Outdoors

Celebrating National Monuments For All of Us

Today marks the 111th anniversary of the 1906 Antiquities Act which gives presidents the ability to designate national monuments. National monument designations preserve historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other […]

thule atlantis 1600xt - val in real life
Travel

A Jillion Miles with a Thule Roof Box

For quite a few years my trusty Subaru Forester has served as the main adventure-mobile for my explorations with Fred and George. She’s been in semi-retirement as life has moved […]

Motorcycling

Playing the Odds, Managing the Risks

This week Motorcycle Awareness Month comes to a close here in the U.S. The timing coincides with seasonal riders surging to the roadways after a long winter’s nap. It’s an […]

Life

Celebrating Near-Perfect on Mother’s Day

I know, I know… it’s a Hallmark holiday. But my dear Fred happened to be born on Mother’s Day so I’m fond of it in my own way. And like birthdays […]

great smoky mountains institute at tremont - val in real life
Photography

Bad Weather and Good Friends at Tremont

Let’s face it, life dishes out the unexpected and undesired. A lot. The only thing we’re in control of is how we respond, right? I just returned from a whirlwind […]

Life

Awake: Finding my Inner Thelma

I imagine most of you are familiar with the movie Thelma and Louise and its tale of two women finding their strength through a series of unexpected and escalating ordeals. In one of the […]

nevada state parks passport - val in real life
Travel

Getting my Nevada State Parks Passport

I spent many of my years in Georgia exploring the vast offerings of its state park system. Much of that was with Fred and George in tow as we pursued […]

love note to the peach state
Travel

Love Note to the Peach State

Oh Peach State, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways—mountains, swamps, beaches, rivers, pinelands, farms, waterfalls, museums, gardens, rich history, beautiful people. The list goes on and […]

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Life

Life After Trauma

Today marks an unwelcome anniversary: the second year since my near-fatal motorcycle crash at the hands of a negligent driver. I intended to write this last year on the first anniversary. It […]

Motorcycling

Going Off-Road at the BMW U.S. Rider Academy

I’m a fan of proper training. The value of learning from qualified instructors is not lost on me, particularly when it comes to photography and motorcycling. Unlike photography, proper motorcycle […]

baja mañana spirit - val in real life
Travel

Bringing Home the Baja Mañana Spirit

I recently returned from my first trip to Baja, Mexico. Intent on living my life as well as I can in the moment right now, I rode my motorcycle 1,500-miles […]

birthday - val in real lie
Life

My Forty-Fifth Birthday: Celebrating with Adventure

I’ve published a birthday post every year since 2011. It’s a reflection of my outgoing year as I consider the new year ahead. In that first birthday post, I confessed […]

Embracing Nevada - Val in Real Life
Life

Embracing Nevada: A Georgia Girl Moves West

Twenty-two years. Half of my life. That’s how long I’ve called the Atlanta area home. (The other half was in Florida, for those that aren’t in the know.) And now […]

Value of an Image - Val in Real Life
Photography

The Value of an Image

What is the value of a photograph? In the digital age, unauthorized use of an image doesn’t seem like a big deal. It’s just pixels, right? No, it isn’t. What gives an […]

virginia city camel race - val in real life
Travel

Riding in the Virginia City Camel Races

Joe Hedrick wasn’t kidding. Camel racing isn’t for wussies. That’s what he told us in our introduction at Virginia City’s 57th International Camel and Ostrich Races. Along with my fellow […]

motorcycling california and oregon
Motorcycling

Motorcycling Through Northern California and Southern Oregon

“Shit!… are you kidding me?!? I don’t know about this. Shit-shit-shit-shit-shit!” (Or possibly stronger oaths.) Those are the words I gasped in my headset to my riding partner as the pavement […]

virginia city camel and ostrich races - val in real life
Travel

Getting to know the Virginia City International Camel and Ostrich Races

When I first visited Virginia City, Nevada two years ago, I arrived just after the conclusion of the annual Virginia City International Camel and Ostrich Races. I enjoyed exploring Virginia City […]

Moto Metaphor - Val in Real Life
Life

Motorcycling: A Metaphor for Life

Throttle therapy is an amazing thing. Lately when I’ve been out on the bike to clear my head, I’ve been musing on how much motorcycling is a metaphor for life. […]

Carson City Sheriff's Office Extreme Motor Officer Challenge 2016
Motorcycling

Carson City Motor Cop Competition

Each year, the Carson City Sheriff’s Office hosts the Extreme Motor Officer Training Challenge. This year marked the 13th anniversary of the event, designed to bring motor officers together for friendly competition, […]

identity - val in real life
Life

Postcards from Real Life: Identity

In the wake of changing my name, I’ve gotten many inquiries about how and why I chose it. Keep in mind this took over three years of searching and consideration. […]

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