Last week we had a chance to get in one more Smoky Mountains hike before the Labor Day Weekend crowds appeared. So Thursday we loaded up our packs and set out for Elkmont Campgrounds to hike the 5.5 mile "Cucumber Gap Loop Trail". First, a word about those packs. On our last hike Rita took her tried and trusted backpack she used for the Inca Trail, an Osprey Mila 34. The "34" stands for the volume the pack will hold,...

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There must be something about the last week of August that causes us to lace up the hiking boots. In 2019 on this week, we were hiking in the Galápagos. 2018 found us exploring Greenways and parks of Knoxville, and in 2017 we were finishing up explorations around Cusco in Perú and about to tackle the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. August of 2016 really started it all, when the mad decision to hike the Inca Trail got us to...

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August 28th, a big day for us. It was on this day three years ago, after over a year of mental and physical preparation, that Rita and I were standing at Kilometer 82 just outside of Piskacucho in Perú, ready to take the first steps on a 26-mile 4-day/3-night hike to Machu Picchu. It is just over a month since the book about the hike and the struggle to prepare for it, "An Uphill Climb", has been available on Amazon...

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Over eleven and a half years ago, on January 10th, 2009, an emotionally broken fat man sat down to try and write out some of his grief. He had lost his wife and companion of over 25 years to cancer just five weeks earlier, and was having trouble dealing with his pain, his job, and the mundanity of life in general. He began to write about what he had lost, and what it had been like to go through those...

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As we get ready to go into our fourth month of self-quarantine, at least there are some silver linings. We've expanded our morning walks to almost five miles, and we have developed a very efficient pantry and garage-shelf food storage system. With all of the time at home, Rita has started sorting and digitizing boxes and boxes of old photos. I was able to finish and publish my book on touring the Galápagos Islands , and I should be ready...

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“They say, timing is everything. But then they say, there is never a perfect time for anything.”― Anthony Liccione Well, it seems like half of the country is locked down in self-quarantine while the other half is out rioting and protesting. Nobody is flying to other countries unless they absolutely have to, and many people can't even return to their own nations even if they wanted to. At times like this, what is a sensible thing for a writer to do?...

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I was idly scrolling through FaceBook the other day when I saw a post with what struck me as an uniquely American brag. A young woman proudly stated that she had just spent about two hours in a Target store brazenly unmasked, and had not been asked to leave. She saw this as some kind of personal victory, and a cry of freedom on the level of Mel Gibson in Braveheart. What a strange time we live in, when showing...

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Strange times we are living in. Many people, being forced to spend more time in their homes, are finding their lives completely disrupted. Some are responding better than others, and many couples are finding out things they may not have necessarily have wanted to know about their relationships. For my wife and I, perhaps the biggest revelation of the past six weeks is how little our lives have changed. Our income sources are unaffected, we can still get out and...

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I don't always title a blog post with a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, but I make an exception in this case. I want to take a break from the Galápagos Islands series to write about a show that we attended at the Tennessee Theater on Thursday, March 12, 2020. I bring it up for two reasons, so let's start with the first. It was a fantastic show! If you are not familiar with the Tennessee Theater, let me tell you...

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For people around the world, a visit to the Galápagos Islands is a common “bucket list” destination. Unfortunately, visiting this unique but out-of-the-way spot can be a very expensive proposition. For example, a family of four visiting from North America may find that between airfare to Ecuador and then on to the Islands, entry fees, accommodations, tours, meals, etc., that the cost of a Galápagos trip can easily approach or even reach five figures, forcing it to remain a dream...

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