Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Random Photos, Rocky Mountain National Park

We were only in Rocky Mountain National Park for two full days. I'd like to go back and visit it again and hike some more trails there, and get into the back country. Because most of the trip was spent in the San Juans, I haven't even processed all of my photos from the Park. Here are a few random shots.

I saw this withered husk of timber along a glacial tarn and figured it was worth being the subject of a photograph.

Longs Peak, the mightiest mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Above treeline on Longs Peak. This is where I first learned all about altitude sickness first-hand.

A pretty impressive waterfall on the way to Chasm Lake. Made insignificant by the enormity of the landscape around it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Pure Awe

The most stunning place I have ever been in my life was the Weminuche Wilderness in Colorado. I'd been to mountains before, of course. I'd hiked the Appalachians from Katahdin in Maine to Wade Mountain in Alabama. I'd hiked in the mountains in southern California and in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons in Montana and Wyoming.

But for scenery that inspired nothing but awe in me I have to give the highest marks to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. It's a vast range of very high country (for the lower 48) that is packed with tortured terrain and stunning vistas. I wonder if I'll ever see anything like it again.

Today, I was looking through photos of my trip there. One major drawback for me while I was in that place was the altitude sickness and my back injury. The altitude sickness dogged me for almost the whole time I was there. It took me many days to finally acclimate to the high elevations, and by that time I had to head home. The next time I go to such country, I'll make sure to spend more time getting accustomed to the thin air.

I was generally struck speechless.

The tilted, tortured crust of Mother Earth.

Sometimes I was so ill from altitude sickness that I could barely move. And yet I'd still pause to take in the scenery.

Alpine glacial lakes.

Willow looks nice and beautiful, but it's a horror to negotiate.

What can you say? In the silence all I could do was look and appreciate.

I took this one from the worst campsite we were forced to use.

Waking to the mountains dusted in snow.

Chicago Basin on the way out.

The weather we encountered was all over the range. Snow. Sleet. Hot. Cold. Rain. Sunshine. Thunder.

This was the deepest into wilderness as I have ever been. No matter which way we could have headed from this point, we were at least two days from the nearest road.

High valleys surrounded by towering peaks.

I had never seen mountains such as these.

I think I took this one the day we were stopped by thunderstorms.

Trail heading down from a very high pass (almost 13K feet) toward Chicago Basin.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


I spend most of my free time writing. It is, after all, what I consider a job even though I have rarely earned anywhere approaching half the amount I make as a laborer (over the course of a year). To that end I sometimes rarely have the opportunity to read the books I want to read, see the movies I want to see, or visit the forests I want to explore.

I've had to force myself to take something of a break.

In the next few weeks I hope to catch up on some sorely missed reading and to watch a few movies. And I hope to get up to the mountains to go hiking somewhere I can find some solitude. We have a four-day trip planned to southwestern Virginia where I'm going to bag some peaks I've wanted to climb for quite a number of years.

I genuinely love to write, but I need to take a bit of a break from the constant act of creating fiction.

One thing about the southern Appalachians: they are completely green.

Self-portrait on Mackey Mountain. This area is home to many tracts of virgin forest. The largest poplar trees in Pisgah National Forest are located here. This was also the first land to be designated as National Fores in the USA.

Cascade on Mackey Mountain.

Mackey Mountain forest. Looks beautiful still, but the hemlocks are all gone--killed off by hemlock wooly adelgid.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Not All That Unusual

Someday--when I'm not employed by USPS anymore--I need to write down all of the weird shit I've seen delivering mail from house to house.

One time I was delivering a registered package to a house. I rang the doorbell. A gigantic woman filled the threshold as the door opened. I'm 5'10" tall and found myself staring into the enormous cleavage of insanely huge breasts squeezed manically into a tube top. "Registered parcel," I said and handed her the signature sheet and a pen. Then a monster hairy paw easily twice the size of my own hand came into view and took the pen from me. "THANKS," came the voice, rumbling up from deep within granite tombs, a sound not unlike the thumping of dynamite in the earth from a nearby quarry. He was obviously not quite that far down the road to being a she. Before I could so much as move out of the way, the owner of those gigantic tits--probably standing six and a half feet tall and outweighing me by 100 pounds--exited the house in a hurry followed by a willow-thin boyfriend who looked kind of like a dark-skinned version of Ichabod Crane.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I've had to curtail my activity lately. All around. Even had to put a near-halt to my writing projects.

But I have revived my companion blog about horror fiction: ZOMBIE HORRORS. Go check out the newest post.

Trail on Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park. Why? Because I wish I was hiking there now.

Monday, July 22, 2013


The book is now available in ebook format. The paperback will follow soon for those of you who still like real books made of paper (as I do).

This is (not counting my undelivered third part of COALITION) my last zombie novel. I wanted to do something very different with the form. I (loosely) based it on a comic book story I wrote for Stephen Bissette's legendary TABOO anthology series. The story of the same name appeared in the last issue (#9) of TABOO. And now the novel.

Pick up your ebook version of THE NEW ECOLOGY OF DEATH.

During the zombie apocalypse civilization was on the brink of collapse. But it pulled through. Alex 

Wenzler, however, did not. He was a victim and became one of the walking dead.

Now, things have changed. Two years on, society is getting back to normal. The zombies are on the run. Life is close to being the way it was.

But Alex Wenzler suddenly wakes up, roused from the waking coma of the zombie un-life.

He is aware of what he was and what he is and what he is…becoming.

Now all he wants is to find his son, Mark.

He will have to run a gauntlet of violence and almost sure destruction to see his boy. Can he do it? And if he can, what will he do once his child is within reach?

There are two sides to every story. Even the undead have something to say.


By James Robert Smith


From Severed Press.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Another Cool Camping Trip

One of the coolest places Carole and I ever hiked was the abandoned city on Egmont Key in Florida. Once upon a time it was a thriving military town. But the fort was decommissioned and the population removed from the island. It became a ghost town, then a smuggling point for illegal aliens. The local police got sick of having to police the town (which was then pretty much intact), so they burned it to the ground one night "by accident".

We also had one of our all-time favorite campsites at the Fort DeSoto County Park just outside of Tampa.

This was our campsite at Fort DeSoto County Park near Tampa. Campsites really do not get any better. Separated from other sites by lots of vegetation. Full shade. Waterfront. Water and electric hookups. Across the street from the bathrooms, hot showers, and laundry facilities. Quiet. Tons of wildlife. We loved this place.
We took a boat ride to Egmont Key State Park and explored the abandoned Naval fortifications.

There are miles of these amazing brick roads that once took you through the city, which is not all but gone except for some foundations and a few standing walls.

The Egmont Key lighthouse. The metal housing on the top was removed and used for scrap during WWII. There is a movement afoot to have it replaced with a new housing and, as I understand it, most of the private funding has been collected to have this done.
This was the first time we encountered an ocean-going manatee on one of our trips.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fun Trips, Part Two

One extremely fun trip we took was to eastern Tennessee just across the North Carolina border. We stayed at a National Forest campground called Rock Creek. It was one of the best campgrounds and finest single campsites we ever had. We'd like to go back there.

Our campsite. They don't get any better than this one.

This was a waterfall we drove to see. I believe it's actually in North Carolina. Here I was at the base waving to Carole who had remained at the top.

We drove on a very scenic National Forest road near Rock Creek. We stopped at this spot to snap some photos in the dreary, overcast weather. As I was standing here, Carole heard a slight buzzing noise and I looked to see a very large, very fat, almost solid black timber rattler at my feet. Proving once again that they really do not want to mess with us. It could easily have struck me. Despite its size, it had only a few buttons to rattle (the old ones must have fallen off in one of its molts), so it couldn't make very much noise with them.

Memorable Trips, Part One

Crazy things going on around here. Far too busy to work on essays or extended blogging. Sorry.

Until things even out, I'll post some photos of memorable trips that Carole and I have taken.

On one of our trips to Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia. One of our favorite mountain areas in the east. On this particular trip there had been tremendous snowfall all winter long before we arrived. The weather did not change while we were there, dropping quite a lot of snow on us. It was great.

This was the view of Blackwater Falls that we had from the overlook. The river was bursting with snowmelt from slight warming that had occurred over the previous days. Snowmelt which was utterly reversed while we were in the park.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Keep On Keepin' On

Keep On Keepin' On
If the day looks kinder gloomy
And your chances kinder slim,
If the situation's puzzlin'
And the prospect's awful grim,
If perplexities keep pressin'
Till hope is nearly gone,
Just bristle up and grit your teeth
And keep on keepin' on.

Frettin' never wins a fight
And fumin' never pays;
There ain't no use in broodin'
In these pessimistic ways;
Smile just kinder cheerfully
Though hope is nearly gone,
And bristle up and grit your teeth
And keep on keepin' on.

There ain't no use in growlin'
And grumblin' all the time,
When music's ringin' everywhere
And everything's a rhyme.
Just keep on smilin' cheerfully
If hope is nearly gone,
And bristle up and grit your teeth
And keep on keepin' on.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tanawha Photos

I'll likely get very little writing done today. The day job calls.

Just a few photos of Tanawha, also known as Grandfather Mountain. This is probably the single most impressive peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains. And also the highest peak in the Blue Ridge (at 5,964 feet above seal level).

It has been proposed that the "Boone Bowl" on the mountain is the remains of a glacial cirque. I can believe it.

I saw similar features in the White Mountains of New Hampshire which definitely had glacial cirques.
Tanawha is one of the most rugged mountains in the southeast.
Self-portrait standing on what looks suspiciously like the rim of a glacial cirque.
Very much appears to be a glacial cirque.
Some of the rock striations that were found in the 1970s as evidence of past glaciation.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Early Tales of Suspense

Of the major pre-hero Marvel titles, I've done the best in completing sets of TALES OF SUSPENSE and TALES TO ASTONISH. I only lack a few issues of each in completing the runs that preceded the appearances of the superheroes who ended up dominating the titles. In the case of SUSPENSE it was Kirby' Iron Man who took over the book, and in ASTONISH it was Kirby's Ant-Man (later Giant Man) who eventually overshadowed the monster and aliens stories that had kept Goodman's comic book fortunes afloat during the mid to late 1950s.

Every time I see these books I am reminded once again of how much was stolen from Kirby and Ditko. (All comics pictured are from my personal collection.)

Lower grade, yes. But at least I have a copy of #1.

I know this is a Kirby cover, but this monster always seemed as if it was not created by the King. It just doesn't look like something he'd have concocted. Possibly it was inserted by another artist to meet the demands of the editor.

I've written about this book before. Again, it appears as if the original figure was removed and this one inserted into the cover art. Marvel did constantly worry about the Comics Code in those days, so perhaps the original monster was deemed too scary.

Every Kirby/Ditko monster had a theme. Perhaps requested by the editor, perhaps not. Cloud monster. Rock monster, Plant monster. Lizard monster. Etc.