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 …

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 …

Parenting Teens

Val in Real Life

This week when I shared the nuts-and-bolts of visiting Bandelier National Monument, I had to think back to why I enjoyed camping there so much. Certainly it’s a very agreeable campground in a technical sense but really it was that the time with my sons went well. There are so many challenges to traveling in a small car with two …

New Mexico’s Bandelier National Monument

Bandelier National Monument - Val in Real Life

When it comes to our National Park system, national monuments tend to be sorely overlooked compared to the marquis parks that visitors flock to in their travels. Bandelier is not one of those overlooked monuments. Except by me. I’ve passed by it countless times as I’ve traveled through northern New Mexico. This time, though, I was determined to take Fred …

Nevada’s Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge

Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge

Tucked off of the very busy Highway 93, 80 miles north of Las Vegas, you’ll find Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge. This Nevada oasis seems horribly overlooked by the cars and trucks hurtling by. I’m sure they see it. There’s really no way to miss it. The lush landscape is a startling contrast to the Nevada desert surrounding it. I myself …

Camping at Cathedral Gorge State Park

cathedral gorge state park - val in real life

Now that I’ve given you a peek at exploring Cathedral Gorge State Park, it’s time for a look the camping facilities. After the bare-bones, but not quite primitive, offerings of Great Basin National Park, the promise of a shower at Cathedral Gorge was very exciting, as you can imagine. Camping… The nature of the landscape at Cathedral Gorge means the …

Great Basin National Park

My western adventure was a fairly loose mess; largely unplanned and willy-nilly. After my exit from the surprisingly wintry experience at Overland Expo, I ventured into the Silver State and mozied my way towards Great Basin National Park, a place I’ve long wanted to visit. Nevada’s weather is notoriously volatile and proved it with conviction while I was there. I …

2014: Real Adventure. Real Life.

Seems it’s that time again… to review one year before beginning another. With the 2015 calendar staring at us and inspiring introspection, I marvel at what 2014 held for me as well as my boys. 2014 Recap… Overall, 2014 was a year that began in lots of excitement but ended on a mellow note. The bulk of our adventures were …

Setbacks and Denial

oregon sunset

So you know how I was feeling triumphant for having returned from The Pacific Northwest Tour sans major travel catastrophes for once. Other than feeling a little worse for wear, things went pretty smoothly considering the undertaking. The bad news is that I was wrong. I’ve been basking in a healthy dose of survival-denial in that I’ve been ignoring the …

The Pacific Northwest Tour: Adventures in Cooking

So you know from my Fishpeople Seafood review that I’m quite the reluctant cook. The process just doesn’t excite me so I tend to muddle my way through for lack of inspiration and interest. This is why for me to be writing a cooking post is really very funny. But it occurred to me that someone has to keep it …