This weekend, Aaron and I took a (seemingly spontaneous) trip down to St. Louis! I even took my own advice on what to pack for such an occasion!

The Trip

We had both been eagerly waiting for the new St. Louis Zoo penguin exhibit to open for quite some time since many of the penguins from the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago were relocated to the St. Louis Zoo. During our first year of dating (7 years ago!), Aaron “adopted” one of the penguins in my name, so we knew visiting STL was in the cards for us at some point. When I asked Aaron what he wanted for his birthday, he suggested a weekend trip to St. Louis rather than a physical present. I happily agreed and off we went!

Rooster

We stopped for breakfast at Rooster which has some really amazing food! Though I’m not one for bloody mary’s, Aaron said his was phenomenal (though it didn’t come with the shorty chaser beer that we Illinois/Wisconsin folks are accustomed too).

The Proposal

After breakfast, we headed to the zoo and wandered around a bit. After arriving at the penguin exhibit, Aaron reminded me of the fact that male penguins will give a female penguin a pebble as way of choosing her as his mate for life. If the female penguin adds the pebble to her nest, the two become life-long partners. I nodded as I snapped a few shots of the swimming penguins with my camera. Then Aaron said that he thought he saw a penguin with a pebble. I start looking around I couldn’t see anything like that. Aaron kept insisting that I keep looking , and so I do for a minute. When I turn around to announce that I still couldn’t find anything, I realized he was down on one knee and proposing! I excitedly screamed yes (so excitedly, in fact, I interrupted his sweet words by screaming yes before he could finish—typical Kristy!) and starting jumping up and down :)

Since we were out of town, we opted to only tell our parents until we were home so that we could enjoy our weekend together without any distractions. The photo below was taken shortly after he proposed so we both look overly excited and dazed.

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The Celebration

Afterwards we celebrated in the most logical way—we headed to a brewery! We’ve been visiting breweries both near and far for several years now, and it’s definitely become one of our favorite must-do’s on every one of our trips. We stopped at Urban Chestnut Brewery and were happy to discover that they not only had delicious beer but also landjaeger! My Switzerland-born-and-raised grandma owned a school house in New Glarus, Wisconsin when I was get kid, and I remember getting landjaeger from there with my family. However, I rarely see it anywhere else, so it was a wonderful surprise.

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We continued our celebration over at Schafly Brewery and picked up tickets for their brewery tour. Since we had several hours to kill, we explored a few shops in St. Louis including a really cute record store where we bought Caribou’s newest record, aptly named “Our Love”. We then headed over to Firecracker Press to check out their beautiful space and collection of incredible prints.

Firecracker Press, I love you 💕

I made my purchases (two small prints, perhaps I’ll share photos once I get them framed), and it was back to Schafly!

On our way home, we stopped at a greasy spoon diner off the highway where we relished the remaining few hours of our incredible weekend together and talked about our adventures—past, present, and future. We laughed over the thought of our former selves being best friends while dating other people. We laughed at all of the silly stages of relationships that everyone goes through and the many memories that we already share with one another. And for the first time on the trip, I cried tears of joys. Salty tears of joy splashing into my greasy hashbrowns, and it was perfect.

After finishing our meal (and grabbing some slices of pie to-go, obviously), we jumped back in the car and listened to songs from a hilarious mix CD that Aaron had given me when we first met. We spent the remainder of the ride home dancing, laughing, singing and rapping.

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