Hi! I’m Stephanie. I’m 28 years old and born and raised in Chicago. I met Emma at Northside Prep my freshman year of high school in 2008, and we’ve been friends ever since! We graduated in 2012, and I headed out to the University of Iowa to achieve my Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing. I moved back home in 2016, when I started my career. I have worked in a large variety of places and many different marketing roles. I have worked in community relations, branding, advertising, PR, and social media. I like a lot of variety in the work I do. I think of myself as a creative, curious person, who is quite passionate. When I am not exploring with Emma, I enjoy cooking and baking, crafting, shopping the clearance racks, watching sports (Go White Sox and Hawkeyes) and hanging out with my Rat Terrier Buddy. Fun fact about me is that my mom is number 5 of 10 siblings, and I have 18 cousins! My hidden talent is that I can name most songs within 5 seconds of them starting.
So, why did we start this journey? Well for me, I think it’s a great way to see new places while learning more about myself and my friend. As someone who has lived with generalized anxiety disorder most of her life, going into the unknown used to terrify me. As we started traveling with the girls, I realized how much fun it is to experience new things together. When the pandemic hit, it made me miss having those times with my friends. So while watching Tiger King, I started this insane spreadsheet of every single state park in Illinois, not really thinking much would come of it. Luckily, Emma took me up on the challenge and we are on our way to visiting every single one.
Hello, I’m Emma! I’m 26 and have also lived in Chicago my whole life. I met Stephanie in a drama class freshman year, where we sat at the same table and became scene partners by the end of the semester. After graduation in 2012 Steph went to Iowa for college, and I stayed in the city, going to Columbia College where I pursued theater design. I got my BA in May of 2016.
After graduating college, I had the opportunity to travel around the UK, Ireland, and Iceland for two months on my own! That trip was the most crazy and rewarding thing I’d ever done. And I just knew that I needed to keep going. Unfortunately, a series of extenuating circumstances prevented further international travel. Finally in 2019, two things happened. First, I was able to travel alone for a long weekend in Seattle, reaffirming how much I love travel. Second, I took a girls trip with my friends to Utica, IL. We spent the weekend hiking around Matthiessen State Park during the day, and drinking local wine in the evening.
Over the course of the last year, we have each gone back to Utica a total of 5 times (sometimes together, sometimes not), for hiking and wine. We even went down for my birthday! I realized just how easy it was to go for the day, and come back feeling like a new person. When Steph told me she’d made a spreadsheet of all the state parks in order to visit all of them, I was excited at the prospect of actively planning to go somewhere, and I couldn’t let the idea go. In July of 2021, I sent her the text “I have a potentially crazy idea.”
I believe that given the opportunity, everyone should travel. And if the opportunity doesn’t come, local/domestic stuff can be just as rewarding without putting as much effort in. I’m hoping to prove that true with this project.