanis!] and (2) having to say private, emotional things in front of others.

To us, this means no unity candle, no readings, no music, no processional/recessional, no greeting line, no flower girl (Ha, like  I would willingly place myself in the presence of a young child, hahahahahaa!). Just the important things that must be said to make the marriage official. It’s not that I want to get it over with; I just don’t want to feel forced to say things unnaturally or work with an officiant who has strong feelings about how the ceremony needs to go.

“I want it to be official,” says Harrison, “But I don’t want it to be dumb. I don’t want any actions, just words.” [Note: Weddings that have these things aren’t dumb, but it would be dumb to have them out of a sense of obligation only.]

I guess I will continue to consult the Internet, clearly the best source of information, as well as respectable married people about the necessary parts of a wedding ceremony and how to find an officiant.

Fortunately, I just found this post about the five basic components required for a marriage ceremony in the US:

  • The statement : naming the people who have to be there
  • The intention : Do you ___ intend to marry ___? (I do.)
  • The vow : “I [name] take you [name] to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife.”
  • The signing
  • The declaration : “I now pronounce you…”

Those all sound like good, matter-of-fact things to include. I even like the vows–short and sweet and with no added fluff that would sound awkward coming out of our mouths.

So yes, we’re on the lookout for an officiant and a cool, cheap venue in Richmond, VA. To be continued….


We have a date and an air mattress.

After some deliberation, indecision, and wheedling, we have officially set a date to get married: Friday, May 24th, 2013We picked it for three reasons:

  1. Our anniversary will always fall on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend or slightly earlier. This will give us an excuse to take a great trip over the long weekend.
  2. Friday allows our gainfully-employed Richmond friends to celebrate with us without worrying about work the next day.
  3. Hiring someone to take snazzy pictures of us in a dress and bow-tie (plus other articles of clothing, of course!) is significantly cheaper on a Friday than the Sunday of a long holiday weekend.


Our plan is to get married in the morning with just our parents present. Then we’ll eat a tasty wedding lunch, spend the afternoon enjoying ourselves, and hang out with some close friends that night.

To be honest, all of my energy had previously been focused on planning a very long road trip: whom we would see, where we would go, what we would eat. However, it is pretty important to decide when and where and how we are actually getting married. So far, we have one of those bases covered. Yesssss.

It feels oddly satisfying to have an actual date that we are going to get married, even though I always knew it was going to happen. We aren’t sending Save the Dates or fancy, letter-pressed invitations. However, it’s the date that we have now decided upon, the one that works best for us this year and in future years, and the one we’re saying out loud to ourselves and to Bodger (who is clearly invested in this process) .

Hooray! Baby steps!

And in addition to a date, we also have a fancy new ALPS queen-sized air mattress.* Lauren, a blogging and Twitter friend, tipped me off that this baby was on-sale, and we snatched it up. It arrived yesterday, and I was eager to try it out.

Deflated ALPS queen air mattress

Once it was inflated, we made sure that it will accommodate different sleeping positions:
Inflated ALPS queen air mattress


My personal favorite:

Inflated ALPS queen air mattress


Also, Harrison wants me to put up this picture because he thinks it makes him look cool.

Harrison is cool



Alright, that’s all I got for now. Check back soon for a post in which I solicit advice about selecting someone to be an officiant because apparently, our original plans of a courthouse wedding are no more.


*We are in no way affiliated with ALPS mountaineering products. We are not being paid to endorse their products by spreading ourselves luxuriously across them.



A basic map + what about Bodger?

Many people have asked where we’re actually going on WVT. It helps no one if I just rattle off some dates, so it’s perhaps best to answer this in pictorial form. This is a map that Harrison drew up today. The red dots are cities that we are definitely planning on visiting. The black squiggles are stretches of route where we aren’t entirely sure what is happening.

Rough map of WVT

(Click to enlarge)

Others have asked if our flatulent Frenchie will be coming along for the ride. Bodger will sadly not be joining us on Wedding Victory Tour for three reasons. First, we don’t want to impose his presence/gas on our friends who are nice enough to open their homes to us. Second, not all hotels are dog-friendly, and we are trying to stick with one chain throughout the entire trip. Third, as a brachycephalic breed, Frenchies don’t do well in heat, so we wouldn’t be able to roll the windows down and hop out of the car for spontaneous sightseeing or meals. (Fourth, Bodger farts a lot in the car, so we might die of asphyxiation.)

Bodger in chair

Don’t feel too bad for him, though. He’ll be staying in the choicest accommodations at Château Lois, AKA my mom’s house, with her two dogs, Gryphon, the Briard, and Neville, the not-quite-all-there Old English Sheepdog. You should also not feel bad because Bodger is the least loyal of all creatures and would probably push me under a train if he thought it would advance his comfort in any way.



Planning the Tour Dates

When we first came up with the idea of WVT on a flight back from two friends’ wedding, I naively thought that it would be super-fun and super-easy to plan. Instead of having to make everything happen on Just One Day, we would easily be able to work around our friends’ and families’ schedules. In short, I thought this non-traditional wedding format would absolve me from the responsibility of making difficult wedding-related decisions. I was blindly saying “yes” to any and all possibilities and using the word “flexibility” to respond to any question beginning with when. Colorado? We’re there! Canada? No problem! When are you getting married? Oh, any time–we’ve got some flexibility! United Kingdom via amphibious vehicle? I’m sure that will happen!

Well, as it turns out (and this is perhaps surprising to no one who has seen my abysmal understanding of US geography), the United States is enormous, and planning a coordinated road trip around it is no easy task.

Planning a road trip is hard!

Profound thoughts by @mllemica

Sketching out WVT did involve a surprising amount of decision-making. We had to prioritize what was important for us to do. Visiting with friends always trumped seeing things like the largest ball of twine, and I put my foot down about maintaining a “grueling” pace for too many days at a time. And sadly, unless we want this road trip to stretch into the fall, we have to cut out the middle of the country and leave out Florida.

A few hours later and several dramatic sighs (mine) later, we ended up with this:

Wedding Victory Tour spreadsheet


Our strategy was to decide upon major cities where our friends are located and confirm that one was willing to host us. In between, we’ll stay in hotels and camp. Now begins the process of sending out a flurry of Save the Date(s) e-mails to coordinate seeing our friends and family spread far and wide across the continental US.

The tentative schedule has us leaving Richmond, VA (our hometown) on June 12th and returning between August 1st and 5th. That’s almost two months on the road–as I write this, I can almost hear my dad saying “Yechhhhh!” at the thought of being in the car that long.

We’ll try to get a “Tour Dates” page up in the next two weeks, and then we’ll be looking for suggestions for food, sights, and activities!

And, as it turns out, it was a lot more fun for us to plan when we’d get to see our friends–some of whom we haven’t seen in five years–than to worry about picking colors or negotiating venue fees. As WVT becomes a real thing, instead of just an ambiguous plan that we’ve kept to ourselves, I’m happy that its actual manifestation continues to be the best choice for us: a lot of fun, quality time with friends, and delicious food.