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July 2018

Guest Bloggers Hiking Hiking Health Benefits Lifestyle Travel and Leisure

8 Reasons Hiking Is Healthy

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  • July 31, 2018
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Hiking Health Benefits
Hiking Health Benefits
Guest blogger, Elizabeth Mathu, gives you “8 Great Reasons to Get Out on Your Favorite Hiking Trail.”

Get Out On Your Favorite Hiking Trail TODAY

Health Benefits Accrued From Hiking

Text by Elizabeth Mathu, guest blogger for 
Edited by Joan Mead-Matsui, publisher

Beat Boredom and Refresh

There is nothing that gets the boredom and refreshes your mind more than a refreshingly cool time in the woods. The challenging trails, rough terrains, and frightening woodlands make you freak out while having fun. This is what you need to do when you feel like taking a breakaway from your rigorous daily activities. Maybe you wish to do so every day, but you cannot. Or can you? Depending on where you live and your threshold for heat and cold, even a daily trek to the top of your favorite mountain is a goal that’s attainable.

However, when you have some free moments to lighten your daily load, plan for fun and adventure and reap the mental and physical benefits of hiking. What are the benefits of trekking? They are immeasurable, so it’s up to you to have that energizing moment that propels you outside. Get off the couch or away from your computer.

Here are some of the health benefits of hiking.

  1. Improved Body Fitness

Hiking improves your health immensely. It doesn’t have to be rough and tough, no! The simple hiking you undertake helps build some maneuverability and strength. You are experiencing long challenging journeys in the wilderness, but you are walking for fitness. While having fun, you challenge your body’s stamina in a new environment. You’re building agility and strength as you exercise your body as much as possible.

Undeniably, the gym cannot beat the fitness and mental acuity accrued in the wilderness; You are hiking for health. The adrenaline rush tests your resilience and endurance and adds to the superfluous fitness.

  1. Reduced Stress

Stress Relief
Looking for ways to relieve stress in your life? Hiking can help.

Stress is one bad human health condition. If overeating or binging is your way of dealing with that overwhelmed feeling, you have to find a way to get healthy and get your weight under control. One of the most effective ways of doing away with stress is breaking away from the stressors. And the best way it is to embark on an adventure somewhere and have fun. If you have something that is weighing on your mind and resulting in sleepless nights, a hike is one way to effectively sort your problems.

Why let stress wreck your life and upset your “apple cart?” Have you heard of a “walking meditation?” Try it! Use your time wisely to deal with your issues. Find a meditation practice on the internet and download it to your smartphone before you leave home.

Thank you to for creating this infographic “cheat sheet” for you. Visit the website to read more about hiking and camping.

8 Hiking Health Benefits
Elizabeth and her team have provided you with a “Healthy Hiking” Cheat Sheet as a reminder to stay on track.

3. Cardiovascular Strength

‘Muscles and bones are the corner pillars of your body’ and they have to be strong at all times. Staying put all day in your job is the opposite of strong cardio; hiking outdoor is the solution. Yes, we are talking of strong bones and healthy muscles. When you hike, you’re using core muscles and giving your body overall fitness.

During this time when the body is on the move, the muscles stretch evenly and refresh. Besides, the tough get going when it’s difficult to endure. The outdoor expedition is therefore very useful to a person’s cardio.

  1. Weight Control

Hiking is the solution to the tummy or the “tires” that have been a nuisance to you. Every moment you stay indoors, fat and cholesterol gradually add up. Show the world and set an example for your friends. Excess body weight is daunting and you might be trying other exercises with no success. Try hiking!

On a normal hike, the body tends to lose about 400 calories per hour. At this rate, you tend to lose the unnecessary body weight without much difficulty. An extended hike on easy to rough terrain is enough to rid you of some excess body weight.

  1. Boosts Vitamin D in the Body

One of the health benefits of hiking is the Vitamin D boost. This vitamin is vital for building strong bones. Kids and adults need to supplement their Vitamin D by being outdoors. The morning sunshine is the perfect vitamin D source.

While hiking early in the morning, your vitamin D levels go up. You can also enjoy the benefits of a morning walk with kids to ensure they grow up healthy.

6. Boosts Your Creativity

Hiking outdoors raises your creativity levels. A mountaintop, spectacular vista, cascading waterfall, or a healthy picnic lunch alongside a creek, can create an adrenaline rush through your body. It boosts your self-confidence, gives you a brighter outlook, and can boost your management skills which are all vital to a person’s creativity.

When hiking, your mind adjusts enabling you to think better and make informed decisions. Without technology and media out there, you can focus on other things thus opening up the mind for new ideas and thoughts.

7. Better Perception Of The World

Bonding to the world is possible through hiking. Perhaps you’ve been having bad thoughts about life. Hiking can cure that malady. The outdoor is full of beauty that can alter your mood and leave you wanting more and more recreation time. So get out there on the trail and relieve your mind from all the negativities in your life and the world. It is a way of cleansing your body and rejuvenating for a better life.

8. Great way of Controlling Diabetes

Controlling diabetes is one of the major hiking benefits. A study found that hiking is a therapy for diabetic people.

  1. It helps reduce your blood sugar levels  Walking for fitness is a great step towards recovery.
  2. The workout improves oxygen uptake and blood flow in the body, thereby reducing the blood sugar levels.


We can conclude that the benefits of hiking are numerous and undeniable. Hiking improves both the body, soul, and mind and should be a regular practice. If you feel something in your life is causing you grief, try getting out and I BET things will start falling into place.


Elizabeth Mathu is a hiking enthusiast with more than five years of experience in composing articles, blogs, web and social media content in the outdoors’ niche.

Do you have questions for Elizabeth Mathu or the team at Feel free to comment here. What do you love about this article? Where’s your favorite hike?

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  • July 30, 2018
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BikeCarbondale: Along the History Trail


Up-Valley Trail System Connected

A NEW stretch of trail in Northeastern Pennsylvania offers residents and visitors one-and-a-half miles of compacted terrain that’s ideal for jogging, walking, and cycling. The Carbondale Riverwalk opened in May (2018) and on a late spring afternoon, adults and children of all ages spent their afternoon taking in the prolific greenery along the Lackawanna River, a 40-mile long river that’s known for extraordinary fly fishing.

BikeCarbondale Lackawanna River Heritage Trail
The BikeCarbondale program is managed by the Lackawanna Heritage Valley (LHV) in conjunction with two prominent Carbondale partners: Hotel Anthracite, 25 S. Main St. and the Greater Carbondale YMCA, 82 N. Main St.

On that day, couples strolled hand-in-hand, children pedaled diligently to keep up with their parents, and cyclists took advantage of the safe pedestrian-only pathway.


I imagine I was among the first-timers to participate in the bike loan program. While usage statistics are not available yet, it’s safe to say exercise and nature enthusiasts continue to discover and utilize the new pathway, partly because of “BikeCarbondale,” a free bike-share program that makes it possible for individuals to borrow a bicycle so they can take in the Carbondale’s Coal Mining History. The program is managed by the Lackawanna Heritage Valley (LHV) in conjunction with two prominent Carbondale partners: Hotel Anthracite, 25 S. Main St. and the Greater Carbondale YMCA, 82 N. Main St. The program is made possible with funds made available through the Northeast Pennsylvania Healthcare Foundation. Individuals age 18 years and older are eligible to loan one of the authority’s 10 bikes available at the hotel and YMCA. 

Cycling was my first activity after checking in at the Hotel Anthracite, Carbondale’s newly-renovated lodging (formerly known as Carbondale Grand Hotel). (You can read more about the hotel in an upcoming article on my website.) Chris Simpler, Hotel Anthracite general manager, was eager for me to test drive a bike and the new trail. I returned to the hotel revitalized after approximately two hours.

LHV projects stimulate the region’s economic development, enhance tourism, and strengthen community organizations with a goal to improve and increase the quality of life for area residents. The Lackawanna Heritage Valley trail system spans 70 miles from the confluence of the Lackawanna and Susquehanna Rivers in Pittston and continues north where it connects with the Delaware & Hudson Rail Trail and the Carbondale Riverwalk.

BikeCarbondale Riverwalk Lackawanna Heritage Trail
Residents and visitors never know who they’ll meet along the trail. As I was rounding the bend, I stopped to chat with fellow artist Joe Kluck. Photo by Joe Kluck.

You will celebrate the sunshine and appreciate the shaded areas, too. When you stop for a break, take note of the established trees that provide a canopy and the shrubs and native plants alongside the banks that serve as a natural border. Venture into downtown Carbondale and admire the architecture.

BikeCarbondale Bike Loan Program
BikeCarbondale is a loaner bike program for adults 18 years and older. One of the highlights is a one-and-a-half-mile stretch of newly-opened trail in Pennsylvania that runs from the historic town of Carbondale to Simpson.
Since 2013, LHV has opened eight miles of well-maintained heritage trails that enhance and showcase the region’s striking beauty and diverse scenery. You can watch the videos of the grand openings of the Scranton to Taylor, D&H Extension Trail, and Archbald to Jermyn stretches, and learn more about the most recent, Carbondale to Simpson.

Trail project partners were the City of Carbondale, PennDOT, DCED (Department of Commerce and Economic Development) and DCNR (Department of Conservation and Natural Resources). FABCOR (Jessup) and Rutledge Excavating Inc (Tyler Hill) completed the trail with and QPI (Carbondale) constructed the wall near the junkyard. The Riverwalk section will connect to the D&H Rail Trail later this summer to form a 20-mile stretch of fully developed trail. 

Contact me via the form below if you have questions or comments.

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Lifestyle Pocono Mountain Dining Pocono Mountain Resort Pocono Mountain resorts Pocono Mountain Retreats Spa Destinations The Lodge at Woodloch Travel Product Links Yoga

The Lodge at Woodloch: a decade of recipes

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  • July 24, 2018

Are you looking for recipes for an abundance of vegetables you might have in your garden? The Lodge at Woodloch cookbook offers pages of healthful meals you can prepare today, tomorrow, and in the coming weeks. Don’t waste those succulent vegetables.


follow nature’s lead with seasonal recipes

Do you have a passion for nature?

You can cultivate your own well-being in much the same way you would improve or refine your garden using ingredients harvested from nature.

“NURTURE with NATURE: Seasonal Recipes for Body, Beauty and Healing,” a cookbook brought to you by The Lodge at Woodloch, is more than a collection of recipes.  It’s a “guidebook” that provides directives for anyone who seeks to discover or restore that delicate balance between living and thriving. NURTURE with NATURE is a culmination of a decade of guests’ favorite recipes.

Guests arrive at The Lodge at Woodloch, an award-winning spa destination located in the Lake region of the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, knowing they will leave rejuvenated with their souls enlivened. During your stay, you will immediately understand why the lodge draws customers from near and far. Each moment of your visit is a celebration of life and come mealtime; after hiking, fly fishing, a painting or yoga class, or a spa treatment, a diverse array of dishes await you in the Tree Restaurant and Bar.

This recipe book is a celebration of the miracles of Mother Earth and her ability to provide our earth with a wide spectrum of seasonal foods, herbs and nutrients that enhance our well-being.

NURTURE with NATURE is a collaborative effort of The Lodge at Woodloch executive chef Josh Tomson and his team; Amanda Clabaugh, treatments’ manager, beverage recipes from Leslie Britt and Cindy Wasilewski, and Nathaniel Whitmore, master herbalist. Readers will find Pantry Clean-Up, Choosing Foods for the Season, a Food Rainbow, as well as more than 100 recipes. Much credit is also due to Andrea Killam, the photographer, and creative director, whose photos depict the calming environment at the lodge.

If you’ve never visited The Lodge at Woodloch, you are missing an opportunity to experience a world-renowned, adults-only spa resort destination and a culinary wonderland. The recipe book only scratches the surface of the locally-sourced, garden-to-table cuisine you will find.

As I perused the pages of NURTURE with NATURE, I made my list of must-have ingredients so I could begin to sample several of the recipes. Most of the ingredients are readily available at your local farmers’ market or in the organic herbs, fruits and vegetables sections of many grocery “superstores” or online. A few of the offerings are “crispy trout with wild leeks,” “oyster mushroom & homemade ricotta flatbread,” and “brown rice veggie burger.” You should also reap the benefits of the renewal beauty and healing recipes, which are also arranged according to the season. Try the spring “Calming Banana Mask” to soothe and smooth your winter-weary complexion and the “softening hand and foot scrub” before sandal weather is in full swing.

I’ve been a guest at The Lodge at Woodloch and Woodloch Pines, two properties owned and managed by the Kiesendahl family. Rest assured, you will be pampered by your hosts.

NURTURE with NATURE was published in December 2016 and you can purchase a copy on Amazon by clicking on this link:

See what’s happening at The Lodge at Woodloch, an award-winning spa destination in the Lakes region of the Pocono Mountains.


A link on this page is an affiliate link. I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase but at no additional cost to you. I have experience with all of these companies and by linking to their product or a party that sells their products, I recommend the product based on their helpful and useful nature, and definitely not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.






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Fishing Fishing Destinations

The Tailwater Lodge is a fly angler’s haven

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  • July 24, 2018

As many of us on the East Coast are experiencing heavy rain and flooding, we can turn our thoughts to upcoming fly fishing opportunities, once the water levels have dropped. The Tailwater Lodge is an ideal base camp while you spend days fishing along the famed Salmon River. Plan your summer or fall trip now. 

Woodbine Group breeds new life into orphaned buildings

The Tailwater Lodge, Altmar, NY 

Only steps away from The Tailwater Lodge is a lush, green shoreline along the Salmon River.

Tom Fernandez was traveling to fish in the lower fly zone of the Salmon River when he saw a “for sale” sign on the former Altmar Elementary School.

Fernandez said, “The rest is history.”

He’s an avid fly angler and a representative of The Woodbine Group, a privately-held, family-run commercial real estate holding, and development company based in Syracuse, NY. The school was built in 1935 as the Altmar Elementary School and was vacant for approximately six years when The Woodbine Group purchased the two-story, 32,000 square foot structure from the school district in March 2013. Following an eight-month construction process, the Tailwater Lodge opened with a project cost close to seven million dollars.

The design team included Edwin I Harrington Architects; Charity Buchika, interior design; Lan Co., site work; and interior hardwood and case goods by Artistry in Wood and Cab Fab.

Fernandez’s step-father, Norman Swanson founded the business in 1978. The Woodbine Group breathes new life into abandoned buildings like elementary schools, abandoned Jewish temples and former medical arts’ buildings through adaptive reuse projects.

“As my step-father says he finds ‘orphans’ and then breathes new life into them,” Fernandez explained. “That’s our business model. We are very sustainable. We have a very environmentally centric way of developing…”

Rather than tear down old buildings and start from the ground up, Fernandez said his family feels it’s necessary to revitalize this area of the country to bring new growth.

“There are some amaTailwater 3zing buildings that have been abandoned and we choose to embrace that history and show what the northeast has to offer.”

The renovation of the building was more of a facelift with changes and updates made to the façade and the reappointment of space. Contractors were also able to utilize the majority of the windows and interior doors. Reclaimed timber conjures a “lodgey” feel, but don’t let the word “lodge” fool you. The Tailwater offers 42 guest rooms with unparalleled comfort and style and is one of two Orvis endorsed lodges in New York State.

“The large doors into the foyer, bar, birch walls, front desk pods were all reclaimed timber,” Fernandez says. “I think the restaurant and bar really stand out. Walking in and seeing the painting by Bob Ripley across the wall really brings the ‘lodginess” of the Tailwater out.”

Pulaski 2015 Rosangela Freitas
Rosangela Freitas, Trout Unlimited member, casts into the frigid water of the Salmon River in Altmar, NY.

Following an afternoon of fly fishing in the Salmon River, or any year-round outdoor activity, the Tailwater’s rustic décor, superb gut-pleasing meals served in the former gymnasium, over-the-top comfortable mattresses, custom-made in upstate New York, and bathrooms with large shower units and plentiful hot water will beckon you to come inside.

A refrigerator, free high-speed wireless internet, flat-screen cable TV, and a hearty, complimentary hot breakfast will prepare you for a day of searching for fish in the surrounding waterways or snowmobiling on the C5A Trail groomed trail system. Guests can don their gear and find onsite direct access to the Salmon River only footsteps away and upon their return to the lodge, can rinse their gear in the wader wash area and then store them in the facility’s locker area.

Fernandez noted, “The Tailwater Lodge caters to individuals and groups looking to tailor their experience.”

For more information, visit

Read about my fishing guide blog here.

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Newfoundland Travel and Leisure

Travel: On the Viking Trail in Canada

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  • July 22, 2018
Travel: On the Viking Trail in Canada Publisher’s Note About This Article:

The outstanding photography and Lori Erickson’s descriptions beckon me to visit Newfoundland.  Let me know your thoughts or experiences if you’ve visited the Viking Trail or a few reasons why you’d want to see the 270-mile route. The words “picturesque fishing villages, dramatic fjords and mountains, and sweeping sea vistas framed by a rocky coastline” were all I needed to read. 

With a last name of Erickson, it’s not surprising that I’d be warmly welcomed in L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland. After all, my ancestor Leif made quite a splash when he arrived a thousand years ago.

“Erickson?” repeated a guide when I told him my name. “You must be related to Leif. If we’d have known you were coming, we’d have had wine ready for you.”

Even without the wine, my trip to L’Anse aux Meadows was a bucket-list experience. Anyone with a passion for Scandinavian history dreams of going to this remote spot that’s the only authenticated Viking site in North America.

Bob Sessions photos Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, anchors the southern portion of the 270-mile Viking Trail in Newfoundland.Bob Sessions photos Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, anchors the southern portion of the 270-mile Viking Trail in Newfoundland.

As I discovered on a recent visit, an added bonus is the scenic road that leads to it. Known as the Viking Trail, the 270-mile route is lined with picturesque fishing villages, dramatic fjords and mountains, and sweeping sea vistas framed by a rocky coastline.

“The Viking Trail that runs up the western coast of Newfoundland is anchored by two UNESCO World Heritage Sites,” said Andre Myers, business manager for the Viking Trail Tourism Association. “At the south end is Gros Morne National Park, which has some of the most spectacular landscapes in Canada, and at the north end is L’Anse aux Meadows. Visitors are also likely to see some of the 10,000 whales that pass by Newfoundland every year. And from May to July, we have icebergs floating by, headed south from the Arctic.”

On my way north I enjoyed all those sights (plus several moose that stood looking curiously from the edge of the forest at passing cars). But L’Anse aux Meadows beckoned me ever onward. I was eager to see the site that’s brought worldwide fame to the windswept tip of northeastern Newfoundland.

I knew that descriptions of the Norse explorations in North America are found in the Icelandic Sagas, stories written down in the 13th century that detail the exploits of the Vikings who settled Iceland and Greenland. For many years, these tales were thought to be mainly fictional. But in the early 1960s, researchers used clues in the text to find the remains of a Norse settlement in Newfoundland.

Newfoundland preserves the history of its early Scandinavian explorers Norstead, a living history site located adjacent to L’Anse aux Meadows, includes a replica of one of the ships used by the Norse on their journey to Newfoundland. (Bob Sessions photo) With a last name of Erickson, it’s not surprising […]

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Ribeiro: Small Business Resource Powerhouse

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  • July 19, 2018
Interview Gabriella Ribeiro Mogul Mom
Interview Gabriella Ribeiro Mogul Mom
Gabriella Ribeiro spearheads The Mogul Mom, an online resource mompreneurs rely on for support and advice.

Meet Gabriella Ribeiro

A Small Business Resource Powerhouse

Ribiero is “The Mogul Mom” editor-in-chief and the woman at the helm of a thriving crusade. She offers mompreneurs ultrapractical daily challenges, advice, tips, and support as they forge their paths through the triumphs and trials working moms often face. She and her team are celebrating 11 years of outstanding success in 2018. If you have additional questions after reading my information-packed email interview with Ribeiro, feel free to contact her via this link or complete the form below and I’ll get answers for you.

What led you to develop The Mogul Mom site and the services you currently offer? Specifically, what are your services?

I acquired it actually back in January of this year. The previous owner is an amazing friend and a true mentor and she was ready to transition and wanted it to land in the hands of someone who could really take it forward. I am honored she passed the baton to me! We are the world’s premier site and community for dynamic women with sparkle who are raising a family, running a business and rocking both. Some members have aspirations of launching their own business so we have a vast amount of resources to help anyone in that space as well.

What words do you believe best describe your role with The Mogul Mom?

I am here to empower, motivate, inspire and share, but most of all to LISTEN to our members and help them in any way possible. I also truly enjoy connecting members to one another so they can build meaningful relationships. If I’ve accomplished all of that, I know I have succeeded in my vision.

What is your background and how does your experience enhance your ability to motivate women to succeed?

I’ve always been a self-starter, I think that came from having an entrepreneurial father and seeing him be able to fix just about any situation while building a business based on natural-born intelligence. I also saw hard times so I believe that helped me shape my vision of how a business should be run, how to be conservative and how to grow within one’s means.  Now that I am a mom, a single one at that, running three businesses, I am living the life I am helping people figure out every single day and that helps build trust. People see me being able to enjoy business success but also dealing with the day to day struggles we all do as moms, juggling schedules, negotiating, dividing and balancing time so that everyone who needs you gets your full attention including your work and when I share that, it brings me closer to the amazing women in the community and it helps to show them this all is possible. It isn’t easy, but it is absolutely possible.

How do your challenges motivate women and what are some of the challenges you’ve created?

I am always brutally honest and open about my own stories- my challenges, my struggles, my wins and my aspirations- I think that opening myself up and letting them know that beyond anything, I have been where they have been in so many regards. I have gone through a pathway myself to building businesses and creating a unique life that fuses my passions so the challenges are meant to be motivational but not authoritative, more so like a strong pair of hands on one’s back propelling someone forward while they are using their own movement as well. We’ve done a “30 Days To Your Best Self” challenge which really had our members examining their headspace, their happiness quotients, their goals, their current network vs the network they strive to have, body image, self-care, and wellness. In the end, I heard so many amazing stories about members really taking the time to think about things they usually try to ignore or put off and it has made a difference in their vision. We’re currently into a Healthy Eating challenge which hopefully is inspiring members to make great choices that work for their individual lifestyle, their body type and also to meld the head with the heart when making choices that are best for their overall life.

I’ve noticed you offer travel advice and tips. What is your role in the travel industry and how/why does travel play a part in a woman’s overall success?

I have two businesses that deal with different segments of the travel industry. One handles sales and creative marketing for hotels and destinations and the other curates unique immersive journeys for travelers that leave a footprint on their soul. Travel is, and always has been my passion so I worked hard to fuse it into business ideas to create a life that thrills me and that I truly love.  I really enjoy pushing people out of their comfort zone and with the journey planning, I get to do that. Now, with The Mogul Mom, I’m doing it for people in a different way, by helping them explore their passions and encouraging them to push themselves to develop the career and the life they have always dreamed of.

Tell me about your accolades, awards, and recognition you’ve received from the media. Do you work with magazines and/or other media to get the word out about The Mogul Mom? Where have you been featured to date?

The Mogul Mom has been so fortunate to have been mentioned in amazing publications and to have been endorsed by some wonderful thought leaders. However, what I am finding now is that the best publicity we ever could hope to receive is the wonderful word of mouth support we get from the members of our community who bring dynamic women into the network and help it grow. At the end of the day, we’re only as good as the level to which we serve our audience so right now my focus truly is on the user experience.  That being said though, we are continuing that trend moving forward with fantastic interviews with thought leaders in various industries that have really also gotten behind us to endorse us and there are some great media hits on the horizon – watch this space!

Visit to sign up for Ribeiro’s newsletter

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Wildlife Photography to Raise Awareness

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  • July 18, 2018
Wildlife Conservation Photography

Wildlife Photographers Raising Awareness
Wildlife Photographer Laura Crawford Williams utilizes her skills to bring awareness to wildlife conservation. 

Wildlife Photography to Raise Awareness

An Interview With Laura Crawford Williams, award-winning professional wildlife photographer 

Laura Crawford Williams has served as an advocate for wildlife and conservation for 18 years. She won national and international awards as she has established a reputation for beautiful to impactful photography. You can see her collection of photographs in “Wildlife in Wild Lands Photography for Conservation in Southern South America
By Laura Crawford Williams in cooperation with Fundación Parques Nacionales de Argentina

Wildlife Conservation Photography
Laura Crawford Williams photographs speak to her love of nature and interest in protecting it.

How did your affinity for wildlife progress?

I always had a love of nature and enjoyed my childhood as a true-to-heart tomboy growing up in southern Louisiana. Fortunately, my father and brother were true outdoorsmen and brought me along whenever they could. My father would care for injured or abandoned animals such as alligator, opossum, and raccoon at home as well. As a result, my love of nature spurred my interest in protecting it at a very young age.

I believe we are all connected to the natural world from birth. It is our heritage. I have yet to meet a child who does not experience a deep sense of wonder, adventure, and inspiration when exploring in nature. This is especially true when that child is led by an enthusiastic guide who teaches the secrets, connections, and behaviors of that world.

What is the correlation between wildlife photography and conservation and how does photography raise awareness? How does photography encourage conservation?

Humans are visual creatures. We respond to what is seen with judgment as well as emotion, using both the logical and emotional side of the brain. A successful image is one that stimulates both. The aesthetic appeal of an image is important, but not nearly enough. The successful photographer is able to take an image from interesting or beautiful to impactful. Emotional reaction is crucial, especially in wildlife conservation photography where you are trying to impress and persuade the viewer to care.

If I am a successful photographer, I will bring attention to things you miss in your everyday life, introduce you to the things you never knew existed, and nudge you toward appreciating each a little more. I will tell a story in a fraction of a second, that you may not have known, but will intuitively understand in the same amount of time. Once the brain is engaged in this way, we usually want to learn more about what we are seeing (and feeling). The successful image engages and invites the viewer to care, be curious, and remember.

How did you make the plunge from photographer to photographer/activist and how has that role been received by your colleagues?

Before my life as a wildlife photographer, I worked for a newly established software company. The hours were long, the work was intense, and by the time the company was sold in 1999, I was thoroughly burned-out. To recharge my depleted battery, I would walk with my dogs in the forests and prairies surrounding my home. A creative spark was ignited and I began carrying a camera as I walked. In 2001, my first published images appeared in National Wildlife magazine and by 2007, I had been published in National Geographic magazine. It felt like the pinnacle of success. But, the truth is, I never intended to become a professional wildlife photographer. I was simply doing what I love to do. My friends, family, and co-workers were very envious of the transition. Who wouldn’t want to give up a stressful corporate existence for the allure of the wild? I have been very fortunate in life so far.

How has photography changed the way you view some of the world’s most beautiful destinations and its indigenous animals? 

When you spend time with a subject researching, tracking, observing and engaging you can’t help but develop a special appreciation. I do everything I can to be a respectful, quiet observer. Not to interfere or change behavior with my presence. The gift I am given is a unique insight into the life of another creature. More often than not, I feel empathy, inspiration, wonder, and/or awe. My world seems bigger as a result and I am reminded that we are not alone, we are a part of something larger, and just as miraculous, as ourselves.

When did you begin your relationships with magazines such as National Geographic, The Nature Conservancy, National Wildlife, and Nature’s Best and how have those relationships changed your life and career?

The very first of my images to be published appeared in National Wildlife magazine in 2001. The senior editor at the time, John Nuhn, said he had never seen another photographer come so far from “out of nowhere” and have such a grand entrance into the world of wildlife photography. By 2007, I was published in National Geographic magazine. I thought it was the pinnacle of success at the time. It was certainly a milestone that changed how I was perceived as a professional. But, the truth is, I never intended to become a professional wildlife photographer. I was simply doing what I love to do.

What does the invitation to the BBC’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibit at the Museum of Texas Tech University represent to you?

I moved with my mother from New Orleans to Texas when I was 14 years old. I attended Texas Tech University at age 16, after graduating a year early from a local high school. Going back was an amazing experience and I loved seeing familiar faces I hadn’t seen on over 20 years. The fact that the event was tied to the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year simply made it that much more important and special to me. Many of the winning images being exhibited were created by friends and acquaintances I’ve made in the last 18 years. I suppose it was a bit like watching your past and your present collide in one big celebration!

Wildlife Conservation Photography
Laura Crawford Williams has incredible stories to tell from her travels all over North America and Southern South America.

What’s next for you? Are you currently working on projects? 

With so much content, I’d love to produce another book. I have two projects in mind:

Audiences have thoroughly enjoyed hearing stories about being on the road in some of the most remote areas of the world, as well as about working with exotic species in the wild. They can’t believe some of the uncomfortable challenges we had to overcome. After eight years of traveling all over southern South America, there are incredible stories to tell.

I also have a large collection of images taken while living and working in the prairies of Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota for 12 years. I’d like to showcase the best of this collection and inspire people to appreciate the subtle and fragile beauty found in our prairie ecosystems. This less dramatic landscape is easily overlooked and often under-appreciated.

What are some of your answers to questions audiences ask during gallery talks and lectures?

Audiences always like hearing about the adventure of wildlife photography, especially when working in wild and exotic locations. The moments that happen “between frames” contain some of the best stories — these are the things I am asked about most. People have a very romanticized view of wildlife photography. They focus on the excitement of travel or working with exotic species and discount the reality of difficulty and discomfort. Most are amazed at the amount of time, effort, and planning it takes to pull these trips together.

Every audience asks about “close calls” or “scary moments” in the field. While I have had a few of these, I prefer not to put emphasis here. They are almost always a result of someone making a mistake or miscalculation. I don’t want people to focus on the “fear factor”. Too many people are afraid of nature as it is. We should admire and respect nature first. I consider it a terrible failure should I find myself in a difficult or dangerous situation.

Where do you call home?

I have called Delray Beach, Florida my home since 2013. Before that, I spent eight years living half of the year in Argentina and the other half in South Dakota.

A Partial List of Awards 

Images for Conservation Pro Tournament: 3rd place out of 20 professional photographers; $21,500 cash prize; month long, invitation-only event for professionals. (2011)

 Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice Awards: Honorable Mention in ‘Birds’, professional division

(Exhibited at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum) (2009)

 Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice Awards: Two images received ‘Highly Honored’ in ‘Birds’ (Exhibited at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum) (2007)

 Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice Awards: Winner of ‘Animal Antics’ (Exhibited at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum) also received a ‘Highly Honored’ image in ‘Birds’ category (2006)

Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice Awards: Honorable Mention in ‘Birds’ category (2013)

Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice Awards: Honorable Mention in ‘Small World’ category (2011)

International Wild Bird Photographer: Winner of the ‘Best Artistic Image’ (2006)

National Wildlife Magazine: Honorable Mention in ‘Birds’ category (2010)

National Wildlife Magazine: Second place in ‘Birds’, professional division (2008)

North American Nature Photographers Association Member Competition: ‘Top 10’ from 4,120 images, as judged by professional photographers of the North American Nature Photographers Association (2009)


Visit <>  to read more about Laura Crawford Williams and her photography.

You can purchase a copy of her book on when you click on this link.


Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase but at no additional cost to you. I have experience with all of these companies and by linking to their product or a party that sells their products, I recommend the product based on their helpful and useful nature, and definitely not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.

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99 Epic Guidebook Series America travel destinations Lifestyle Places to visit in St. Augustine St. Augustine Guidebook What is America's oldest continually occupied town?

St. Augustine: Epic Adventures

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  • July 16, 2018
99 EPIC THINGS TO DO: ST. AUGUSTINE, FL is a complete guide to this historic city. Photos courtesy of Christina and Philip Benjamin



Christina Benjamin is a bestselling and award-winning author of the Young Adult fantasy series, “The Geneva Project.”

“99 EPIC THINGS TO DO: ST. AUGUSTINE, FL” was published in 2016 and is the first in a series of “99 EPIC” travel guides Benjamin and her husband, Philip Benjamin, a graphic designer, plan to co-publish.

So why did Christina decide to jump into travel writing? Because the couple wants to help you enjoy your travels and make each adventure EPIC.  They’re Florida residents and helping you, the traveler, see the best of the best in St. Augustine is part of their life’s mission. Most of the couple’s spare time is spent traveling to destinations where they can spend time on the water.

Their motto is “So wherever you are, go out and be EPIC,” and they’ve selected their extreme favorites from among St. Augustine’s incredible array of eateries, shops, arts, entertainment options, and places to worship. St. Augustine is America’s oldest continually occupied town (in the nation) and it’s also where they began their journeys as college students.

Throughout the guide, you’ll find a brief history, a noteworthy quote to inspire you, and a local tip. Fort Castillo de San Marcos, for example, is one of the best places to view the sunrise and the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States.  They refer to Creekside Dinery as a hidden gem nestled among beautiful magnolia trees on Gonzales Creek. Take the time to read this well-thought-out and innovative guide and you won’t be at a loss for information when you plan your St. Augustine adventure.

St. Augustine Florida Travel Guide
Christina and Philip Benjamin want to make your trip to St. Augustine EPIC. Photos courtesy of Christina and Philip Benjamin

“Give Back” is a section of the book where Christina and Philip offer readers an opportunity to give back. “If you’re looking for a way to give back in St. Augustine, donate to the St. Francis House, a shelter for the homeless, on Washington Street,” they point out.  In fact, they cite a quote from Winston Churchill, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give,” to drive home the point.

99 Epic Things to Do: St. Augustine, FL is indeed a top-notch guide and customizable with space for you to jot down notes about each location you visit.

What’s on the horizon for Christina and Philip?

99 EPIC NEW ORLEANS is in the works as Chrissy makes her way through “The Big Easy.” Visit 99EPIC.COM to keep up with  Christina and Philip’s travels.

Shopping for this book is easy. Click on the link below to buy your copy.


One or more of the links on this page are affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase but at no additional cost to you. I have experience with all of these companies and by linking to their product or a party that sells their products, I recommend the product based on their helpful and useful nature, and definitely not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.

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Books by Skyhorse Publilshing Lifestyle Outdoor Travel Safety Tips Wilderness Survival Tips

Key Survival Tips: Lost and Stranded

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  • July 13, 2018
Wilderness Survival Tips
Wilderness Survival Tips
Timothy Sprinkle offers expert advice to keep you safe in the wilderness.

How fast can the average Grizzly Bear run and what can you do to avoid an encounter with one?

Author and full-time journalist Timothy Sprinkle wants you to be safe if you are “Lost and Stranded” alone in the wilderness and you’ll want to read his book to learn the answer to my Grizzly Bear question.

Sprinkle offers 247 pages of vital information about how you can overcome obstacles if you’re by yourself in the face of danger. If you’ve planned a day hiking who knows what you’ll encounter along the way? What are some circumstances that can turn the peace and quiet in the woods into a nightmare?

“Expert Advice on How to Survive Being Alone in the Wilderness” highlights the common and not-so-common threats from stinging insects, weather events, hazardous terrain, and injury and illness. You might think you know how to treat a spider or snake bite or fend off a territorial animal that feels threatened by your presence but chances are you won’t remember those basic survival tips you learned in scouting years ago. Perhaps, you’re new to outdoor travel and reading Sprinkle’s book could help to save your life. Lost and Stranded is both a refresher and a Wilderness 101 course.

Sprinkle addresses questions readers might have related to more than two dozen scenarios and he utilizes advice from experts in a variety of fields from medical doctors to first responders. Test your skills and knowledge by answering the following questions.

Is a Mountain Lion perched on the side of a mountain a threat?

What’s the most dangerous wild animal you’ll find in the woods?

Why should you avoid crossing a stream that’s above your knee?

What are some symptoms of tick-borne diseases?

Each hazard is presented with (real-life) examples that are based on actual events.

Sprinkle is a full-time journalist and author with expertise in sports, business, travel, and lifestyle. Lost and Stranded was published by Skyhorse Publishing, New York, NY.

Buy Lost and Stranded: Expert Advice on How to Survive Being Alone in the Wilderness by clicking on the Amazon link below.



Some of the links on this page are affiliate links. I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase but at no additional cost to you. I have experience with all of these companies and by linking to their product or a party that sells their products, I recommend the product based on their helpful and useful nature, and definitely not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something.

Use this form to reach out to me with your questions.

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Learn Japanese Culture Before You Go

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  • July 11, 2018
Japanese culture

If a trip to Japan is in your future, you should set aside some time to check out  ThisIsAmericaTV. Watch host Dennis Wholey delve into a culture that’s both very modern but also deeply rooted in traditions. Wholey also covers a plethora of other topics related to other countries. In particular, Episode 1822 “ Japan: Tradition & Culture,” describes so beautifully Wholey’s “experiences with “the profound cultural depth of Japan.”

The show notes highlight Wholey’s accounts of what he refers to as “one of the most modern countries on earth.”

“Japan is still rooted in its traditions and culture. Segments focus on meditation in the mountain temples of Koyasan, traditional Washoku cuisine in Kyoto and Shinto beliefs at the Meiji Shrine in the heart of Tokyo.”

With a name like “Matsui,” you can surmise why I continue to be so intrigued by Japanese culture. My husband was born and raised in Japan. Visit my website to see examples of Chigirie, the Japanese art of painting with paper. During our month-long visits to the “Land of the Rising Sun,” we visited close to 30 temples and shrines. Japanese temples exude spirituality, harmony with nature, and a culture that is often times mysterious. This video is a great place to begin your Japanese cultural immersion.

I’d love to read your comments after you’ve viewed this video.

Did Wholey reinforce your opinions of Japan? If yes, why?

Japanese temples shrines
Experience centuries’-old architecture and culture in Japanese temples and shrines.

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