Category environment

hikers at Alum Cave

National Park hiking tips

A recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was a wonderful time of hiking and enjoying nature. I first started hiking in the Smokies with my parents and had my first camping experiences and backpacking trip with my Girl Scout troop. My time on the trails and in the Sugarlands Visitor Center on […]

Cliff Tops sunset photo by Julie Dodd

Hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park always is special for me. The wonderful views. The challenging hikes. The chance viewing of wildlife, from ravens to black bears. I experienced all of that during a recent hiking trip to the Smokies. I also enjoyed seeing so many people appreciating their time in the Smokies. […]

REI #OptOutside sticker

#OptOutside on Nov. 23 (and other days, too)

Explore the outdoors as part of #OptOutside, a national movement started by REI in 2015. Rather than open its stores on Black Friday (Nov. 23), REI gives its employees a paid vacation day and encourages them — and the rest of us — to get outdoors.

"I Voted" sticker

Prepare and Vote

When I was growing up, my parents didn’t always agree on which candidate they voted for, but they did agree on the importance of voting. We would have dinner conversations about the candidates and the ballot iniatives. Some of the issues were beyond my comprehension as an elementary school student, but I did understand that […]

Julie Dodd's photography at Satchel's Pizza

My photography on display at Satchel’s Pizza

What a treat to have some of my photography on display at Satchel’s Pizza, along with two friends’ pen, ink and watercolor art. Deciding which photographs to display provided me the opportunity to revisit photographs I’ve taken of many great trips. I included two photographs from a hike on the Bright Angel Trail at the […]

fish kill at Sanibel Island

Red tide at Sanibel Island

On a typical morning at Sanibel Island, the beach would be filled with shell collectors, walkers and joggers. All would be enjoying the beauty of the sandy beach, the waves and the sea breeze. But this week, Sanibel Island is a victim of red tide, which has made the beach experience very different. Red tide, […]

sandhill cranes - photo by Julie Dodd

Birdwatching at Sweetwater Wetlands Park

By 7:30 a.m., we were on the trail at the Sweetwater Wetlands Park, and the birds were there to greet us. We started by checking a location along the boardwalk where we’d seen purple gallinule a few weeks ago. We heard the purple gallinules and caught a few glimpses of them as they slipped through […]