Category Archives: Tom’s Blog Main

Keeping the Trains on Time at Tweetsie Railroad




  BLOWING ROCK, N.C. – Scott McLeod has had a dozen or more jobs at Tweetsie Railroad, including cowboy actor, pyrotechnician and haunted house designer, but he’s hanging on to the one he has now. He supervises the train shop … Continue reading






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Six Attractions Along the QLine in Detroit




DETROIT, Mich. – The most popular wheels in Detroit today aren’t made of rubber and aren’t attached to shiny automobiles rolling off assembly lines at Motor City plants. They are the steel wheels underneath the carriages of the QLine, the … Continue reading






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The Sound of Music, Kansas-Style




IN THE FLINT HILLS OF KANSAS – Outside the isolation chamber that is my automobile, I’m not one for sing-alongs – but I changed my tune as a full orchestra pushed the melody of “Home on the Range” across the … Continue reading






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Expert advice: See a bear, make some noise




GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK — Bill Stiver, a wildlife biologist at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, wants me to do something that goes against every outdoor-loving fiber of my body. If I’m lucky enough to see a black bear, the … Continue reading






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Signs for Life in a Chinese Canyon




WENCHENG COUNTY, China – The forest resembled Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the waterfalls could have been in Yosemite, but the signs along the trail were pure China. They told us a bit about where we were, and despite … Continue reading






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Super Hiking above Wenzhou




WENZHOU, China – Most Americans who have even heard of this city of 9 million know it as a manufacturing and export city, but it is trying to enhance its leisure visitor credentials and has one attraction of major proportions. … Continue reading






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Dancing in the Daylight




ZHANGYE, China — If you’d told me a month ago that I’d wake up one morning in the middle of China and shoot photos of a plump, matronly woman wearing a white mask, red shoes, red gloves, and a red jacket … Continue reading






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Ducking Donald and Hillary




The People’s Republic of China shielded me from 95 percent of the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign’s final three weeks. For that, I am grateful to the Chinese. A business trip took me to Wenzhou, a city you’ve probably never heard … Continue reading






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Not One Darn Fish! (But I Had a Great Time)




MAMMOTH LAKES, California (July 2016) – Labeling a totally unproductive fishing trip a good experience conjures up memories of Michigan State football coach Duffy Daugherty, who said, “A tie is like kissing your sister.” It’s totally counterintuitive, but that’s still … Continue reading






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Where Mucking Is a Competitive Sport




TONOPAH, Nevada – A chance conversation led to my meeting a mucking champion, and that’s no typo. It happened in the desert town of Tonopah, Nevada, which is in the middle of nowhere between Las Vegas and Reno. Me: “I saw … Continue reading






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