Jan 012014

Mike and Phoenix

I started compiling some creative writing stories right around the 4th grade. I wrote about travel and camping adventures with my dad, my love for sports and my unwavering passion to have a Golden Retriever. Little did I know that one day people from around the world would read my stories. To my astonishment a few of them would even like them.

Our Past My Curfew blog anniversary story was actually two months ago in November. Like a Retriever with a tennis ball, we got sidetracked.

I wrote this to Celine Dion’s “A New Day Has Come”. There were dark times over my lifetime but the light was always there and my angels continued to look over me and washed away my fears.

I could have done so much with these pictures of nostalgia’s past. Yet, to see them in all of their imperfection and grainy originality is to truly see me. I’m never beyond reproach and some memories remain vivid while others I chose to let slide forever into the past.

I was brought into this life to strive and achieve not for myself but to give unto others…

Baby Picture

My writing was always a cathartic escape and release of thought and emotion. It was very seldom done in the classroom though my thoughts wandered often. But often in reflection at a huge, gorgeous nearby park. Twin Oaks Park. I would look up from the base of their 60 foot height with the feeling of being so small. Being not anywhere near my teens yet, I was indeed small. Yet, my mind bounded within of such titanic thoughts next to these giants. I would sit down with my back against the wooden bark of one of them with profound contemplation. Not of fiction but of real life stories and adventures I had either experienced first hand or witnessed.

I would do a lot of walking by myself or hopping onto my one-speed pedal-application-brake bike just to be alone until I would arrive back at home. There I would park my bike, go into the house and grab whatever calorie ridden food item was available for my metabolism-ravage young active body. Then I would to go to my bedroom, close my door, sit on my bed with headphones on and begin writing. I looked longingly down at the floor for the canine companion I was never allowed to have.

Early on it was my father and I on the road during his time off from teaching at the high school. My idol, my guide, my protector. Showing me the world through his eyes to imprint upon my young mind. Glacier National Park which I would backpack across with family a mere few years later…

Birdwoman Falls

My bedroom was my safe haven. Usually. To escape. Be left alone to my thoughts and write. King of the Castle. Lord of the Manor. And my deep love for music. That was me likely rocking and giving my best air-guitar imitation to Eddie Van Halen there…

Me On Bed

An elite camping trip, a case of beer and many other non-essentials at 18 years old with my best buddy, Scott. He was my wing man for my street racing days and ironically Mark’s (my engine builder and nemesis) brother. A week later would be a life changing move at the conclusion of this outing.

Scott Camping

At 18 years old my father and I nearly came to blows. I grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and said the most regrettable words ever, “I hate you and want to punch you!”
He calmly replied, his former Army eyes dilated and focused, “Son, I welcome you to take the first punch. But, it will be the last one you will ever remember in your entire life.”

I deferred to that look in his eye I had never seen before. I released my grip and backed away slowly. Terrified of what I had just done.

I will never forget those 30 seconds for it was five minutes later he came back to me and said, “Mike, after your camping trip with Scott you two can go visit your Aunt and Uncle in Reno. The three of us would like you to stay there for awhile.” Ya, like for the next 32 years to this day.

I moved out of our California duplex and up to Reno where things were going to take a drastic turn. My high ranking, law enforcement, uncle pulled me aside and said, “Mikey, you can choose to go this way and continue on your path. Or I will show you a way out to much better things and I will support you 100%.”

I chose the latter after the most horrible three hour polygraph ever and my life changed. Ominous signs from my studio apartment neighbor. A State trooper. My hellion, rebellious, street racing days were over. I could have smoked him from the start and been waiting at the finish line. See, always the distorted mentality back then. That would be right before he had time to call, “Dispatch, I have a…uhhh…never mind.” I adamantly advocate against unlawful street racing today despite enjoying a specific reality show that gives me a fix from several lifetimes ago. It is against the law and is dangerously life-threatening beyond belief and I plead with everyone not to participate.

Firebird Next To Trooper

I met a new wing man, Dave, who was a constant self-check to keep me in line and on that right path. He loved the outdoors as I did and being on road trips. He’s still around to this day and has raised an amazing family and accomplished incredible achievements in his life. I’m so proud of him!

Dave and Mike

We were not beyond wanting to quench our teen desires to have fun though. This is before Journey’s epic four-hour finale at Day on the Green at the Oakland Coliseum, 1983.

Day On The Green

Yet, it was the mountain I viewed upon that I always wanted to ascend. Not for accumulation but to see from above those that I could be an angel to in this lifetime.

Mt Rose

I continued to scribble on my notepad all of these stories. Tossed away in paper but never in memory.

I had a story to tell as we all do.

Then my lifelong dream and prayer as a little boy came true 10 1/2 years ago. I grasped him in my heart as forever a soul mate as he held his paw to my heart. Well, and stuck his tongue out which would epitomize our relationship. I named him after the mythical bird that rose up out of the ashes in the desert. My Phoenix. He’s magic and I encourage all of you to meet him to feel his soul.

Phoenix and Mike Puppy Dream Come True

A co-worker, John, suggested some three years ago that I get a website to write a blog. After a long time and debate he encouraged me to enlist the help of a friend, Chris. I did so yet waited another two years before ever writing anything on it. Chris showed me the “back-end” of WordPress and I immediately felt overwhelmed. It was not my notepad nor emails which I frequently wrote my missives on and felt comfortable with. It was not numbers that I felt comfortable with. It appeared to me as a impassable maze. But, it was not even close to that in reality. He didn’t let up for that entire period of two years. He expounded that my stories were good and that I had something to offer.

I said, “But, what if no one likes them?”
Chris replied, “That may indeed happen. But, that is about them, not you Mikey.”

Having been a sports fanatic and writing stories about Phoenix for years I came up with SportsKennel.com. You can click on the link but this is all that you will find:

WebsiteCool header bar and the background picture while not taken by my aunt it was a very similar vista while she was house shopping for me in Germany. I received an email from her a day later. She had not seen this but informed me of her ventures.

That moment. That is when I stomped on the acclerator and decided I would write a blog.

It started out with some posts but something was missing. It was the header picture. I loved having Phoenix in it but I wanted more. To be inspired. For people coming to my blog to see the real me. Through some raw sketches on paper and the help of a friend in Microsoft Paint, I hired a graphics artist. What you see at the top is the result. That is an uncanny representation of me writing. Phoenix with me, the Jeep outside and late at night always. Though we live in a residential area.

I began following and commenting to two blogs. The Everywhereist and the Amateur Gourmet. Both had incredibly successful blogs yet the former rarely ever commented back to anyone. I never received a reply despite her enormous inspiration. I committed to myself that if I ever had that kind of attention I would always thank my readers and reply to each no matter how long it took. It’s the way I’m built. I learned and mirrored every one of their recommendations. I highly recommend both blogs if either interest you.

My early support was 100% due to my friends. They kept me going and encouraged me to never feel defeated. The only dark period was about two days. When I was in a rare, yet very foul, vocal mood and took it out on Chris. It was gibberish and uncalled for and I still to this day regret it. He was considering bailing on being my webmaster and through the grace of my higher power and the most heartfelt apologies he stayed on. I’m forever grateful to you, Chris.

I had yet to have a single comment from someone on the Internet outside of my non-blogging friends.

It was this last summer. The Everywhereist blog. There was one commenter that always caught my attention. She spoke very unlike me but it always hit a note with me. I clicked over to her blog for a couple of minutes once and said not my cup of tea. A couple of weeks later there she was again on The Everywhereist comment section. I clicked over again and for whatever reason something caught my attention. Not in her content (which is awesome by the way) but in my gut. I commented on her post and I’m sorry I don’t remember which one it was now. Sorry, my dear!

Her name is Suzanne Fluhr. A lawyer and blogger in Philadelphia. A dog lover of one adorably cute Dino, loving mom, beautiful wife and the kindest friend that anyone could ever have. She suggested I join her blog hop. What the hell is that? I have to wear 50’s clothing with rolled up jeans at the bottom and a pack of smokes curled up under my white t-shirt at the shoulder? No, I would link a pertinent post of my own to her site giving her blog a link and shout out somewhere within. On the honor program, I was to comment on all of the other blogs in the hop and they would comment on mine. I followed her instructions to the letter.

The comments poured into my site. Jackpot! That City of Brotherly Love stuff exists, huh?

I’ve never looked back and we love you so much, Suzanne. You changed our lives for the better forever.

Since then, we’ve been given a guest post at Coffee With A Canine, a reciprocated guest post coming up in February, and another crowning moment. Joel Silverman from the Animal Planet contacted me to film Phoenix and I. Yes, that Joel Silverman. Yep, that Animal Planet show. Unfortunately that did not work out solely on my part. I suck.

At this point I continue to follow bloggers “outside” my realm. That being travel bloggers. My posts don’t even remotely fit into their genre. Yet, their posts allow me a whimsical escape for days to come. And I allow them a respite. To take five minutes out of their traveling wonders to stop and decompress. A moments disengagement to see, “Hmm, I wonder what Mike and Phoenix have been up to this week?” So far, the results have been favorable.

Our loyalty to all of you will remain unwavering. Like most of you I continue to build up viewers and comment exchanges. Yet, I want for nothing as that is your choice. In the meantime we will continue to give shout outs to all of you that have given us your support.

Phoenix remains the light of my life and at my side forever. Literally at the computer taken this morning…

Phoenix Next To Me On The Computer

While the fur on Phoenix’s skin is as Golden as his heart. I don’t pass judgement. I’m one who has had a glass house from my past of which I can not throw stones. We will always support you as long as you are true to yourself.

We leave you with this for the Past My Curfew one year anniversary blog story: You are limited only by your imagination.

A thank you post will likely be coming from us next week!

Always your friends if you so choose and we send you unconditional love,

Mike and Phoenix 🙂

This blog is dedicated not only to Suzanne at Boomeresque but also to my brother from another mother. My best friend, Tony, who has read and commented on every single post I’ve ever published. He and his daughter snagged that header picture, framed it and gave it us for Christmas. Best. Christmas present. EVER. I thank you both from the bottom of our heart and soul.

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Mike Vogler

I have been told (many times) that I really need to write a book about my life. The past 50+ years have been an exciting ride, and these days I find myself with a great many passions. However, I feel that this website is a much more personal way with which to share my musings, stories and commentary.

  86 Responses to “Past My Curfew, A Blogger’s One Year Anniversary Story!”

  1. Hi Mike

    Well congratulations on your one year anniversary.

    The rebel in the adolescent phase hits probably 90% of us. Got to get away from control of parents. Though looking back they only had our backs. My threat was if I didn’t have a part time job, then at 16 I was going to quit school and move off the island. Jobs were few and far between where I lived, even trying to get a babysitting job was difficult. My dad found me a job very quickly.

    But life wasn’t so pleasant at home and my last year and a half at home wasn’t as bad as the years prior to it.

    There is a golden retriever I meet sometimes when out on a walk. We were formerly introduced a little over a month ago. Her name is Lady Kicks, apparently she is a therapy dog. She comes by us and leans in to be petted. Get a kick out of her as we say she has white eyeshadow. That was not always the case and I believe the woman said she was now 14. Very loving dog and I am not to fond of dogs as I really don’t trust them. Had a few dogs that would have attacked if they were not confined on a leash. Very dangerous dogs, so it takes a lot for me to feel comfortable around a dog. But Phoenix sounds like a delight.

    Always enjoy your writings, especially about Phoenix.


    • LOL Phoenix will not attack you, Mary…that I can promise you. I hear you on our younger years. But, I was getting away from infinity fold more than just parental control. I may or may not divulge that story that only my tight circle of trust know of and certainly not the Internet. Though I gave a hint on Facebook this last October when my biggest supporter ever in life, my step father, passed away. I’m so glad your Dad helped you and what a gem of a person you turned out to be, our friend! 🙂

  2. Mike, it is I who needs to thank you!
    You have always been there for me. To listen and look out for me. To call me out when I’m wrong and to see things good in me, even when I don’t. Always offering encouraging words and reminding me that everything that I want is at my fingertips, but I have to do it and nobody is going to do it for me. Not only are we brothers from other mothers but you have been my teacher. Simply put…thank you for being my Maury.

    Keep the stories coming and I’m proud of the strides you have made. Baby steps? Not any more my friend, you are doing it!

    Love ya both!

    • Nice shout out to “Tuesdays With Morrie”! Tony, you are my rock star and vault forever. Any ladies looking for a single father who is the cream of the crop here is your man. Ethical beyond reproach. Loyal to a fault. And Tony will make you laugh your ass off. Ask Phoenix to any of the previous. You are the best forever mister 🙂

  3. Happy one year and two month anniversary! I love all the old pictures, especially Phoenix as a puppy, Phoenix from this morning, baby Mike, and “Van” Mike.

    I’m glad you invited me to read your blog last year. I always enjoy reading your stories and insights. It’s also interesting to picture you as a kid sitting against a tree in a park pouring words onto paper.

    Keep up the good work, I look forward to all the posts to come.

    • Ah Ed, fantastic to hear from you. Another incredibly loyal follower. You told me once, “where do you come up with this stuff?” I said, “I’ve lived it.” You said, “No, the Top 10’s! How do you think of all that?” One of the greatest compliments and you still continue to come back for more punishment of dribble. You are greatly appreciated 🙂

  4. Aww. Thanks, Mike. I’m glad to know I made a positive difference in someone’s life in 2013. Thank you for reaching out as a reader of my blog instead of just being a “lurker” — not that lurking/reading is bad thing either. A lot of people prefer to remain incognito in the blogosphere and I “get” that. They read, but don’t necessarily interact.

    This blogging life can feel kind of solitary. Sometimes I feel like a metaphor for that tree that falls in the forest, but no one is there to hear it, so does it count as a sound? One of the enjoyable things about blogging is that there is a community there if you know where to look. I mostly “hang out” with the travel bloggers, especially the Boomer Travel Bloggers. I noticed that some have continued on as your commenters (and friends) ever since that Boomer Travel Blogger blog hop in which I invited you to participate.

    Blogs have also democratized the “publishing” world to some extent. While they do result in a lot of “noise,” sometimes we also find someone whose writing we enjoy and admire that we would never have encountered but for the internet. Initially, I was drawn in by the name of your blog since I am so often up “Past My Curfew” too. Then I felt like I got to know you and Phoenix and I’ve enjoyed following along (and participating from afar) in your lives. I’ve also enjoyed meeting in person some other travel bloggers who I know virtually. Since, by definition, we travel, we are able to sometimes cross paths in the real world. My next meet up with a blogger will be next week — in Chang Mai, Thailand, 8,355 miles from where I am now. As I sit here phreezing in Philly, that seems hard to believe.

    Best wishes to you and Phoenix for 2014, and by all means, WRITE ON!!!

    • Huge, unintentional, omission on my part about those that wish to read yet remain anonymous. I discovered that four months ago. Good call, Suzanne, as so many emailed me, messaged me or approached me in person to say they love the stories but chose not to comment. Another huge kudo to you is a commenter who frequently attempts to mirror your sentiments if you follow up on these. I assume for your approval. I love how you mentioned crossing paths. Because there are so many (see my shout outs) that are just that. All of our best to you in your safe travels and thank you deeply again, our friend 🙂

  5. And, I believe, it was your post on Suzanne’s blog that caught my eye because the post was about the Sierra’s and the Reno area, a common denominator for me to say hello. A great decision on my part – to say hello.

    Day on the Green at the Oakland Coliseum. OMG! Flashback memory! I was there many years before you though! 😉

    • Yet another blogger we were so blessed with crossing paths with in you, Patti! Ironically you and Abi are so close to home being a 4 hour drive away from us. Many years before me? Bill Graham got those started back in 1973 and we had Triumph, Eddie Money, Bryan Adams to get us going that day. Wow! 🙂

    • I probably went to Day on the Green in ’74 or ’75, you posted you went in ’83, that definitely qualifies as “many” years before; especially since our son was born in ’83! Funny, I can’t remember who we saw that day on the green. I distinctly remember going with a girlfriend (this was before I met Abi so must have been summer of ’75) and I distinctly remember my ears getting fried by the sun because I was wearing a scarf which left the top of my ears exposed! It could have been the band, “Chicago” that we saw, but I remember it was a great day. Thanks for the flashback!

    • That’s ironic that mention getting your ears burned. Dave and I had drank beers at the car and were ready to take our booze in with us. Then at the entrance they made you through EVERYTHING out. Ayee!! I got sunburned bad that day. So, an 8 hour buzz later (we were under age for drinking) by the time Journey came on we were fried. Yet, once the music started the natural buzz kicked in and the next 4 hours rocked! I would have loved to have seen Chicago, Patti! 🙂

  6. Happiness! One year down and many more to go! Congrats Mike! I like to write, travel, and write about my travels and I haven’t even been able to put it out there for people to read. You have done a wonderful job this past year and I look forward to more fantastic posts in the future! Keep up the great writing my friend!

    • Oh gosh thank you for your congratulations, Jennifer. We so deeply appreciate that! I keep tellin’ ya…the offer to guest post on your travels always remains an open door. Folks would absolutely love it! Trying to entice you to jump into the water 🙂

  7. Congratulations on your milestone! I really enjoy your blog, it makes the nights in the tombs much easier. I love the pictures, too. I look forward to reading many more in the future. As those lovable latinites say “Vini, Vidi, Bloggi”.

    • I had to look up “Vini, Vidi, Blogi” and that rocks, Pete! Thank you so much for following, commenting and all of your support. We are so grateful for that 🙂

  8. Congratulations Mike! You and Phoenix should be very proud. The stories, lists and all the things you decide to share have all been wonderful and many inspirational to those who do not have your talent for writing; not to mention I have a continuous movie list that has come from your top tens. I look forward to reading so much more.

    • That’s great that your movie list grows from the Top 10’s, Adrian! I like what wrote as to inspirational. Thank you so much for that! Your following and loyalty to the blog is greatly appreciated 🙂

  9. “Little did I know that one day people from around the world would read my stories” – and so they do. Great job Mike, there’s a lot more than a few that like your blog – me and Agness among them. We didn’t know about your blog hopping group and we’ll join in if the circle is open to new people 😀
    Thank you for a background story to how you got to where you are now. It’s a great one.

    Keep it going and all the best in 2014 and beyond!

    • Oh wow, what a thrill it is for us to receive a comment from you, Cez! That made my day. I thank you so very, very much for your compliments and what an honor it is that you read it! As you know, you and Agness, are in my favorites group and I always look forward to reading your awesome posts. I haven’t been in any blog hops for a while now but you just gave me a great idea that I should host one soon. Thank you again so much! 🙂

    • Oh Mike, I don’t comment often, but I’m always around and it’s not the first time I have seen your post. I’m the behind scenes guy of eTramping (someone has to do the dirty wordpress work, while Agness shines around hahaha). Thank you for your kind words and commenting so much on our blog. We’ll be always coming back to your blog – it’s also one of our favourites.

      All the best, and thank you Mike

    • I’m glad you mentioned being the behind the scenes guy of eTramping. It deserves a ton of shout outs because the work you’ve done is absolutely first class all of the way, Cez. The site is organized, “clean” in set up, and so easy to navigate. I truly believe that simple is often better to make a site user friendly. Don’t misunderstand me on “simple” either because I KNOW what it takes on the back end of a blog with the hours, weeks and months you’ve spent to perfect it. And you’ve accomplished that 10 fold! You two will always rock in our book, our friend 🙂

    • Thank you! You’re ever so kind to day it. I love your design too – the header you have is portraying exactly the things you’ve spoken about in this post.

    • A huge thank you right back at you, Cez! I’m very proud of the header picture. Though I had the conception of it in my mind it was a rough draft from a buddy of mine, John, and then a graphic artist, Josh, who pulled off the true magic 🙂

  10. Happy belated blogiversary, Mike!! Great story about your blogging journey. Thanks for sharing your lives and your stories with us! And thank God that you had a strong father and uncle who were able to help you get on track. Good parents are priceless!

    • Speaking of favorites and loyal followers. Wow, you’ve been there every time for us, Dana. I can’t tell you enough how much that means to us. We absolutely love your and Jave’s travels and stories. And you are spot on, I was very blessed with a father and uncle who stepped in got the ship steered in the right direction. Thank you always, our friend! 🙂

  11. This was such a lovely post, Mike & Phoenix. I loved having a glimpse at your past, at all those old, gritty photos full of life and story. I’m so glad you have your Phoenix now. He warms more hearts than just yours, as I’m sure you know. He’s made me smile on more than one occasion.

    • Oy vey, this got me really choked up in a good way. Oh my gosh thank you so much, Colleen! The way you mentioned Phoenix just twirled my heart around. We are so blessed to have become friends with you this year and we can’t wait for your 2014 adventures! Be safe always please, our friend 🙂

  12. Dear, Mike and Phoenix,

    My heart is melting.

    When I saw you as a baby ball of red fur, my heart melted all over the floor. I’m serious.

    Tender. beautiful. Magical.

    This is indeed a love story, my dears.

    I am honored to be a small part of your lives.

    Xxxxxxxxx WOOF. Lick. HUGs. KISsss.

    • My Daddy posting a puppy picture of me again was done so without my consent, Kim! Arrgh. It is a good one though. We love so much back and you’re a bigger part of our lives than you realize 🙂

  13. Congrats on your one year, Mikey. I’m so very glad you first got interested in sharing your stories, and then finally diving in…

    Good friends, good times.

    • This means the WORLD to us to hear from you, dear webmaster! I seriously doubt I ever would have or could have ever been doing this had it not been for your guidance, support and persistence! As I’ve said many times we are so deeply grateful to you always, Chris! 🙂

  14. Congrats on sticking with it and your one year anniversary!
    For the record, NOTHING will melt my heart faster than a golden puppy. Adults are a close second. Oh my he is a sweetie. And I just realized that Phoenix has a golden nose instead of black! I love how you write with him and what a huge part of your heart he is. My Kona will be 9 next month and she has reached a place in my soul that no other pet has.

    • Ha, ha…I’m right there with you on Golden puppies! They are my kryptonite, Ally! Your compliments mean so much and we so appreciate you supporting us. I enjoy all of your posts, obviously, and would love to hear more about Kona when you have time! Loved the nose “stuck” into the Christmas stocking picture 🙂

  15. You do lay it all out there and bare your soul Mike and I think that’s what makes your blog feels so real. Plus you have an incredibly cute dog that is hopefully a whole lot smarter than my mother-in-laws golden retriever, Molly.

    A huge congrats on a year and building it up the way you have. Like you, I do try and respond to people’s blogs though some travel bloggers despite 10+ attempts have never responded in kind. I do give up now after about 5 non responses as I think life is give and take and I don’t care how important some bloggers think they are. We are all human. Enough ranting.

    I wish I had the same desire as you do to write – but really I’d rather take photos – despite embarking on a book project that should finally be completed by the end of September 2014.
    Hope you’re around for a long time to come.

    • It’s been with immense trepidation to “bare it all out there”, Leigh. I’ve always been extremely private yet as you see I have a story to share. And hopefully it entices other to share on their blog or even just in the Comments section. I do love unconditionally but when it comes to comment exchanges there is only so much time in the day. As I said, I’m fiercely loyal in life but for blogging purposes I wish for mutual support. You have rock solid fans here in us I’m so excited for your book! I want to shoot more photography and be better at it and your Ansel Adams post was so amazing 🙂

  16. Congrats on your one year anniversary Mikey. You and Phoenix have made me laugh, cry and contemplate life. Your restaurant reviews have enticed me to try some new places – BTW loved them all. Your recipes have got me trying new dishes and getting more inventive. Let me know when you learn to cook a White Castle Burger and I’ll be over to try it! Hee Hee! Knowing so many of the people in your stories, just really makes them all the better! Wishing you and Phoenix the happiest 2014!

    • We wish you and your’s a very Happy New Year and best wishes for 2014 as well, Margaret! I’m so honored and thrilled for what my writing has brought to you. It’s the commenters, like yourself, that confirm that I’m doing an ok job and to stay on the past. Btw…I just made a note to try and replicate some White Castle burgers! You just bringing up that fond memory has my mouth watering. Thank you for everything! 🙂

  17. That was the best thing I’ve read all day! What a beautiful story of triumph over self-doubt. You have wonderful friends; I’m so glad they encouraged you to write and blog. And HAPPY ONE YEAR!! That’s amazing.
    You certainly have had an interesting life with lots of stories to tell. Don’t ever stop. We’d all miss you!
    Pet to Pheonix, xoxo to you.

    • Ah yes, lots of self-doubt and lack of confidence, Beth. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be here had you asked me two years ago. Yet, when I started getting favorable comments it’s been a complete boost and the momentum continues to grow! Thank you for your encouragement and the “we’d all miss you…” really touched my heart. You are so wonderful to us always! 🙂

  18. Congratulations on your blogging anniversary, Mike. I’m glad we’ve gotten to know each other in the travel blogosphere. Nice to learn about Suzanne’s influence on you, too. She’s quite a gal! Thanks for taking for a walk through your earliest days and the experiences that led to this point. All the best as you keep growing your readership. I’m predicting lots more success during your second year.

    • Thank you so much, Cathy, and I’m thrilled to have gotten to know you too! Your blog falls into that group that I first started following and commenting on. You were and are also in that same group of descriptive writers that inspired me to get better! Yes, Suzanne is fantastic and has become a wonderful friend! All of our best to you and Mr TWS this coming year! 🙂

  19. What a great read! Congratulations and belated happy blogoversary to the two of you. Thank you for sharing your stories with us. I love the retro pictures and the history behind them. It has been a pleasure virtually meeting you guys. I know the feeling all too well of commenting on the big wigs and not getting responses. Thanks for your support and I’m looking forward to reading more about your adventures in 2014. Happy writing!

    • And speaking of favorites again here is another one of my huge supporters. Especially on Twitter! Your RT’s have definitely given my site more exposure and we are grateful for that. I’m glad you liked the post, Mary! Your posts will always bring a smile to my day because of the joy on your children’s faces and in their eyes…as I know that translates always to the readers. We can’t wait to continue to follow you in 2014! Be safe always and our best wishes to the four of you and the rest of your family! 🙂

  20. Thanks for such an honest, vulnerable, forthcoming story, Mike. I feel like I’ve become closer to you through it.

    While I love the way you’ve built an online community here at PMC, the part that leapt out at me was the searing conflict with your father at age 18. On the one hand, I think it’s normal for adolescents all around the world to need a break from their parents, and vice versa. Aunts/uncles, friends etc. have a less intense relationship with a youth than parents do, and they have more objectivity. Going to live with them doesn’t seem like a problem, of itself.

    On the other hand, your father’s threat of extreme violence (seems like he vowed to maim you for life if you hit him) strikes me as something that only a deeply wounded and hostile person would say to another. Of course, the military trains and rewards that kind of aggression (you indicated he’d been in the Army) — and a person doesn’t leave military training behind just because they’ve left the military.

    I feel sad about your 18 year old experience — my father had all kinds of aggression too — but clearly you went on to be a remarkably open-hearted, loving man. Thank you so much for sharing this story, Mike. Your emotional courage inspires me.

    • I think something got a little lost in translation. My father was in no way abusive or ever, ever an aggressor towards me. I was the one who took a horrifically and regrettably aggressive stance going to nose to nose with him. And that is something I would hope any parent would squash immediately. It was one of the best turning point moments ever in life. He was incredibly kind, gentle and patient and gave me more leeway the last two years of high school than other of my friends were allowed from by their parents. And I was an absolute hellion. I’m so sorry for your experiences with your father, Alison! Thank you so much for your support and kind words for my blog, our friend! We’ll see where 2014 takes us 🙂

  21. Hi Mike,

    I especially love the air guitar while laying in bed — priceless! Aren’t you so glad you have those photos? They’re simply wonderful.

    Thanks for letting us all walk side-by-side with you down memory lane — a rare occurrence because you share so much of yourself. We like it!

    Happy New Year,

    • I’m glad you mentioned keeping the pictures, Josie. Because there are a ton after both my bio parents passing on that was offered and now I wish deeply I had kept! It’s so wonderful that you stopped by, read, and commented! All of our best to you in 2014! 🙂

  22. Mike, thanks for clarifying. I have a better understanding now. I think it was hard for me to picture you as having been the aggressor, even decades ago. Im glad your dad’s boundary with you was actually a positive thing. Big hug.

    • Yes, it was a misstep on my part for twenty seconds some 30 years ago, Alison. Hug back to you! 🙂

  23. Mike,
    what a great post! It was so open and honest! I feel like I know you so much better now…. It is amazing how simple things, like an argument with your dad, can change your life forever…. I am sure he is so proud of the man you have become. Love all the pictures too!

    • You are such a doll, Hilary, and thank you so much. I keep taking baby steps and it seems to be working so far. Like you, I’ve found the readers love to really get to know the author/blogger behind the writing. I have no idea what the blogging endgame will be…so to speak. But, I move forward always with a smile! I soooo wish my bio parents were still around to see what I’ve accomplished. I’m sure they are proud from above. Your’s is another beautiful comment that really put that emotional lump in my throat 🙂

  24. Hi Mike
    Congratulations for completing one year at successful Blogging…I know it is very challenging especially when nobody around you seems to care a bit! I keep wondering how some people who have hardly anything interesting to say and with such an ordinary vocabulary have a great following! Quite hard to understand!

    What an amazingly riveting story you have written…some parts seem so incredible! It requires a lot of courage to reveal all! Lovely pictures too!
    Well, I must say your father had immense patience with a brat like you! I salute his way of handling the situation so well.

    Thanks for sharing…loved reading this post.

    • What an amazing, wonderful, kind comment Balroop! You really hit a great note in that I salute my father as well for the amazing job he did with me. A brat, indeed I was, the last two years of high school! It’s absolutely mind-boggling that there are almost 200 Million bloggers out there and for me to be blessed with the folks who come and read mine, like you, is an incredible honor! Your writing is wonderful and you have excelled immensely 🙂

  25. You deserve some high fives and pats on the back….keep writing, laughing and loving. LOVE the pictures!!

    • That means so much to us, Connie, and thank you! We will keep on and I’m so glad you liked the pictures. Several blasts from the past there. We are so very grateful for you continual support and comments which have been so helpful in this journey 🙂

  26. I LOVED reading this! Congrats on your one year blogging anniversary, what a huge accomplishment! I love the idea that you joined a blog hop (I need to look into this, I think?!?!), and of course, you know I love your unwavering love to your BFF! (Mine is always on my lap as I’m blogging…what a companion!;-)

    Best of luck in the SECOND year of blogging, and I look forward to following your stories for a long, long time! Cheers!

    • I’m so jazzed you liked the post and thank you for your congrats and support, Jess! Blog hops can give your site an enormous amount of exposure it’s just finding one you like. And one that abides by the honor code of mutual comment support. Some of them are just a bunch of folks spamming advertisements of which I quickly bid adieu and looked for another. Of course, one added huge benefit to me as a reader of your site is the love you have for your little Chihuahua BFF. Good luck to you this year too, our friend! 🙂

  27. Hey Mike congratulations on your blogging anniversary. You’re stories are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes informative … but they are always real and very well written with true emotion. That’s why so many people – including myself – love reading your blog. That photo from Phoenix when he was a puppy is incredibly cute 🙂

    • Oh my gosh what a huge compliment and thank you, Freya!! Yes, my writing has always been real and non-fiction. Whether folks would like it or not I had no idea. So far, it’s worked out ok! Golden puppies are my kryptonite 🙂

  28. Congrats on the blogging anniversary. I’ve been at it two years and still fill like I’m finding my niche. I love reading blogs about all kinds of stuff. I know some people gravitate toward certain subject matter, but to me, the allure of blogging is how the person chooses to share bits and pieces of their life with others. I can now count your blog as another “must read” in the growing list of great people I’ve met via the blogging community.

    • Wow, thank you Jeri! What an enormous compliment that we appreciate so much! I’m absolutely still trying to find my niche though it appears I’m doing some things right so far. You mentioned gravitating and I enjoy all sorts of different subjects and have found a great blogger “family” along the way. You are definitely one of those to us! 🙂

  29. Congrats on your anniversary! You deserve it!! I’m glad you got into blog writing as I always enjoy reading your stories and recipes. BTW, Phoenix was such a cute puppy! I’m not sure why I’m just remembering this now but I had a ferret with the same name. He was my mine and my husbands first pet together. The kids have eaten my brain.

    • LOL…I literally laughed out loud at your, “the kids have eaten my brain…”, Krystle! Thank you so much for the congrats and we so appreciate all of your support you’ve given us. And thank you also for the Phoenix puppy compliment. How cool is that on your ferret! Maybe they were brethren of different times 🙂

  30. Congratulations on your one year anniversary Mike. Blogging is fun, but it’s hard, hard work, too. I can see you and Phoenix love it. It shows in your writing. I hope you have continued good luck in 2014!

    • I’m so glad you mentioned the “hard work” part because if it ever becomes that with no fun involved then I’m out. I do love to write and you’re spot on with the time involved. Absolutely. Thank you for your congratulations, Corinne! 🙂

  31. Congratulations on your 1 year (but technically 14 months) anniversary Mike! In another post I read a comment by someone who said that reading your blog reminded them of The Wonder Years, and I have to second that comment! The combination of your teenage photos and nostalgic writing reminds me of when I used to wake up on a Sunday morning and watch it in my dressing gown.

    Great to read about the blogosphere community that you’re part of. I’ve not heard of a ‘blog hop’ but it sounds like a good idea, admittedly I’m not very clued up when it comes to blogging but I do know that it requires a lot of effort!! It was great to find you at the end of 2013, I think I discovered you through Mary from The World is a Book or maybe from eTramping – two very excellent blogs and bloggers!

    • You are doing absolutely fantastic with blogging, Shing! Trust me, I believe wholeheartedly amazing things will come your way both with your blog and with life in general. You are off to an amazing start already in all facets! Definitely join a blog hop when you have time and/or feel like it. It will give your site a lot of viewership and exposure. They will love you, your writing and your photos! I’m absolutely beaming from ear to ear on you seconding “The Wonder Years” analogy to my writing. It’s one of if not thee most favorite tv show of mine of all time. I watched it and said to myself, “I have a story like that to tell too…” I just never consciously wrote with that narration in mind until the two of you have pointed it now. You absolutely rock, our friend! 🙂

  32. Congrats on completing your first year of blogging! You made incredible strides in 12 (okay, 14) months!! The blogosphere can be a lonely land and you’ve successfully navigated its terrain. Keep up the good work. . .there are many of us out here reading your words and enjoying them. I envy the many friends you have supporting your work!!

    • Thank you so much, Jackie, and I appreciate that very much! I’m still a “baby” out there in BlogVille. I’m so incredibly blessed with all of the people I’ve met and that have supported the entire time 🙂

  33. Thanks so much for sharing this story, Mike! It was really inspiring. You’re enthusiasm is infectious so I understand why you attract so many followers! Best wishes for the second year of blogging!

    • We really appreciate that so very much, Irene! What a great comment to come home from work and read! We have been so very blessed and it’s been so much fun meeting all of these blogger friends and continuing a “relationship” with all of you. Without all of you this would have never been the success it is. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have that really cute kid of mine 🙂

  34. Belated Happy Blogiversary Mike! I’ve been so tied up with family things recently that I completely missed this one, but it was lovely to read your story and to see that wonderful wonderful picture of Phoenix as a puppy – aww bless! I too enjoy respite from the travel scene to hear what you and Phoenix have been up to … and isn’t that the wonder and joy of blogging 🙂

    • How ironic, I was just thinking of you guys Down Under, Johanna! I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying your family time. Always keep those a priority! We soooo appreciate your compliments and well wishes. That made my day that you enjoy hearing about Phoenix. I love to write and he’s obviously my favorite topic. My soul mate, best friend and wing man. Ok, and rebel rouser too! It’s been such a special year for the two of us and it’s folks like you who continue to say we are doing something right. All of our best to you and chat soon! 🙂

  35. Absolutely love the old photos! They are perfect as they are, so I am glad you did not “touch them up.” I love that you take the time to read AND respond to each comment to your posts. This shows your true commitment and appreciation for your readers. You have a great heart!

    • What an awesome compliment and it’s soooo appreciated, Diane! I’m glad you liked the old photos. I’ve definitely been committed to doing it and doing it right. The readers and commenters are the ones who have made this come true come for us so I always want to give each of them the attention and thanks they always deserve! 🙂

  36. I’m so glad you stopped by my place and left a comment, so I could find YOUR blog! Happy Anniversary! The first year is so amazing…then it keeps getting better. I am so blessed with the wonderful community I’ve discovered through blogging. It is the BEST!
    Keep on Keepin’ on!

    • Yes, it’s been amazing, Barbara! I have no expectations for 2014, only wishes! Thank you so much for all of the well wishes and right back at ya! 🙂

  37. Hi Mike,

    What I like about your blog is how I feel like I know you and know Phoenix – its like your heart is in every moment of your writing so I can feel the real you.
    And I love how your puppy is part of your blogging Journey.
    Your story about how you said words to your Dad and how you wanted to hit him, and what he told you would happen….I have seen that with one of our son’s and my husband. Now they are the best of mates which makes me so happy. And I am so glad our son never actually tested his Dad’s words out !!!
    Life is a journey, and growing up sometimes we have moments in life where we do things that don’t make sense nor do they make us feel good. But in the end as long as you are living your life with true to yourself then all is good.
    Thanks for your blog, thanks for sharing your life stories and thanks for Phoenix xxx

    • What an absolutely incredible comment and thank you dearly from the bottom of our heart’s for this, Lisa! Yes, that moment with my dad was a 30 second life-changer and in the best way. I’m glad I didn’t test him either ha, ha! This made my week in sharing how my writing really brings you to know Phoenix and I. That is exactly what my goal has always been. I get nervous at times to push that envelope but you never know what you can achieve if you don’t try. You hit the nail on the head with being true to yourself. That has been one of my biggest life goals. You and your family have become dear blogging friends of mine please always know that! 🙂

  38. Ok so I just commented on your other post and wanted to get to know you better so came here and can say – wow, what a perfect post to land on. First, congratulations to your one-year anniversary, and second – I love the photos and the way that you told your life story so eloquently, without anger, and with the facts. I graduated high school in ’86 and could so relate to some of the photos that have a feel and awesomeness that is just lacking in today’s digital photography. I mean I love today’s photos, but there’s a certain 70’s and 80’s feel to the ago ones.
    That moment with your dad had me on the edge of my seat. Also, I love the header. Said this before – but so happy that I found your blog!!!

    • I am ironically quite shy at first but I put those pics up to say, “this is me” to tie into the story. I will never lie as that gets me no where. Oh, that doesn’t mean I will tell you everything up front. I have an ingrained self-preservation mechanism that I will always trust and that’s another story I may or may not ever share. LOL…that moment with my Dad had ME on the edge too! He spanked me only once in my entire life. Part of the above “may” share story involves that he wasn’t there when I needed him because of another individual. He knew it. Anyhoo, he could have pulverized me into dirt had I took that swing. His beautiful soul (he was a high school teacher for 30 years…only 2 sick days) and only he and I have that secret. Your comment made my weekend. You have no idea how much I appreciate it, Kristi 🙂

  39. Thanks for sharing your one year anniversary, Mike, and all the experiences that led up to it. I just started blogging again a few months ago. Your story inspires me to keep going. This is my first, but not last time here. I look forward to a long term relationship. 🙂

    • And thank you for reading and commenting, Jennifer! That’s wonderful that you are getting back into the swing of blogging. It’s so much fun and brings a ton of enjoyment to me. It’s also very cathartic. My only frustration is not having enough time in the day. I’m so glad you were inspired…how kind of you to say! 🙂

  40. Hello Mike! First, a huge Happy First Anniversary to your wonderful blog. I can’t tell you how much I’m glad you have decided to take the plunge and start this blog. I’m also so glad we virtually met! I love these posts when you open up about your life, you’re a great writer, don’t ever give up on your dreams.
    My parents are now back to Canada and I’m just getting back into the blogging world today. I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year 2014 filled with everything you want and love. All the best to you and beautiful Phoenix! And, looking forward to follow your blog this year too!

    • Hi Rita! I’m so glad you had such a wonderful, long visit with your parents. I can tell how incredibly close all of you are so it had to be hard to see them go back to Canada. Thank you dearly for you incredibly warm thoughts and compliments. They are greatly appreciated. A very Happy New Year again to you and your’s and may all your dreams come true! Phoenix says thank you as well 🙂

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