Tennessee Smokies & Horsin’ Around in Kentucky

We packed up all our stuff for my wife’s first getaway in my campervan. We started in Lexington Kentucky for some fancy horse dancing event that she loves. It was the Kentucky 3-day 5-star event. A real equestrians dream. In my house we call it Rolex not Rolex. After that went to spend some time in the Smokies.

Day one was spent getting to Western Maryland where we spent the night in a very quiet rest area. A couple of gentlemen in the car next to us were there all night also. I don’t think their wives would have been happy.

Day two was a leisurely morning getting up, followed by driving most of the day to Lexington Kentucky. We made the usual pitstops for tinkling and geocaching. Travel days are great days to fill in calendar dates with unusual types of hides. Throughout the trip I was able to check off question marks and multis during all travel days.

Once we arrived in Lexington the real horsing around fun began. We spent Saturday and Sunday watching horsie jumpers at the horse park. I had much more fun than I imagined. What a fun and unique experience I was lucky enough to experience. In between horse jumpings, I found a bunch of nearby caches. This was definitely a 5-Star weekend for The Kid!

On Monday after the horse event, we climbed all over the Via Ferrata in Kentucky. That is 3 that we have done in the US, with hopes to one day do all the Via Ferrata’s in the US. It was amazing, and definitely the most difficult of the 3 we have done. We spent the night in Compton before heading to Tennessee for a week in the Smokies.

While in Tennessee we did all the perfect tourist stuff. We saw 2 of the shows, ate at the famous places, spent a day in Dollywood, and spent a bunch of time in Smoky National Park. I spent 2 nights in the park in my campervan, taking night time and sunrise pictures, while my wife stayed at the Dollywood hotel. Lucky girl.

One day we spent driving Cades Cove, and it was amazing! The weather was perfect, and we had 3 different bear spottings. I was finally able to use the widow’s peak on my adventure van for photography purposes! It was a dream come true.

There are a bunch of pictures in a photo album if you click somewhere around HERE.

PA Grand Canyon getaway April 2022

HERE is an album of pictures I took, mostly waterfalls.

Wow! What a great weekend away in my campervan with my best non-geocaching buddy, Chappy. We left home on a Friday morning with a weekend planned at the PA Grand Canyon. It was an amazing weekend of outdoor fun, with an amazing friend, all happening under the umbrella of perfect spring weather. We left Maryland Friday and took our time getting to Leonard Harris state park. This is where we would sleep with each other in my campervan for 2 nights. On the drive up we stopped for some fun sites, a meal, and a few geocaches. Chappy is not a geocacher, but he indulged me in my obsessions.

On Saturday, our first full day, we started early with the hike down and back on the east side of the Pine Creek Gorge Turkey Trail. After that, out to the overlooks. I took waterfall photos and am very happy with how some of them turned out. Regroup for a quick snack and then onto bike riding on the Pine Creek rail trail. We did 25 miles total on bikes, just over 12 out and back to where we parked. From the parking we then went another mile north on the rail trail, finding the 3 geocaches from Darling Run parking and north. Chappy is not a geocacher, so he could not care less, but also was very understanding and indulging about my addiction and personal needs. 25 miles of riding my bike, and 3 geocaches. That has to be a record for a geocacher.

After a long day on this side of the creek, we crossed over to Colton State Park. We drove along the creek side road to Chimney Hollow waterfall. I wanted to be here to get some pictures of the waterfall just before sunset. I think they turned out great. We never did find the trail up to the top and simply walk the creek all the way up. We did see a semblance of a trail to get us down 100 times easier. It was quite an adventure just to get some waterfall pictures. Well worth every second.

After this unbelievably fun and adventurous day, it was time for a steak dinner in the nearby town of Wellsboro.

Back to our campsite and a night’s sleep in my camPERVan.

The next morning started lazily with some breakfast and coffee at the campsite. After that we went back across to Colton State Park and walked a bunch of the miles of trails over there. We ran into a Boy Scout pack from New Jersey on the orange trail, and learned all about the possible overnight backpacking options in the future.

Throughout the weekend I found mystery caches and multi caches on days I needed them to fill the calendar. That’s one nice thing about traveling further away from home.

I had a great weekend of fun, excitement and adventure while camping and playing outside with one of my best pals and my favorite thing, my CAMperVAN! 

OBX, the hype is right

HERE is a link to a bunch of pictures I took in the OBX, mainly sunrise and sunset.

I had to get in 1 last adventure in the AdventureVan before undergoing a procedure back in November. You never know. I had no plans on where to go or what to do. I knew I wanted to take pictures, play frisbee golf, and find some geocaches. I always hear people talking about the Outer Banks. For as close as it is to me, I don’t think I have ever been through. So I packed up the campervan and away I went. I started down through the Delaware and Maryland beaches. Old stomping grounds for me. I usually take a day each winter and clear out new geocaches in the OCMD beach area. After that I made my way the rest of the drive to Kitty Hawk. I had no plans. So I took some pictures of the full moon and clouds, I ate my favorite Pad Thai boil in bag, and I slept.

Day 2 running amuck in the Outer Banks. It started early with sunrise pictures on the beach near the rest area I slept. I ran into a nice couple also taking pictures of the sunrise. We got to chatting, and they were also driving aimlessly in a van. After that I drove all the way north to Corolla, where the blacktop ends. I then went to the park, parked, and proceeded to walk a few miles around Duck finding geocaches both art related, and fart related. I believe I found everything I looked for, except one. From there I visited the Flying Brothers park for the adventure lab, and personal growth. Then a fantastic round of frisbees in Kitty Hawk. A couple old local burnouts let me join them, so I didn’t have to play alone. It was a blast. I stayed at the park through sunset. I sat out at the end of the land near the 14th hole. I got some unreal sunset pictures. Then I had dinner at Tortugas, best restaurant dinner I have had in years. Larry Bird works in the kitchen, fun fact.

Day three in the Outer Banks running amok. The other morning while taking sunrise pictures a nice lady I met told me that you can drive the entire length of the barrier islands using fairies. I was determined to see if I can do that. Before I left the Kitty Hawk area I had to get in one more round of frisbees at that awesome course. I was done that early and on the road. I stopped for a whole lot of geocaches along the way. This route 12 drive is so many things. Gorgeous, amazing, unbelievable how it’s even here?
I never would have believed there were so many skateboard parks in the Outer Banks.
I drove my way to the bottom, and got on the last ferry for the day to Ocracoke. I found out while on the ferry, I am trapped on this island for the night. OK, no big deal. I can be stranded on an island overnight. I arranged for a 7:30 ferry back to the mainland.

I had a long drive home to Maryland on my last day, after waking up on Ocracoke island. I already can’t wait to be back in OBX!

 

Click here for an album of some fun pictures I took!

Catskills New York with a Dog in a Van=Perfection

In October 2021 I took my best girlfriend and my new Storyteller Overland Van to the Catskills in New York. Emmy Lou the Puppy was such a trooper. I hope she had a nice time, and wish she had a way to tell me. We set off from home with plans to take sunrise pictures at Overlook Mountain near Woodstock, New York. From there we went further north, and into southern Vermont. We stopped for a  lot of fun geocaches along the way, and played frisbee golf in another new state. If ever there has been a success story, this is it. I took some pictures of sunrises, pictures of our visit to the land of Oz (yes, from the Wizard of Oz), and Emmy Lou being extra pretty.
Interested? Those pictures are HERE.
     

McAfee Knob and a Juggalo Wedding

Recently I was invited to a wedding in the mountains of West Virginia. I was not going to miss it. A beautiful place, the most magical time of year, autumn with the leaves changing, and a chance to take a road trip in the Storyteller Van. Sign me up. The wedding was adorable, a cute little family of Juggalos. It was absolutely perfect by all standards. These young kids today kill me with their creative ideas. I spent a few days in the area, around the wedding date. I woke and hiked in the dark up to McAfee Knob in Virginia for sunrise one morning. The Knob is spelled Mc and not Mac, so it is pronounced with the common Irish Mc pronunciation. Some of my idiot friends say it with Mac in front, like some kind of Scottish garbage people. McAfee Knob is one of the most iconic and photographed spots on the Appalachian Trail. I have seen all kinds of pictures and I wanted to make my own. I did OK with the photographs, but I had a blast doing it. I also played a few rounds of frisbee with some other wedding-going pals. It was a 100% successful trip. There are a bunch of pictures located HERE.

Alaska Northern Lights October 2021

I was recently in Alaska for what was supposed to be a 4 night Northern Lights photography trip. The night skies were mostly terrible for the week I was there. I was lucky with 1 great night to see the Aurora. Other than that I had nothing to commit my time. So I wandered Alaska between Anchorage, up to Fairbanks and beyond, then almost to Seward. I can’t wait to do it again.

I took a bunch of pictures, and have a few great memories I am trying to get the courage to share. Pictures are HERE if you are interested. Thanks for reading.

Anyone ever been abandoned on a glacial mountain? I have.

Recently I was part of a photography and hiking adventure, courtesy of REDACTED. I had the time of my life. It was a blast hanging out with a group of strangers, all in Glacier to take pictures, and a couple guides who knew all about the park, the light, and a wealth of photography knowledge to pass along. On the final evening together we hiked Grinnell Glacier up and away from Many Glaciers Lodge. It was 3 miles, 1 way up, to a lookout, over the lake, where the sun would be amazing to photograph as it set behind the mountain/glacier, and over the lake below. I knew there was a virtual Geocache along the trail, and the guides knew it is something I would be setting my sites on, once at the top. Turns out, 3 miles to the lookout is only half way to the top, where I ultimately wanted to be.
Our guide Michael told us that we made it to the overlook spot much quicker than the last hiking group he brought up here. So much so, that we would be another 2 hours before the light was any good for taking pictures. I knew what I must do, grab a can of bear spray from our guide Kenton, dash all the way to the top, get my pics, claim my virtual geocache, then brag to everyone how much cooler I am. I had 2 hours, it was another 3 miles 1-way, so 6 more miles round trip. I set my telephone alarm for 1 hour and started moving up the mountain. If at an hour (the half way point) I was not close, I would reassess and maybe come back down to the group gathering spot. Jumping way ahead, I was actually on my way back down as the 1-hour alarm sounded. No possible way this story could go wrong from here.
I make it to the top of Grinnell Glacier. It is going to be 12 miles round trip now. the last 3 miles was almost all up, the entire way, along the ridge line of the mountain. It was stupendous, some of the most amazing views I was treated to during my trip. As I get close to the top, I pop off my 40+ pound water and camera backpack, and place it gently on the ground. As I do this, I exclaim, ‘shit!’ I could have left this entire pack down below with the group, and just brought my single camera. Oh well, too late now, smooth move Exlax. I snap a bunch of pictures, take a ton of mental memories, and set off back down to the group. It is all downhill from here, I can jog quite a bit. Almost immediately when starting down, I get roadblocked by a mountain goat. I wait him out for a few minutes, then another group comes up from behind, looking to pass. This guy didn’t hesitate, he immediately tossed some rocks, and went toward the goat with a big stick. I was so prepared to photograph and film a man get murdered by a mountain goat. There was a pretty intense stare down, but ultimately, the human won and we were on our way down again. The newcomers downhill were a young couple from Montana, they were making a great pace downhill, so I stuck close behind. Conversation picked up almost immediately, pleasantries exchanged, and a nice rapport was set quickly. A few more minutes in, I am asked if I had a first aid kit. I was embarrassed to say I did not, but I was only meant to have been separated from a larger group (which included a first aid kit) for at most, 2 hours. I inform them that I did not, but at this pace, they were going to pass a group of 7 photographers, with first aid kids there. Tell the group Jimmy said to ask for a bandage. Or, if we keep up this pace, we will get there together, very soon. About 30 minutes goes by, we all know that downhill is easily twice as fast as uphill. I blurt out, “We are almost there! Just around this corner!” We get around that corner, everything looks kind of familiar, except there is no humans to be seen, other than our small group of 3 travelling quickly downhill. In the back of our minds, it was sunset, daylight would be leaving us very soon and we were miles from the trailheads and parking areas. I had the luxury of knowing there was a group of 7 waiting for me below, I would not be nearly alone traveling down this mountain in the dark. You know the old joke…I don’t have to outrun a bear…
I must be wrong. It is the wilds of the Rockies, a lot of spot looks alike. It must be the next corner, or the next corner, or the next corner.
That corner never came.
About 10 minutes past the spot I thought to be the correct photography gathering spot, I stop and looked around. We are far below the overlook view, which means I was correct about the spot I should have seen 7 photographers setup to take sunset pictures over Grinnell Glacier. A bit of panic sets in, how could I have missed 7 people?! I ask my new best friends, they assure me that we did NOT see any other people since the top. I politely tell them, I am a bit unsure what happened, but sorry, I have to abandon them and start to run down the hill now. They completely understand, given the circumstances.
A few different possibilities ran through my mind, as my body ran through the bear-infested forest of Glacier National Park. First, they hated me. This was their excuse to get rid of me completely. Second, they forgot I existed. That is about the correct impression I am sure I leave behind. Third, someone got hurt, and they had to evacuate to the bottom. That one I ruled out pretty quickly. Most of these thoughts were going through me rather quickly. My final possibility was the most likely. As I looked around the sunset was a complete bust for photography. Just a miserable scene. They packed up the site and headed back to the Sprinter Van, or a bar for drinks more likely. The guides had full confidence in me as an outdoorsman, and a man who could handle himself if the need arise. They were basing their decisions on knowing me for the past week. I did a good job presenting myself as a mostly normal person. Not someone riddled with social anxieties and fears of judgement.
Turns out that final option was exactly what happened. One of them wrote a note for me in the dirt, but I didn’t see it as I jogged past. In all honesty, leaving me is possibly the hugest compliment I have been paid in my adult life. Other adults thought I was a competent human being, and could care for myself. I was 100% completely flattered. I caught up to the group just a few minutes after starting to jog on my own. I caught the group just in time to do a naked cannonball, off a boat dock, into glacier water! Very refreshing.

All the pictures from my wild west trip can be seen HERE if you are interested.

August 2020 Stir Crazy Cross Country Drive

Apparently I never posted anything here about this Cannonball Run. The pictures have been up since I got back. Last august I went stir crazy, had enough, and drove cross-country with a couple friends. We made it as far west as West Yellowstone, and then spent about a week in Yellowstone. Those two bozos flew home after a week, and I took my time driving back. If it was up to me, I’d have never made it. Sadly, I can’t convince my wife to get the dogs and horses and join me. I stopped in and visited many National Parks and Monuments on the way back home through, Montana, Wyoming, and the Dakotas. Sadly the California wildfires of the time ruined most of the trip for photography. I was able to get a few days in the beginning, but after that, the skies were wrecked.

Below are a few, but if you want to see all the pictures, they are HERE if you are interested.

North of Norway March 2020

We recently returned home from Norway (after a quick stopover in London to see Magic Goes Wrong) just in the nick of time. With the onset of this pandemic knowing as the Toyota Corolla Virus, air travel was shut down and US citizens were not welcome anywhere. We landed in JFK late in the evening after being flown home from Heathrow, basically on a private plane. It was the giant 2 story plane (747 I think), and we were 2 of only about 50 passengers. I think there was more staff on the plane than paid passengers. Team Sellers unparalleled luck strikes again. Our time in Norway was wonderful, truly a magical and beautiful place. At least the very tiny portion we saw in North of Norway was. We were treated to the Northern Lights on 2 different evenings, including our first night there. A comical young Portuguese man named Marcos Sobrel took us on a private hunt about 2 hours north of Tromso. He set up a base camp in the middle of the snow with a big camp fire to make dinner, roast marshmallows, and keep warm. It was on the edge of a lake with no irritating artificial light around. We stayed in this spot for about 6 hours, until the wee hours of the morning. Got a ton of great Northern Lights shots, and had an all-around fun time hanging out in the cold and snow around a roaring camp fire. Of course, we strolled around each of the towns we stayed finding Geocaches. That always adds to the fun and adventure of any travel. 

Our second night there we went dog sledding at Camp Tamok. I believe wifey found her new calling in life. As of now all future travel must include dog sled mushing. She is thinking about getting a few here to train and try for the Iditarod in a couple years. There was only one crash and it was because while I was mushing, she did not heed my instructions on which way to lean. Her story is different than mine, feel free to go read her blog where she says mean things about me. We also happened to be in North of Norway during their annual giant Dog Sled race, the Finnmarkslopet. It was probably like being in Brazil during the World Cup, everyone talks about it constantly. 

Then we got on a boat from Tromso to Kirkenes for 2 nights, the Hurtigruten Nordnorge. It was not at all like being on a cruise, it was like a floating hotel. This boat company is used as transportation by a lot of people to get to port cities that don’t have roads connecting. It was a different experience. While onboard we got to visit The North Cape, or Nordkapp. This is the northern most point on the European continent, pretty cool! The boat dropped us off in Kirkenes a couple days later. We did not know it until we got there, but we were only a few KM’s, as the crow flies, from the Russian border! We were not allowed there, maybe next time. 

Thus, begins our time and stay at the famous Snow Hotel in Kirkenes…WOW! This is easily the most unique place we have visited, let alone stayed overnight. It is a giant compound with all the Nordic activities you could imagine, sled dogs, snowmobiling, skiing, puppy walks, king crab fishing, and king crab eating. They have about 20 little cabins for overnight stays. They also have a Snow Hotel! This is a hotel made completely of snow and ice and some low voltage electrical wires for lighting. No plumbing, no heat. There are about 20 of these rooms as well. This is where we slept on a nice mattress, all bundled up in giant military grade sleeping bags. The temperature was not a problem at all, it stays just a few degrees below zero all the time. I was much colder on my last backpacking trip in New Jersey a few months ago. I actually got hot in the giant bag long before I was ever cold. Each room has a unique theme, most of them Disney related. Of course there are pictures of all these rooms HERE. After the night in the Snow Hotel it was an overnight in a hotel in the nearby town of Kirkenes. We were treated to another great showing of the Northern Lights that evening. The lights were viewable over the water just outside our hotel, so convenient. The last day was all day of traveling, 3 planes, not 1 delay, lost bag, or quarantine because of viruses. Somehow we made it home on time and unharmed.

I might do a little more detail on some of the activities in the future, in case you care.

Some pictures of the entire London and Norway trip are in a gallery OVER HERE.

London for a Magic Show? That sounds like me in March 2020

Thank you virus for waiting long enough to kick in so that we could still travel as planned. We went to London (and Norway) recently, solely to see a new show. Magic Goes Wrong just opened in London and I have completely fell in love with the Goes Wrong Gang. Then they teamed up with Penn & Teller to make a new show? Of course I am flying to London. The show was amazingly funny. Magic and comedy done completely wrong, yet somehow still doing actual magic. I wish they’d have me in their cast. Maybe when the local show comes to Cecil College.

We have been home from London and Norway for about 10 days, now in social distance mode. Neither of us have any symptoms of the virus. We did get home to the USA just in time. The day after we landed is when they stopped allowing flights and shutting down the countries we were just in. Just by the hair on my chinny chin chin.

HERE is a link to a few pictures from London of the stereotypical tourist attractions.