RayAppen

So, we are now in our 29th year of publishing our newspapers. We started our company in 1990. The paper we originally started in 1983, which means that our newspaper has been covering Alpharetta and Roswell news now for 36 years. That feels like a lifetime.

RayAppen

The wait is agonizing. Cars are backed up for miles because of a multi-car wreck on Ga. 20 in Forsyth County. Slowly, the wreck scene is being cleared so that traffic can start back up. In one of the cars near the front of the line, 85-year-old Mary waits patiently and gets ready to move. Th…

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RayAppen

One advantage of having ADD when you work in the business that I work in — the news business — is that I have this archive of unfinished columns I can turn to whenever I want to write. For every column I have published over the years, I probably have 10 that I started and never finished that…

RayAppen

Christina and I traveled to Norman, Oklahoma last week, possibly for the second to last time.  We’ll be back in a couple of weeks for Carl’s graduation.  

RayAppen

We are all so tired of the attack politics that plague our country. We’re tired of the partisanship. We’re tired of people simply being ugly to each other — being disrespectful and showing no empathy for the world outside of their own point of view. It’s getting old, really old.

RayAppen

I gave my wife a big hug and took one last look at her — my soul mate and my best friend — then turned my back and started walking north into the woods. That was about three years ago last week. 

RayAppen

So, I’ve finally started reading again — at least some. I seem to go in cycles where I find lots of books that interest me that I am able to digest. Then there are those times when my attention span is two minutes or less — at best. I don’t know what that’s all about.  

RayAppen

One of my most vivid childhood memories involves an animal, a coward, a hollow man, and a young girl in a blue checkered dress with a voice that made angels cry. And red, red, red ruby slippers.

RayAppen

For those few of you who actually read what I manage to write occasionally, you know I often talk about my primarily source of knowledge and insight into this world we live in comes from my children. The older I get the more I believe that they are my best source to learn about the outside w…

RayAppen

I love Christopher’s Nolan’s movie “Inception.” I need to see it again — at least once but probably more than once. 

RayAppen

So, the post-Christmas 2018 column came earlier than I thought it would. It started arriving about 7 p.m. Christmas night, about halfway through our family Christmas present-opening gathering in our home with all three of my children, daughter in-law Kristina, our two grandchildren, wife Chr…

RayAppen

My Christmas column arrived in the mail yesterday in the form of a Christmas card and note from a woman from Massachusetts who I met on my Appalachian Trail hike — Jacey Shumaker. She was hiking with her two daughters, ages approximately 7 and 10, and a great big golden lab. We met because a…

RayAppen

I was going to try to write a nice Christmas column but decided to write about toilets instead. 

RayAppen

About six years ago, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. At that time, there were only two treatments available; robotic assisted surgery and radiation (either by external beams or seed implants). I chose seed implants, and so far the procedure has been successful and I continue to be canc…

RayAppen
  • +2

I have always wanted for our readers to send us their vacation travel stories — especially when they are fun, interesting or special in some way.

RayAppen

Every day when I drive through downtown I am amazed by what I see — new high schools, multi-million-dollar private clubs, town homes under construction from the $700,000s everywhere you turn. Frequently, I read through the newspaper, and low and behold, there it goes again — “$38 million lux…

RayAppen

So, often I tell myself that after I read a book I should make some notes on any significant passages or ideas, so that next week, when someone asks me what the book was about, I may be able to respond. I hate it when I have read a book and cannot recall anything about it other than the gene…

RayAppen

Massive crowds rallied today across America – and across the world – to protest gun violence and the massacre of 17 students at Marjorie Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida.

RayAppen

I have to watch myself these days. I allow myself to become melancholy. And when I get this way I usually go back somewhere and reconnect to a different time – a safe harbor in my past. I reread favorite books – usually Salinger’s. I watch YouTube videos from old movies or events – like Ali-…

RayAppen

Hatcher set off to enjoy some well-deserved leisure time at the beginning of this year. It never occurred to me that I would ever write this column – mainly because it never occurred to me that a day would come when we were publishing newspapers without Hatcher Hurd.

RayAppen

One question I get about my Appalachian Trail hike is “why” – why did you do it, walk those 2,200 miles – and the answer I give is that I wanted to stop time.

RayAppen

One of the first lessons I learned as a parent was that children watch and listen to everything we do and say. And generally, they never forget it. That is, they model their parents’ behavior. They watch how we speak to and treat our spouse; they observe how we talk to a clerk, a senior, or …

RayAppen

My 2-year-old granddaughter, Phoebe, sat on my lap and for a couple hours, smiled, clapped, stared, wiggled and ate goldfish. Every couple of minutes my wife, Christina, who sat next to us, would cut her eyes over to Phoebe and just grin and watch with wonder. She didn’t need to say a word t…

RayAppen
  • +22

Today was a long strange day and one I will remember fondly for a long time. I woke up to rain. The Woman’s March in downtown Atlanta was scheduled to start at 1:00. I knew it would probably be crowded, especially on MARTA. I don’t like crowds particularly. However, I had mentioned to staff …

RayAppen

“Did the trail change you” is the question I get almost every time someone finds out that I thru—hiked the AT. Every time they ask the question part of me wants to say “no” — I’m the same guy but another part of me says “you bet—ya, it changed everything.”

RayAppen

The problem with history is that it is so hard to see while it is happening. It is difficult to recognize the nuances or even the macro paradigm shifts as they are occurring.

RayAppen

All my life I seem to have taken the hard route to where ever I was going. I made a lot of mistakes and traveled many dead-end roads and had to stop, reverse course and look for the right way.

RayAppen

“It has become abundantly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity.” – attributed to Albert Einstein. I might suggest that lots of things have surpassed our humanity including technology.

RayAppen

With the third and final debate now behind us, and political vitriol spreading like wildfire, it’s no wonder why so many Americans have become apathetic about the election process and, alarmingly, may cease to vote at all.

RayAppen

When my daughter got into my wife’s car on the last day of middle school she casually sighed, “Well, those were the worst three years of my life.”

RayAppen

“Magic” is my most treasured memory from the Trail – "trail magic." That is a hiker term for acts of grace and giving that seem to permeate the trail for all hikers.

RayAppen

So the hike is over. It ended yesterday on top of Mount Katahdin about 9 a.m. I was the only person on the summit. I took my own obligatory picture with that Katahdin sign and rang the virtual bell and then, as the clouds closed, I headed down the mountain-way down the mountain.

RayAppen

So it has been too long since I sent a column home. I have walked a lot since the last one. I am now in Maine and have roughly a bit under a month to go to finish my hike.

RayAppen

The hikers on the Trail are of all ages and from all walks of life. They are hiking by themselves and together. Some are hiking with dogs. There are parents and children hiking, grandparents hiking with grandchildren, seniors hiking with seniors. They are from all over the world and they are…

RayAppen
  • +2

I have been on the trail now over four months. Every day I try to feed myself, find shelter and walk. Walking now is my job. I walk somewhere between 15 and 20 miles a day with the pack on my back weighing between 28 and 41 pounds. Usually, at least 18 to 20 pounds of that is food and water.…

RayAppen

I woke up this morning feeling somewhat desperate. We were almost out of the Shenandoah and closing in on 1,000 miles. The night before, I pushed hard for 20 miles to get into Front Royal to resupply and then stayed the night.

RayAppen

When I am not sleeping in my tent on the Appalachian Trail, I sleep in a hostel or a motel. This gives me an opportunity to shower and resupply.

RayAppen

When I asked that to Kimberly, who works at Alpharetta Outfitters and who as a young woman hiked the entire Appalachian Trail by herself in 2015, she was silent for a minute with a blank stare on her face. Finally she said simply, “You can›t. You just have to do it.”

RayAppen

So, I left for my Appalachian Trail Hike three months ago – March 6. I am currently in Virginia about 740 miles from my starting point at Springer Mountain, Ga.

RayAppen

It's funny that I never noticed before. In Alpharetta, I often wake up around 3 a.m., get dressed and drive to the YMCA, where I wait in the parking lot in my car from 4 to 5 a.m. for the Y to open so I can swim and then lift weights. That hour waiting is my writing time — my "me" time. It e…

RayAppen

Amenities and cachet and shock – a good kind of shock – were my first impressions when I walked into Lennar’s new City Walk apartments on Frazier Street in Roswell. Within 30 seconds I knew I liked this place. I was also able to confirm a hunch I have been nurturing and processing for quite …

RayAppen

I recently listened to two TED Talks recommended to me by my son Carl and my daughter, Amelia. One was on addiction and the other featured a fascinating 75-year-old ongoing study being conducted by Harvard on what makes people happy, healthy and productive.

RayAppen

So the 18-wheeler pulled up in front of the office about 5 p.m. – the beginning of rush hour, especially these days on Ga. 9 going north. The traffic was heavy and getting heavier. Inside the truck were three months’ worth of newspaper bags – about 1.2 million.