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About Frederick Belton

Page history last edited by Frederick Belton 4 years, 8 months ago



Mt. Roraima, Venezuela, February 2014



Background, Education, and Employment


I was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1956 and attended the Sherwood city schools through the 9th grade. In the 10th grade I entered Memphis University School, from which I graduated in 1974. (During that time, people knew me as Dolph Belton rather than Frederick.)  In junior high school and high school I became a science and math nerd and pursued interests in chemistry, ham radio, and "phone phreaking".  I also tried to teach myself advanced mathematics from library books, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.   My interest in math and science led me to obtain a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.  After graduation in 1979, I worked for United Inter-Mountain Telephone Company in Bristol, TN, and during the 80's was employed as an engineer for the U.S. Air Force at Griffiss AFB in upstate New York and at Lindsey Air Station in Wiesbaden, Germany.  After deciding to abandon engineering as a career for reasons described below, I obtained an M.S. in Mathematics from the University of Memphis in 1995.


With my math degree I obtained employment at Shelby State Community College (now Southwest Tennessee Community College) in Memphis, where I began to specialize in teaching developmental math.  I also taught college level classes such as calculus, statistics, and computer literacy.  From 1998-1999 I taught developmental math at the College of the Marshall Islands on Majuro Atoll in the Pacific and then returned to Memphis to work as a developmental math instructor at the University of Memphis.  In the meantime, my wife Debby became employed at Temple University in Philadelphia.  In 2001 we finally decided it was time to solve the problem of living in different cities, so we both moved to Nashville, TN.  From 2001 through 2012 I taught developmental math at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Murfreesboro, TN.  In May 2012 I retired from my position at MTSU and now devote my time to dealing with family, cats, and my bucket list.  Debby is employed at Vanderbilt University.




My desire to travel and to pursue related activities such as hiking, "volcano chasing," and snorkeling has been a dominant influence in my life. I have spent a total of at least 10 years traveling in around 120 countries and territories. If asked what my goal of travel is at this time in my life, I would say it is to visit the most unusual and spectacular natural features in the world, preferable in remote areas with few visitors.  I especially enjoy expedition type travel.  Possibly my favorite trip ever was in 1994 when I spent 3 months in Iceland and walked alone across the Interior Highlands and the Hornstrandir penninsula.  Since 1997 I have been extremely interested in Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano in Tanzania and have made 12 trips there, both independently and as an expedition organizer. 


I made my first international trip in 1975 (the summer after my freshman year at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville), spending 5 weeks traveling by train and hitch-hiking through Scandinavia and Britain.  In 1977 I made a 6 month trip through Scotland and West Africa, which included a visit to Timbuktu and a south to north crossing of the Sahara desert.  The travel in Africa was very difficult but very exciting, and it stirred my interest in adventure travel. Just after graduating from the University of Tennessee I traveled to Venezuela for one month in order to visit Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall. All of those trips were made while I was a student and had very little money, but were made possible by my use of cost cutting measures such as hitch-hiking, frequent "wild camping" outside of official campsites, cooking food bought in supermarkets rather than eating in restaurants, and staying in youth hostels and very cheap hotels.


After working for 3 years as an electrical engineer in Bristol, Tennessee, I resigned and used my savings to set out on a trip that lasted for 3 years. I referred to this as a "world trip" because it involved circling the globe and traveling for many months in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, plus several Pacific Islands.  After that trip I quickly found a new job as an electrical engineer with the U.S. Air Force at Griffiss Air Force Base in upstate New York.  After about 3 years I was promoted to a position in Wiesbaden, Germany.  Although I traveled constantly for my job and made numerous hiking trips and visits to various parts of Europe, I still longed to make another "world trip." That was accomplished in the spring of 1990, when, after getting married in January, Debby and I both resigned from our jobs and set out on another 3 year trip around the world.  After returning in 1993 I discovered that it was no longer easy to find a job as an engineer, and so switched my career to teaching.  That also allowed for having long summer and Christmas breaks, so from 1994 - 2011 I traveled more or less 3 months each year, sometimes making a single 3 month trip over the entire summer and sometimes making several shorter trips of 3 to 4 weeks each.  Now that I am retired I plan to make 5 or 6 major trips each year.


My most serious 'travel disaster" so far happened in May 2008 when I ignored a state department travel warning and flew to Beirut to hike the Lebanon Mountain Trail.  The 2008 conflict in Lebanon started less than 24 hours after I left Beirut to begin the hike in Qbaiyat village in northern Lebanon.  Widespread fighting forced me to abandon the hike after 5 days and to hole up for another two days in a hotel in East Beirut until the road to Damascus opened, making it possible to escape by bus into Syria.


Recent Destinations:


1995: Shetland Islands (UK), Faroe Islands, Lofoten Islands (Norway), Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Mexico, Guatemala

1996: Serbia, Albania, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, El Salvador, Guatemala

1997: Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Germany, Guatemala

1998: Comoros Islands, Tanzania, Sicily (Italy), Germany, Switzerland, Romania, Slovakia

1999: Arizona, New Mexico, Tanzania, Nicaragua, Costa Rica

2000: Scotland, Tanzania

2001: Wyoming, Utah, Tanzania

2002: Scotland, Tanzania, Aruba

2003: Scotland, Tanzania

2004: Scotland, Tanzania, Seychelles

2005: Scotland, Ireland, Tanzania

2006: Wales, Scotland, Lebanon, Cyprus, Tanzania

2007: Jordan, Syria, California, Oregon, Washington

2008: Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Tanzania, Oregon, Idaho, California

2009: Kentucky, West Virginia, Washington DC, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Bonaire

2010: Newfoundland, Washington DC, Oregon

2011: Scotland, California

2012: Iceland, California, Texas

2013: Tasmania, Greece, Albania, Iceland, London, Utah, Texas

2014: Venezuela, Greece, Ohio, Michigan, Iceland, Idaho

2015: Arizona, Greece, Scotland, Idaho, Greece

2016: Heard Island, Jan Mayen, Iceland, San Francisco, Falkland Islands, South Georgia

2017: Ethiopia, Greece, Scotland, Yellowstone, Texas



2018: Seychelles, Greece, Gambier Islands, Pitcairn Island, U.K.




 Debby and our cats










Tallulah Demonspawn









Honeynut aka Yelly



Oscar Wild died of FIP (feline infectious peritonitis) on Dec 26, 2009.



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