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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Take a Detour

“The really happy person is the one who can enjoy the scenery, even when they have to take a detour.” ~ Sir James Jeans

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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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Convert or Buy a Van?

The Van Life culture is a growing movement that lures in people of all ages and income levels. The free spirit mindset that this lifestyle embraces is an indicator that people want freedom and simplicity in their lives. The inevitable question everyone asks is, “how can we do this”? There are many things to consider […]

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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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Our Bicycle Upgrade

Gail and I have been bicyclists throughout our marriage. We have always liked riding together but we don’t always agree on what constitutes an excellent riding experience. For the past 15-years we have each owned 2 bikes (total of 4). We both have road bikes for tooling around the streets of Kansas City and cruising […]

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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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Elephant Rocks State Park

One thing Gail and I have learned during our travels of the United States is how rich the country is with interesting and unusual places to visit. Some of our destinations are cultural stops that highlight the vision, the creativity and the expansion movements of the country and its people. Other places highlight mother nature’s […]

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February Ho-Hums

What do bloggers do to bridge the gap when their main topic is in pause mode? The pace of our posts lately are reminiscent of a sign we saw this summer alerting drivers to watch out for turtles crossing the road! We were warned when we started our blog that writers block would inevitably set […]

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