North America, Travel Advice, Trip Reports

A day trip to the Great Smoky Mountains

June 28, 2016 • By

You may recall that I purchased an annual National parks pass in anticipation of my visit to Utah last year.  Since I was  visiting Gatlinburg again to spend time with family, I figured that we might as well check out the Great Smokies while we were there.

Due to an agreement between the state of Tennessee and the Federal government, the Great Smoky Mountains does not have an entry fee, so no annual pass was needed.  However, as we drove past the entrance, it reminded me of our time at Zion National Park, where you traverse a long winding road that has various points of interest on the side of the road along the way.

27455896236_e937455e16_z

READ MORE


Fun stuff, Inspiration, Lifestyle

How Loom Knitting has kept me on the shallow side of the deep end

June 22, 2016 • By

loom knitting

Previously, I shared one of my favorite ways to deal with stress. While gaming is a great way to unwind after a hectic shift, I found an even better, long-term way to alleviate stress: loom knitting! Knitting without needles has been incredibly therapeutic. It’s relaxing, keeps me focused on achieving a goal and once I’ve finished a project, I have something tangible to give as a gift or to keep for myself. But the absolute best thing about loom knitting is that it’s incredibly easy to learn. I’ve been doing it for two years and made over seventy different projects from hats, scarves, bags, socks and blankets. All you need is patience and a free afternoon to get going!

Before You Get Started

Loom knitting is a relatively inexpensive hobby to start. For most projects, you need a loom, a loom tool, a crochet needle and yarn. The type of loom you’ll need depends on what project you wish to start. Most people start out learning how to make scarves on the loom, so for a thick scarf suitable for winter weather, a rectangular loom is best. For a light fall or spring scarf, a round loom is fine. Generally, rectangular looms are for scarves, blankets, place mats and similar projects. Round looms are for hats, scarves, gloves and socks.READ MORE


Budget Tips, Consumer Advice

Where To Get the Best Locally Sourced Plant Deals

June 14, 2016 • By

One of the most frustrating aspects of creating the garden of your dreams is the astronomical costs of supplanting barren land with healthy, lush plants.   Look at any gardening magazine and you will be inundated with photos of the most elaborately spectacular gardens you’ve ever seen.  Depending on where you live, where you shop or your personal tastes, it can potentially become an expensive endeavor.

Here’s my situation

As you may recall, last year, I decided to pull up 17 year old azaleas that had long overstayed its welcome in my yard. I like azaleas, but I think that given the space it occupied, it wasn’t exactly earning its keep. It was bland, predictable, uninspiring and a remnant of what the previous owner had created. The house was mine now and I wanted it to reflect in some small way, my desire to create an English Cottage Garden.

READ MORE


North America

Travel Photo Tuesday

June 7, 2016 • By
Chicago Skyline

View from the Adler Planetarium

A lot has been said about Chicago in recent years, the majority of it negative. But when I think of Chicago, I remember walking across the Dearborn Street Bridge with my girlfriends as we embarked on another exciting day of adventure.

We spent four glorious days touring the city back in the summer of 2009. Numerous rides on the L Train took us to block parties that ended at two in the morning, shopping sprees along the Magnificent Mile, an incredible fireworks display at Navy Pier, and, of course, a stop at Gino’s East for a slice of deep dish pizza!

READ MORE


North America, Travel Advice

A Fisherman’s Paradise called Lake Ramona

May 24, 2016 • By

 

It’s the unexpected, magical things in life that keeps you excited about it.  There’s always something special that you can find in your own backyard that makes you realize how lucky you are to be in such close proximity to it.

Lake Ramona is such a place.  I was surprised how close it was to my own house.  Literally, serenity is just a short drive away from my humble abode.  This man-made lake was built by  William Abner “Bill” Waters and his family.  After four years of construction, he opened it up to the public in the summer of 1968.READ MORE


Fun stuff, Inspiration, Lifestyle

PC Gaming: Reduces Stress on You & Your Budget

May 17, 2016 • By

All of us, no matter what field of work we’re in, have to find positive ways to deal with stress. Whether it’s hitting the gym, catching a live show or taking the occasional weekend trip, finding ways to reduce stress has become increasingly important. As a relative newcomer to shift work, I unfortunately found this out the hard way. Luckily, after a few minor bumps in the road, I’ve found a positive outlet to alleviate some of the anxiety from my job: PC gaming.READ MORE


North America

Travel Photo Tuesday

May 10, 2016 • By

DragonCon2015

 

Travel Photo Tuesday is Back!

Today’s photo is one that I took in downtown Atlanta during  DragonCon in 2015.  This annual event takes place over the Labor Day weekend.  You will geek out at the various cosplays exhibited by some rather uninhibited folk – young and old – who spend months designing and executing their elaborate costumes.READ MORE


Inspiration, Lifestyle

How to Avoid Being Stuck in the Yearning Phase of Your Dreams

March 9, 2016 • By

nature-has-planted-in-our-minds-an-insatiable-longing-to-see-the-truth-quote-1

Why Yearning Will Do Little to Help You to Realize Dreams

I think it’s only natural to yearn for some thing, some place or even some one, but for the sake of this discussion, let’s focus on some thing. It indicates a desire to accomplish, to achieve, to seek something that is not presently within your grasp. Unfortunately, procrastination is also natural. Yearning allows us to envision the possibility of what we could have and inspire dreams that if we’re not careful, will remain as just that.

We have to begin pushing the worlds of wanting and achieving together so that we can make our yearnings a concrete reality. First, you have to devise a plan of action. To quote Katherine Peterson: “A dream without a plan is just a wish.”. Wishes are just that: immeasurable, invisible and at the end of the day, sheer fantasy.

Once you begin to take those creative visualizations and set realistic goals to achieve them, you will have put a plan of action into motion. Ask yourself the following:READ MORE


Africa, Inspiration, Lifestyle

Climbing Kilimanjaro by George Lancaster

January 25, 2016 • By
Note:
Today’s post is a little bittersweet for me.  As you may recall, I have mused about my desire to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. As luck would have it, one of my dearest friends who happens to be my former boss, recently completed this feat along with his family, in November.

It was for a worthy cause and since he is one of the best people that I know, I applaud his accomplishment (the jerk!). Here is his first person account of their amazing journey. Please be sure to read the entire, unfiltered story by clicking the link at the end of this post. You won’t regret it. Thanks, George. Now, I really have to play catch up.  

Climbing Kilimanjaro

Arriving in Arusha, Tanzania after the 32-hour journey, the four of us are exhausted.  And jittery, for the next day we start our six-day trek up Mount Kilimanjaro.  I think back on the year. My wife Nicky coming home one day, excited, having convinced the board where she works, The GI Cancer Institute, of her idea to solicit donors keen to climb Kilimanjaro. The Institute raises funds for clinical trial research dedicated to improving treatments for patients suffering from gastro-intestinal (GI) cancers.

Finding people touched by these cancers is not difficult. Whether any of them want to climb Kilimanjaro is another matter. At first it’s us four– Nicky, me, son Benjamin (age 25) and daughter Jessica (age 23). Luckily others join, and in the end, there are fourteen climbers, who together raise $142,000, doubling our initial goal.

The next day we arrive at Rongai Gate, elevation 1800 metres (5900 feet), and pour out of the bus. We see the porters for the first time: Dozens of them, preparing for our arrival. Lunch is served but I am too excited to eat. The trail is visible, snaking off into the trees. C’mon everybody, I think, finish up so we can get started!READ MORE


City Views, Travel Advice, Trip Reports

48 Hours Discovering the Magical Parks of Utah

November 30, 2015 • By
utah

The Petroglyphs of Monument Valley, Utah

A Few of the Many Beautiful Sights of Utah

I’ve developed a fond appreciation for brief vacations.  If nothing else, it proves that you can still enjoy and experience a great deal that a city has to offer without spending an extended period of time there.  I’ve spent 24 hours in Amsterdam and 36 hours in Savannah and didn’t feel like I sacrificed anything in the process.  When I managed to find an exceptional fare from Atlanta to Salt Lake City for $139.00 RT via Google Flights, I  knew that I had to book it.

While I enjoy touring cities with the best of them, nothing makes me feel closest to the Creator than experiencing the Great Outdoors.  I have a poster of the Petroglyphs in Monument Valley in Utah hanging in my office.  After looking at it for five years, I decided that there was no time like the present.  In fact, I booked the trip for early November which happened to be during the off season, but thankfully the parks were still open.

My first order of business was to order an annual park pass for $85.00 (including shipping; it arrived in less than a week) from the nearly century old National Park Service.   The passes are free for park volunteers, members of the military and the disabled.  Citizens 62 years or older can get a lifetime pass for $10.00.

park passREAD MORE