The Blue Ridge Parkway Sunset

Blue Ridge Mountain Sunset_Steve and Gail

The Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic 469-mile winding road from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee. We traveled on the top ridge of the mountains as we drove the southern end of the Parkway.  The road twisted and turned and each new vista […]

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Alice Visits the Biltmore Estates

alice visits the builtmore estate

The Biltmore Estates located in Asheville, North Caroline is definitely a destination place to add to your list.  The day we visited, we decided to get off the hiking trails for a new activity and have a play day in town. The Vanderbilt family built the magnificent 250-room French Renaissance chateau over a six-year period […]

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10 Tips for a Successful Road Trip

Are you planning a long road trip to your favorite destination? We have a few tips we have learned on how to make traveling more fun. 1. Planning for the Road Trip If you have read other posts on this blog, you know that we advocate for traveling slow through the countryside. The challenge with […]

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The Cades Cove Bike Ride

A Cove is known as a relatively flat valley between mountains or ridges.  Cades Cove is in the southern part of the Appalachian Mountain Range and also part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  Cades Cove is an 11-mile, one-way loop that winds in the valley where wild life and an old community history […]

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Dr. Seuss Wisdom

You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, so… get on your way! ~ Dr. Seuess

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Animals of the Great Smoky Mountains

Black Bear in The Smoky Mountains

We did it! Our first bear sighting in the wild occurred and it did not happen when we were hiking. We will always remember the Smoky Mountains for this reason. Our sighting happened when we were safely in Alice! We had just finished our hike in the rain at Rainbow Falls and the sun had […]

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Tunnels, Alice and the Blue Ridge Parkway

After spending several days in the Great Smoky Mountains we were looking forward to driving from the mountains to Asheville, NC on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I had been on the Blue Ridge Parkway in northern Virginia growing up so being back on this parkway was very special.  We stopped to take a picture by […]

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Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Clingmans Dome

The highest elevation in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is Clingmans Dome standing at 6,643 feet above sea level.  This peak straddles two states and is the tallest peak in Tennessee and the third tallest peak in North Carolina.  Clingmans Dome is also the highest peak on the 2,174 mile Appalachian Trail that runs […]

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Fitness Life By Design

When we started our Van Life By Design website and blog, our mission was to write about and photograph our travels in our Sprinter van Alice and other travel related topics. This is still true. Gail is also interested in writing about exercise and fitness, healthy eating and other lifestyle topics so we have launched […]

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Spring in the Smoky Mountains

We visited the Great Smoky Mountain National Park recently when the forest in the lower elevations of the mountains was coming to life. The week we were there, the renewed plant life in the forest introduced me to more shades of green than I had ever seen in one place. It’s interesting what one notices […]

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USS Alabama Battleship

During a family trip to the Florida panhandle, we happened to pick a week when the weather was less than ideal for hanging out at the beach. For this reason, we began to seek out places to visit in the area with our grandkids where the rain would not hamper our fun. One day, we […]

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A Daily Dose of Hiking

Gail and I generally hike somewhere every day. Granted, if we are going through the neighborhood on our 3-mile route, we will call it a walk. Some might say it’s an Urban Hike. I call it putting one foot in front of the other. Getting outside and trekking makes me feel happy. It’s good for […]

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Monument Rocks

Unlike anywhere else in Kansas that I know of, the Monument Rocks are chalk towers that rise imposingly from the otherwise flat prairie. Located about 25 miles south of Oakley on Highway 83 and a few miles east on a gravel road, the formations sit on private land. The public is welcome to visit the […]

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