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 …

Roadschooling at Arizona’s Meteor Crater

Meteor Crater in Arizona - Val in Real LIfe

As you know, we here at Val in Real Life like to learn when we’re traveling. Fred and George don’t travel with me as often these days but when they do, I still like to sneak in some learning that doesn’t feel like education. So when George asked if we could stop at Meteor Crater on our way through Arizona …

Try the World Brings the Flavors of the Globe to Your Door

val in real life - try the world

As an experiential education family, we’re always on the hunt for cool ways to expand our learning opportunities. And like a lot of families, we have the desire to explore far and wide but the reality of making that happen doesn’t always come to bear. Like his mom, George has a well-developed curiosity about the world. He particularly loves geography …

Your New Adventure Hub: Outdoor Families Magazine

outdoor families magazine

For the better part of 2014, there has been a fabulous project brewing… and the rubber hits the road this Thursday. On January 15th, Outdoor Families Magazine goes live. Powerhouse outdoor family community leaders Jennifer Fontaine (Mommy Hiker), Erin Kirkland (AK on the Go), and Traci Lehman (Walk Simply) have headed the charge to bring you Outdoor Families Magazine, a …

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 …

Florida’s Fort Clinch State Park

As some of you know, I’m originally from the Sunshine State. Which means I have lots of extended family strewn about the peninsula. So this year I met my parents and my brother’s family in Amelia Island for Thanksgiving as sort of a mid-way rendezvous between our respective hometowns. Because it was a family holiday, not necessarily an adventure trip, …

Virginia City: Historic Nevada Delight

Where do you go after you’ve been to hell and back? Last month at the end of my epic Hell Hike and Raft adventure, my crew mates headed back home but I grabbed a rental car and pointed myself towards Nevada and the legendary Virginia City. The good folks at the tourism board helped me get set up to explore …

The Pacific Northwest Tour: Sunset Crater and Wupatki

As a largely indy traveler, I always revel in finding groovy little destinations that aren’t overrun by crowds. I love iconic places as much as the next person but hoards of people can take the fun out of that experience. That’s one of the reasons I’m partial to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and its nearby sister, Wupatki National Monument. …

Overland Expo to TBEX: Post-mortem

Back at the end of the Overland Expo to TBEX expedition, I gave a break-down of the journey in numbers and a couple of the larger take-away points. After chronicling the entire journey though, I’ve had time to consider the triumphs and pitfalls more fully. I always like to do a trip post-mortem to make sure I take the time …

Sanctuary

Today I’m nestled in one of my favorite places in the world. It’s spring photography workshop time again at The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont and I’ll be immersed in photography, the Smokies, and my Tremont friends for the next several days. I’ve written much about my time in the Smokies and this workshop in particular is a sweet …