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Tamela Rich: Life Lessons from the Road
19 minutes | May 27, 2015
Memorial Day Travel Season Kickoff
Summer is officially here and what better way to prepare than to install some apps that help you find clean bathrooms and welcoming welcome centers? All this and more in excerpts from my recent teleseminar "Ask Me Anything About Road Tripping." Â Lots of laughs and good advice from the audience and yours truly.
10 minutes | Feb 26, 2015
Join me at Ride to Reboot!
Some of Americaâ€™s BEST motorcycling roads are in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Thatâ€™s why Neale Bayly, Drew Alexander and I chose it for our first Ride to Reboot retreat for motorcyclists. If youâ€™ve traveled to the Monongahela National Forest you know what Iâ€™m talking about. If you haven't ridden there, here's an invitation.This is NOT a rally, it's a RETREAT. In this podcast, we talk about what's in store for our Ride to Reboot guests June 12-14at Mountain Quest Inn. All the details for the retreat and a Paypal button to secure your room is at http://tamelarich.com/2015/news/events/ride-to-reboot-retreat-for-motorcyclists-in-west-virginia/" Â
47 minutes | Dec 13, 2014
Voluntourism for Baby Boomers and Gen Xers
A story by NPR earlier this yearÂ says voluntourismâ€”volunteering while on vacationâ€”is one of the fastest growing trends in travel today. More than 1.6 million volunteer tourists are spending about $2 billion each year in the communities they serve. Most volunteer tourists are MillennialsÂ between the ages of 20 and 25,Â and predominantly female. College students often do voluntourism to boost their resumes or gain experience in fields that require international travel. Today's podcast guests offerÂ voluntourismÂ by motorcycle to benefit the abandoned children of Peru and South Africa. But their voluntour clients are Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Neale Bayly and Drew Alexander ofÂ Wellspring International Outreach joined me to talk about their special brand ofÂ voluntourismÂ and to open our hearts to the transformation they've seen in themselves and in others who accompany them on these service projects. For more information on their work visitÂ www.wellspring-outreach.org
18 minutes | Nov 18, 2014
Busted in New Brunswick
Saint John, New Brunswick in the Canadian Maritimes is packed with churches and historical markers, but there's plenty of new mixed with the old. The waterfront has a beautiful walking trail that's dotted with public art and interpretive stands. It takes you from downtown to view the changing Bay of Fundy tides at Fallsview Park. Leaving town, something happened that taught me a lesson about letting go and living in the moment.
9 minutes | Nov 10, 2014
Lunch with a Homeless Vietnam Veteran
When the man sitting next to me revealed that he was a homeless Vietnam veteran, candidly I was in uncharted conversational territory. I had no business questioning him about his life so I just treated him as I do every other person I meet on my travels. I started by asked him if there was anywhere in the in the area that we should visit.
10 minutes | Nov 7, 2014
Alonzo Cushing reminds me of my Gettysburg visit
Alonzo Cushing was decorated today for his service at Gettysburg on a congressional exemption. Ironically visited Gettysburg in 2013 during the partisan government shut down. Here are my reflections on Gettysburg, historically and personally
12 minutes | Oct 26, 2014
Ted Simon: Lessons about Purposeful Travel
I spent last week at the beach with my spouse.Â I enjoy sitting at the water’s edge as I read, write, contemplate and doze, but I’m not often in the water past my knees. When Matt takes his fishing pole out to the surf, I fall into a lull watching him cast, reel in and repeat. It usually inducesÂ rumination. One of those ruminationsÂ was the way travel leaves its imprint on you and how a purposeful traveler can leave the world a better place. Ted Simon, solo globetrotter sansÂ GPS Lots of folks travel to expand their life’s purpose and find greater meaning in their lives. Â Ted SimonÂ is one of those people. Â I met thisÂ legendary travelerÂ at Overland Expo‘sÂ Asheville, North Carolina venue earlier this month, and it could be said that he both inspired the modern overland movement and defined “purposeful travel” for an entire generation. Ted first traveled the world by motorcycle in 1973 at age 42, when “it just wasn’t done.”Â He made his first trip on a 500cc motorcycle, smaller than the one I ride today. And he did it with neither support crew nor GPS. Solo. He did it again at age 69, eight years ago.Â Here’s what he said about his accomplishments: People who thought of my journey as a physical ordeal or an act of courageâ€¦ missed the point. Courage and physical endurance were no more than useful items of equipment for me, like facility with languages or immunity to hepatitis. The goal was comprehension, and the only way to comprehend the world was by making myself vulnerable to it so that it could change me. The challenge was to lay myself open to everybody and everything that came my way. The prize was to change and grow big enough to feel one with the whole world. Traveling for a vacation or a purpose, maybe even a cause There’s a difference between traveling forÂ vacation, traveling for a purpose and traveling for a cause. A vacation is intended to be a time when you pull away from the everyday duties and schedules of life so you can rest and recreate. As an aside, I prefer to pronounce it “re-create” to remind myself that there’s more to recreation than fun and games. Travel is a one of many ways to spend a vacation and a great way to re-create your thinking and yourself.Â I hope to encourage you to travelâ€”somewhere, anywhereâ€”to get to know yourself, your history, your world. Ted Simon traveled the world soloÂ because he wanted to make himself a better person. I consider this purposeful travel.Â To get the most of purposeful travel,Â try traveling alone, when you can really get to know yourself without someone else’s filter or influence (scroll down for tips on solo travel). Ouma is a grandmother raising six orphans This week my friend Neale Bayly, whom many of you will rememberÂ from ourÂ Â TEDx talk, will lead another motorcycle adventure in South Africa. At the end of their tour the riders will visit the new orphanage his charity is building outsideÂ JohannesburgÂ for an 84-year-old grandmother raising six children. Their parents died of AIDS. Neale travels for a cause: abandoned children around the world. Riders who tour with him raise or donate money for his charity’s projects. Ride safely, Neale and friends. You can follow this project on Facebook for real-time updates. Solo travel tips Solo travel doesn’t mean you’ll be lonely. On the contrary!Â Here are some solo travel tips to get you started. 1. Become a third wheel. IÂ often find that people traveling with others enjoy having me along for a meal or outing. I give them something new to talk about, to filter their experiences through andto break up the monotony they feel with their traveling companions. Â I’veÂ met some fascinating people by being a â€œthird wheel.â€ Try it! 2.Â Put down that phone. Sharing every detail of your trip on Instagram, Facebook and texts allows little time to engage with real people and no time to reconnect to yourself as you wait for the responses to trickle in and respond in turn. 3. Talk to strangers. Don’t sit in a booth at a restaurant by yourself and watch TV. The bar or counter and family-style seating area is the perfect place to talk to other unattached travelers, the locals and waitresses. You can learn a great deal about the people and local history of the place you’re visiting if you keep an open mind and practice small talk. Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving. ~Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
12 minutes | Oct 25, 2014
065 Ted Simon: lessons about Purposeful Travel
Lots of folks travel to expand their life's purpose and find greater meaning in their lives. Solo globetrotter Ted Simon has inspired many of us to do just that. This podcast has tips for getting started as a solo traveler.
28 minutes | Oct 23, 2014
Thoughts on Self-Care and Re-launching Your Life
This past SaturdayÂ I was privileged toÂ keynoteÂ the North Carolina Occupational Therapy Association‘s Fall Conference. They asked me to address the question of self-care, since occupational therapists, like many people in the “helping professions,” very often find themselves emotionallyÂ fatigued by theÂ work they also find to be satisfying. Far too many leave themselves no energy for themselves and their families. Imagine yourself in their shoes: helping patients relearn how to do things like dress themselvesÂ after a stroke, or feed themselves after a car accident that smashed a hand; dealing with insurance companies that don’t want to fund sufficient therapy visits; and interacting with family members of patients who are not coping well with the big changes in their loved ones. All in the same hour. Whew, I get tired just thinking about it. Burnout is a serious matter, here’s how I know I know a bit about where burnout can go and the need for self-care, as I discussed in both my TEDx Talk and in this radio interview from last night with Bonnie Graham.Â You can Â hit theÂ “play”Â button at the top of this postÂ to hear me discuss with Bonnie my descent into despair and suicidal ideation, and the role that learning to ride a motorcycle played in the relaunch of my life. If you are in a helping profession, (including a full-time parent)Â here’s a Professional Quality of Â Life Scale (self-assessment) that will help you gauge your “Compassion Satisfaction,” your “Burnout” and your “Secondary Traumatic Stress.” The occupational therapists found it to be a useful tool. Once you determine that you’re in a tough spot, it’s time to make some changes. Life is a series of re-launches As I told the occupational therapists, you relaunch your life with what you have, starting where you are. Many of their patientsÂ relaunch their lives after an accident with brain injuries and without certain limbs.Â I relaunched my life in 2010 with the aid of a motorcycle and a 7500-mile, 20-state road trip. One of the beauties of setting out on my own is thatÂ when I met people on the road, I didn’t have to share with them the train wreck I’d made of my life; I could instead emphasize what was going well. I told them I was traveling across this beautiful country on my own, on my motorcycle, helping a worthy cause. That’s an important takeaway: emphasize what’s going right in your life, even if it’s only your ability to draw breath. Start there. In turn, the people I met on my travels responded enthusiastically, suggesting places I should try to fit into my itinerary and telling me I was brave. That kind of positive reinforcement helped speed my emotional recovery. If you don’t have people in your life who give you positive reinforcement, widen your circle of friendsâ€”they’re out there, I promise. As I noted in my TEDx Talk and the radio interview, many other people who approached me on my bike told me about their own lives, which was an honor. I learned that there is something therapeutic about telling your story to a sympathetic stranger. Motorcycles and psychiatrists I was particularly touched when one of the therapists approached me at my book signing table with a pillow that she bought for me in theÂ conference center gift shop. Pictured left, it observes, “You Never See a Motorcycle Parked Outside of a Psychiatrist’s Office.” What a lovely gesture. I’ll always treasure it.
14 minutes | Sep 22, 2014
World Traveler-Author Allan Karl with Neale Bayly. Part Four of Four
By now, after three parts of our interview, you have fallen in love with world traveler Allan Karl, author of “Forks: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine and Connection” and Neale Bayly, motorcycle philanthropist. The re-entry zone: bittersweet feelings when a road trip draws to a close Just as our podcast series comes to a close, every journey must also close. As a matter of fact I’m posting this just a day after returning from my travels through New England and New Brunswick. Being on the road for 25 days in late summer is a blessing for which I am grateful. Now it’s back to client business. In this podcast, Allan, Neale and I talk about the re-entry zone: that mixed emotional state of happily anticipating the return home to family and friends while saying goodbye to the road. Allan finished his 62,000-mile adventure by traveling from Baltimore, Maryland to Southern California on the highways and byways. He tells a poignant story of a fellow traveler he met on the Blue Ride Parkway. Neale and I chip in with reflections on “mindful minimalism.” Good times. You can catch Part One here. Part Two is here. Here’s Part Three.
14 minutes | Sep 19, 2014
064 World Traveler & Author Allan Karl with Neale Bayly. Part Four of Four
By now you have fallen in love with world traveler Allan Karl, author of "Forks: A Quest for culture, Cuisine and Connection" (available atÂ http://www.forksthebook.com/ ). Just as our podcast series comes to a close, every journey must also close. Allan, Neale and I talk about the re-entry zone: that mixed emotional state of happily anticipating the return home to family and friends while saying goodbye to the road. Allan finished his 62,000-mile adventure by traveling from Baltimore, Maryland to Southern California on the highways and byways. He tells a poignant story of a fellow traveler he met on the Blue Ride Parkway. Neale and I chip in with reflections on "mindful minimalism." Good times.
20 minutes | Sep 6, 2014
World Traveler-Author Allan Karl with Neale Bayly. Part Three of Four
TheÂ first two Parts of this series are focused on round-the-world traveler and author Allan Karl’s adventures. Neale Bayly, adventure motorcyclist and philanthropist Neale is the founder and president of Wellspring International, a charity that supports orphaned children. Neale’s motorcycle adventure tours from around the world fund most of its operational costs. You may have seen his 2013 TV show, Neale Bayly Rides Peru, which aired on SPEED (now Fox Sports). Neale calls himself a “high speed commuter” because, as an international moto-journalist, he flies around, rides a motorcycle around a track or a remote country, then shuttles back to tell the tale. If you’ve ever wondered about the behind-the-scenes story of what looks like a sexy career, you’ll want to listen to Neale tell all right here. Allan Karl reveals more about his Bolivia trip than was included in his book, “Forks” Allan then continues his world-traveling tale in Bolivia talking about being invited to a family birthday party, ending in a funny story about a road rally. This is a podcast exclusive, folks, not even told in his beautiful book, “Forks: A Quest for culture, Cuisine and Connection.”
20 minutes | Sep 4, 2014
063 World Traveler & Author Allan Karl with Neale Bayly. Part Three of Four
The first two Parts of this series are focused on round-the-world traveler and author Allan Karl's adventures. In Part Three you'll get to know Neale Bayly a bit more. Neale is the founder of Wellspring International, a charity that supports orphaned children. Neale calls himself a "high speed commuter" because, as an international moto-journalist, he flies around, rides a motorcycle around a track or a remote country, then shuttles back to tell the tale. If you've ever wondered about the behind-the-scenes story of what looks like a sexy career, you'll want to listen to Neale here. Neale and I shared the TEDx Charlotte stage earlier this year, which you can catch hereÂ http://bit.ly/TamTEDx Allan then continues his world-traveling tale in Bolivia talking about being invited to a family birthday party, ending in a funny story about a road rally. Allan's website for his book, "Forks: A Quest for culture, Cuisine and Connection" is websiteÂ http://www.forksthebook.com/
16 minutes | Aug 27, 2014
World Traveler-Author Allan Karl with Neale Bayly. Part Two of Four
In the first Part of this four-part series, you met Allan Karl and Neale Bayly. Part Two features Allan’s story from Bolivia, where he suffered a crushed leg from a crash that detoured him for six months on his trip around the world as he flew back to the states for medical care and physical therapy. His crash was in a remote part of the country and the only medical care available to him for days was ibuprofen. That part of his story is in his book, “Forks: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine and Connection.”Â What isn’t in the book is what happened when he returned to Bolivia and crashed again. We’ve got that right here in Part Two. Stranger danger? The question I’m most often asked about my solo travels is whether I’m afraid of all the strangers “out there.” Like Allan, I’ve found that the vast majority of people are well-meaning and will go out of their way to help you out of a jam. In Allan’s case that meant transporting him some twelve hours down a mountain in a rickety vehicle during a thunderstorm. Enjoy!
16 minutes | Aug 27, 2014
062 World Traveler & Author Allan Karl with Neale Bayly. Part Two of Four
In the first Part of this four-part series, you met Allan Karl and Neale Bayly. Part Two features Allan's story of traveling through Bolivia, where he suffered a broken leg that detoured him for six months as he flew back to the states for medical care and physical therapy. Â His crash was in a remote part of the country and the only medical care available to him for days was aspirin.That part is in his book, "Forks: A Quest for culture, Cuisine and Connection." What isn't in the book is what happened when he returned to Bolivia and crashed again. Allan's websiteÂ http://www.forksthebook.com/
16 minutes | Aug 24, 2014
World Traveler-Author Allan Karl with Neale Bayly. Part One of Four
In this four-part podcast series, I’ll introduce you to a couple of my friends who’ve traveled the world on motorcycles. You may already know Neale Bayly, who joined me for a conversational TEDx talk earlier this year. Now meetÂ world traveler-author-speaker Allan Karl. Forks: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine and Connection Allan Karl is the author of “Forks: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine and Connection,” which he wrote after three years of traveling around the worldâ€”soloâ€” on his BMW F650GS Dakar. Some of you may remember that my brother taught me to ride on a Dakar, and I have traveled on my own single-cylinder BMW ever since. Allan’s “Forks” is part memoir, part travelogue and part recipes from every country he traversed. It’s a gorgeous coffee table-style book with photos from Allan’s travels and recipes from each of the 35 countries on his itinerary. Allan, Neale and IÂ sat down for a rambling conversation when Allan came to Charlotte, NC as part of his book tour. We went pretty longâ€”imagine that!â€”so I made it a four-part series. Interested in self-publishing and Kickstarter fundraising? In this partÂ you’ll hear Allan’s journey to publishing his magnificent book, which is how we met;Â I answered a Survey Monkey survey that helped him choose the title then backed him on Kickstarter to pay for printing. Just as he chose to “go it alone” around the world, Allan decided to self-publish and tells us why here. If you are interested in self-publishing or how to make a Kickstarter exceed its goals, you won’t want to miss Allan’s story. I don’t love everything about social media, but I adore the way a social media friend canâ€”and didâ€”become a friend in real life.
16 minutes | Aug 19, 2014
061 World Traveler & Author Allan Karl with Neale Bayly. Part One of Four
I meet the most interesting people on the road, not to mention friends-of-friends on social media. In this four-part series, I'll introduce you to a couple of my friends who've traveled the world on motorcycles. Allan Karl is the author of "Forks: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine and Connection," which he wrote after three years of traveling around the worldâ€”soloâ€” on his BMW F650GS Dakar. You'll also meet Neale Bayly, one of the world's foremost motorcycle journalists and the star of "Neale Bayly Rides Peru," which aired in 2013 on SPEED TV. Neale joined me for our TEDx Charlotte talk earlier this year, available atÂ http://bit.ly/TamTEDx In Part One you'll hear Allan's journey to publishing his magnificent book, which is how we met; I backed him on Kickstarter and brought him to Charlotte so everyone here would have the chance to experience his story. "Forks" is part memoir, part travelogue and part recipes from every country he traversed. It's a coffee table-style book with photos from Allan's travels and recipes. If you are interested in how to make a Kickstarter exceed its goals, you won't want to miss Allan's story. For more info on "Forks: A Quest for culture, Cuisine and Connection" visit Allan's websiteÂ http://www.forksthebook.com/
11 minutes | Jul 15, 2014
Runninâ€™ Shotgun with Dad and a CB Radio
We took aÂ road trip from Ohio every two or three years in ourÂ Oldsmobile Vista CruiserÂ Â to visit family in California. Hauling three kids some 3,000 miles in close quarters with a weak air conditioner might make the heartiest parent shudder, but not mine. Parents today prepare for road trips by stocking up on DVDs and iPad games. In the mid-1970’s Mom and Dad installed a CB radio in the Vista Cruiser. THIS one purchase set the stage for an epic road trip! First I have to tell you what a CB radio is and how we used it. CB radio? What’s that? Citizen Band radio (CB radio) Â required special equipment but not an operator’s license. If you had the right equipment you just jumped on the the airwaves, communicating with other CB users on one of 40 open channels. People used it like today’sÂ social mediaâ€”you could follow public conversations in real time without saying a word. Social media users call this “following the stream” or “lurking.” CB radio had been used by truckers for years but it became popular withÂ the general publicÂ asÂ the means to subvert the 1974Â national speed limit Â of 55 m.p.h.Â Truckers’ wallets were jeopardized by the law while everyone else was merely inconvenienced, but the law was universally despised and flouted. The state highway patrol departments became major revenue sourcesÂ and aggressively pursued speeders. The truck drivers all communicatedÂ on channel 19 so they could keep each other apprised of road hazards and law enforcement (code name, “Smokey the Bear” or “Smokey” or “bear”) so everyone else who wanted to dodge the law tuned into channel 19, too. CB jargon hits pop culture & America’s Top 40 In 1975 the wildly-popularÂ Â songÂ Convoy,Â hit the airwaves. It toldÂ of aÂ fictitious convoy of 18-wheelers that blockaded highway lanes and refused to stop for any reasonâ€”including law enforcementâ€”as it traveled west to east, picking up converts and reinforcements along the way. Real-life trucker convoys and strikes were real, but not as flamboyant as the song portrayed them to be.Â You couldn’t go an hour between plays on every country or pop music station on your AM/FMÂ dial. The song became a movie in 1978Â andÂ taught us all CB jargon like “10-4 good buddy” and “put the pedal to the metal.”Â That’s how CB talk became common parlance. You’d even hear people in grocery stores and PTA meetings saying “10-4″ instead of “okay.” Fascinated by this history? Mortal Journey offers an extensive list of jargon and a history of the CB radio. Choosing our “CB handles” before hitting the road Picture courtesy of Mortal Journey My familyÂ wentÂ all-in on CB radio culture. We had a base camp unit at home that resembled the one in the picture (left). My grandparents lived about two miles away and we could give them a “shout” on the CB instead of using the rotary-dial telephone that was RENTED fromÂ the phone company and weighed more than the family dog. Photo of this Buckskin-colored horse courtesy of Skunktail17 In preparation for our bi-annual road trip, Dad installed a mobile CB unit in the wagon and everyone in the family chose their “handles,” which was sort of like choosing your Twitter name (I’m @TamelaRich there). In the ConvoyÂ song and movie,Â “Rubber Duck” and “Pig Pen” were handles (haveÂ you watched the clip yet?). I was “Buckskin,”Â a horse color. Dad was “Stage Coach,” and Mom was “Running Deer.” Since I was the eldest childâ€”and a teenager â€”I didn’t give a hoot what my younger siblings’ handles were. The CB was a precursor to the cell phone. We couldÂ use the base camp to hailÂ Dad on the CB Radio in the Vista Cruiser and tell him to stop at the store for a missing dinner ingredient. For sport he’d say Â “Stage Coach here. I’ll put the ‘pedal to the metal’Â and be homeÂ in five minutes.” Ohio to California with the truckers on CB Now, back to the promised story about our legendary Ohio-to-California road trip. Traveling along I-40 and parts of the old Route 66Â we faced a couple of days in the scalding desert both going to and coming from California. At midsummer, those days were brutal in a car with vinyl seats and an underpowered air conditioner. On that note, some highway departments filled roadside barrels with water that drivers could use to keep theirÂ radiatorsÂ from overheating. Please don’t tell me I sound elderly with this recollection. Mom and Dad had a great system for getting through this portion of the trip. Mom drove the day shift and Dad drove at night. This brought the added advantage of skipping the cost of a motelâ€”take note, minivan parents! As a night owl myself, my job was to keep the conversation with Dad going in order to keep him awake. In CB jargon, I was “runnin’ shotgun.” I thought it was great fun spotting Smokey Bears and reporting them on Channel 19. Dad had the eagle eye for Smokies, but he let me make the reports. There weren’t as many bears to spot at night, which was why we had to keep the conversation going. With my little feet propped up on the dashboard, the air conditioner passing air up my shorts with the force ofÂ a baby’s breath, Dad and I talked about the meaning of lifeÂ through the wee hours. To this day we are amateur philosophers. Lots of the truck drivers we eavesdropped and conversed with had philosophical streaks, too.Â We heardÂ misgivings aboutÂ the nature of their work: providing for their families too often conflicted with important family events. Yes, even a tattooed, chain-smokingÂ trucker with Yosemite Sam mud flaps (“Back Off”) will choke up when he tells youÂ the story of missingÂ his daughter’sÂ ninth birthday party. I still talkÂ to truck drivers, but not on CB. I like asking them at a diner or truck stop about the things they’ve seen and the sights I should be sure to see myself. They lead interesting lives, for sure. How to report a bear sighting A CB operator withÂ something important like a bear Â sightingÂ (law enforcement varietal) to report wouldÂ start the conversation with “Breaker, 1-9″ which was the way to “break” into the ongoing conversation. “Breaker 1-9, this is Buckskin. There’s a bear at mile 142 southbound behind the bushes,” meant, “Attention everyone! Buckskin here. Â There’s a speed trap at mile marker 142 south. Look behind the bushes.” CB operators would immediately conform to the speed limit,Â and leave the others to be swept up in the speed traps. I thought it was cool that I could change interstate behavior with one report. The power of broadcasting! I didn’t always understand the CB conversationsâ€”again, like the Twitter feed, they moved quickly, and I was onlyÂ about 13â€”so Dad often fedÂ me my lines. He made me sound grown upÂ and well-informedÂ so I didn’t realize at the time that my high-pitched voice gave my age away. I thought the truckers mistook me forÂ an adult, which of course was my life’s ambition. TheÂ grizzled road warriors often chuckled atÂ my witticisms, but if theyÂ stepped out of line, Stage Coach would take the handset and put them in their place. Busted! Photo courtesy of Flickr user Jon Candy One morning, when Dad was at the end of his night shift, I was dozing in the front seatÂ and everyone else was waking up in the back seats. Dad picked up the CB handset and said “Breaker 1-9, this is Stage Coach. I just passed a bear in the median at mile marker (whatever it was).” And the next sound we heard was a great baritone, “Stage Coach, this is Smokey the Bear. Pull that Vista CruiserÂ over to the shoulder. We’re gonna have a conversation.” Blue lights lit up in the back window and we children were terrified. We’d never had a run-in with the law! Mom said, “That’s gonna be an expensive ticket, Stage Coach.” We Â all love that memory! I lovingly compare that road trip to National Lampoon’s Summer Vacation (see the video at the top of this post). Dad wasn’t Clark Griswoldâ€”he wasn’t as goofyâ€”but he was just as lovable and open to life’s adventures. Advice for a 2014 road trip with kids Photo courtesy of Flickr user Tim Anderson Okay, so why did I tell you this story? It’s the perfect illustration for why parentsÂ who want a memorable vacation should actively involve their kids in its planning AND during the road trip itself. Wait a minute, you’re planning on flying to your destination? Think again! IÂ remember a few other vignettes from the trip; eating at The Big TexanÂ where I bought a hair ornament decorated with little pistols,Â meeting my California cousins, and watching nuns play jump rope on the beach with a rope made of sea kelp. Yet nothing makes me smile more the memory ofÂ being right in the thick of it with Dad in the middle of the night, sighting bears and reporting them to the truckers. My advice for involving the kids? Give an older child an entire travel day of the vacation to plan the roadside stops or a destination city to research and make recommendations to the rest of the family. I likeÂ the Roadside America and Roadside Presidents and History HereÂ apps for finding unusual sights and historical markers. Here’s a novel idea: Use MovieLocations.com toÂ search for locations where movies have been filmed. You can search by movie name, actor/director and world map. Youâ€™d be surprised
11 minutes | Jul 12, 2014
060 Runnin' Shotgun with Dad and a CB Radio
In 1975 the country was crazy about CB radios. My parents installed one in the Olds Vista Cruiser for our road trip from Ohio to California. My parents took shifts driving and as Dad drove through the blistering desert at night, my job was to keep him awake. In CB jargon, I was "runnin' shotgun." What memories!
10 minutes | Jul 1, 2014
Cherokee and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
As I ascendedÂ the foothills toward Cherokee and the Smoky Mountains on my motorcycle, a refreshing breeze of magnolia and jasmine wafted through my visor. It was a gift that folks in their hermetically sealed cars missed altogether. I drank in that lovely scent, which reminded me of the importance of belly breathing. I was emotionally and physically exhausted by the two-month process of moving out of our suburban home of 26 years as we downsized to an urban townhouse. The magnolia and jasmineÂ induced myÂ decompressionÂ cycle. Camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park Matt fishing in the Raven Fork River. Matt and I decided to take Memorial Day off together before I headed further south on my BMW and he returned to his office. We stayed at the Cherokee/ Great Smokies KOA in a Deluxe Cabin that faced the morning sun. The Raven Fork River flowed below our deck. In the podcast (above), I recorded several minutes of the Raven Fork caressingÂ the riverbank. I also included aÂ guided meditation designed toÂ help you drop your cares into the river and focus on something joyful. I invite you to enjoy it as often as it calls to youâ€”download it if you’d like. By Monday, when most campers were headed home from the holiday weekend, we were rested and ready to explore.Â The best way to reach most of what the Smokies and Blue Ridge Mountains offer is via the Blue Ridge Parkway.Â The Parkway connects North Carolinaâ€™s Great Smoky Mountains and Virginiaâ€™s Shenandoah National Parks; Cherokee is its southern terminus.Â Cherokee’s history Detail of “Language Bear” public art bear by Billie Jo Rich Cherokee is named for the Native Americans who have lived in the region for over 11,000 years. Although youâ€™ll hear people refer to their tribal lands as the â€œCherokee Reservation,â€ the proper term is the â€œQualla Boundary.â€ The Boundary Â is adjacent to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and defines lands held in trust by the federal government for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, a sovereign nation.Â The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians worked against expatriation, which isÂ referred to as the Trail of Tears. 16,000 Cherokees were forced to walk west for six months across 1,200 miles. Nearly one in four died along the way. Learn more about Cherokee history and culture at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.Â Oconaluftee Visitor Center Mingo Falls is in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park You could fill a week with places to see and things to do within 50 miles of the Cherokee KOA; here’s what we did in a day. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited of our countryâ€™s 58Â national parks and boasts over 800 miles of hiking trails. We visited its Oconaluftee Visitor Center, withÂ 6,300 square feet of educational displays and services featuring the rich cultural history of the Smokies: pre-historic culture, legends and artifacts, the arrival of European settlements, logging, the creation of the national park and the contributions of the Civilian Conservation Corps, of which my grandfather was one. Be sure to pick up a map of the park and spend an hour or so visiting the adjacent Mountain Farm Museum and Mingus Mill. Â Â The rangers and volunteers know virtually everything about the flora, fauna, history and culture of the area.Â Since I was soon headed south to Alabamaâ€™s de Soto Falls, named for Â Hernando de Soto, I was interested in the Spanish explorerâ€™s 1540 history in the Smokies. I took a chance and asked a ranger if he knew anything about this period of time.Â By luck, he who had recently read a biography about the de Soto. He told me stories of greed and cruelty to rival any Iâ€™d heard about Hernan Cortes, who felled the Aztec Empire.Â If youâ€™re not in the habit of chatting up park rangers, youâ€™re missing out on a treat. They have dedicated their professional lives to making your visit a memorable experience. Clingman’s Dome and rainforest You can see for 100 miles from Clingman’s Dome Observation Deck, provided the air is clean Clingmanâ€™s Dome was next on our agenda. Since we were feeling fresh from our rest and relaxation at the campground, we decided to take the steep half-mile hike up to the observation tower, which, according to the National Park Service, is the highest point in the park.Â There are several benches along the way for rests and I’ll admit I needed a few. The Appalachian Trail crosses Clingmanâ€™s Dome and is the highest point from Georgia to Maine. We met several through-hikers at the base of the observation tower and wished them well on their adventure (see them at the bottom of the picture to the right).Â We often equate â€œrainforestâ€ to the Amazon, but Clingmanâ€™s dome is home to a coniferous rainforest. The cool, wet conditions are ideal for spruce and fir.Â Youâ€™ll be walking through clouds, and temperatures are commonly 10-20 degrees (F) cooler there than at the lowlands. Be sure to pack a sweater or jacket, even in summer. If youâ€™re lucky, and the clouds and air pollution are out of the way, youâ€™ll be able to see mountain views for more than 100 miles from the 360-degree observation tower. Back at our cabin for one last night, we built a fire and talked about the important things in life that are too often neglected in the daily bustle. Although we could have stayed on at the campground for a week, we were rested enough to get on with our lives.Â The staff at the campground told me that the only complaint they hear about vacationing Cherokee is the difficulty of finding a phone or wifi signal.Â â€œProblem?â€ I asked. â€œThatâ€™s why we came here.â€ Readers, I hope you’ll listen to the podcast above at a quiet time when you can follow the guided meditation to relax and let go. We all need help from time to time.Â You can share it with friends and/or subscribe in iTunes and Stitcher.
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