planning

How to try to plan a road trip.

It may seem daunting to try and plot out a roughly 10,000-mile trip, and I suppose it was, but there’s really nothing earth-shattering about what I did.  I estimated how long it would take us to drive between cities in which we were staying with friends/family, and once the dates in those cities were hammered down, I planned the routes between them.

It turns out I was not great at estimating; I had to insert an extra day in the Chicago-to-Seattle and San Diego-to-Austin itineraries because I wanted to see everything between those pairs of cities, and for some reason, the major landmarks are not arranged along a straight line between them.  I decided that averaging any more than 7.5-8 hours a day may provoke a mutiny attempt from the passenger’s seat, so I used that constraint to decide where to stay each night along a predetermined route.  This is how we ended up planning stays in the burgeoning metropolises (correct plural?  I don’t know.) of Custer, SD; Livingston, MT; and Artesia, NM.

I regrettably had to leave out certain landmarks/parks/fun roads, for the sake of time.  That includes the Grand Canyon, among other places.  I know, this is where everybody is screaming at their computer/tablet/phone, “WHAAAAT?!? YOU CAN’T GO ON A ROAD TRIP WITHOUT THE GRAND CANYON!!  THAT’S THE ONLY PLACE PEOPLE ACTUALLY GO ON ROAD TRIPS!”  I know, it seemed weird to me, too.  It turns out it’s just not on the way to anywhere (it’s basically an out-and-back from Flagstaff), so I axed it.  We’ll take another vacation one of these days to see all the holes in the ground out there.

Now being two days into the trip, I must admit there are times when I wonder what we were thinking.  I love driving, but it really is a lot of driving.  Fortunately, I tricked somebody into riding shotgun with me for the rest of eternity, so I think it’ll be ok.

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planning

Urban camping

While we’re in Canada and the Northeast next week on WVT, we’re going to fulfill Harrison’s dream of roughing it in the wilderness a few campgrounds. This meant that we had to buy sleeping bags, an air mattress, and a tent. After significant neurotic (on my part) research and advice from Twitter, we went with the REI Camp Dome 2.

We had planned to go on a trial-run camping trip in Virginia, but several elements (namely, torrential downpours and the un-timely arrival of our sleeping bags) conspired against us. With our June 12th departure date fast upon us, we decided to go with the next-best option: urban camping in my mom’s living room.

The tent fortunately came with instructions printed right on the bag, ha!

REI Camp Dome tent in bag

 

[Insert phallic joke about the long tent pole.]

 

long tent pole

Hey, this is looking right-ish!

half-assembled Camp Dome 2 tentTotal set-up time on the first try? Ten minutes. Let’s see if we can get it down to five!

assembled REI camp dome 2 tent

Note the candlesticks in their natural habitat.

Oh look! Some urban “wild” life: my mom!

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Bodger was very curious and eager to climb inside the tent.

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Our queen air mattress just barely fits in the two-person tent (though not entirely inflated).

M & H in Camp Dome 2 Tent

After feeling sufficiently satisfied with ourselves and our tent construction, we broke camp and foraged for dinner at Avenue 805.

Camping, we are ready for you!

Don’t worry: we’ve made other preparations in addition to buying and assembling our tent. We don’t have it down to a streamlined and efficient process yet, but I think we’ll be okay “roughing it” for a few days. (And my parents did a pretty bang-up job taking me on fun camping trips in my childhood, so this isn’t my first go-round with using the woods as my toilet.) At the very least, I know (1) not to light a fire or use a gas stove inside the tent, (2) to store food in the car so as not to be attacked by bears, (3) use a footprint under the tent so as not to become soaked overnight. 

Any other helpful tidbits of camping advice? Do share in the comments!

 

 

 

 

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planning

Marriage License: Acquired!

In case you’re reading this and thinking about getting married in Virginia, you can apply for and receive a marriage license in any circuit court in the state–not necessarily for the city or county in which you plan to be married. This is how we ended up getting a license from Middlesex County Circuit Court, rather than deal with the mountains of bureaucracy at the John Marshall Courts Building.

VA marriage license

We also visited Libby Hill Park (our ceremony site) today.

Libby Hill Park fountain, Richmond, VA

Not a bad view, eh?

Libby Hill Park fountain, Richmond, VA

 

I think almost all things for Friday have been purchased, ordered, or acquired.

And in preparation for Wedding Victory Tour, I have purchased a windbreaker. Very exciting!

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planning

WVT Goes to Hollywood!

I will preface this post by saying that Mica and I have wildly different opinions of southern California. I once spent a summer in Pasadena, and I think Mica’s experience is limited to a family reunion in San Diego and watching my brother graduate from Harvey Mudd.

Mica stops to smell the roses in SoCal!

So basically, neither of us knows anything about what SoCal is actually like. That said, Mica is terrified of southern California because everybody is beautiful, there’s lots of traffic and smog, and they have earthquakes [Mica: Also, mudslides and wild fires]. I think southern California is pretty much the greatest place ever because the weather is nice all the time (except when they go into deep freezes and it gets down into the 40s), they have ocean and mountains right next to each other, and everybody is beautiful. Nowhere are all of these things more true than in Los Angeles.

Harrison & a stubby palm tree

You may have noticed on our previous “Tentative Tour Dates” post that Los Angeles was listed as an unconfirmed destination. That’s code for, “we would like to go there, but we have no couch on which to surf.”

Fortunately, through the miracle of the internet, we were able to connect with somebody who in fact does have a couch (The couch, at this point, is a metaphor; we will actually sleep in a real life bed) on which we can surf. Not only that, but the proverbial couch is in Hollywood Hills! Major thanks to our friend Catherine for hunting down LA’s most fabulous airbnb listings!

I didn’t even know Hollywood Hills was the name of an actual place, but it is, and how can it not be full of richy rich people/houses/trees/dogs/trash cans?! We’re less than a mile from Mulholland Drive! I don’t really know the significance of that, but they made a movie about it! It has to be awesome, right?! [Mica: Yes, because all things that have been made into movies are awesome. Twilight franchise, I’m looking at you!]

As you can see, I am excited. After our stay, I reckon we will leave LA via Sunset Blvd. and Rodeo Drive, just in case I haven’t OD’d on chihuahuas and Ferraris yet. If you have any recommendations in or around the Hollywood Hills area, please let us know!

Bonus: If you made it this far, here’s a song that is vaguely about California and is a throwback to our first year of dating. Awwwwww.

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planning

Tentative Tour Dates!

Mica battles a snowdrift!

Today, we are two months out from getting married, hooray! And we are 79 days out from the kickoff of Wedding Victory Tour! Here is a list of rough tour dates where we have confirmed that we will be couch-surfing with some very generous friends and family. If we are coming to a city near you, feel free to drop us a line, and we will try to meet up! We’d like to see as many of you as possible as we make our way around the country.

* denotes an unconfirmed destination.

5/24 – Get married!

5/24-6/11 – Celebrate with friends and family around Virginia

6/12 – Leave Richmond, VA, tour kickoff!

6/14 – Hanover, NH

6/15 – Miscellaneous Canada*

6/22 – Boston, MA

6/25 – NYC

6/29 – Medina, OH

6/30 – St. Louis, MO

7/2 – Champaign, IL

7/5 – Chicago, IL

7/13 – Seattle, WA*

7/15 – Mountain View, CA

7/19 – San Francisco, CA

7/22 – Los Angeles, CA*

7/23 – San Diego, CA

7/25-8/2 – Return to Richmond via San Antonio, TX*, Atlanta, GA*, & Durham, NC

8/2 – Return to Richmond, VA

Wedding Victory Tour map

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planning

Let the crowdsourcing begin!

On the surface, a wedding seems to involve primarily two people, the two who are getting married.  However, as pretty much anyone (or any book) will tell you, weddings are often the result of the collaborative efforts of many different parties. In fact, I remember fondly from my Slavic Folklore class (???) in college that traditional weddings were a village affair, from the making of the dowry to the wedding meal to the parading of a bloody sheet in the streets the next day. (Ew.)

WVT is not a traditional ceremony, reception, or honeymoon, but I’d like to think that we are following in the time-honored tradition of crowdsourcing our wedding. We’ve already done a fair share of this: Ashley and Tina, my bridesmaids cum web designers, put together this website. And I’d like to think that in lieu of reception activities (DJs, dancing, bouquet tossing), our friends and families will provide the best kind of entertainment: time spent together!

This week, my lovely friend Hannah drew this awesome picture for us. Soon, I will begin my first foray into wedding crafts and attempt to style this into some sort of invitation for our Richmond friends. (We’re thinking about going out in the evening, so in effect, please save the date, May 24th, 2013!)

Save the Date Image by Haram Kim

Gangnam style…still relevant!

Now that it’s time to finish Harrison’s dissertation and look for jobs plan the road trip, we have some questions for you, gentle readers. The US is a very large place, and we haven’t been to a lot of it.  We’d love to get some ideas for this road trip from our many friends and family, spread all over the country and with diverse tastes and interests.

Feel free to answer in the comments below or shoot us an email (if you have *private* suggestions, haha).

  • What’s your favorite hotel or hotel chain?
  • What’s your favorite city in the continental US?
  • What’s your favorite restaurant? (RVA people, what’s your favorite Richmond restaurant?)
  • What landmark (site, park, monument, etc.) do you recommend visiting?
  • What do you do to pass the time in the car (games or otherwise)?

Thanks in advance for your input! We’re excited to read it!

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planning

Libby Hill Park: Richmond on the James!

Well, dearest readers, we finally have an officiant and have chosen the venue for our upcoming nuptials on May 24th, 2013. Something modest and under-budget because that’s how we roll.

highclere_castle(Image source)

I have just discovered Highclere Castle can be rented for weddings to the tune of £15,000+VAT. Yeah, no big deal, right?

Actually, we are delighted to announce that we will be getting married in a more cost-effective venue that is slightly closer to home: Richmond’s Libby Hill Park!

Here’s a boring, nearly five-minute video of it:

According to the city’s Parks & Recreation website, Libby Hill is one of the three original parks  in Richmond. My favorite thing about it is the nice view of the river. In fact, this is how Richmond got its name–it resembles a view of Richmond on the Thames in England, hurrah!

In the event of rain, we plan to camp out and have a very short ceremony under the porch of the park house.

Libby Hill Park House

Libby Hill Park House, Richmond, VA

One of the many benefits of having such a small, weekday morning wedding is that we didn’t have to make an official reservation for the park. I doubt anyone is going to be using the park on a Friday morning. And if other people are milling around, there’s enough green space that we will be able to find some room to get married.

Our officiant, Mr. Mehfoud, is a Richmond celebrant who has been marrying couples since 1978 and even married stepdad Steve’s cousin and his wife Laura two years ago. When I spoke to him on Tuesday, he said that he knows his short, secular ceremony by heart. We’ll be married quickly and unobtrusively, but officially and awesomely!

Now that we have the majorly important things (venue, celebrant, photographer) in line, it’s time to start planning the road trip in earnest. After Harrison turns in his dissertation draft next week, we’ll start poring over the road trip books we got for Christmas and scouring the Interwebs for cool destinations.

And also, Kayla and I started a collaborative board on Pinterest today, just for the sheer joy of distracting ourselves with wedding crafts. Because who wants to write a comprehensive exam on ESL grammar when you can make decorations out of coffee filters and whiffle balls…

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Confirmed: No Richmond Courthouse wedding

Still disbelieving that we couldn’t have a Courthouse wedding, I e-mailed the clerk of Richmond City Circuit Court this past week:

Dear Judge [Name],

My fiancé and I are Richmond natives, and we plan to get married on Friday, May 24th of this year. We would like to get married in a civil ceremony at the courthouse, but I could not find any information about doing this on the Richmond Circuit Court website.
Is it possible for us to schedule an appointment with you or another official to get married (with our parents in attendance) at the Richmond Circuit Court?
Thank you so much!
-Mica S.
The next day, I received this response:

To whom it may concern:

Please be advised that at this time Richmond Circuit Court does not perform marriages. We do offer a list of Civil Celebrants. You are welcome to call them and make arrangements. Please see the attached list.

Thank you,

[Circuit Court Deputy Clerk]

So far, we’re 0/5 with wedding officiants. Four will be out of town on our wedding day, and the fifth charged an all-inclusive fee of $225. Given the small size of our ceremony, this was too far out of our budget.

While many people have suggested having a friend or relative officiate the ceremony, this is not ideal for a few reasons:

  • We don’t want to worry about writing a ceremony.
  • We want to spend our ceremony and post-ceremony lunch with our parents; choosing one friend or relative becomes sticky in this situation.

Tomorrow, more phonecalls!

 

 

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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….

 

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