1st Annual Great Smoky Mountains Father-Son Jeep Trip 2022

This Labor Day Weekend, my dad and I decided to take my Jeep across the Foothills Parkway in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

If I was an Enneagram 3, I would have been stressed out by trying to cram in the nearly dozen items I planned for our itinerary. Instead, I am an Enneagram 6; meaning I overplanned and overprepared, but I am happy to just accomplish some of the tasks on the list.

So we ended up doing 3 of the 11 items: We found and drove across the entire Foothills Parkway. We stopped for dinner at a true German restaurant. And we stayed overnight in an RV.

It’s important to my wife that we stay in a nice place anytime we travel. But personally, I’d be happy staying at a Motel 6.

Even though she wasn’t even going on the trip, she talked me into staying an an Airbnb RV; since it was the same price as the cheapest motel she could find.

It’s funny because I had just recently looked back on the lyrics to a song I wrote 4 years ago, called “Fort Payne, Alabama“, which sort of predicted this:

“If you called me Mother Nature’s son, I’d take it as a compliment – I’d trade a Lexus for an RV, a mansion for a tent.”

I’ve accepted that in life, things seldom work out the way you plan them. So you plan ahead- and then you just wing it, when it doesn’t go as planned.

Clearly, that is evidenced by the fact we didn’t get around to visiting the majority of the stops on our trip; including Top of the World, Tennessee.

But fundamentally, the only thing that mattered is that we had a fun adventure together. And that’s exactly what we did.

I suppose for next year, we shall try again to find and visit the mysterious town of Top of the World, Tennessee.

It had served as the reference point for us finding the very elusive start of the Foothills Parkway.

Plenty more left to explore based on this year’s agenda!

Dear Jack: An Easter Egg “Hunt” to a 10 Year-Old Boy

10 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

As a nearly 10 and a half year-old 4th grader, you’re technically a preteen. That’s how I see you at this point.

And this past Easter weekend, I noticed how you were one of the oldest the church egg hunt at Nonna’s and Papa’s.

For you, the egg hunt meant an emphasis on the word hunt.

You definitely scored big when it came to your candy collection.

Once it was over, you began a very business-minded candy trade ring.

I even heard you convince a friend to give you the dollar that received in one egg, in exchange for a candy bar you traded them.

Sounds about right!




Dear Jack: I’ve Been Writing You Letters Every Week for Over 10 Years, But You’re Not Even 10 Years Old Yet…

9 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

It was May 2010 that I decided to start writing you at least one letter every week, to serve as a thumbnail of what was going on in your life that week, or at least what was going on in my head as your dad that week.

I should point out that in May 2010, you weren’t born yet. Instead, that was the month that Mommy and I found out we were going to be having a baby.

You weren’t born until November. So for over a decade, I have been creating and growing this collection of journal entries to document each week of your life.

I have told you about it. You are aware I do this.

But later, when you are older, I think you will truly be able to appreciate having an archive of your own life, written by your dad.




Dear Holly: Mommy Painted Your Nails for the 1st Time

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Holly,

All last week, you kept asking Mommy: “We paint my fingers and my toes this weekend?”

There was much anticipation for this event.

So Sunday afternoon, before you and your brother watched a movie with Mommy, she took you to the bathroom floor where she carefully painted each of your fingernails and toenails.

Needless to say, you were so proud to have Mommy do this for you.

I wasn’t surprised at all when I dropped you off at school on Monday and the first thing you did when you saw your teacher, Mrs. Kim, was to display your fingers and proclaim:

“Look! Mommy painted my nails!”

Yeah, you are such a little girl.



Dear Holly: You are Officially Learning to Crawl

7 months.

Dear Holly: You are Officially Learning to Crawl

Dear Holly,

I have to remind myself that babies don’t just start crawling all at once. Instead, there is a subtle process leading up to it. And I’d have to say, you’re clearly in it right now.

It was like the moment you were able to start sitting up on your own was the moment you realized that you had the necessary basic skills to start teaching yourself to crawl.

The hardwood floor in the kitchen works pretty well for you, as compared to the carpet in the living room.

Mommy and I were seeing you go through the motions of crawling… without actually moving. You wanted it so bad. After our past couple of visits to Alabama when you saw your Cousin Darla crawling, you’ve set a goal to be able to join her.

Dear Holly: You are Officially Learning to Crawl

And you’re now showing some actual movement.

Over the weekend, Mommy motivated you by placing her phone a few feet away from you. Then I did the same thing with an empty bag of Bear Naked Granola Bites. You love squeezing empty, noisy bags. It is quite the authentic motivation for you.

I realize that you’ll be keeping me that much more on my toes once you’re able to crawl around, but I really won’t mind. This past week, I’ve really appreciated the fact I’ve been able to help Mommy prepare and clean up dinner.

Up until now, it’s been necessary for me to sit on the floor with you. Now that you can sit up, you enjoy having “activity time” on the floor.

I’m not rushing you growing up, but I definitely celebrate you accomplishing new things.

It’s like you are able to reason that the next big thing in life for you is being able to crawl. It’s like I can tell you want to do this not only for yourself, but also Mommy and me.



Dear Holly: You are Officially Learning to Crawl