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I was seventeen surrounded by strangers on a busy London street. A sidewalk painting of Bob Marley had caught my attention and when I looked up my group was gone. At that moment, instead of panic, I felt a rush of excitement. Suddenly, I was on an adventure. I had to find my way back to our hotel, but first I had to remember the name of our hotel!

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Tivoli candy store for blog
 Tivoli Gardens Candy Store

When the kids were little Christmas morning was magical. Their excitement and the look on their faces when they saw the presents were moments I wished I could bottle and keep forever. As they grew into young adults, the holiday happiness was still there, but it wasn’t the same as the early years. When we travel together overseas, I get to see those same excited faces I once saw Christmas morning. Expressions that show awe because they are experiencing a different culture. Everything is new. Okay, except for Burger King and Dunkin Donuts, everything is new.

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When I received the email from The Book Loft inviting me for a book signing I had to admit I had no idea where Amelia Island was. Although the name was fitting. Amelia is the protagonist in MYSTIC. As soon as I read about the Island I began planning a weekend family vacation around my book signing.

Thank you, Sue and Beth for inviting me to your lovely bookstore. I enjoyed meeting everyone and talking books.

Book Signing for blog AI Photo by Arielle

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She Said

I knew exactly what he was going to say. We agreed to write a She said, He said post on traveling, and with one simple look I knew what was going in his post. It was not one of my best moments as a mom and wife but certainly memorable. Let me add that at the time I thought we were all going to die. We laugh about it now. I’ll leave it at that and let Eric explain what happened.

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What a weekend! Arielle and I completed a 15K!

Gasp 2015 Arielle First

My head is still spinning from all the excitement. My legs are happy I’m taking the day off from running. My stomach’s happy because I’ve been celebrating since the 15K and making up for all the calories I burned. And my heart is very happy that I was able to share in a memorable weekend with my daughter.

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“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” John Muir

As a young teen growing up in Pennsylvania I would take long walks through the woods near our house. There was something about being among the trees, listening to the birds and watching the sunlight cascade down through the leaves. I always felt at peace. Those days of being in nature were calling to me. I needed to leave the familiar palm trees behind in search of maple, birch, and hickory.

I’m not one who enjoys tent camping. Cabins with a jacuzzi are more my idea of roughing it. It had been over ten years since we visited Gatlinburg. I knew it was time to return.

We boarded a plane for Tennessee and after a short hour and twenty-minute flight I felt as if I stepped into another world. Mountains! Glorious, green, majestic mountains with white mist decorating the treetops.

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Pumpkins, scarecrows, and bundles of hay stood outside shops and homes announcing my favorite season–Fall! On the windy road to our cabin, I made Eric pull over, no, not because he was driving as if he was on a racetrack, but because I spotted some deer in the forest next to us. To my amazement, a beautiful doe peered at me long enough so I could snap a few pictures.

Our cabin was perched high on a mountain with a fabulous view. Each morning I sat outside on the porch swing, sipping my coffee, and listening to the birds sing. Heaven.

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The first day, we hiked to Charlie’s Bunion. I wasn’t too worried about the 8.1 mile hike. Eight miles sounded easy, however, what I didn’t think about because I’ve never been hiking, was the steep incline over 4 miles. It was more challenging than I imagined but definitely worth the view at the top! We sat on a giant boulder at the highest point and ate our lunch overlooking the valley and the Great Smoky Mountains. Breathtaking.

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On the way down we made a wrong turn and added an extra mile to our trip but still made it back to our car before dark. Our plans to get cleaned up and go out on the town turned into finding a restaurant where we could take our stinky selves and sit outside for a bite to eat. We knew once we reached the cabin and sat down…there would be no getting up to go dancing. We were right. Exhaustion.

Our next adventure was on the Middle Prong Trail. A kind couple we met at Charlie’s Bunion told us about it. This trail was easy and beautiful. It’s known as the best waterfall hike in the Smokies. It felt like a long stroll through the woods. We hiked a total of 8.3 miles over 5 hours. I stopped to take lots of pictures and we enjoyed our lunch while listening to the rush of water over the falls. Peaceful.

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My legs and feet may ache but my heart is filled with peace. “Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” George Eliot

I’m already making plans for next year’s hiking adventure.

Oh, and if you go to Gatlinburg grab a bite at Three Jimmy’s. Ask for Victoria. She’ll make you feel like family.