Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nobu 57 Menu for 3/27

"I'm going to need your menu back, Meena and I will be taking care of your meal for you. If you need, I will recommend the perfect drink to accompany any and all of your courses."

Your feast will include:

-edamame and lightly fried peppers with finishing salt

-uni with housemade tofu, parmesan cheese and chives aka, the perfect creamy, meaty combination

-yellowtail with pepper and spicy cucumber

-toro tartare with caviar and spicy wasabi puree (melt in your mouth meat)

-fluke with riccotta paste and chile lime

-salmon in sesame oil, vegetable oil, sesame seeds and chives with tiny, tasty, tomatoes

-alaskan cod soaked for three days in miso an broiled to an ethereal perfection

-rock shrimp tempura with chives on salad

-nantucket bay scallops with micro cilantro and yellow peruvian perfection served with...

-rock lobster claw with vinegar jalapenos (pickles be damned)

-brussel sprouts finished with truffle-yes truffle- and grapeseed

-red snapper with okra chips and sun-dried tomato glaze...yes it keeps on coming

-kobe beef with tiny crunchy things on top. Food coma yet?


-apples, ice cream and awesomeness served atop a flaming dish

-cappuccino deliciousness served with heavenly creaminess on top

-the lightest, fluffiest cake-a-ma-bobber you've ever had with chocolate ecstasy

In case you forgot to count, that was sixteen of the best dishes you've ever had in your entire life and the perfect way to finish off your week in New York.

-Thanks Meena

Monday, March 29, 2010

Paige & Zach: The Syndicated Version

Our friend Christy told me not long ago that I had started laughing like Zach. This is somewhat disturbing since Zach's laugh is very distinct and is often the source of rampant fun-poking. Zach's laugh is high-pitched and involves a lot of 'hissing' sounds resulting from his spastic intake of air mid-laugh. Though I don't necessarily *think* my laugh sounds like this, her comment made me a little paranoid.

Christy also told me that my handwriting is turning into Zach's writing -- she produced the thank you card I sent her after our wedding -- which I wrote -- and a separate card -- which Zach wrote because he didn't realize I had already sent one. It was pretty compelling. Sigh.

I fear our trip has caused us to meld even more. Since approximately 99% of our experiences are shared we've become...well...predictable. We tell the same stories, over and over again (this is aided by the fact that folks tend to ask us similar questions about the trip). In any given conversation I usually know exactly what Zach is going to say before he says it. In any given conversation Zach usually knows what I am going to say before I say it. I think this is pretty typical for couples -- especially the longer they are together.

This hasn't been a problem until just recently. See normally as a couple you interact with the same people on a regular basis...you see your good friends a couple times a week, your coworkers daily. This means you're in the habit of keeping your material fresh. You wouldn't tell your hypothetical friend, Bob, on Monday about Zach's strange devotion to Meryl Streep or about my inability to entertain myself at a campsite for more than 48 hours, only to turn around and tell him the same tid-bits on Wednesday.

Because Bob knows. He knows that I want to see Clash of the Titans because my sister and I used to watch the original all the time when we were growing up. He knows that Zach makes me listen to books on tape even though I don't like them and that he thinks I am horrible at picking them out. Bob knows how we listened to the "This American Life" on Penn State and that we're still disgusted about what that guy said about cleaning his yard after a big football weekend. He knows I'm sick of PB&J and addicted to coffee. He knows I wish Zach would drink it too, so we could bond in the morning, and that I kinda resent that he drinks Dr. Pepper in the afternoon instead. Bob knows all of this.


When you don't see the same people all the time, you scrap that whole "keep it fresh" thing because no one's heard your material lately...at least not the people you're hanging out with right now. You can just recycle your material over and over again. You become the syndicated version of yourself. You're the same show on a different network every time you hit a new city. All this happens subconsciously, of course. You don't even notice it.

Until someone points it out to you.


Sorry Anna and Dan -- you're the first people we've spent more than 48 hours with in a long time. We promise we'll have some new episodes of the Zach and Paige show next time we see you. In the meantime, thank you for being patient with the reruns. ;)

In other news, we've made it to Vermont and New Hampshire since leaving NYC yesterday. Turns out, Vermont is amazingly beautiful. Today we enjoyed all that Vermont is famous for -- ice cream, cheese, and syrup.

Apparently it's Spring Break this week, which means a lot of other people had the same ideas we did -- visit Ben&Jerry's for the ice cream tour, visit Cabot Creamery for the cheese tour, and visit a sugar house (where they make maple syrup). Everything was tasty. Instructions on how to make cheese coming soon.

We're headed to Acadia as soon as the east coast storm passes, and we're definitely pumped.

We'll post pictures soon of these adventures as well as give you the gory details of our awesome meal at Nobu 57. I'm going to let Zach do that post since he took notes on his phone as we were eating (yea, he's a huge dork, but the food was so good it was warranted).

A big, big, big thank you to Andrea, Anna and Dan, and Meena for hosting us while we were in the city. We couldn't do this trip the way we want without folks like you...

Much love.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pictures Finally (New York)

Washington Square Arch in Washington Park, NYC

Times Square, NYC

Not Anna and Dan's favorite bar, NYC

Cathedral we walked past frequently on the upper west side NYC

Saturday at Central Park, NYC

Performance artist Marina Abramovic at Museum of Modern Art, NYC

Drag Queen Bingo

Cupcakes from Crumbs

We ate the cupcakes in Bryant Park

Pictures Finally (Philadelphia)

The oldest neighborhood in America (not counting the TeePee neighborhoods that the colonists got rid of)

Constitution Hall, Philadelphia, PA

Constitution Hall, Philadelphia, PA

The first Bank of America (I think...) Philadelphia, PA

Pictures Finally (Washington DC)

Most of these pictures were taken with a pocket camera. Since the camera was carried in my pocket, there was a fair amount of lint on the lens meaning the quality of some of these might not be the best in the world

Paige at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC

Paige in the atrium at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC

Some building in Washington, DC

Washington Monument, Washington, DC

Washington Monument, Washington, DC

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Modern Art

I'd like to consider myself an artist. Unfortunately, when I look at the art I produce it becomes all the harder to consider myself an artist. I suppose I should stop relying so heavily on macaroni and magic markers, but what can I say, I consider myself an artist of the old school--aka the "pre"-school.

Anyways, I mention this because Paige and I recently went to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. We had a lot of fun checking out the Rothko blocks, the Kandinsky swirls and the Picasso cubes. But to be honest, the most interesting exhibit was the performance art by Marina Abramovic. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Marina Abramovic's art work (I'm going to assume that includes everyone), she is an avant garde performance artist who's work can generally be summed up by the following description: she does crazy shit and calls it art.

Her more famous works include screaming until she lost her voice (I have nieces and nephews who could be considered artists by this standard), dancing until she collapsed (who among us hasn't done this after a dozen beers), and saying random words nonstop until her mind goes completely blank (sounds like a bad first date-am I right guys?!?). But the cool thing about Marina Abramovic is that she does all this naked. Well, at least it was cool when she did it back in the 60s. Now that she's pushing 70 years old I find it less cool. Maybe it makes me a chauvinist pig. Maybe it makes me an art critic. You be the judge.

The NYC Museum of Modern Art is currently doing a retrospective of her work where they have "artists" perform her past work (http://moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/965). The museum has films of the aforementioned works, plus several live exhibits of people re-creating her past works. There were a naked man and woman standing close to one another in a doorway people had to walk through to make people think about which way they would turn to squeeze through. There were two people facing each other that were almost touching fingers in a symbolic gesture of the tension just before touching. There was a naked woman sitting on an elevated bicycle seat slowly spreading her arms and legs because...I don't know why...maybe it is because bicycles are fun--look ma, no hands!

Because I was a bit confused I meandered down from the "adults only" exhibits on the top floor down to the "Artist is Present" exhibit on the second floor where Marina herself was sitting (fully clothed thank goodness). She is currently spending three months at the Museum of Modern Art as her next performance piece (http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2010/marinaabramovic/). In an effort to better understand her artwork I decided to sit down with the artist and ask her about her current work. She was suspiciously silent*. To be honest, she didn't say a single word--not to me or any of her other admirers! To quote another artist I admire: "How rude!**" I took her ominous lack of response to mean that I had out-arted her***.

Then I went and had a cupcake. It was delicious. More later.

*Her preparations for the project include a strictly regulated vegetarian diet, and although she is likely to be surrounded by milling crowds in the museum, Abramovic will not speak or respond to anyone during the entire run of the exhibition, an experience she likens to “going into seclusion in the middle of New York”. “It’s a huge experiment and I’m very nervous. http://www.theartnewspaper.com/whatson/results.asp?id=1110633

**Stephanie Tanner from TGIF's Full House circa 1993

***In all seriousness, while her art was not something I was used to, it was actually very interesting and thought provoking****

****But in all seriousness, I still think I out-arted her.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What's better than a hot dog?

The answer my friends is a hot dog wrapped in bacon, flash fried and served with chili and coleslaw- unless you're talking from an artery perspective in which case the answer is an apple, a banana, or really almost anything. In case you don't know, I love hot dogs. I say "in case you don't know" because you probably actually don't know* since Paige refuses to eat them or let me eat them. Naturally when our friend Anna mentioned "gourmet" hot dogs served up at Crif-Dog's here in NYC and Paige didn't instantly say no, I suggested we go immediately. It was everything I'd imagined and more.

Since Paige and I arrived in New York City, we've enjoyed tasting the expansive culinary offerings of this, the food capital of the country. Since we've been in "the big apple" we've sampled vietnamese sandwiches, local burgers (at shake shack), fresh bagels, Sri Lankan food, jumbo slice pizza, milk shakes from the "Seinfeld" diner, all-you-can-drink sangria brunch, street fruit, fancy french food, dumplings, and yes, the aforementioned bacon wrapped crif-dogs. If we are able to squeeze into our pants by the time we leave this city, it will be a true miracle.

Aside from the all out gorging, we've managed to see quite a bit of the city. Friday we enjoyed finally having good weather and walked around the city for the better part of the day before we settled down at a sports bar to watch the first rounds of March Madness with Anna's boyfriend Dan. By ten o'clock we were exhausted and crashed at Andrea Lee's who was nice enough to offer up her apartment to us for the weekend. We spent all day Saturday wandering around Central Park with Anna before we went back to the park for a run with Dan. That evening we had our first experience with Sri Lankan food courtesy of Andrea. Needless to say, the spicy food caused significant sweating on my part, but was well worth the pain. Since I was already sweating, we decided to meet up with Anna and go dancing. We finished up the night with Dan's tour of his neighborhood's late night food. Sunday we walked around Harlem, stopped in at the Natural History Muesum (the best I've ever seen) and then had a lazy, boozy brunch near the park with Andrea Lee and her boy toy, Ben.

Since Sunday afternoon we have been enjoying the hilarious company of Anna and Dan. Anna is probably the funniest landscape architect in all of New York. Dan tells jokes similar to the ones I tell. Naturally Dan is the funnier of the two. We are staying in their spare bedroom for the rest of the week and are looking forward to enjoying their comedy show in the days to come.

Since it is getting late and we have a big day tomorrow, I'm going to have to sign off for now. I'll have to catch you all the way up to speed later.

*Christy and Tommy do know this since they witnessed me eat 18 free hot dogs after a long bike ride....ok, just after a short bike ride

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

West Virginia, Mountain Mama (and DC, and Delaware)

Sorry DC and Delaware -- I was forced to include you as a parenthetical reference...not because you're not awesome, but because you just don't have an awesome song about you.

If you can believe it, we actually experienced a beautiful day today complete with sunshine, warm temperatures, and no precipitation frozen or otherwise. This is a pretty big deal since Zach and I manage to bring snow, sleet, sub-freezing temperatures and gale force winds wherever we go (sorry New Jersey). Perhaps the curse is over!

When we last left you, we were enjoying an amazing dinner at the Campbells' home in Sutton, West Virginia. If there are three things I can share with you about West Virginia they would be the following:

Boy. The Campbells sure know how to spoil your stomachs. I mean really. They. Know. How. To. Eat. We went to bed, full of fried chicken and pork loin and macaroni and cheese, West Virginia slaw, and mashed potatoes -- then we'd wake up to the smell of homemade biscuits and gravy waiting on the stove for us. Yes, this is for real, folks. Finally we had to leave because let's face it -- we don't have any self control when it comes to delicious food nor do we have the metabolism of hummingbirds with which God has blessed the entire Campbell clan. A big shout out to Jan and Nan for cooking such amazing food and sending us off with yummy goodies, to Madison for playing Monopoly in such a cunning way that even Zach decided not to cheat, and to Phil for sleeping on a cot in the office so we'd have a room and a bed.

J.L., our host and my best friend's dad, is the Mayor. Staying with the Mayor is pretty dang cool. We were fortunate enough to witness the good Mayor in his natural habitat -- listening to citizen concerns and attending to city business. We also got to experience something that few of you will ever experience. A Mayoral tour of his city. Everywhere we went folks would wave and shout greetings...BECAUSE WE WERE WITH THE MAYOR. Yes. That's right. Lastly, the cool thing about staying with the Mayor is that you don't have to follow any stupid rules. If anyone asked us why were littering or leaving our dog poo on the sidewalk or tagging local city property with giant, stylized P's and Z's and E's, we just let them know, "Suck it. We're with the Mayor."*

West Virginia is beautiful. On our way in we stopped at the New River Gorge and on our way out we took a moment to enjoy Seneca Rocks -- which was breathtaking even through the misting gray weather. I think Zach suffered a bout of mild depression at passing such a perfect rock with no hopes of climbing.

All good things must come to an end and so too it was for our West Virginia adventure. Zach wiped his tears and we headed out to Washington, D.C.

Our D.C. visit was short, but awesome. Our first night in town we met up with Dara, Eric, Lisa and Maggie, some of my friends from graduate school and from my prior stints in D.C. We spent the night chatting over beers and catching up at Maggie's new home. It is always remarkable to me how when you're with your closest friends, it doesn't matter how much time has passed, you just pick up right where you left off.

Saturday was gloomy and rainy, so we met Maggie for a movie in the afternoon and then went out for drinks at The Gibson.

Maggie had promised that it was well worth the wait, and she was definitely right. I might just start trying random, unmarked doors on the street more often in hopes that on the other side lies an intimate, tasty cocktail just waiting for me.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday we spent time welcoming Jenni's new baby, exploring the city on foot, and hitting the museums (Portrait Gallery and National Gallery of Art were awesome, Natural History made me not want to have kids for the next umpteen years, and unfortunately, the Corcoran is never open when we want to go). Big ups to Mags for sending us off properly -- first with an exciting game of Settlers and second with a delicious lunch from Founding Fathers. Yum.

Tuesday night we tried sleeping in our car for the first time. That would have been more fun if Emma hadn't rolled in something dead before snuggling with us in the back of the ole Matrix, but never fear, she ran on the beach today and got her salt water rinse as well as a real bath (the lady at Wash N Wag told Zach he looked really nice in the pink apron he chose to wear while bathing her).

Tonight we're bedding down in Newark, DE. Zach's friend, Dave, that he met while studying abroad in Costa Rica and Nicaragua hooked us up with the best hostess in the state (and maybe the East Coast), his mom. A big thanks to Ann Sylvester who agreed to have two strangers and a dog stay with her sight unseen and to Dave for hooking us up with such a sweet deal.

Tomorrow we head to Philly and then Friday to NYC! We'll post pictures soon of our travels thus far, though they may be the last for a while. The Canon's gotta be sent in for repairs -- it has a defective shutter. Thank goodness for warranties!

*No littering, or dog poo leaving, or tagging occurred on this trip. But that's what I would have said if it had.**
**I probably wouldn't have said that, even it had happened, which it didn't.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Notes from a Rebel Country

Oh the pressure. It has been so long since we updated the blog and so much has happened... Or at least, it seems like a long time ago. I'll give you the highlights from the South if you give me forgiveness for waiting so long to write.

When last we updated, we were on our way out of Chattanooga. We cut our time in Chattanooga short after suffering through freezing weather conditions, a drought of potential climbing partners, and an existential crisis when I realized I couldn't really call myself a climber if I only got on a wall once a month. But more interesting than that is the following story about our first night in Chattanooga:

We arrived in Chattanooga with hopes of camping and climbing. We headed to one of the most popular climbing areas to look for a campsite and find me a belay partner. After striking out on both accounts, we decided to spend the night in a hotel and reassess our plan. On our way back from the crag, we reached for our trusty Let's Go USA guidebook and reviewed the affordable hotel options in town. There were three not-all-that-cheap hostels and one motel called the King's Lodge. "Hmm, the King's Lodge?" I mused. "Sounds perfect for me! hahaha" The rooms were described as clean, with a good view overlooking downtown and best of all, priced from $30 and up. Paige called ahead and talked to the manager to find out if they were pet friendly (they were!) and reserved a room for us. She hung up and excitedly pronounced, "It sounds like a real family type place!" Internet, dog-friendly, and a family place-what more could we ask for? We plugged the address into the phone and headed on our merry way.

So about the King's Lodge being a family place...it turns out its not. At all. It is a four story, multi-building, crumbling monstrosity, nestled into the projects of Chattanooga. Between the highway and the hotel (a scant 1/4 mile I might add) we saw no fewer than three police cars. In fact, we actually followed them because they were headed to the King's Lodge as well. Maybe they were all there because for the coffee in the lobby. Maybe they were there because of the not-so-scenic view of Chattanooga. Who knows? But judging by the looks of the place, I'd say they were probably there because something illegal was happening. Probably lots of somethings.

Being the seasoned road veterans we are though, we took it all in stride and headed into the lobby to talk to the front desk clerk. She ran through her schpiel about prices, rules, etc and then removed a key and a television remote from the slot labeled "204" from the row of cubbies behind her. She informed us that if we wanted to, we could go look at the room first and decide if we still wanted it. I asked her "is there something wrong with it?" She replied, "Let's just say I'm not giving you your money back if you decide you don't want it after you've paid." So we went to check out the room. We wandered the halls and balconies of the forty year old boarding house until we found room 204, directly across an alley from a large group of shouting teenagers. We looked around, unsure of what to expect. The room wasn't fancy, but it didn't have blood stains (like our motel in Oklahoma). Unsure of whether to pass on the room or try to make the most of it, we plodded back towards the lobby. While we stood just outside the clerk's line of sight and wondered what to do, another cop car drove up. This sealed the deal. We got the hell out of there, went to a bar on the opposite side of town, and after confirming with the bartender that it was no where near the King's Lodge, booked a motel room for $40 in a completely different part of town. King's Lodge my ass!

We camped/froze for the next two nights near the "Tennessee Wall" climbing area. You might remember this campsite from videos such as "Daddy Needs a New Pair of Pants" and "Emma helped."

Leaving Chattanooga, we headed east towards the Smoky Mountains. An unexpected road closure into the Smokies stranded us in the twin cities of Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. The best way to describe these cities would be if all of the buffets in Las Vegas, Nevada got together with all of the sights and attractions in Branson, Missouri and had two children. Gatlinburg would be the more stuffy older child and Pigeon Forge would be the messy younger sibling. Gatlinburg would always be bragging about its fudge shops (even going to such extremes as occasionally spelling them "shoppes"), its homemade arts and crafts, its covered sidewalks and its tasteful signs. Pigeon Forge would spend all its time saying that it doesn't need those things because it has three Ripley's Believe it or Nots, a water park, and 37 go cart tracks. But really, the two wouldn't be as different as they wanted to believe. They would both still have a fondness in their heart for buffets. They would both still love a good, cheap motel. And they would both play the banjo. Which is why they would both still live so close to one another, despite the fact that they both agree "they are absolutely, nothing alike."

Anyways, we made it into the smokies the next morning and set up camp. After two days in the smoky mountains we both decided that the gentle elegance of the smokies isn't nearly as impressive as the grandeur of the country's western mountain ranges. Nevertheless, we went on some pleasant hikes, camped next to a friendly old couple, and had an all-around agreeable time.

We spent the next two nights wandering through a snow-covered Asheville, NC. True to form, we brought nine inches of snow to Asheville, NC which caused massive shutdowns throughout downtown and ruined our plans to see the art museum and eat all-you-can-east mussels at a fancy french restaurant. Fortunately we made the most of it. We were still able to find a pizza house/brewery that showed movies and we spent many hours rambling through the snow covered streets with Emma.

Retreating from the snow, we hooked slightly south into the lowlands of North Carolina to try the whole camping and climbing thing again before we were to meet up with friends for the weekend in Raleigh. Still no climbing partners, but lots of hiking. I finally guilted Paige into belaying me a few times. On the upside, no more snow and a wide open campground.

Friday morning we finally made it to Raleigh and met up with our friend Sharon who was able to extend a work trip to spend the weekend with us. We hung out and had fun Friday night, but the real highlight of the weekend was Saturday night, when the University of North Carolina was scheduled to play Duke (or Dook as Matt insists I spell it), one of their biggest rivals. The three of us had plans to meet up with Matt (a friend Paige met when she worked in DC), hang out for the day, and watch the game that night. We had a wonderful day eating BBQ, exploring the UNC campus and seeing the surrounding neighborhood.

We spent the evening at a bar with several of Matt's UNC classmates and watched UNC get utterly trounced by Duke. At this point, it seemed like a good idea to go to a different bar to get a night cap before we call it an evening. So, Sharon, Paige, Matt, Susannah (Matt's girl-friend) and I headed to a nearby bar and order a round. Shortly after I return from the restroom, the guy sitting next to me (I don't know him...he's not with us) accosts me and asks me a very strange question. He looks very unhappy and asks me if I peed on his shoes. Confusedly I asked him, "What? Who are you? Where were your shoes?" He quite angrily informed me that when I was heading into the bathroom, he asked me not to pee on his shoes that he'd left next to the toilet. Naturally I have no recollection of this because if I had, I would not have gone into the restroom, but would have instead replied "WHAT!?!? Why did you leave your shoes in the men's room?...at a bar?...in a college town?...at midnight?" It was a very loud, very crowded bar, with lots of people going in and out of the restroom and I'm pretty sure I just didn't hear him. He told me that I gave him a blank "I hate you" stare and walked into the restroom. I think he misinterpreted my "I have to go to the bathroom" stare as an "I hate you" stare. Now, of course, being the mature, self controlled adult I am, I immediately diffused the situates in a calm and controlled manner...Or something like that. I never did find out how his shoes got so soaking wet or what they were doing not on his feet in the first place. In the end, we decided to leave the bar early because really, who wants to sit next to some guy that takes off his shoes and leaves them in the men's restroom.

Monday morning we headed north. Our plan was to drive about halfway to West Virginia, camp for the evening, and drive the other half of the way Tuesday. We managed to do this and even squeeze in a half day of climbing on the way at the New River Gorge. Right now we're bunked up at JL's house in Sutton West Virginia, stuffed from a feast of fried chicken, potatoes, pasta, beans and salad, about to hit the sack. We'll spend the rest of the week around here and head to DC for the weekend. I think that brings us about up to speed.

Oh, and for anyone interested in our upcoming itinerary, here's the latest scoop:

For a variety of reasons, Paige and I weren't sure how long this leg of our trip would last. During our first month on the road in California we came to realize that our stamina for life on the road might not be up to the six to nine month task we'd dreamed about. By the time we left Houston, we had tentative plans to tour the east coast for a month (or two if we were really grooving), return to Houston for a spell, and perhaps spend a few weeks in the mountains in late spring. Then we remembered we'll eventually be spending quite a bit of time in Houston and decided that perhaps instead of breaking in Houston, we'd break in Portland.

Well, things have indeed been grooving on the road. We do still want to break in Portland, but it might happen a tad later than we'd initially thought. This trip has shown us that more than traveling, spending time with the people we love is most important to us. It will probably be a long time before we have an opportunity to spend more than a mere long weekend with our friends in Portland and we'd be foolish not to take advantage of that. So with that being said, here is our projected itinerary for the next few weeks:

3/8-3/12: Hiking and climbing around the New River Gorge, staying with Courtney's family in Sutton, WV
3/12-3/19: Washington, DC
3/19-3/28: NYC
3/29-4/5: NYC->Boston, MA
4/5-4/9: Explore the far NE
4/9-4/11: Rochester, NY (let us know if that date doesn't work for you Mike)
4/12-4/19: Quick drive to stay with Paige's cousin in Indianapolis and climbing in Kentucky
4/19-4/25: Chicago, IL and Madison, WI
4/26-?: Twin Cities and Fargo ND

At that point we'll re-evaluate the motivation, budget and weather.

Pictures from the Smokies: