Days 25-26: “IN” Round Lake, IL

Staying with Kim and Steven is so much fun! As I’m writing this, Steven is trying to convince us to stay later than planned tomorrow before we head out into the “unknown” portion of our trip (the drive between Round Lake and Seattle). Kim, meanwhile, is trying to convince Harrison to visit a tunnel somewhere…

Yesterday, we had a picnic! Harrison and Steven were very good at building a fire:

Harrison & Steven building a fire

Kim and I were very supportive of their efforts, obviously.

Mica & Kim in picnic shelter

Steven is a vegetarian, and Kim is a vegan. I love visiting them because we have so much fun and also because I get to eat awesome vegan/vegetarian food. This was a our picnic spread yesterday: “chicken” salad, chickpea-bulgur “salad,” “chips,” and “fruit.”

vegan picnic spreadAnd also baked beans and foil-packet potatoes which were reluctant to cook. Every time we checked them, they kept saying “I’m raw potatoes,” oddly enough.

foil potato packets on grill


We each had our own flavor of Jarritos!

Mica & Kim, Jarritos

After lunch, we played some spastic (on my part) frisbee and took a walk around Volo Yolo bog.

Bog walk

It was hot in the bog, but we made it look pretty good.
Bog pose

Steven made stuffed “burgers” for dinner on Saturday. Tonight, we had homemade pizza, each with our own unique combination of toppings.

pizza & burgersDon’t worry, though. We’ve been workin’ on our fitness. Kim and I ran this morning. It was hot!

Kim & Mica, post run


Kim is studying to become a personal trainer. This morning, she also coached me and Harrison on some couples yoga poses today.

stacked yoga pose

Meanwhile, Steven practiced riding the motorcycle of his dreams. [Kim may have just expired from over-laughing at the picture.]

Steven's air motorcycle

Data is highly judgmental of our antics. Seeing us goof around probably makes him feel, as Kim and Steven say, “stabby.”

Stabby Data


After a delicious brunch at Wildberry, we went to see World War Z. It was really tense (evidenced by my sharp intakes of breath), but I think we all enjoyed it. (Some friends have told me that it isn’t as good as the book, but none of us had read it.) In case you don’t want to see the film though, it’s basically like this:

Mica & Kim reenact "World War Z"

While they made dinner, I decided that Kim’s collection of cans makes her really unique…just like liking Christmas! 😉

Kim with cans


Liking pizza? It also makes you unique.

Thanks for the fun weekend, Kim and Steven and my cat-boyfriend Data! Next time we get together, Kim and I will wear our maxi dresses for the photo.

WVT at Round Lake

It’s all downhill from here “metaphorically.”



Quoddy Contest Winner!

I am delighted to announce that we have a winner from our photo identification contest!

Jordan, start-up founder extraordinaire, correctly (albeit a little vaguely) identified the mystery object in the photo:

“It’s a bird! On the log! A Brown bird of some kind that I might now if I had ever read some kind of birding book!”

Yes, my friend, that is generally correct.
grouse identification

However, an honorable mention goes to James for being much more specific, but unfortunately, past the entry deadline:

“what was it? did anyone guess? did you post the answer somewhere?

is it a female pheasant sitting on a log?
i’m seriously obsessed with this picture now and i have to know…”

Based on what we saw, I think it was a female grouse (My dad has a funny story about being attacked by a grouse.), but it could very well be a young female pheasant.

Congratulations, you excellent bird-identifiers! Jordan, we will bring your prize when we arrive at your doorstep in a few weeks. James, you have the prize of knowing that you can spot well-camouflaged birds, a skill that will surely serve you well in life.


Wanted: Wedding Victory Playlist Suggestions

Wedding chalk decorations

We received a copy of our official marriage license today, so as Father-in-Law says, we’ve “done it now.”

WVT kicks off in just over a week. We leave next Wednesday, June 12th, for a wedding in New Hampshire. What better way to kick off a wedding victory tour?

Harrison has been planning furiously: making extensive route maps and deciding which destinations we’ll hit along the way.

While we’re driving roughly 10,000 miles, we’re going to need some good music. Unfortunately, our current selection is mostly limited to burned CDs of alternative pop-punk from our high school days. And while I do love Something Corporate, I’m pretty sure a new marriage can only endure so much New Found Glory, Yellowcard, and Fallout Boy.

Thus, let’s continue with the crowdsourcing of this wedding victory tour! I am asking you, our friends and family and Internet creepers, to suggest music for our very long journey.

Do you have a favorite song for roadtripping?

How about some lyrics that really speak to you on the open road?

What about that album that really brings you back to middle school/high school/college/summer 2003?

These are all perfect suggestions for our Wedding Victory Tour Playlist, and we want to hear them!

Really! We are going to need a lot of music for this trip. Please use this form to suggest a song or album for us to add to play with the windows down (or maybe up) on the open road. Make sure to tell us why this musical selection is a particularly good addition to our WVT playlist.

Even better, tell us who you are and leave your phone number or email address. (No worries–only we’ll see this form!) I’ll do my best to contact you when we listen to one of your suggestions!

You’re probably a music buff and are just bursting with suggestions. Well, lucky you, you can resubmit the form as many times as you want with new stuff.

Thanks so much in advance. We can’t wait to hear from you!

If the embedded form doesn’t work on the WVT site, access just the suggestion form here.


Taking engagement photos is awkward.

Several months ago, our friend Chris, acoustic phonetician, photographer, audiophile, and all-around badass, generously offered to take engagement photos of us. At first, we declined because  we figured that without a large wedding (and Save-the-Dates), we wouldn’t need any glammed-up-yet-casual photographs of ourselves. Moreover, I assumed that as the world’s least romantic couple, taking couples-based photos would be an uncomfortable and awkward experience.

I eventually changed my mind about this and decided that engagement photos would be good practice for wedding photography. Chris cut us an awesome deal (a new camera strap and Mexican dinner!), and we roughly planned to take photos when spring hit Champaign.

Unfortunately, Spring of a Thousand Changes happened, and we ran hard up against our date of exodus from the Midwest. This is how we ended up taking our engagement photos in the week that we moved, graduated from grad school, and packed for seven weeks on the road.

Did we buy new outfits? (No.) Did I pluck my eyebrows? (No.) How did my nails look? (Horrible.) Was I totally frazzled? (Yes.)

I cannot believe that I am the only person who approached engagement photos (and couples photography, in general) with trepidation! Does anyone else feel uncomfortable about the prospect of being romantic in front of a photographer? How do other couples look so natural and happy?

[Actually, the Internet will prove that some people are just really bad at taking romantic photos.]

When Chris requested that I send him photos of what I liked and disliked in “e-photography” styles, I basically nixed all romantic poses, including reclining, kissing, embracing, carrying, staring into each other eyes, smiling at each other, and holding hands. Suffice to say, he had his work cut out for him.

I’d like to tell you that taking engagement photos was not awkward, but I’d be lying. It was awkward. We’re not very affectionate, so the addition of two other people–even though they are our friends–made everything feel somewhat forced. Sometimes, I didn’t even want to make eye contact because I’d start to giggle or feel really uncomfortable. When he told us to talk to each other, I somehow ran out of things to say or wanted to gripe about things like the eight-thousand things still left unchecked on our to-do list (No good for engagement photos!).

This is not to say that I think Chris wasn’t an excellent photographer; we’re just bad at being romantic. He was super-professional and didn’t insist that we take photos that we weren’t comfortable with. He basically just let us goof around as ourselves for most of the time and suggested some even cooler shots that we wouldn’t have thought of. He even had a handkerchief on hand when Harrison sliced open his hand on a particularly vengeful tree branch in the U of I arboretum.

And, in the end, his photos look reallllllly good! Within twelve hours, he had edited our photos–no cheesy vignettes or edge-softening. The changes aren’t even noticeable. The photos just look really nice.

Yes, taking engagement photos was a little awkward. At least, it was for us. We’re certainly not styled to perfection, by any means. But we have a collection of colorful photographs that capture us looking happy and honestly like ourselves in one of the most stressful weeks of our lives. And as a bonus, we got to hang out with Chris for a few hours, which was a rare treat in a time of dissertations and job applications.

So, would I take engagement photos again? No, probably not.

Am I glad we did it? Fo’ sho’ yes!

Thank you so much, Chris! We wouldn’t take engagement photos again UNLESS they were with you. You are a great friend, and we will miss you terribly. Best of luck and know that whenever we watch “Inglorious Basterds,” we will think of you.

[Check out more of Chris’ work here.]

And without further ado, photos! (Click to enlarge.)

How do you feel about engagement photos? Did you take them, and what was it like? Are you planning on taking them?