A Camel Walks into a Saloon

It’s another severe clear summer day on the Comstock. I’m at the end of the bar nursing a cold beer. I’ve earned a drink or two to quench my thirst after racing camels all day in the high desert. Gazing out the picture window, I contemplate the vastness of the Nevada desert from the comfort of the dark saloon. On my …

A Walk on the Freeway in Carson City

It’s not every day you get to walk on a brand-new interstate. Pristine pavement. Sharp, fresh striping. Hundreds of bicyclists, roller-skaters, skateboarders, and runners whizzing by you. I had that very opportunity thanks to the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT). The last three, newly-constructed miles of I-580 in Carson City opened to traffic last week. Before our new freeway extension …

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 objects of historic or scientific interest. It is the starting point to potential national park status later on. Some of our greatest treasures—places like Grand Canyon, Zion, Grand Teton, Olympic, Arches, …

A Jillion Miles with a Thule Roof Box

thule atlantis 1600xt - val in real life

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 on but this week “Blubaru,” as she’s known, is headed out for her first cross-country trip in a couple of years. George and I will be trekking from Georgia to …

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 attempt to mitigate the risks to motorcyclists from drivers who aren’t used to seeing riders on the roads. Obviously this is a subject very dear to me. In previous years I’ve …

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 which I consider personal new years, even contrived holidays have their place as a marker to review your time in this world. For all of our good intentions, hopes, and efforts …

Bad Weather and Good Friends at Tremont

great smoky mountains institute at tremont - val in real life

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 trip to Georgia. Part of the time was dedicated to hanging out with Fred and George. The rest was mostly allocated to attending the spring photography workshop at my beloved Great Smoky …

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 most enduring scenes towards the end of the film, Geena Davis’ character, Thelma, says to Louise “I feel awake. Wide awake. I don’t ever remember feeling this awake. You know …

Getting my Nevada State Parks Passport

nevada state parks passport - val in real life

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 the Parks GeoTour and History Trail GeoTour geocaching challenges. Through that effort, we got to know the state and the Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites in depth. Now that …

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 …