Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Colorado and Arizona

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Over on my photoblog, I’ve posted pictures from my trip to Phoenix and Denver.

We’re back safe & sound in Knoxville, by the way. Loyette was once again a champion flyer — though I think we’ll be paying for the disruptions to her schedule in the form of weekend fussiness.

The clock tower and the Moon

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Sorry for the lack of posts the last couple of days. I haven’t moved up the date of my blog retirement, I promise. :) I’ve just been super-busy in Denver. And speaking of Denver, here’s a cool photo of the D&F clock tower and the Moon last night:


During a previous trip to Denver, it became something of a running joke among Becky, the SHA girls and myself that I was constantly taking pictures of the clock tower. But I think that one’s actually pretty neat!

The Moon and clouds weren’t the only things in the sky over Denver last night. All evening long, a pair of military helicopters was circling over downtown. They were making a lot of noise, but at some points their lights appeared to be off, as if they were operating in some sort of (admittedly rather ineffective) stealth mode. I have no idea what that was all about ("we’re being invaded by Utah," I hypothesized at one point), but it was a little creepy.

Oh, and speaking of, uh, security and stuff: I’m now at the airport waiting for my flight back to Phoenix. This will be my third of four flights in less than a week (Nashville to Phoenix, Phoenix to Denver, Denver to Phoenix, Phoenix to Nashville). So I’ve been spending a lot of time in airports, and I have a question. It’s now been almost two years since the implementation of the "new" security measures involving liquids and gels. Yet all the signs and announcements still talk about these as temporary steps, due to "increased" security. At what point will we end this charade, and acknowledge that these measures are here to stay permanently, or at least indefinitely?

Another great lightning show

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

We’re safe and sound in Phoenix, having flown in from Tennessee yesterday with no Friday the 13th complications. :) Loyette was amazing; she didn’t cry or fuss at all during takeoff, and she literally slept through landing. At one point in the middle of the flight, she woke up and cried for about 10 seconds — but that was it. Otherwise she was completely calm for the entire flight. She’s an amazing baby. :)

Also amazing: the view out the left-hand side of the plane, where we were sitting, looking south directly into a thunderstorm over west Texas. Neither the photos nor the video that I took remotely do the sight justice, but just for a taste, here’s a photo:


It was really, really cool to see — the second time in a week that I’ve been treated to a great lightning show. This time, of course, we were watching it from 36,000 feet, so it was a very different sort of view. There was lightning every couple of seconds, flashing across the sky and lighting up the clouds in all sorts of awesome patterns. Absolutely incredible.

Here’s an archived radar image of what I believe is the line of storms that we were looking into:


Friday the 13th

Friday, June 13th, 2008

We’ve got a big weekend coming up, in terms of the calendar: tomorrow is Flag Day (and the 233rd anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Army), which of course means it’s also Becky’s birthday. And then Sunday is Father’s Day — my first as a dad — and thus the final day of the U.S. Open, which will be kind of a big deal since we’ll be visiting the golf-loving Zaks.

But before any of those special occasions can arrive, we have to get through today, which is… [cue horror-movie music]Friday the 13th!! AAAAAHH!!! ;)

So, has anyone had any bouts of bad luck yet?

Personally, I don’t suffer from Paraskavedekatriaphobia — and a good thing, too, because tonight Becky, Loyette and I are flying to Phoenix! The drive to the Nashville Airport will be Loyette’s longest car ride to date, followed by her first-ever plane trip. Wish us, um, luck!

UPDATE: A Friday the 13th fire and power outage in Washington, D.C.!

Commuters should expect major delays on Metro’s Red Line this morning
after a fire on the tracks near the Dupont Circle station, officials
said. At the same time, a power outage in downtown Washington is
affecting thousands of homes and offices, as well as traffic signals
and Metro elevators and lighting.

It sounds like the fire and power outage were unrelated and coincidental. LOL! Friday the 13th is off to a rip-roarin’ start. (Hat tip: ChrisN.)

How my birthday became unexpectedly awesome

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

At 10:45 PM last night, I was sitting on an MTA bus in Nashville, brooding silently. My "worst birthday ever" was winding down with a whimper. Oh, I’d had fun counting down to midnight with Kristy the night before (after which she serenaded me with an interpretive dance to the strains of Journey’s "Don’t Stop Believin’," played on my iTunes), and of course, I’d gotten my free taco from Taco Bell. But mostly, my 26th birthday had been drudgery: a six-hour mandatory CLE class, a pair of Southwest flights that had gotten me from Denver to Nashville, and now a couple of lonely bus rides. At 10:45, I was en route to the Greyhound station, from which I would depart for Knoxville. It looked like I’d be spending the final 75 minutes of my birthday travelling to, and then waiting around in, a grungy Greyhound station. (My bus wasn’t scheduled to leave until 12:45 AM.) I was cranky, I missed Becky, and I was just generally annoyed about the overall suckiness of my birthday.

When the bus dropped me off at around 11:00, things got even worse, because now I was in the heart of Nashville at 5th and Broadway — which, for those who don’t know, is the home of a whole bunch of great honky-tonk bars. The sound of live music was wafting out into the street, tempting and torturing me.

I would love, I thought, to spend the last hour of my birthday sitting in a bar, listening to some live country music. And with almost two hours until my bus was scheduled to leave, and the bus station only three blocks away, I had time to do just that. But it was (I thought) logistically impossible: I was dragging around a suitcase and a garment bag and hauling a heavy backpack with, among other things, my laptop inside it. With all that luggage, I’d barely have fit through the door of one of the bars. And it’s not like I could leave my luggage somewhere. I was traveling alone, so I had nobody to watch my stuff. So I turned away from the awesomeness of Nashville nightlife and resigned myself to the fact that the last hour of my birthday would be just as crappy as the first 23 hours. Up the hill toward the Greyhound station I walked, still brooding.

But then! When I got to the station at around 11:10, I beheld a miracle: it has lockers!!! Okay, maybe not a "miracle," but a possibility I hadn’t considered, for sure. Anyway, yeah, the station has lockers — big ones — so I didn’t hesitate: I picked up my bus ticket at will call, then stuffed all of my bags into a locker, secured it, and headed right back out into the night, back to 5th & Broadway, to finish off my birthday in style.

It was about 11:25 when I got back there, so I figured I had about 35 minutes at the bars before I needed to head back to the station. Naturally, I resolved to make the most of it. So I started out at Second Fiddle, where I listened to a couple of songs; then I headed to Layla’s Bluegrass Inn for a couple more songs; then to Tootsies for a couple more (including "Happy Birthday," although they were singing it to an attractive young lady on the dance floor, not to me); and finally (or so I thought) to Legends Corner for yet a couple more. Totally awesome.

When the band at Legends finished playing "Sweet Home Alabama," which I love, and I saw that it was 11:58, I figured that was my cue to leave. So I tipped the band and headed out, crossing the street with every intention of turning away and trudging back up to the Greyhound station. But then I glanced into the window of the Full Moon Saloon, and found myself drawn inexorably inside by the gravitational pull of the comely female fiddle player in the snug blue jeans. (It was the fiddle that drew me in, of course; I love fiddles. What did you think I meant?) Unfortunately, that band wrapped up their set literally 20 or 30 seconds after I walked in the door, so I headed back out onto the street again… but now my appetite was whetted for one more bar, one more band, one or two more songs. Hey, it’s only your 26th birthday once!

It was midnight now, but I reckoned I could afford another 5 or 10 minutes. So I slipped into The Wheel next door. The band there played a couple of nice songs, and then at around 12:07, busted out Johnny Cash’s "Ring of Fire." Now that is a thoroughly proper way to end a session of honky-tonk bar-hopping, not to mention a birthday (albeit a few minutes late). I hooted as they started playing it, sang along for the chorus, then walked back out the door (applauding as I went) after they finished. I turned left and headed back toward the Greyhound station. It was 12:11 AM. I got back to the station at 12:19, retrieved my stuff from the locker, and made my 12:45 bus with plenty of time to spare. I even got a good seat.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how a crappy birthday turns awesome at (literally) the eleventh hour. In 45 minutes, I went to six bars, listened to six bands, and totally redeemed my birthday. Then I slept like a baby on the bus ride home. And I’m half-consciously humming "Ring of Fire" as I write this.

I love Nashville. :)

The end of an era

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

I took this picture in Denver. Now I'm in Kansas City, where the plane has a stopover before continuing to Nashville. Sitting near a mother and two little kids, I realized: this is very likely the last time I'll travel when I'm not a dad. Holy cow.

Fun times on the horizon

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

Plans are still somewhat up in the air, but it’s looking increasingly likely that I’ll be visiting Denver again from October 28-30. It will be essentially a business trip, and it’ll suck to be away from Becky on my birthday, but on the bright side, I’ll be in Denver on the evenings when Game 4 and, if necessary, Game 5 of the World Series are being played there. Of course, I hope I’ll be rooting against the Rockies, but if the Indians do manage to close out the ALCS against the Red Sox, then I’ll be root, root, rooting for the home team. Either way, although I don’t expect to go to any games, it’ll be fun to be in town while they’re going on. Kristy and V live right downtown, less than a mile from Coors Field and in the midst of a central strip with tons of bars and such.

Then, next month, Becky and I will be going to a pair of Tennessee basketball games: the men’s home opener against Temple on November 9, and the Lady Vols’ showdown with Texas on November 18. There will be bigger games during the SEC season, of course, but we wanted to make it out to Thompson-Boling Arena before the baby comes. Anyway, the tickets came in the mail yesterday and today, and I’ve added the games to my countdown sidebar at left (along with my birthday — dunno why I wasn’t counting down to that before!).

Speaking of games, Jay and I may be going to a UT football game before the season is out — probably either South Carolina on October 27 or Arkansas on November 10. But that’s still up in the air as well.

More immediately, next Thursday, Becky and I are going to the WDVX Birthday Party at the Bijou Theater. So that should be fun. And on Tuesday, we start taking a birthing/baby class, where we get to learn all about, uh, birthing and babies and stuff.

So yeah. Lots of stuff to look forward to!

P.S. Breaking news: Shannon got a puppy! AWW!

UPDATE: Speaking of the Rockies, and of the SHA girls, Kristy was at Coors Field when Colorado won the pennant Monday night. She sent me a cell-phone photo earlier today:


Heading home

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

We just met up with Brian Neudorff, TV meteorologist and fellow weatherblogger, and his wife Trisha and their three adorable boys, at Timmy Ho’s in Erie. That was fun. Here’s a photo of Brian and me just before we left:

Brian and Trisha are both guestbloggers and commenters here on, so that makes them #5 and #6 on the list of blog-friends we’ve met in person. :)

Now, we continue en route back to Knoxville… and I’m going to try out Google Maps’s new “embed” feature:

View Larger Map

Ooooh, aaaah. :)

When we re-enter the state of Tennessee this evening, I think we’ll be there to stay for a while. With my job starting on Tuesday and Becky’s pregnancy getting further and further along with each passing day (obviously), this promises to be the end of our recent interstate rambling — we’ve been out-of-state for 21 of the last 44 days — and the beginning of a “calm before the storm” period preceding the baby’s birth. Which is perfectly fine with both of us. We’ve had a great time with our recent travels, but we’re both pretty exhausted, and since exhaustion will become a permanent state of being once the baby arrives, we’re both keen to be a little bit more laid back these next few months, to take advantage of the opportunity to relax while we still have it. I look forward to many forthcoming weekends of watching college football and not doing 1,400-mile round-trip drives. :)


Sunday, August 5th, 2007

The big moment occurred at 7:28 PM between mileposts 14.4 and 14.5 on I-71 North in Montgomery, Ohio.

Looks like we’ll be getting into Buffalo around 2:00 AM. Oversleeping sucks. :|

Shuffling off to Buffalo

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

After oversleeping a bit this morning (we’re going with “the baby was sleepy” as our excuse, though I think 3am blog debates may have had more to do with it), we’re finally en route to Buffalo, where we’ll visit Shannon, PJ and Logan for a few days before heading to my uncle & aunt’s cabin in the Adirondacks at the end of the week to visit them and my parents, who are driving up from Connecticut.

I guess I never really updated y’all on our summer travel plans, did I? (I’m sure you were all on the edge of your seats, waiting for the update.) Well, after asking for travel suggestions for this period of post-bar-exam freedom, and briefly dreaming about elaborate vacations to Banff, Iceland, New Zealand, etc., we realized we really just couldn’t afford such an expenditure, what with a baby on the way and all. We flirted with the idea of a weekend in Vegas, but we ultimately decided that a week-and-a-half with our friends in Denver, plus a week with friends and family in New York state, was enough of a vacation for now. And then maybe when we have more money someday, we’ll take our kid(s) to Iceland. :)

Anyway… as I mentioned yesterday, Becky’s car will hit 100,000 miles today. Looks like it’ll happen on I-71, somewhere on the northeastern suburbs of Cincinnati. This will actually be the second time I’ve been in a car that’s crossed the 100,000-mile barrier in Ohio: my parents’ old Dodge Aries hit 100,000 on I-40 in New Paris, OH, en route back from a family vacation to Illinois in 1992. (Yes, I’m bizarrely obsessed with arbitrary milestones like odometers rolling over to 100,000.)

The Blair Chipmunk Project

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Here’s a rather entertaining video from our visit to Rocky Mountain National Park showing the SHA girls — Becky, Shannon, Kristy and V — running away from the terrifying spectre of… a chipmunk.

Note also my girly giggle.

You might hear Becky saying something about “bubonic plague.” The reason is because, during the drive up, I had been reading aloud from a pamphlet outlining the various dangers campers might face in the park, and one of them was the possibility that various creatures, including chipmunks, might be infected with the plague. The girls took this remote risk a little too much to heart, methinks. :)

BTW, I’m sorry for not getting my full gallery of Denver pics up yet. Maybe later today. They’re online now! :) Of particular interest, the all-important boob picture:


I’ve split the gallery up into three sections: the Denver Zoo, our day in the Rockies, and other pics from the trip. Enjoy!

P.S. Aww, ain’t we cute? Rocky Mountain Photoshop Challenge

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007

When we were in Rocky Mountain National Park on Sunday, it was a beautiful day and I took a bunch of beautiful photos. Some of the best were taken at Sprague Lake with a wide-angle lens. Unfortunately, the lens had a smudge on it, which I didn’t notice until hours later, so several of what otherwise would have been among the day’s best photos were marred by an ugly spot. You can see for yourself in this picture, about halfway between top and bottom and about a third of the way from left to right:

Ugh. Anyway, I’m hoping somebody with more Photoshop skills than myself can work some digital magic on this photo and make the spot disappear. The full-size image is here (1.5 MB). E-mail your fixed-up versions to irishtrojan [at] Winner gets credit on the blog and a free beer (or equivalent beverage of your choice) the next time I’m in your city (you’ll probably have to remind me, though).

UPDATE: Link to full-size image fixed.

UPDATE 2: Tom Greca,’s reigning Chief Photoshopper, has done it again. He fixed the smudge…

…and he also created a brighter version of the whole photo:

I’m not sure which version I like better, but in any event, I’m very glad that the smudge is gone. Thanks, Tom! I think I owe you like three beers by this point. :)

Rocky Mountain Mama

Monday, July 30th, 2007

We went to Rocky Mountain National Park today, which was awesome. Here’s our signature group shot:

And here’s the first official Becky Baby Bump photo, taken in Estes Park in front of an ice cream shop:

More pictures to come later. Now, I gotta pack and get to bed. Tomorrow morning, we head back east. Thanks for the memories, Denver!

A new life experience

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

Eating mashed potatoes on the roof of a 34-story downtown highrise at 3:30 AM:

This is what the view was like:

Fun with the SHA girls

Saturday, July 28th, 2007

Sorry for the lack of blog posts. We’ve been out and about in Denver, and Flickr’s moblogging service is broken, so cell-phone photo blogging isn’t working. Anyway, here are a few pictures from the last couple of days: