Friday, February 26, 2010

A Short Quiz and New Photos / Videos

Directions: Each question of this type consists of two quantities, one in Column A and one in Column B. Compare the two quantities and indicate:
  • if the quantity in Column A is greater
  • if the quantity in Column B is greater
  • if the quantities are equal
  • if the relationship cannot be determined from the information given
In some questions, additional information pertaining to one or both of the quantities to be compared is centered above the two columns.

Any symbol appearing in both columns represents the same thing in one column as in the other.

All numbers used are real numbers.

To review these directions for subsequent questions of this type, click on HELP.**


Column A

Column B


Pairs of pants with which Paige started this section of the roadtrip



Number of shirts with which Paige started this section of the roadtrip



Stupidity of this packing technique

Frequency at which Paige needs to do laundry


Pairs of pants with which Zach started this section of the roadtrip



Pairs of Zach’s pants that haven’t split up the middle



Number of beds in which Paige and Zach always thought they liked sleeping



Number of beds in which Paige and Zach actually like sleeping



Paige’s bra size

Child’s Large (aka training bra)



Hours Zach alternated between teasing Paige and being troubled about a 12 year old wearing the same size bra as his wife.


Price Paige paid for not one, but two of said bras



Thrifty genius




Number of confederate flags flying within 6 miles of Paige and Zach’s Tennessee campsite


Number of churches flying a confederate flag within 6 miles of Paige and Zach’s Tennessee campsite




Number of times Paige wore her Obama t-shirt within 6 miles of Paige and Zach’s campsite


Additional hours Paige wants to stay in Tennessee


Another one of the whale shark.

Trying to give you some scale on the whale shark--the guy in the boat is feeding her.

Me checking out the tchotkes.

Yes, we are huge dorks.

Our Tennessee campsite.

More campsite.

Cool tree.

Trees at sunset.

I am wearing all eight pairs of pants and 3 shirts in this picture.

We had lots of firewood.

Emma helped, as you can see in this video:

I like to call this one Daddy needs a new pair of pants:

ANSWERS (because Blogger wouldn't let me put them up top:
1. =
2. <
3. =
4. =
5. <
6. =
7. >
8. =
9. <
10. <
11. =
12. >
13. =
14. =
15. <

We're off to the Smokey's, North Carolina, and then DC...all our love!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Photos from the Southeast

Since you last joined us we've made the long journey from Pensacola to St. Augustine, up through Jacksonville to Savannah and on into Charleston. St Augustine was wonderful. Nothing brightens the spirits like a visit with a good friend. Savannah was gorgeous. I highly recommend walking the streets of downtown. And Charleston.... Well, we haven't explored Charleston yet, but we hear good things. We'll let you know.

Rather than run you through an elaborate summary of the last week, here are some pictures that can tell the story just fine:
This was one of the only pictures we took in Mississippi. It's the "friendship tree" at a Southern Mississippi campus. I made Paige get out and take a picture with me under it. She only obliged me after I promised not to make her go to one of the many casinos along the gulf if she got out and took the picture.

Paige, Leola and Lincoln on Leola's parents' back deck. They have a beautiful place in St. Augustine with a creek and wild animals in their backyard. Her parents were nice enough to share her and Lincoln with us while we were visiting.

After we left St. Augustine, we camped on Amelia Island, just north of Jacksonville. It was serene to camp on the beach and listen to the ocean while we fell asleep.

Paige enjoyed camping on the beach until she went to bed and realized that there is sand on the beach. Note the look of sheer delight on her face.

Savannah was beautiful. Spanish moss covered all the trees and gave everything an enchanted look. The historic part of the city is about one square mile and has almost 30 public spaces with fountains, statues and other art- not to mention countless homes built over 150 years ago.

This is how Savannah does Catholicism. Really quite breathtaking.

We went for a walk on the trails at Skidaway State Park where we camped near Savannah and found some swamps

By the way, I got bored and tried to shave my head at the campsite with my beard trimmer. It didn't work out so well. I've since found a real hair trimmer and finished the job off. I got a haircut in Dallas around Christmas that hasn't grown out so beautifully. Instead of finding another "stylist," I decided to take matters into my own hand.

That about wraps it up for now. We're headed off to Atlanta before too long and then into the Appalachian mountains. We'll probably be back near the coast around Raleigh in two weeks. Perhaps in Washington DC the following week and then New York a week or two after that. Things are going well and we look forward to seeing our friends up and down the east coast.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Walking in French Quarter -- kinda dead -- cold and the day after the Saints' Parade.

I want to go in this garden.

Jackson Square

Paige at Mardi Gras in Shreveport.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ode to Alabama

F* YOU!!!

I kid, I kid. But seriously folks, I'm pretty sure there's a warm place reserved down under for the hotel proprietors in Mobile, Alabama. After a long-ish day on the road trying to find a place to stay in Mobile, Paige and I spent almost an hour in the lobby of a La Quinta while they proceeded to give perhaps the poorest customer service this side of the Mason Dixon Line...but we'll get back to that later.

The day started off well enough. Paige and I spent our final night in New Orleans at "Chateau Spider-Bite." We decided that while we had fun in New Orleans, she is a town best appreciated with a group larger than your months-long travel partner. Admittedly, we could have "manned" up and made our own party, but after our fun-filled Mardi Gras weekend in Shreveport, our livers, spirits, and budget weren't up to the task. So instead we brunched and wandered in the Garden District while Peter Parker, errr, Dave, had his follow up draining at the urgent care facility nearby. For all those concerned, Dave's doctor thinks his ankle is healing nicely and is well over 70% sure he won't lose the foot and will gain superpowers. In light of the good news, we bid him adieu and headed east with vague intimations of where we would stop for the night.

We took I-10 east to "scenic" highway 90 in Mississippi. My overall impression of Mississippi was: "generally a lot better than I expected." The "scenic" highway actually turned out to be fairly scenic. It starts right away from the first rest stop on the edge of the Louisiana-Mississippi border. And talk about rest stop! This rest stop had pull-outs for picnic tables, a triple staffed info desk, free coffee, clean restrooms, free wireless internet, an odd Mardi Gras display with free beads, a free NASA rocket test site tour and a significant number of trees and scenic grassy spots. Mississippi was off to an impressive start. While I probably wouldn't make a trip to Mississippi just for the rest stop, I would sure as hell make it a priority to stop there if I were driving through the gulf! From there, the scenic highway took us along the coast, past some beautiful historic homes and plantations and right through several not-too-shabby looking casinos. We even found a nice place to stop for a Mississippi mud pie and pecan flavored beer! Mississippi, way to go.

But like all good things, Mississippi had to come to an end. No offense to all the good people we know from Alabama, but I if I never find myself back in Alabama again, I won't be too sad. We had checked ahead and knew there was a La Quinta we could stay at, but decided to call around and see if we might be able to get into a hotel with a workout facility using my rewards points from my year long hotel stay in Eugene (remember the blubber layer). It turns out there was a limited number of rooms available in Mobile due to their Mardi Gras celebration. My dad told me they have the original Mardi Gras, but it is just "less advertised." I'm not sure I believe that or not, but whatever. Rooms were scarce and the ones that were available didn't want to let Emma in. So no problem, La Quinta sans workout room will have to suffice.

Unfortunately, at the La Quinta I lost my patience and quite possibly my sanity. Here's the play-by-play: I wait 20 minutes while the lady at the front desk repeatedly tries to scan the gift cards we have. It doesn't scan the first 29 times, but I'm sure it will scan the 30th. This lady is a genius. She finally gives up and calls the 800 number. Then another 800 number. And another. She finally gives ME an 800 number to call. I do so and after punching a few hundred numbers into an automated system I get a real person who tells me both gift cards are working, valid and loaded with the amount listed. I tell the front desk lady this and ask if I can just get into a room while they sort out the issues with the cards. This decision is clearly above her pay grade so she goes into the back room for 20 more minutes. When she comes out, she lets me know her manager is calling about the gift cards-no news on the room yet. In a fit of rage I demand the cards, storm out and make snippy comments about how I'm going to find somewhere else to stay. I am the definition of maturity.

Paige and I then decided that we'd continue down the road to Pensacola where we hoped to find a hotel that knew what they were doing. At the La Quinta Inn Pensacola (spring break 2010!!!! Wooo!!!!!) Teresa, the front desk lady, handled the questionable gift cards with the customer care aplomb of a seasoned veteran. She got me into a room, promised to sort out the issue with the cards and gave me directions to a cheap ale house where I could drink away my soiled memories of Alabama.

In all fairness we didn't give Alabama a fair chance. If my friend Greg is any indication of what the "Yellowhammer State" actually has to offer I regret having missed out on the land of eclectic interests, responsible drinking habits and wildly curly hair. But I don't know if he is. Maybe I'll go back someday and find out...

Probably not though.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Greetings from New Orleans - Pictures coming later

Hey yall --

So after two days Zach and I feel like we should shed light on some of our cultural observations made since being here in NOLA.

So without further ado:

The Top Ten Things that are Confusing to a Person Raised in NOLA, but who finds himself elsewhere:

1. When you order a drink and ask "Bartender, I'd like that to go." Um no. You can't do that. And no, tape over the straw hole won't get you past the open container laws (exception -- Igloos in College Station, at least when I lived there). You cannot order a drink and then stumble outside the bar to walk the streets with your beer, cocktail, or frozen miracle. America does not embrace this. We are sorry. No. We are really sorry. It seems fine to us. We would be on board with a campaign to fix this travesty.

2. It's not acceptable to roll an ice chest along the streets. In any other city, town, or settlement, the poooo-lice will not look kindly upon you rolling your one-man bar across the town square. Number two on our countdown also served as the inspiration for Zach's and my new business venture -- ice chests disguised as rolling suitcases. Just think, you could safely transport your three piece suit AND your case of beer to all locations. Minors everywhere, take note. We should have a prototype ready in early 2011.

3. When you say "Who dat" don't be confused if people start introducing themselves. "Who dat." "Um, it's Paige...Paige Smyth?"

4. When you say "Who dat" repeatedly, don't expect other people (including me and Zach) to be able to repeat any of the numerous acceptable responses. We don't know them. We will just smile and say "Who dat?" Which doesn't have the same gusto attached.

5. Throwing cheap plastic at women will not inspire them to show you their titties. You're actually going to be lucky if you don't get socked in the face. Good luck. We salute you.

6. Cats are not allowed to drink from people's drinks on the bar. They are scary. They make me itch. They carry leukemia.*

7. Abita is not God's gift to beer. Ouch. I know.

8. Forty degrees isn't actually "f*cking cold." Seriously, it's February. If you find yourself anywhere north of the Mason Dixon, I hope you don't freeze to death.**

9. It won't be acceptable to charge for food, no matter how good it smells or tastes, if you serve it in Walgreens plastic bags -- especially if you aren't working at a Walgreens. PS -- we love you, it was delicious.

10. All drinks you ever have from this point forward will be approximately a third of the strength to which you're accustomed.***

Also our favorite "Things overheard at dinner" quotes:

"I've known her forever. I bought that there girl her first corn dog."

"Fine. I'm wearing my leather pants...F*ck it."

*Dogs are entirely acceptable as they do not hop on bars, drink from peoples glasses, and are just better animals in general.

**Also noteworthy, if you are Christy Blain, NOT of NOLA, this still applies.

***True in all but two cases: 1) You only drink slushies sold on Bourbon for an ungodly mark-up (we're still not sure there was any alcohol in them) or 2) You are the one man/woman/child in New Orleans who refuses to drink anything but NW IPAs (we haven't found you yet, but if you're out there, we love you and want you to be our BFF).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Ankle

By popular request:

Monday, February 8, 2010

2 in 1 day?!??!?! no way!!!

So in an effort to give less of a summary and be more entertaining (no where to go but up, right?) Paige and I are going to try and update the blog more frequently.

Today's second update will consist mainly of cataloguing the roadkill on the highway between Shreveport and New Orleans and describing the gangrenous foot of our New Orleans host.

First things first: there's a ton of roadkill between Shreveport and New Orleans. We saw raccoon, squirrel, cat, dog (so sad), gator, nutria, turkey, vulture, turkey vulture, deer, moose, snake, zebra, hippo, and a bull elephant. You know, nothing too crazy, but everything you need to make a simple swamp stew.

Speaking of swamps, the only other things between Shreveport and New Orleans are swamps. Lots and lots of swamps. Because of this, I decided it was not a good idea to camp between Shreveport and New Orleans. I'd hate for Emma to end up as 'gator food. So instead of camping we listened to the ever-uplifting voice of Ira Glass and NPR's This American Life for 5 hours as we made the push all the way from Shreveport to New Orleans.

Shortly before we arrived in New Orleans Paige received a text message from her grad school friend Dave, who we were planning on staying with, that said something to the effect of "I've been bitten by a radioactive spider and have started developing super powers that will turn me into the most lethal fighting machine ever to hit the Big Easy." Or something to that effect. The text message was actually more along the lines of "my ankle is swollen, scaly, bloody and oozing from a suspected spider bite...but don't let that deter you from coming." Not wanting to deprive a friend of our mothering company, we naturally followed his direction, nay his order, and sped into town.

We arrived in New Orleans to find but a shell of a man, hollowed from pain, limping out to greet us on an ankle twice as big as mine (which translates to about 16 times normal size). The poor guy's ankle started feeling weird last week so he went into urgent care on Saturday. Today he finally got in to see a doctor who's best guess was that he had a spider bite and gave him massive doses of antibiotics and pain killers. Dave's hoping for a miraculous over night recovery, but judging by the size of his ankle, I'm not surprised Paige has already had me map out the fasted route to the hospital. I'm pulling for the miraculous recovery and if not that, then miraculous crime fighting powers.

After Paige has exhausted her mothering instincts tonight, we're going to get up tomorrow and go for a run around Dave's neighborhood in the morning. If Dave is still holding steady, we're going to brave the crowds and check out the parade the city is holding for the Saints. If we're still conscious, we'll come back and I'll make Paige update the ol' blog for you.

We miss you all and look forward to seeing you soon.

Oklahoma Arkansas Louisiana

So for everyone following us out there, here's the quick recap from the road:

From Dallas we headed north into Oklahoma and the 2010 Arctic Blast. Just before we started our week of camping and climbing, mother nature was kind enough to dump a half a foot of snow on Oklahoma and Arkansas. Thanks for nothing mother nature!

Before we headed up to do the camping, we stopped in and spent the afternoon with my grandparents in Marietta, Oklahoma visiting with them and shoveling as much fried catfish, hushpuppies and french fries into our mouth as we could without exploding. Paige was doing such an inadequate job at this that my grandfather's wife kept adding food to Paige's plate despite her strenuous protestations. In the end we decided that it was ok to engage in such a gluttonous affair because we needed a thick layer of blubber to protect us from the arctic blast while we were camping.

Shortly after leaving Marietta and exploring the offerings of the Oklahoma state parks, we quickly decided to scrap the camping. At least we still had our blubber layers! I can do cold camping. I can do wet camping. I can do snow camping. However I am not really up for cold, wet, melting snow camping though. Especially not when there's a perfectly good super scary, cheap motel. While Paige was in the restroom at said motel discovering red splatter all over the walls and shower curtains, I was reinforcing the door with a chair under the door handle. Can't be too safe in a motel with bloodstains!

The next morning we made the drive into Fayetteville, AR where we spent the better part of the day visiting with Ms. Vicki and her sister Michelle, Paige's best friend's mom. They were kind enough to let us play with Michelle's adorable children as well as getting us a fajita lunch. After a teary goodbye, we bid them adieu and continued our journey through the scenic Arkansas countryside to Eureka Springs.

We had heard Eureka Springs was supposed to be a charming town and I'm sure it would have been, had anything in the damned town been open. We didn't realize it, but we were visiting during the off season. This fact, combined with the still-not-melted snow meant that just about every restaurant, shop and attraction in town was shut down. On the upside, you can't beat $35 motels that are stain free!

The best part about Eureka Springs? The only restaurant open was called the "Rowdy Beaver." We took a picture of Paige in front of the sign.
Yes, that's right, she's pointing at her "rowdy beaver."

The next morning we beat it out of town and headed to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Jasper, AR to try to do a bit of climbing. The weather was good enough to squeeze in one pretty good day of climbing. Since we were the only ones in town in the middle of the week at the ranch aside from the staff, I had to put my well honed bumming skills to work. I managed to convince the guy who ran the ranch's shop to close up and come climbing with me. This was both good and bad. He showed me a lot of fun routes, but also showed me how weak and out of shape I've gotten. Damn you blubber!

The next day's weather called for sleet, snow, ice and crud so we hightailed it south where we spent two days in Heber Springs with my Aunt Nette. Because of the ever faster deterioration of my figure and the non stop freezing rain, Paige and I decided to sneak into the local gym to whip ourselves back into shape with one massive workout. The sneaking into the gym was facilitated by my Aunt Nette having taught kindergarten to every man woman and child in Heber Springs. She phoned one of her myriad friends who just happened to own the gym and suddenly the sneaking into the gym became phenomenally easier. Unfortunately the one workout didn't do the trick and we've decided to start sneaking into gyms on a more regular basis.

After our tour de Arkansas we hightailed it south to Shreveport, LA to meet up with Benjamin Luck, the priest who married us. Under his guidance, we experienced every indulgence Shreveport has to offer. I think the highlight of the weekend was the Mardi Gras parade. This eight hour festival consisted of six hours of flip cup, a walk around the neighborhood (where we got called redneck potheads), slushies, black and milds, crawfish, cake balls, macaroni, hamburgers, sausage, cookies, camo, and more food. Hello blubber! It was amazing.

The real highlight of the weekend was yesterday when Paige and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary. Being on the road, we celebrated in a low-key fashion with pizza and a beer during the SuperBowl. It has been an incredible year and I consider myself a very lucky man.

Right now we're about to get our stuff together and head into New Orleans. I hope my liver makes it out of there in one piece.

Here are a few more pictures from the trip so far:

Eureka Springs covered in Snow

Keel Creek Winery in Arkansas: I'd recommend the $5 wine tasting, but not actually buying any bottles. There's just something a little off about Arkansas wine.

Jasper, AR

Jasper, AR

Jasper, AR

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

Our wedding officiant, former roommate and good friend, Benjamin Luck.
Thanks for showing us such a good time!