Midwest Tour, 2012 Edition

Hello, friends!

My apologies for the lengthy absence… I sincerely believed that being back in the United States, I’d have oodles of time to loaf around and write up daily reports on my mundane endeavors.

No dice.

Instead, I’ve been busy with job interviews, wedding planning, and visiting family and friends.

I recently took a massive road-trip to see my nearest and dearest in the Midwest. After 10 days, 8 states, and 50 hours of solo driving, this is my half-assed recap of the 2012 Midwestern Tour:

First stop: Southern Michigan to see my sister and brother-in-law.

Despite hauling my camera with me, I have no photo evidence of my visit with them. So this picture of me and my sister playing Jenga, circa 2006, will have to stand in:

Like building blocks for adults.

After two days of bridesmaid dress shopping, playing board games, and helping them with yard work (that’s what family is for, right?), I moved on to the next adventure.

Oh, Missouri… the state of Mark Twain, Harry S. Truman, and my beer-soaked grad school years.

There I visited my old thesis advisor, revisited the pizza joint that received the entirety of my TA stipend, and shared meals with old friends.

Me with two of the greatest people on the planet.
…who are also about to birth one of the greatest babies on the planet.

In all honesty, the above picture displays the real reason I went all the way to Missouri.

This is the first time I’ve been close enough with a pregnant woman to do the things I’ve always wanted to do to a pregnant woman:

Touch her belly like a creeper and ask all kinds of uncomfortable questions.

Seriously, with the amount of questions I was asking, I’m surprised they didn’t think I was some crazy baby snatcher and throw me out.

Luckily, they went along with it like total champs, feeding me scones and letting me play with their dog.

If you ask The Mister, he thinks the real reason I went to Missouri was to visit this guy. It wasn’t, but I took pictures just to make him jealous.

So I’m obsessing over babies. The Mister is obsessing over dogs.

I wonder who will win first?

Just kidding, we already know what comes next:

Stevie - an available dog from Cares4Pets
And its name is Stevie, a one-eyed dog I saw on Petfinder.

As soon as our landlord agrees.

Which will be never.

Sigh.

After a few days in the sunshiney bubble of Pregnant Lady Land, I moved on to the sunshiney gorgeousness of the Iowa-Wisconsin border.

Most of the drive looked like a US politician’s campaign commercial. I listened to country music and had a nagging craving for sweet corn the entire time.

But once I neared the Driftless, the landscape was vastly different:

Oh my god! A hill!

My fabulous hostess, Favorite, is a natural-born (and university-trained) naturalist. So naturally, she took me on several nature hikes.

(Natchity-natch-natch-natch)

We spent some time in her natural habitat.
…where we did some walking, hiking, and sightseeing.
…it was just a little pretty.

But that was only part of my visit with Favorite.

We also spent some time in MY natural habitat.
…where we did some tasting, sipping, and swilling.
…it was only occasionally trashy.

In case you missed it, the above picture showcases a store that sells wine, beer, liquor, and guns.

Oh, and cheese.

THIS, friends, is Wisconsin. And I love it.

My time with Favorite was wonderful for several reasons:

First, she’s one of my favorite people (natch).

Second, the landscape was gorgeous and the town downright adorable.

Third, her family were the kindest people. They almost made me want to move into town and pretend I was one of them.

But lastly, and most importantly, I find being with Favorite very therapeutic. Upon first meeting, she seems like the most easy-going, fun-loving person. And she is.

But she’s also incredibly thoughtful, passionate and inspirational. If you want proof, check out her blog. Every time she posts, I feel like I could be reading “Thoreau: The Self-Discovery Years”.

In comparison, I often think my own blog is only comparable to “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey”.

The last stop on my Midwestern adventure was Pittsburgh to visit one of my best friends, who recently moved there.

Whenever I imagined Pittsburgh, I pictured a dirty, run down city like Detroit. Not that I’d ever been there.

Turns out I was dead wrong.

Its a beautiful place, and after only one day of sightseeing, I’m ready to do some job searching in Pittsburgh just so I have an excuse to move there.

Unfortunately, I yet again left the camera stuffed inside my purse, thus have no evidence of my visit.

Instead, here’s a picture of the Mississippi River from my previous destination. No matter how pretty Pittsburgh was, this beats it by a mile.

Slowly but surely, I made my way back to Philadelphia.

The poor Mister only had me home from Colombia for a week before I, yet again, left him in the dust for the Midwest.

After I returned from my road trip, I again stayed for only a few days.

Shaking his head at my nomadic tendencies, the Mister let me go for just one more weekend:

It was just a short trip to see my parents, where they roped me into going strawberry picking. …Not that I minded an excuse to eat strawberries all day.

But I’m finally back in Philadelphia to stay.

The Mister and I have got some serious wedding planning to do, and I’m ready to resume my house-girlfriend role.

While my time in Philly is no longer limited, my daily cooking and cleaning is. Last week I was offered a job with a research project at a nearby Ivy League university.

(Yay!)

The project only lasts one year, which is perfect for me.

I’m not ready to call Philadelphia home just yet. But it’ll do for another year.

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4 thoughts on “Midwest Tour, 2012 Edition

  1. WHAT! You got a job and waited til the last sentence of your post to tell me!? Haha, yay! I’m so happy for you! Also, loved the pic of you in your “natural habitat.”

  2. OMG – congratulations on your job!!!! YEAH!!!! We have to talk soon and catch up!
    We LOVED having you visit us! Honestly, the best part for me was all of the belly rubbing and pregnancy/birth/babies/parenting talk. I always asked pregnant women a thousand questions because I wanted to have a baby so badly, so it was wonderful to have someone ask ME questions! I’m the pregnant one – can you believe it!!! We enter the 3rd trimester today, so little dude will be here in no time! I hope your dream of becoming a doggy or human mommy will come true in the near future! J.J. also loved your visit – waking you up with kisses in the morning is one of his pleasures in the world. Thank you so much for coming to visit – for driving and feeling that it was worth it. We love you both and miss you!
    Jayme and the rest of the Ciscos

  3. I second Jayme’s enthusiasm at your visit!! COME BACK!! Loved the post (and all the flattery included!), and I’m so glad you had a good time up here in the Driftless (and in the Midwest in general!). I’ll keep an eye on those possible foreclosure houses in Strawberry Point for you! MISS YOU.

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