Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

One Busy Labor Day Weekend September 3, 2014

Friday, Matt and I went with our friends to Piqniq at Tinley Park’s First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre. This was our first time at Piqniq and we were not disappointed. Our first stop was the All-State tent for these awesome pictures.

Then it was off to catch Wild Cub at a side stage. Matt and I have heard them on Alt Nation and were excited to see them. Their show was really good, better than Local H. My vote is next time they should be on the larger stage. After Wild Cub, we endured Local H until  A.F.I. took the stage. Their sound was amazing. The lead singer was so clear and the rest of the instruments truly complimented him.  


30 Seconds to Mars blew me away. They were so good live, so much better than I expected! Their sound, graphics and crowd engagement were impeccable. You couldn’t help but follow Jared Leto when he said jump and smile when he popped up every now and then in the crowd instead of on stage. If they come back into town I am definitely seeing them again and getting a t-shirt!

The main headliner was Linkin Park and they took the crowd’s enthusiasm from 30 Seconds to Mars even further. Everyone was standing even people on the lawn, and were jumping up and down. They played a great mix of old and new songs catering to the wide variety of ages in attendance. My calves got one of their best workouts ever that night!

The next day we headed up to Union, Michigan to rest our calves on the beach. We took it easy playing games, bags, eating, boating, swimming, tubing and playing beach volleyball.



Even Porter got in on the fun. We had a blast talking with our friends and just relaxing in the sun. All in all it was one great weekend. Except for the day after. Matt and I forgot how much upper body strength you need to hold on to those tubes. I think we’re going to start a push-up routine once we can lift our arms over our heads without wincing…       


Detroit to Boston, 84 Boxes At Least May 8, 2013

This weekend was a blur. It started off immediately with me hitting 290 at Friday rush hour. Not a good start. Things cleared up after about an hour, but by that time I was only by U.S. Cellular Field and I was planning on getting to Royal Oak, Michigan by 9:30 my time. Not good. Then I hit a freak thunderstorm on 94 in Indiana. Combined with a heavy rain, thunder, and lightning, a rock hit my windshield. At first I didn’t really notice it. Then something started to crawl across the glass. My first thought was it was just a bug that splattered. To test my theory, I washed the windshield. Unfortunately it wasn’t bug guts; it was a crack in the glass.


Luckily I didn’t have any more mishaps on my way to Michigan. I made it safely and only thirty minutes late. Which was a very good thing since the next day we were up at 7:15…which is 6:15 Chicago time. Why so early? Well it was moving day for Jill. She had packed most of her 84 boxes ahead of time and now it was just a matter of assisting her movers with fitting everything into her pod. Fortunately, everything went very smoothly. We were all done just a little after noon. Not too shabby for a two bedroom apartment! But, it was mostly due to Jill’s incredible organizational skills.

Boxes in the Living Room

Boxes in the Living Room

2nd Bedroom With Boxes

2nd Bedroom All Empty!

2nd Bedroom All Empty!



After the move, we decided to reward ourselves and hit the outlet mall by her mom’s house. (But not before I called my insurance to set up a mobile replacement for my windshield when I got back to Chicago. And let me say, you are in good hands with All-State!) We both found some great deals at the Banana Republic Outlet, Nine West and of course our personal favorite, the Pepperidge Farm Outlet. Gotta stock up on goldfish when you have the chance! After shopping we went back to her parents’ house to have dinner and relax. Shockingly, we all fell asleep on the couch around 10:30. I wonder why!

The next day we took it easy. I was able to do some grading and work while Jill baked cupcakes. In the afternoon a few of Jill’s family members came over to her parents for a going away BBQ. It was the perfect afternoon catching up, eating good food and being outside. It doesn’t hurt that Jill’s mom and step-dad have a beautiful lake house.

But before I knew it, it was time to hit the road again. Fortunately for me, the crack in the windshield only grew about four inches. The ride home was a little less eventful than the ride up. The only exciting part was exiting the freeway for about 15 miles due to a major accident….once again adding another 30 minutes onto my drive home. Oh well. I made it safely and today, my windshield got replaced for free! Thanks insurance!

The only real downside to the weekend was saying good-byeish to Jill. Since college we have seen each other at least once a month. Now, she’s moving to Boston and neither of us can afford monthly visits. But I think we found a compromise with quarterly ones. Leave it to Jill to have a plan! Hopefully next week will be a little calmer. Cross your fingers for me!


Pure Michigan and Ravinia Weekend June 27, 2012

Who can resist Tim Allen in Michigan’s tourism advertising? It’s pretty darn hard not to succumb to the beaches of Lake Michigan, delicious wineries and the charms of small harbor towns. Can you tell I got my Michigan fix recently?

This past weekend I went up to St. Joseph to meet my best friend Jill. Friday night we grabbed dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Clementine’s, and walked around downtown St. Joseph. We hit the beach for a beautiful sunset before two of our sorority sisters joined us. We stayed up way to late talking catching up with one another.

Michigan Sunset

Saturday morning greeted us with pancakes and fresh strawberries. Unfortunately our friends had to leave early and we parted ways. Jill and I packed lunches, sunscreen, towels and water bottles and headed to the beach. We caught up on some reading and sleep. Unfortunately too much sleep and forgot to reapply sunscreen…So to make up for our mistake we decided to go drink.

There are so many different wineries in Michigan and especially around the south-western corner of the state. We only had three hours so we limited ourselves to four stops: Lemon Creek (excellent spumante), Tabor Hill (it’s got to be good if the White House serves their wine), Gravity (the new kid on the block with fun pairings with cheese and chocolate) and Round Barn (brewery, distillery and winery, yeah, plan to stay a few hours). I’m happy to say that my wine stock is now at an appropriate level.

Wine samples

Sunday morning we got up, make breakfast, cleaned, and went our separate ways because I had a concert to attend at Ravinia. A few hours after arriving in Chicago, Matt picked me up to see Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. We were meeting his family there and ended up arriving first.  Immediately we found an excellent spot directly behind in the stage and near a tree. We set up camp and waited for the rest of his family to join us.

The weather was absolutely perfect and so was the menu! Appetizers included veggies and dip, a meat and cheese platter and chili con queso dip with chips. Matt made a fabulous chicken salad and Bethany did a delectable job with chocolate chip cookies. We sipped our Summer Shandy’s and wine while playing Uno and Catchphrase before the concert started.

Ravinia fun

Once the music began, our focus was on Steve. The concert was the perfect blend of comedy and blue grass music. There were jokes flying between and during songs that left everyone laughing out loud while taping their toes. I would totally love to see Steve again with the Steep Canyon Rangers. In fact, I think I might be purchasing a few albums in the near future on iTunes.

All in all, one great weekend. Next weekend has some pretty high standards. But it does have one thing going for it, a Sunday Cubs game!


A Winter Escape to Michigan February 15, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 10:06 pm
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Apparently I cannot get out of Illinois enough these days. A few weeks ago it was California, then Florida and last weekend was Michigan. My best friend Jill finally returned home from a three month vacation from Australia and New Zealand and last weekend was the first time I was able to see her.

Jill’s mom actually booked a “barn” near Arcadia, Michigan for the whole family to enjoy. Arcadia is about 45 minutes south east of Traverse City for those who have some familiarity with the state of Michigan. The drive up was very intense. Naturally, I had to go through a snowstorm extending my drive time from five and hours to seven. Awesome. I honestly think it was the first time I drove well below the speed limit for the whole trip slightly white knuckled.

Happy to say, everyone made it safely. Our first night at the house we played a few rousing games of Apples to Apples and caught up with one another over beer. In the morning Jill and I were assigned to breakfast. On the menu were apple cinnamon pancakes and chocolate chip pancakes with a side of bacon. We must have done a good job since there were hardly any leftovers.

With a full stomach, Jill, myself, Jill’s mom and step-dad and cousin set out for a hike. We drove about a half hour north west of the barn to a national park that runs along Lake Michigan, Sleeping Bear Dunes. We enjoyed an almost three-mile hike looping through the trees. We kept our eyes out for different animal tracks but didn’t see any furry creatures. The coolest part of the hike was climbing on the dunes of Lake Michigan. I simply found it strange walking on sand with snow all around me. It was just weird.

After our hike we headed back to munch on leftover chili. The rest of the weekend we talked, played all sorts of board and card games. It was nice relaxing weekend with family and I even got to catch up with Jill! That was definitely a win. Another win, was driving home in less than five hours because there wasn’t a snowstorm! Oh, how the little things in life make a big difference.

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The Epic Weekend September 9, 2011

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 7:00 pm
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This past holiday weekend my dude and I went to Michigan to visit my best friend, Jill, her boyfriend Jaz and her family. We both took of Tuesday to ensure we got our full “Pure Michigan” experience.

The weekend began after a quick photo stop at the University of Michigan stadium followed by power shopping at the M-Den in Ann Arbor for a certain big Michigan fan.  Continuing on a half hour, we made it to our destination of Royal Oak, Michigan to meet Jill and Jaz. Luckily we made it in time to grab lunch at one of my favorite Arabic restaurants. We were all very unoriginal as all of us ordered delightful chicken shwarma sandwiches. I was one happy camper.

Departing from lunch we headed back to Jill’s apartment and settled down to chat before heading out to Arts, Beats and Eats (ABE). ABE was like the Taste meets a high class art show. There were samples of food from all different restaurants in Royal Oak – both local and chain. The art ranged from print, photo, to pottery, and a whole lot more. They also had around five different stages featuring live music. It was a perfect night to mill around and enjoy people watching while eating tasty food.

Festival Time!

Festival Time!

Monday morning we headed over to Jill’s parents house for a family barbeque. As soon as we arrived, I called for a pontoon boat ride. (Boat rides are always a must!)  After the boat ride Jaz started an amazing fire with the help of Jill’s mom. Shortly thereafter the beer was out, and we enjoyed a fireside chat before food was served. Into the evening we played ladderball in which I will state for the record the girls beat the boys) as well as a few board games before it was time to leave.

Tuesday morning we were back at Jill’s parents house for a hike. We took a quick car ride over to Kensington Park, which is part of the Metro park system. The group headed out on a four-five mile hike around the woods. It was a perfect day to enjoy a leisurely pace walking around in nature. We saw all different types of wildlife – egrets, blue herons, sand birds and a few frogs.

Local Wildlife

Local Wildlife

We had definitely worked up an appetite after that and headed back to the house to dive into burgers and corn on the cob. I was able to use my persuasive powers to once again arrange another pontoon boat ride. It was the perfect way to end a most enjoyable weekend in Pure Michigan. Once again, I’m looking forward to the next one!


Camping in Pure Michigan August 17, 2011

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 3:00 pm
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Nothing completes a summer quite like camping. This past weekend my college friends (Jill, Sonya and Monica) and I went up to Warren Dunes State Park to enjoy a weekend of simplicity. Preparation for this event started in March with campsite research. A little early? Maybe, but not if you want a quality campground and spot.

We narrowed our sites along the southwestern edge of Michigan, along Lake Michigan. It was the perfect mid-point all of us, two of whom were coming from Illinois, one from Michigan and the other from Indiana. Jill settled on Warren Dunes mostly because of its availability and we were able to secure a good campsite.

A few weeks before our weekend of camping festivities I sent out an email consisting of the “food and beverage” list, as well as “random supply” list. Emails flew back and forth about who was bringing what…and yet somehow someone did not trust a few other members in the group so we might have ended up with a few doubles and triples of items (like silverware and cups).

Our tent

Friday night Jill got into camp early and was able to not only get the tent up but also start a fire. Which was perfect timing for Sonya and I to help with dinner as soon as we arrived. We enjoyed some slightly charred campfire packets but made up for the charred dinner by eating lots of s’mores and talking late into the night.


Saturday morning I made pancakes for breakfast while Jill and Sonya packed PB&J sandwiches for our beach lunch. After breakfast we headed out to enjoy the surprise sunshine on Lake Michigan. The half mileish hike to the lake was a bit of an adventure, but for the record, Jill did get us there safely.

When we arrived on the beach, there was a slight warning out for rip tides, but that just made for excellent waves. We had a blast swimming and working on our tans. We headed back to camp in the late afternoon just as the sky started to turn gray.

We made it back to the campsite with about an hour to spare before the storm rolled in. Not willing to cook in the rain, we found a local pub that found our clothing acceptable. After dinner, we played Uno, Dutch Blitz and Disney’s Trivial Pursuit to pass the time. Finally the rain let up and we were able to have one more campfire, thanks to some lighter fluid borrowed from our neighbors.

Sunday morning we packed up and took one more walk on the beach before heading home. All in all, it was a quality weekend even with the inconvenience of rain on Saturday. But let’s be honest, anytime one gets a s’more it usually turns out to be a superior time.


Summer Traditions June 29, 2011

Visiting the lazy harbor town of St. Joseph, Michigan, has become a tradition with my friends Jill and Bethany.  In March I book our “rental”, which is the home of friend who graciously allows us to borrow it for the weekend, and is conveniently located three blocks from a public beach. In May and June the emails start flying between Bethany, Jill and myself about who is bringing what grocery items, board games, cards, etc.

We’ve gotten a comfortable routine down. Friday night, get in, unload and grab dinner at Clementine’s. Onion rings for an appetizer are a must – if you’re feeling hungry you can tackle the 12” stack or if you’re just looking for a warm up the 6” is a great option. Main course usually consists of a burger or sandwich. Dessert? Of course! Especially when traveling with Jill. Order the apple dumpling and you won’t be disappointed. After dinner we head back to the house and either head to the beach for the sunset or plan out the next day’s activities.

Saturdays are a mix of wineries and beach. This year we hit up four of our favorite wineries in the early afternoon. Southwestern Michigan is known for their semi-dry whites, which happen to be my favorite types of wines. Our tour started with Lemon Creek Winery (great peach spumante), followed by Tabor Hill (which bottles a demi-sec that’s been served in the White House since the 70’s), then Hickory Creek (nifty apple wine made with 30 different apples), and lastly Round Barn (their Edel Doux is my favorite). We usually back a lunch to enjoy at the beach or at the winery as well. Round Barn has an excellent patio to relax in the outdoors with a meal.

Round Barn Winery

The rest of Saturday afternoon was spent building up our summer base coats of redness followed by cooling off with ice cream at Kilwin’s in downtown St. Joseph. Sunday we cleaned up the house and headed back to the beach for one more round on sun.

I love the time I get to spend relaxing on the beach, talking with good friends and sampling wine. It’s one quality weekend and I’m glad it’s become an annual summer tradition.

Sunset on the beach


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