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Connect Deep

The people and places I’ve encountered on my travels have taught me the importance of connecting with the natural world and to other people in ways that have made me more human and humane.

Henry Ford’s Kentucky Coal Camps: My Great-Aunt’s Memories

Stone coal miners at Eastern #8 Lamphouse 1944

I recently spent a week in Kentucky with my Great Aunt Buntin in the video above. She is the youngest and only surviving sibling of six, all of whom born in the 1920’s and 30’s in a Kentucky coal camp near the West Virginia state line. Coal camp life was tough, yet Buntin …

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Tuscany Italy by Motorcycle: Siena

Siena's duomo campanile

Awake once more at dawn in my 400-year-old room, I’m eager to get into Siena. The shimmering city on three hills that has been enticing us from the infinity pool at Podere la Strega is now on our agenda. Our guide Enrico will lead an optional ride in the afternoon, …

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Italy by Motorcycle: Negotiating with a Greve in Chianti Shopkeeper

The "gallo nero" (black cockerel) is everywhere in the Chianti region. This one is in the Piazza Matteotti.

After leaving San Gimignano we head to Greve in Chianti, the birthplace of Giovanni da Verrazzano. He is famous for being the first  European to explore the Atlantic coast of North America between Florida and Newfoundland, and for discovering the New York Bay in 1524. This discovery is why the bridge …

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Tuscany Italy by Motorcycle: San Gimignano

werewolf at the torture museum

I awake on the third day of my tour in a 17th-century country house and it occurs to me that human beings have been conceived, born, lived, and died in this very room for over 400 years. The walls are freshly-painted plaster, their yellow hue the perfect shade for the faint early morning …

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Appalachian Music Trails: Destinations in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Music stage at Floyd General Store, Floyd, VA

Music is an easy way to celebrate Appalachian culture. All American music can be traced to Appalachia. That’s where the cultural blend of European and African musical and rhythmic forms came together. Everything from jazz, old-time country music and Dixieland, to Cajun, soul, R&B, and rock ‘n’ roll, is a product of Appalachia’s cultural fusion. …

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Italy’s Lazio Region by Motorcycle: Ronciglione and Bolsena

This is Part Two of my series on Italy by motorcycle. Start the series here. Day Two finds us north of The Eternal City, in the medieval burgh of Ronciglione, now home to fewer than 9,000 people. Our guide Enrico tells us we have 45 minutes to grab a cuppa, …

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Tribute to My Hillbilly Grandparents: Appalachia Proud

Trapping was a winter way of life for boys I grew up with

I’ve been traveling the Appalachian Mountains all of my life, first in the family station wagon, then on my motorcycle. It’s gorgeous country, and the people who call it home are often misunderstood. I know this because they are my people. Growing up in central Ohio our county was bordered …

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West Virginia’s Miss Vickie: Let Go, Let God

Miss Vickie's famous Dodge 1950 Ram

My travels have blessed me with countless—countless—chance encounters. From a fry cook walking across America before he goes blind, to a homeless Vietnam veteran, and the people who shared their journeys with cancer with me, I have been blessed, and my character molded by each one of them. Perhaps none so much as Miss …

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Visit Death Valley Now, the Desert is Blooming!

Death Valley 2016 in a rare super bloom?

POST UPDATE: With the National Park Service Centennial this year, the Park Service expects record crowds to all our parks, especially during summer vacation season. Death Valley is a park best visited before summer, as I explain in this TV interview. at the top of this post. Death Valley in “super bloom” …

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Finding Courage to Relaunch Your Life

The "Courage" card that Jeri made for my birthday

My dear friend Jeri and I learned how to be grownups together. We met as newlyweds some 30 years ago and have held hands through many vicissitudes: settling into married life; combining career and family in an environment hostile to working mothers; the angst of raising teenagers; and now the dual dynamics of menopause and …

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