Wednesday, July 3, 2024


First - a little personal travel history is in order. As a kid growing up in the fifties, with a stern, hard-working entrepreneurial father and a classic mother whom I adored, our family vacations were, well, not very exotic. Every summer, and I do mean every summer, Dad, Mom, my brother, and I would pack the car and head south to Daytona Beach for two weeks in early summer. Daytona Beach was THE place to go in the fifties and sixties before it became a tourist afterthought. Not that I don't have great memories of "The World's Most Famous Beach". I learned to swim there and saw my first real car race there. Even today, my brother is a rabid NASCAR fan. I learned what Nuttie Buddies were and I ate the best hotdogs on earth and washed them down with 6-ounce Cokes. But - the coolest thing of all? You could actually drive on the beach for free!! What more could a kid want?. 


Like they say - Things change. Nothing truer has ever been said about The World's Most Famous Beach. What once were hotels here there and everywhere are now condos here there and everywhere. And, you now must pay $20 to drive on the beach! The prices to rent a decent condo today will force you to take out a loan from your bank unless you have a high credit limit on your favorite credit card.

If you have a large crowd 
that needs 3-4 beds to sleep in, the best place to stay is not Daytona. As I shared last week - go North my fellow Vagabond - Ormand Beach! There are still some very nice hotels beachside on The World's Most Famous Beach, but, they are few and far between. Several years ago we stayed in a nice small place on the beach - Lotus Boutique Inn and Suites. There were some bad reviews after we stayed there, but, based on current reviews, they have revived their quality and service. And the prices are very reasonable.  Another nice hotel is the Delta Hotels Daytona Beach Oceanfront by Marriot. Comfortable, well-designed rooms with a large oceanfront balcony at reasonable prices will provide you and yours a pleasurable time at the beach.

School Was Just Around The Corner

Then as the dog days became  
longer and school was looming, we packed the car and headed north to the Smoky Mountains for two weeks of camping in the great outdoors. Sleeping in a tent, the bears, the streams, the woods, and even the simple food - I loved every minute. As a result of those times with my family in The Great Smoky Mountains, I have always been a lover of the outdoors and will forever 
be drawn to the hinterland.  

On our late summer trips north, because my father was a lover of music, he would tune the radio to the John R. Radio Show which played mostly rhythm and blues. Listening to that music on AM from WLAC Nashville and the legendary voice of John R. while riding in the back seat of the big car was always a treat to my ears. 
Of course, things have changed in the busiest National Park in the United States with 15.7 million visitors a year! You can pick and choose dozens of things to do as you travel The Blue Ridge Parkway. If you want to camp, there are dozens of campgrounds to choose from - just click Where to Camp in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One question that must be asked if you go to the Smokies - Is Gatlinburg Tacky? Here's one local's opinion - "Yes, it can be. But here’s the important thing: There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Gatlinburg is like the Walt Whitman quote, it contains multitudes. It can be upscale, bordering on classy. Also, it can be fun, rambunctious, and energetic. Certainly, it can be educational, thrilling, and beautiful. But it can also be tacky. Tacky is, of course, subjective. Most places that attract tourists can be pretty tacky." So, if you feel the need - visit Gatlinburg and buy something you probably don't need! LOL!

If you are in need of enjoying America without traveling a long way - load up and go to the Smokies.


Mountain Music is alive and well in this hip, progressive era of artists, such as Taylor Swift, circling the globe. Ugh! I am not a fan. Take a listen to one of the greatest Blue Grass songs ever written by the Blue Grass Legend Ralph Stanley - A Man of Constant Sorrow as performed by Allison Krauss and Union Station with Dan Tyminski.



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