Why I Like Camping

James Thomas Smith, EzineArticles Basic Author

With the coming of spring comes the annual appearance of Crocus’s, Robins and warmer weather. But, this spring the temperatures are slow to rise. Even though, I am looking forward to packing up my tent and camping supplies and my wife, kids and Fido, our family pet dog… and heading to our favorite camping spot in the woods.

It’s been a while since I’ve been camping. I bought a tent about 5 years ago… a large conical tent shaped like the traditional Plains Indian tepee. It hasn’t seen the light of day yet. Still In the box. This year will be different. As a matter of fact, I plan on going on that trip in a couple of weeks… if mother nature agrees. There’s nothing worse than a sudden cloud-burst of rain driving us into the tent. And after the downpour trying to dry all the stuff that was left outside during the storm.

When I was a little boy my dad, mom and brother went to a state park, our favorite destination, for our traditional annual picnics. These outings I remember with great fondness and I guess this was what got me interested in camping. And what better fun than sharing a camping trip with your family.

A lot has changed for the better since then. Way back 40 or 50 years ago the parks were nice to go to, but compared to those same parks today we didn’t realize what we were missing. There are better wooded hiking trails, mountain stream fishing, more camping areas, fancy large picnic pavilions, larger swimming pools, tennis courts and quaint little back-woods restaurants complete with logs burning in a stone fireplace and of course, home-style cooked meals. Can’t you just smell the scent of wood burning in that fireplace?

Camping has always been a favorite activity for me. My favorite camping spot has to be private and located along a stream… these are the most in demand. In order to get one of these spots reservations need to be made. There’s Mountain Laurel galore in most of the parks along with dense forested mountaintops… so peacefully quiet you will be overcome with feelings of wonder.

What a wonderful way to escape the hustle and bustle of life back in civilization. And, especially during the summertime, you will enjoy the cooler temps, take off your shoes and socks and wade in the cool mountain water that runs in the stream. Sit back and relax, listen to the sounds of nature around you. Did you hear that? No loud motor vehicles running up and down the highways, no neighbor mowing the lawn, no kids screaming, no television… just the sounds of water rushing over large rocks and different species of birds singing their tunes.

What can be better for the kids than this? Sharing the great outdoors for a couple of days living out of your tent in the middle of a mystic-like forest will surely feed the adventurous imagination of the young folks. Don’t forget the camera because there will be lots of nature to capture to share with the kids later on in life in remembrance of that wonderful camping trip.


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The Company House At Gloryholler

coal company houses

A little country town, during the 1930’s and 1940’s, nestled deep between two steep and rugged hills, was indeed booming.   Coal mining was the occupation of many young men in the town and there was one mining company that employed the dozen or so men who lived around the valley. But, there were some men with families who were not as fortunate to own their own houses. So, the coal company used their miners to build plain two story houses with clapboard siding for those, which included my family, to live as long as they were employed with the company.

Our house and every company built house had 4 rooms downstairs and 2 upstairs. No indoor plumbing. Coal was the fuel burned in a fireplace in the living room that supplied heat in the winter. It was like the house was built around the chimney. Heat radiated out from the sides of the chimney which was visible inside and ran straight up through the middle of the house into the 2 bedrooms upstairs. Coal was free. Dad would take us kids riding in the back in his 1940 Ford pickup truck to the mines. There we would load up the truck bed with a week’s supply of coal and then unload it in the coal shed once we got home. Everybody used coal and there were some days black coal smoke would lazily float up out of the chimneys from every house and would linger over the valley tree tops with a gray heavy smog. There was always the smell of coal smoke in the air.

No indoor plumbing meant no indoor toilet facilities. So, every house had an outhouse and we took our baths from a pan with water heated on the kitchen stove. From the back porch to the outhouse my father and mother laid down a brick walk. The brick coming from the mines brick yard. My mother was pregnant with me when they built the sidewalk. A few years ago I returned to the place where the house once stood. The area was covered with brush and years of rotten leaves. I began digging around where the house stood and found that brick sidewalk. I loaded my truck bed with as many bricks I could find, took them home and built a hearth where my wood burning stove was to be placed.

My grandmother, on my mother’s side, came to live with us for a while. It was a real treat to have her there. Many times we would gather around her as she rocked in her rocking chair. Sitting on the floor my brother and I would listen to her tell of times long ago when she was a little girl. She told of some really scary stories that made the hair stand on the back of our necks. And to this day I can remember those tales and have passed some on to my grandchildren.  Poor grandma who was getting up there in age was unable to use the outhouse, so she used a chamber pot which was stored under her bed.  Mother would empty the pot at the outhouse every morning.

One day mother decided that we needed a larger outhouse. So, the men from the mines were called on to tear down the old one and build a new one. It was a deluxe outhouse with 2 holes. The only one in the neighborhood that would accommodate 2 people at the same time. My mother was so proud.

Many years have passed and sometimes I yearn for the return of those days. So simple, so uncomplicated, no television, no computers, lazy warm summer evenings sitting in the glider on the front porch with my mother as she chatted with a neighbor. I laid on the glider with my head in her lap listening to them talk about the events of the day. Mother swung the glider slowly back and forth and every so often a lightning bug would shine it’s light down next to the creek. I would fall asleep.







Posted in Memories of a young boy, Op-Ed | 1 Comment

How To Survive A Black Hole

Black Hole 2

The answer to that question is…if you stray into the gravitational suction power of a black hole, there will be no survivors!

You probably already know that the earth is a part of the Milky Way galaxy. Within the Milky Way there are black holes.

Black holes are created by imploding stars. Imploding is when a star implodes within itself. Imploding stars create big-time gravity pull. Gravity so severe even light cannot escape its tremendous gravitational force.To create a Black Hole we need big time stuff…massive stars!

When a star implodes its mass is squeezed into a tiny hole in space that it creates. A Black hole is created and it lives there in space waiting for something to stray too close and when it happens, good-bye to the unfortunate. No one or no telescope, except telescopes with special tools, can figure out where they are in space. It’s like walking into a mine field. You don’t know they’re there until you step into one. And once that happens its good-bye Grandma.

There are different sizes of Black Holes, some so very tiny, about the size of an atom. An atom cannot be seen without a microscope. An atom is tiny but has the mass of a big mountain, say Mount McKinley. And there are black holes that are a little bit bigger and are called stellar black holes that have the same mass as 20 suns! And then there are the giant killers called, “supermassive”. Their mass would equal 4 million of our suns.

So what causes a star to implode? When a star gets so massive it begins to die and then it turns into a supernova explosion…and bingo, a new black hole. It’s like if you gorged yourself at Thanksgiving dinner, your stomach would swell so big and then explode…it wouldn’t be pretty. However, it would be different compared to a star imploding…but, the same principle. Your stomach explodes, the star implodes.

The Milky Way, where our earth resides, has about 400 billion stars. It’s been reported that our galaxy has about 100 million large stellar black holes. Consider this fact: The nearest one is some 1,600 light years from Earth. In the region of the Universe visible from Earth, there are perhaps 100 billion galaxies. Each one has about 100 million stellar-mass black holes. And, somewhere out there in the wild black yonder, a new stellar-mass black hole is born in a supernova every second.

We, as earthlings, don’t have to lose any sleep about stepping into a black hole, because it will never happen. Black holes are too far away and like I said, our sun is not large enough to become a black hole. Considering the closest black hole to us is 1600 light years away. And, remember, if you could travel at the speed of light, which is a little over 186,000 miles per second, it would still take you 1600 years to get there. I think that’s a little out of our reach.

So, what happens to all the stuff that gets sucked into a black hole? Is there an opening at the other end where all that stuff is spewed out into another world? That’s another topic to investigate. Have a good day.




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Traveling the Universe

universe pic

James Thomas Smith

186,000 miles per second. Can you imagine that?

No matter how you say it…that’s fast. Check out these facts…

  • The moon, right now, is about 238,000 miles from earth. Traveling at the speed of light from the earth to the moon,  it would take less than 2 seconds to get there.
  • The Voyager 1 spacecraft which was launched into space nearly 30 years ago is still traveling into space. If you could send a radio signal to the Voyager it would take 14 hours to get there. Awesome!
  • If you could travel at the speed of light, and remember that’s 186,000 miles PER SECOND, you could fly around the earth 7.5 times in ONE SECOND. Now that’s fast!
  • Alpha Centauri, our nearest star system is 4.3 light years away. The light you see from this star system is light that was emitted 4.3 years ago. You’re looking back into history!
  • A star that is 152 light years from the earth is shining it’s light that was emitted 152 years ago when the Battle of Gettysburg was fought during the Civil War! That star system is the Gamma Librae.  It is a an orange giant that is  visible in the southern hemisphere.

When astronomers study stars more than a light year away, they’re seeing the objects as they existed at the time that light left them. Everything we see in the distant universe is, literally, history. So, when you gaze up into the night sky, remember that the light coming from the stars is light that was created a long, long, time ago.

There’s a lot of activity up there in that vast infinite universe that never ends. Do you believe there’s other forms of life existing among the trillions and trillions of planets and star systems? Just maybe. I personally believe there is life out there.

Look up more often into the night sky. You will be amazed at what you might see!

James Thomas Smith



Nola Taylor Redd

Cool Science Facts






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Man With You Know What

My hero is Lt. Colonel Ralph Peters.

Ralph Peters is a retired army officer, Fox News commentator, novelist and author of non-fiction books. Mr. Peters is a man who the American people want to hear speak on the current and future state of our country…and the people who run it. He tells it like the American people want to hear it. Americans are angry.

“There will be no peace,” Peters stated in a 1997 Constant Conflict article. “At any given moment for the rest of our lifetimes, there will be multiple conflicts in mutating forms around the globe. Violent conflict will dominate the headlines, but cultural and economic struggles will be steadier and ultimately more decisive. The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing.”

It’s his opinion and how true that statement is. He states it the way most Americans feel with conviction and anger. He is our hero…the voice that represents our feelings.

On a recent Fox News program. a news anchor, Stuart Varney, asked Mr. Peters for his opinion of the president’s message to the American people on the terrorism situation. Lt. Colonel Peters said, “This is a president who cares more about thugs in Guantanamo or thugs in Ferguson, Missouri, than he does about law-abiding American citizens that have a right to live in safety and peace.”

So, Mr. Ralph Peters, we like it when you get your dander up…we know you’ll be our voice and hope that those in high places will hear and take stock of your messages.

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Why You Need E-Newsletters


When To Publish Your E-Newsletter

·       Anything less than monthly is problematic. The problem is with so much noise out there and so many people creating content on a daily basis, anything less than 12 times a year equals “invisible.”

·       It’s like exercising once a year — it’s really no better than not doing it at all.

·       You want to be positioned as a useful, vital resource for readers. The top of mindedness that comes with regular publishing is what will make the phone ring for you with new business.

·        Publish (at least) monthly.

·       Publish during quiet times. Late mornings are the best times,  because your customers will be sorting through all those emails in the early morning that were sent the night before.

My experience includes:

  • Published in Lefthander Magazine
  • Published in Ezine online magazine
  • 12 years copywriting for radio and television
  • Studies with American Writer’s and Artists, Inc.
  • Member of Professional Writer’s Alliance
  •  Contact me for the success of your next E-Newsletter
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Remembering Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

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The Season is Changing and the Cat wants in.

colored leaf

Lo and behold! I wake up one morning, throw back the covers on my warm cozy bed, I roll over throwing my legs over the edge of the bed, count one, two, three and up I stand,  knees cracking.  I check my clock on the nightstand and it’s 7:00 am. Shuffling my feet across the carpeted floor I reach the window. Parting the curtains with a trembling hand I peer out through the window that hasn’t been cleaned for ages. The sun is already up and shining. It beat me once again. Nowadays, it’s not as easy for me to rise and shine.  I hear myself say, “My goodness, where has the time gone.”

In the yard stands a once majestic maple tree. Over the years on the hill it has weathered some nasty storms. Wind, snow, ice storms, even lightning strikes. It stands there proud even though some of it’s limbs have been torn away. I can tell the fall season is sneaking upon me. The landscape, with all the trees and shrubbery, is losing it’s green hue. The sun appears to be brighter and the shadows longer. In it’s own transformation the season will change without any regards as to how I feel about it.

My beautiful maple tree, which has lived with me for 37 years, will outlast me for sure. Hopefully, it will still be standing there for another 37 years…and another 37 years after that. As I look out the window my breath fogs the window pane. I wipe the glass with my hand. The leaves are fluttering gently from the chilly morning breeze and then I see one little leaf that is different from all the other leaves on the tree. I can see it clearly. It has become impatient…it cannot wait…it no longer is green. It has become orange.

Suddenly, a gust of wind comes roaring up and over the hill shaking the trees all around my house. The leaves hang on except for the little orange leaf. From the top of the maple tree it lets go and slowly floats down through the other leaves and limbs until it  finally touches the ground. I feel sad for the little leaf. But, then I know that another leaf will take it’s place when the season changes in the spring and all things become green again.

It seems like only a few minutes ago when I crawled out of bed. I check the time on my clock…it is 7:30am. 30 minutes has past. But, it was a good passage of time. It seems only appropriate that there needs to be a moral to this story. Maybe, if we can just stop and focus on what’s going on around us, we will be better for it at the end of the day.

I think my cat is also noticing that the season is changing.  After being outside all summer, it is time now for her to come inside. She is meowing at the back door.

James Thomas Smith


Member Professional Writer’s Alliance

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Trying My Hand At Writing Fiction

Okay, here goes. I’ve always wanted to write fiction. You know, letting my imagination do the directing and my fingers doing the physical work. But, eventually,  I would lose interest and give up. I was lacking the energy and/or self confidence to finish the story.

Remember, the saying of “Dream it, Believe it, Do it.” Well, finally, I put that to work for me and have actually motored my way down the highway of story-telling and completed a short short fiction story…some call it flash fiction. It’s not a novel, nor a novella, but hey, it’s mine and it’s self-published in ebook form and is now available for reading on Amazon.

And, you know what? Writing that little fiction book has revived the self-confidence that was lying dormant within me…like a deep sleep. But, it’s awake now and I needed it because there was a lot of editing that went into the book before publishing…which was the hardest part of the whole event.

Afterwards, when the misspelled words were corrected, misplaced words were put into their corrected positions, punctuation corrected, and all the other possible things that could have made the story a disaster…I felt proud.

The name is “Armed and Dangerous Love” and can be found on Amazon in the ebook section.  It’s a story about this guy (I wrote it in first person, so it’s me telling the story) who lives alone…once married, now divorced. He works at the local radio station and every morning before going to work, he stops by a coffee shop for coffee and a donut to get his day started. This is where he meets this girl and he kind of falls in love with her…love at first sight. Well, there is a surprise ending. You will have to read it for yourself. I plan to make it a series book…maybe a couple more stories  that will be linked to it.

So, there  you go…don’t forget to look for “Armed and Dangerous Love”, author James Thomas Smith, in Amazon’s ebook section.


P.S. There was a snag in the link for the book. It has been corrected but not shown now until the story is reviewed and officially published again.

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Treasure Hunting: Good For Your Health

cartoon metal detector

Looking for something exciting to do this summer? Ever try treasure hunting?

Treasure hunting will bring you good health, tons of fun and who knows, maybe a treasure trove! Yes, that’s right!

The kind of treasure hunting I am referring to here is metal detecting.  I compare metal detecting as a sport right up there alongside golfing. Lots of walking and bending. Not really physically demanding, but the activity will be beneficial to your health. And the rewards will make you an avid hunter and at the end of the day, a very happy one.

Waving that metal detector an inch or two above the ground, sweeping it back and forth. It might take a few minutes, but then your detector emits a strong beeping signal. It’s letting you know that you have found something under the ground. You won’t be able to tell what it is until you dig it up. You pinpoint the location, fall to your knees, pull out your special hand-held treasure digger and begin digging…carefully unearthing the soil, maybe 4 or 5 inches in diameter and a couple of inches deep.  You pull out your pinpointer and shove it into the hole to pinpoint the treasure…it beeps and you have just made a discovery. What did you find? A coin? A really old indian head penny or a gold ring or perhaps a Civil War relic.

What are the benefits of metal detecting?

  • First of all it’s a great hobby not only for you, but also members of the family. It’s a family thing!
  • Great exercise. You’ll be walking, bending, squatting, digging and breathing in fresh air.
  • Excitement.  You’ll be uncovering history right under your feet.
  • Adventure. You’ll be digging for relics on abandoned farms and fields (with the permission of the owner, of course). Also, detecting along sandy beaches, and other places that people congregate.
  • Whatever you find might be valuable.

It doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby. It all depends on how much you want to invest for your metal detector and other paraphernalia, such as headphones, a digging trowel, coin pouch and not to mention comfortable clothing and proper shoes. You don’t want to become encumbered when stooping and digging all day long. With your new pastime  you will probably want to read all you can about metal detecting.

So, all you young and old, men and women, boys and girls, get out of the house and enjoy your new hobby. Grab your metal detector and have a wonderful healthy day.


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