Love Note to the Peach State

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 on. You hold so many special places and experiences within your boundaries. I know I left. I’m sorry. It was time. Twenty-two years we spent together—living life and weathering its ups …

Life After Trauma

val in real life

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 turns out I wasn’t ready. I knew at that point I’d be ok, but I still had a lot of processing to do. The trouble with trauma and is that it …

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 training has implications beyond enjoyment and mastery of the pursuit. Health and safety are at stake when honing your riding skills. That’s why I’ve spent so much time at the Motorcycle …

Bringing Home the Baja Mañana Spirit

baja mañana spirit - val in real life

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 south from my home in northern Nevada to the town of Loreto, on the Sea of Cortez. Why travel? The benefits of travel are well known but hard to measure. …

My Forty-Fifth Birthday: Celebrating with Adventure

birthday - val in real lie

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 to my behind-the-scenes health issue. Little did I know how much worse things would get for me. It’s ok to laugh ironically, I promise. I have at least some sense …

Embracing Nevada: A Georgia Girl Moves West

Embracing Nevada - Val in Real Life

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 I’ve left the southeast. Sort of… More on that in a moment. My tapestry… I’ve talked about the art of living with you before in a slightly different context. But largely I …

The Value of an Image

Value of an Image - Val in Real Life

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 image value? What would you pay for art to hang on your wall? An image that brings peace, inspiration, or beauty into your life? You wouldn’t walk into a store, …

Riding in the Virginia City Camel Races

virginia city camel race - val in real life

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 media-types, I listened intently to Joe’s warnings and admonitions to recuse ourselves at any second until the gate opened if we had any doubts. We laughed nervously at possibilities of death …

Motorcycling Through Northern California and Southern Oregon

motorcycling california and 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 suddenly deteriorated to something formerly known as asphalt. The sand and gravel covering it didn’t help matters. The unexpectedly unruly terrain had my bike dancing over its surface like a slapstick comedian …

Getting to know the Virginia City International Camel and Ostrich Races

virginia city camel and ostrich races - val in real life

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 as the town seemed to be taking a huge, post-event collective breath. But let’s face it… Camel and Ostrich Races! That’s something I knew I had to see. And now I …