Chicago (senior trip)

Its a tradition after a high school graduation to go on a “senior trip”. This trip is different from any others because the traveler has an entirely different perspective on their life. They have the privilege to see what there future could be like. They see the world through the eyes of a new hungry adult who has any dream at their finger tips.

My grandma (Tutu : Hawaiian for grandma) generously took me to Chicago, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I have never spent so much time in a city and and it was incredibly exciting to experience the inner workings of cities.  At the end of this experience I realized that the windy city would be an incredible place to live. Who knows maybe a future job will call me there.

Our trip started a few days after my graduation festivities had subsided.

waiting in the airport

we arrived in Chicago around 1:30 or so and took a cab to our hotel and checked in a got acquainted before our dinner out.  We stayed at the Embassy Suites Lakefront and this hotel had the most misleading name. It was not actually lake front real estate because Chicago’s lake front has been left for parks which is actually a very interesting aspect to the city. The parks all around the city make it feel open and far less intimidating.  They add a much needed contrast to the harsh lines of the skyscrapers. So props to you Chicago.  From our hotel we had a pretty niffty view at a rooftop garden. These are common all around Chicago and I am sure in other cities as well. I thought the tennis courts were also pretty interesting. I can’t help but wonder how many cars or people have been hit by tennis balls from there.

roof top garden


I explored around our block for a little bit to get a taste of the city before dinner. I thought this mural was really interesting.


That night we ate dinner at an incredible French restaurant, Henri. It was a really different experience. I had steak tartar, bacon wrapped rabbit and a bananas foster souffle.  The steak tartar was not quite what I expected. I knew it was raw but I thought it would be cured or something so it was an interesting culinary adventure. The rabbit was delicious and I must say it does taste like chicken. Nothing could have beat the souffle though. It was creamy fluffy and amazing all around.

The next day we got up early and took a mini bus tour around the city.  I highly recommend this because you really get a chance to see most of the city and get some bearings for the remainder of the trip. Here are some sights we saw.

Clock tower trump tower Wrigley field


Afterwards we ate at Pizzeria Due for the most incredible deep dish pizza I have ever had. No one does it like the Chicagoans. The crust was buttery and flaky and insides were even better. My grandma and I each got individuals which explains the small size.

Pizzeria Due

We then spent the remainder of the afternoon at the science and industry museum. This may be the best museum I have ever been to. The exhibits were all incredible and I only got to see a small portion of the whole thing. I may be somewhat of a museum nut but I embrace it. I have worked in a local children’s museum for almost two years so this trip was almost a research endeavor as well.  I’ll be sharing the exhibits with my coworkers to inspire future exhibits here at home.

They had the entire city scape of Chicago to scale

mini chicago


Afterwards I was treated to a surprise evening out to the whites sox game in a box.

white sox game white sox game

I had no idea that any of that night was going to happen and I had such a blast.

The next day we went on the Chicago Architectural Society’s river boat tour. This is another can’t miss thing to do. The tour went through centuries of history about each building and it was really interesting to learn about everything. We also got a great view of the p of the trump tower being assembled and other interesting feats of engineering.

trump tower

Sears (Willis Tower) partial skyline

We then went to more museums including the Natural History Museum where we met Sue. The most complete T-rex skeleton ever found.

Sue the T-rex


That night we went to the Blue Man group and I don’t have any pictures from there because no photography was allowed. It was such an amazing performance. They were hilarious and I would highly recommend going to a performance if you have the chance.

Friday was our last day in the city so we went to the Sky Deck on the Willis (Sears) tower. The view was amazing and going out on the decks was a lot less scary than I imagined it would be.

The Skydeck The Sky Deck The Sky Deck

Afterwards we cruised up the Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue to hit all the shops.  We speed shopped for sure but it was fun to go into the Burberry store and others and look around.

Our last moments in the city were at dinner with some family who live in a suburb of Chicago. We went out to fondue and just had a wonderful time. Afterwards we traveled back to their house were we spent a few days. One day we went into Wisconsin to go to an outlet mall where I scored some amazing deals. The crown jewel of the day was a north face coat originally 300 which I got for 120. I was pretty darn tickled. We also (with the help of my Aunt) picked out good Wisconsin cheese to bring home to my parents.

This trip was so amazing and I have a whole new perspective on what living in a city is like. Sure I was in a hotel and living the tourist life but I could really imagine myself living in Chicago in the future. The city wasn’t suffocating and I would still have the comfort of family near by.

Chicago is a place completely worth seeing.

Moving On

As a hungry freshmen you never want to leave (or at least I didn’t). I loved it. It tasted like opportunity, like experiences, like senior boys, parties, and damn I have freedoms now. Its a chance for new beginnings and everything is filled with pure joy to finally walk the coveted halls of the infamous “high school”. We grow up waiting to grow and then we grow up and we want nothing but to be little again. It’s weird thinking that my high school journey is actually over and I have to move on and live a productive life about survival. Money becomes the key. It’s terrifying but I thirst for the independence the living on my own and the new place with the new people.

I will miss my high school memories but its time to make new ones as I transition into the greatest chapter of my life. A new door has appeared and I’m opening it.




It’s a bittersweet moment and almost a flashback to those early days of freshmen year. High school has been probably the best four years of my life but it feels insanely wonderful to be done and headed a step closer to the real world focusing on the things I actually want to learn and expanding my brain to limits I never knew existed.  I look forward to really hone in on my major (mechanical engineering) and my minor (materials engineering) and create and discover. I can’t wait to learn about the things I am truly passionate about.

Graduation was a moment I never felt would arrive. I suppose it is similar to that of a wedding or moving. It seems so surreal. Our ceremony was beautiful and I was proud to have gotten “layed” three times.

I just can’t believe its over. This is a crazy insane day and I am just so beyond stoked for my bright future.

P.S. There will be more on my college experiences coming in the future….


Canning: a lost art

I spent my falls, for as long as I can remember, canning and processing the fruits and vegetables from out garden. My Dad has been canning his whole life and was taught by his parents while they were still farming. Its a lost art that not many people know about or really understand. It is so rewarding to grow and eat your own food deep into the winter and for years to come. We make countless hot sauces, relishes, can green beans, carrots and much more. The sight of the colorful jars lining the shelves continuously brings a smile to my face.

canning shelves

Weeks at the end of summer are dedicated to this wonderful “old school” task.

I think its sad that many people don’t process their own food anymore. We rely so heavily on the supermarkets that fresh home grown food is hardly seen.  I am so grateful that this tradition has been passed down to me.

My family has always strived to be as self sufficient as possible. I suppose it starts back with the farming culture that dates back generations.  My ancestors first came to Montana over a hundred years ago from Norway and we had farmed the same land up until a few years ago when the farm was sold to a Hutterite Colony.

Our tradition of growing, preserving, and processing our own food has long continued. From the raspberry patch in our backyard my Mom and I make the most delicious jam and therefore can’t eat store bought jam anymore because it doesn’t stand up.  We also buy a pig from a friend of ours who raises them as a 4H project. We process all the meat ourselves (minus the hams and bacon which is processed at a local place) and make sausage and other fun things. My Dad also occasionally goes to Queen Charlotte British Columbia to fish for king salmon, which we then process and sometimes smoke ourselves. This meat tastes so much better than anything store bought and it is really satisfying to know where it came from. Its also cheaper per pound than store bought.

Hunting is also a large tradition in my family and my Brother and Dad go out each year.  What they get provides for most of our hamburger throughout the year.

My Dad also likes to grow his own hopps and brew his own beer. It is a fun experience to learn the whole process and be a part of something like that. Appreciate the Homebrew.

All of this gives fall a warm and fuzzy feeling and I am excited to pass these traditions onto my future family. I think its important to appreciate home made and home grown and also to support the local markets and local bushiness.

Its all a lost art and it saddens me that this culture may one day disappear.