Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Escaping Chiberia February 12, 2014

Let me tell you, it’s not easy. Well, at least not easy when you’re up at 3:30AM shoveling 3+ inches snow to make it to your 6:40AM flight at O’Hare International Airport. But all the hassle was worth it. Last Wednesday Matt and I safely flew out of O’Hare and made it to warm, sunny, Fort Myers, Florida. Plus we were only an hour and a half later than our original time of arrival. Not too bad considering the conditions when we left Chicago.

Clean Up Crew at O'Hare

Clean Up Crew at O’Hare

We arrived Wednesday afternoon and immediately grabbed lunch at Miller’s Ale House, one of my parents favorite places to eat. After we were sufficiently full, we headed to my parents’ home and relaxed. We unpacked, went to the pool, and relaxed some more. All the makings of a great, relaxing vacation.

The weather couldn’t have been better. During our five day stay, each day was in the lower 80’s with low humidity. When it was cloudy, it was only in the morning, and always cleared up by the afternoon.

Here are a few highlights of our week down in the sunshine state.

  • A 4-hour cruise down the Caloosahatchee River. Setting off from Fort Myers we enjoyed a lovely afternoon featuring a tasty lunch, delicious cocktails and sun.

Our paddle wheeler cruise

Our paddle wheeler cruise

  • Massages. Thanks to Groupon we found a sixty minute Swedish massage for $37!

  • And what happened to be next door to our massage place but a brewery! We definitely recommend trying Point Ybel when you’re visiting southern Florida. They just opened a tasting room in Fort Myers with friendly service and pretzels. What more could you want while drinking craft beer? Sample Blank Mangrove (American Dark Ale) and YAY! (Sanibel Saison).

Sample Flight

Sample Flight

  • If you’re looking for seafood try Smokin Oyster Brewery but get there before 6PM. With live music, drinks that will make you fall off your seat because they are so strong, great beachfront people watching and amazing seafood buckets, get there on time.

Seafood combo at Smokin Oyster Brewery

Seafood combo at Smokin Oyster Brewery

  • Shopping. A girl’s vacation is not complete without a trip to the mall, especially an outlet mall. Luckily Matt was game and my parents recommended we eat lunch in the mall at Ford’s Garage. We waited 20 minutes but it was well worth it to sit outside and enjoy craft beer from Victory Brewery as well as humongous burgers. Let’s just say we walked around the mall a few times to work off our meal.

Beer and burgers at Ford's Garage

Beer and burgers at Ford’s Garage

All in all, another great vacation down to Florida. It was really easy to leave behind the negative windchills and single digit highs in Chicago but man, it sure was hard to come back to! Here’s to hoping that spring is just around the corner. I’m ready for more sun and warm weather!


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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Ready Set Snowshoe! January 25, 2012

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 10:05 pm
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The winter of 2012 is off to a slow beginning at least when it comes to “feeling” like winter. Part of me is thrilled with the mild temperatures in Chicago. There has been no great need to break out the long underwear or even to keep your car brush handy in the morning. However, the other part of me though misses admiring the glistening white powder drifting down from the sky and of course playing in it!

To date, total snowfall accumulation has not reached 10 inches. Luckily though, last weekend we did get a sizeable dump of snow. The timing of it was not the best with snow falling at an inch per hour around rush hour. The end result was five inches comfortably resting on the ground. Finally some snow to play in!

Naturally, Matt was thrilled with the snow fall.  Almost immediately, he suggested we go snowshoeing. My vote was for snow angels. Unfortunately I lost. But, I’m a good sport and being game for anything, I of course said yes.

Our first stop in our outdoor adventure was to rent snowshoes. Matt’s car magically routed us to REI. Looking to increase my winter apparel; I picked up a new pair of wind resistant mittens. No time like the present to test out a new pair of mittens while snowshoeing! Restraining himself very well, Matt only picked up a repair kit for snowshoes.

Finally making it to the rental desk we were able to secure the last pair of snowshoes. As a member of REI you can rent snowshoes for a reasonable $20 per day. Not too bad when you think a movie costs about $10-12 and lasts about two hours.

Taking A Break

With snowshoes in hand we headed back to get all of our gear and proper winter attire. We packed a water bottle, a few snacks and a first aid kit, just in case. As soon as we got on the highway ramp, we got off just as quick. At first I was just a little confused. Matt parked us literally right off the highway ramp. Yes, there was a wooded area in front of us, but my initially reaction was, “really? This is it?”

The location could not have been better to test my snowshoe legs out. There were no other people around to watch me fall. Which for the record was only twice, and I’ve been told by reliable sources that is very good.

As we moved into the thicket the noise of the highway faded away. My faithful guide found a cross-country skier’s path that we used to complete about a three and a half mile trek. We kept our eyes out for animal tracks and spotted a few deer, squirrel and maybe even a fox or coyote.  About after a half hour of walking, the sun started to peak out from the clouds illuminating the snow and trees. The winter scene was quiet beautiful. Who knew secluded places like this existed in our own backyard of Chicago!

My first experience snowshoeing went splendidly and I’m totally ready for my next. Maybe it will be up in Michigan or Wisconsin….who knows! I’m looking for other fun spots around Chicago, so feel free to add a comment about your favorite place for snowshoeing and/or other winter activities.

All I can say is that I’m very lucky I have an experienced guide and a REI membership.



Boots with the Fur September 27, 2011

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 10:34 pm
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I just finished Glee {an improvement from last week, but still not up to its usual caliber} and The New Girl ahourago and was supposed to start writing my post, but instead I got a little caught up on Pinterest.  I know you’ve already heard me talk about my addiction, but that doesn’t make me stop! While I was there I found these:

Joan of Arctic Boot

I’ve already talked myself out of buying them.  I mean I live in Chicago.  A cold place but not Antarctica or anything.  Last February we did have that one snow storm {that shut down almost everything}, but that is a once-a-decade sort of thing.  Right?  I feel like Chicago would need more snow for me to invest in these.  See I’ve talked myself out of these, it’s okay my bank account is safe!


And I’m sick of the Ugg look.  They’re obviously very popular.  You can tell by all the knockoffs in the marketplace {we all know imitation is the sincerest of flattery}.  Hey I had a pair from Steve Madden that looked very similar.  I loved them because they are so easy to wear.  They slip on and off, but their ‘no fuss’ quality is all I can say for them.  Perhaps I need to find something more in the middle.

Any by the way I know it’s a bit early to be discussing boots, I mean for goodness sakes the trees still have leaves.  I most certainly DO NOT want to rush fall.  However, I do need new boots for this winter.  I actually made myself throw out those Steve Madden boots last Spring so that I wouldn’t be tempted to wear them for another year.  They were disgusting.  Full of salt and even had holes!  Okay, well the search continues.  If anyone has any ideas for me post a link and help a girl out!


Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree! December 10, 2010

Filed under: Sarah — Uncharted @ 6:50 pm
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How lovely are your ornaments?  Honestly, I don’t really think it even matters.  Some people say that ugly ornaments aren’t allowed on their tree, or that the homemade ones should go toward the back.  But I think the beauty of a Christmas tree is that you don’t need to have sterling silver snowflakes adorned in diamonds dangling from the evergreen branches for your tree to be magical.

My roommate and I have some crazy ornaments on our tree this year.  Over the past few years, I have acquired some of the tackiest ornaments made of scraps of yarn, popsicle sticks, or craft foam (and sometimes even all three!).  Up close if you look at each of these ornaments individually, I’ll admit they might not be gorgeous.  However, when you put them all together on the tree and the Christmas lights glow around them from every angle, their beauty is incredibly enhanced.  But each one of those ornaments represents a memory of some sort: the people I’ve crafted them with, the loving hands that stitched them, and the overall joy of this beautiful season over the 24 Christmases I have celebrated thus far in my life. 

Some of our handcrafted lovelies 😛

Rhonda and Randy reindeer from the girls' Christmas celebration 2 years ago

So go ahead and put up tacky in all its glory this year, because together when all of your memories are represented on your Christmas tree, everyone will somehow manage to see its beauty.

The tree as a whole


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