Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Da Windy City

Chicago was the first big city on our trip... actually, it is the first city on our trip period. There aren't really any cities in Montana or North Dakota. Luckily we had just watched The Source Code which takes place in Chicago, so we were all sorts of excited to see the giant bean featured at the end of the movie. It may have been the coolest piece of modern art I've ever seen. I loved the reflection of the Chicago skyline.

At this point in our vacation we realized that we were HUGE tourists and we decided to embrace it. We spent a lot of the time in Chicago simply gawking at the skyline and variety of statues. There is a lot of modern art all over the city. But one of the best parts of going to Chicago was the opportunity we had to people watch.

We learned that: You can make money by painting yourself silver and letting Asian tourists take pictures with you. You should never wear white pants and black underwear. If you want tickets to Lollapalooza you simply walk around with your hand in the air signaling how many tickets you need. You can look up Marilyn Monroe's dress, although we only saw creepy men doing this. The most dangerous men in Chicago are the cab drivers. And finally, hitting on women by commenting on what they are drinking is not a successful tactic.

Maybe this last one comes with an explanation. Ben and I love the stand up comedy of Anjelah Johnson. In her stand up comedy where she describes how different guys hit on girls. So as we're walking down the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, a black man calls out to a girl drinking water near us, "You staying hydrated there baby?" She gives him a smug look and holds up her bottle of water to him as if saying "You're an idiot." We then cross the street and I say to her, "Does that work? Is that a common way that guys hit on girls?" She replies with, "It happens all the time." I then proceed to tell her that although we're pretty wimpy white boys, if she needed it we could totally take out any guy harassing her... or call the cops. :) She laughed and we parted ways. It was funny to see that Anjelah Johnson knows what she's talking about when it comes to how guys hit on girls.

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures of us with some of the modern art in Chicago. There was a field full of legs, and a giant Marilyn Monroe statue. Pretty interesting if you ask me.

When Ben and I started our road trip we decided we wanted to sample hot dogs in all the places we visited. For this in Chicago we visited the famous Portillo's restaurant. It was a super HUGE and super PACKED place, but the dogs were definitely worth it. They had tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers on them and were for sure the best hot dogs we had on our journey. So glad we made sure to grab a dog while visiting the Windy City.

And just in case there weren't enough pictures of the Bean up above, here is one last parting shot. :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Crumpets and Grapes

New York: land of crumpets and grapes... right? Maybe that is not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the Empire State, but maybe you weren't imagining the Burke home.

For breakfast this morning we made Cauldron Cakes from our Harry Potter Cookbook. They turned out phenomenal. Mama and Papa Burke are possibly more obsessed with Harry Potter than I am. Because of that obsession, PB was determined to make crumpets for us today. I'd never tasted (or seen) a crumpet before, but they are kind of like sweet, less crusty English muffins. Actually quite delicious. We ate them with butter, strawberries, orange marmalade, and for some, kiwi. I would love to try them with tea, but I'm not a big hot tea drinker. Oh well. Made me feel a slight connection to my wizarding friends at Hogwarts. Here is a picture of the actual crumpets I devoured.

The actual grape vine I swiped
my sour grape from

Where we are staying in upstate New York (which is quite close to the Pennsylvania border) there are dozens of vineyards and grapes are growing everywhere! We helped out an older couple today with their yard work and they asked us to chop down the wild grapes growing everywhere. Since they are edible I decided to pop a grape into my mouth while serving in the sunshine and rain. It was about as sour as any grape I'd ever eaten in my life. This got me thinking about why we use the phrase "sour grape" in the English language.

Wikipedia says, "The phrase sour grapes is an expression originating from "The Fox and the Grapes," one of Aesop's Fables. It refers to pretending not to care for something one does not or cannot have." and wanting to learn more about this I looked up Aesop's Fable which says, "A famished Fox saw some clusters of ripe black grapes hanging from a trellised vine. She resorted to all her tricks to get at them, but wearied herself in vain, for she could not reach them. At last she turned away, beguiling herself of her disappointment, and saying: 'The Grapes are sour, and not ripe as I thought.'"

Quite interesting. Cauldron cakes. Crumpets. Sour grapes and a fable. What a cultured time on Una Vida Normal. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Between Montana and Illinois

Were you aware that the drive from Montana to Illinois is beautiful? I'm guessing that unless you've undertaken the drive in the summertime you probably weren't aware of that little tidbit.

Luckily we were able to experience beautiful weather and beautiful scenery on our drive.

We started out at 4:30 a.m. - a rough time to get up in the morning, but we wanted to get to Chicago while it was still daylight. Since we rose so early we were able to enjoy a beautiful sunset in North Dakota. Don't mind the bugs splattering the windshield, I was the only one awake so I used my phone to snap a picture while I was driving. North Dakota - although not talked about a lot (at least where I'm from - or anywhere else that I've been) is a beautiful state. Maybe because it has harsh winters, or because it has no large cities, it is sometimes overlooked - but believe me, it is worth a drive through at some point in time in your life.

I slept through the majority of Minnesota. But luckily I only missed a few bad accents, mosquitos and cold weather. Now how do I know that these three things occurred while we were passing through Minnesota? Just check out some common stereotypes in this quiz I found online. It quizzes you all about the common stereotypes of a few of the states. I knew about the accents but I hadn't really thought about the mosquito population of Minnesota, and now I assume it is out of control. You know you can basically believe anything you read on the internet (especially in stereotype quizzes), so this gives me an assurance that mosquitos basically run the state of Minnesota.

Wisconsin is exactly how I pictured it. Very green and full of farms. I would have to say that I thought the types of farms (pictured on the right) I saw in Wisconsin were only in the movies - especially since the farms in Idaho are soooo much more different than anything I've seen in a movie. But it turns out that movie farms really do exist, and they are found in Wisconsin. Luckily the farm smells stayed outside (for the most part) and we were able to blast through that part of our journey in no time, leaving us to enjoy a corner of Illionis before venturing to Chicago.

I will have more to come on Chicago (where we actually got out of the car) and then on to New York. I'm pretty sure in this road trip we will hit 21 states, so stay tuned for what lies ahead on Devin & Ben's Amazing Road Trip Adventure! (This may not be the official name of our road trip, but it's pretty close)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Beginning of a Road Trip

We began our trip by traveling to Montana. Montana is Big Sky Country. Why? I guess due to the lack of trees, mountains, and buildings in parts of the state, you can see a lot of sky. We did notice that there were meat manufacturing buildings, cattle drives, rodeos, horse sales, and other country-type things. Even the elders we talked with spoke fondly of branding cattle and working on the ranches for service. Montana is big, and it is spacious. But we found ways of entertaining ourselves.

I constantly imagined the entire place was filled with dinosaurs. I'm not really obsessed, but everywhere in Montana advertised dinosaurs. Museums. Restaurants. Grocery stores. Literally, I felt like they were everywhere. But that just made our time in Montana all the more enjoyable.

We also ventured out to Makoshika, often referred to as the "badlands" of Montana. They were actually quite beautiful (and of course, there have been dinosaur remains found there as well). We just drove through the park but I really enjoyed the view.

Bens sister Krysten also treated us very well. We went out to eat at some of the top joints in Glendive (population 4,628) and went on a 5 mile run. We were able to babysit, design logos, sand the outside of a dentist shop, and the most important event that caused us to stay: Ben getting his Montana drivers license! Yay! After that joyous occasion we were able to leave and say goodbye to the Big Sky Country. More of the roadtrip to come.

Project Inspire

Project Inspire is a week long service project sponsored by Service Activities at the end of both winter and spring semester. It was one of the first things I became involved in as part of Service Activities, and it was the last thing I would ever do with my favorite on-campus organization.

I was very blessed to be able to participate in this project with 9 of my very best friends. It was great to be able to have one more week with them after I graduated and before moving on to "adult life".

For the project we rebuilt trails in the Teton Mountains. It was a lot of hard work, but it was also beautiful hikes, unforgettable memories of Sappy Pants, beard growing contests, diary reading, bear attacks, sock races, adventures to Broulims with Rick on the roof of the van, and much more! I absolutely loved my time with Project Inspire and am glad that I was able to be a part of it after graduation.

A discovery we made on the trail!

This was our group that went to Broulims to get ice cream one night. We also ended up getting donuts and a HUGE sandwich that we ended up eating on the patio furniture in the foyer of the store.

Here is a picture of the whole gang that went

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Very Mary-Kate

This may be one of the greatest ways to make fun of my favorite former child-star actresses.

Newel K. Whitney Scholar Award

To continue with my posting about graduation I wanted to post quickly about an award I was honored with. Here is the email I received notifying me that I won:

The BYU-Idaho Department of Communication is pleased to announce that you have been selected to receive the Newel K. Whitney Scholar award. Please join us for an award ceremony Tuesday, July 19, 2011, from 2-3 p.m. in Manwaring 372.

The Newel K. Whitney Scholar award is in memory of the early Church leader who used his gifts, talents and means to build the kingdom of God. Whitney was innovative, frugal, and honest. Additionally, he was able to improve his business yet remain loyal to the Church despite hard times. "He was a successful businessman, a presiding bishop of the Church, a prominent civic official, and a notable member of his community." (D. Michael Quinn, "The Newel K Whitney Family," Ensign, December 1978, 42.) Whitney was part of the School of the Prophets and an in-depth, effective communicator. This award in his name is given to students who have displayed similar traits.

Specifically, you are being honored for your character, diligence and pursuit of excellence. Selected students must be nominated by at least three Communication faculty who feel you will represent the Church, university and department as an exemplary graduate.

It is really an honor to be nominated for such an award and be recognized for the work I did on campus. During the ceremony my boss, Delaina Scholes, introduced me to those in attendance, and with tears in her eyes presented me me with my award. I am so grateful to have been able to attend BYU-Idaho, and even more grateful to have gained my education in the Communication Department.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Yes. I graduated. I know it's been 7 years since my high school graduation, but it has only been 3 years since I started my undergraduate degree. So yes, I feel accomplished. I prayed in convocation, which was pretty neat. It was different being able to see everything from up on the stand. I also graduated magna cum-laude. They don't tell you that beforehand, so it was a surprise to see it in the program. Now I'm a grown up and have a lot of decisions to make. Where do I go now that I'm done with school? Piece by piece things are falling into place, but there are still many aspects of my life that are unknown. I guess this is what it's like to be an adult.

This is me with my diploma cover (there is no diploma inside)

Stuart and I graduated high school together, and finally we graduated college together.

Most of my friends were out of town for my graduation, but Kira and Valerie were able to come and see me walk.