Val in Real Life- Camp Granola's Own Outdoor Explorer and Mom

Welcome Back to another edition of Trailblazer Tuesday, where we chat it up with a different outdoorsman or woman every week.  It’s a great time as they share with us their passion for the outdoors.

This week’s Trailblazer is Val from Val In Real Life (

Val is a former geologist who now spends her time as a wandering homeschooling mom.  She believes travel and exploring nature are vital to kids and adults alike.  She chronicles the adventures of her family (aka Camp Granola) at Val in Real Life.

Thanks so much for joining us Val.  I love your blog.  So tell us, do you camp?  And what is your favorite type of camping?  Boy do we!  We’re pretty hardcore tent campers.  We love the simplicity.  The minimal distractions of our setup let us get busy exploring.  I like that the tent allows us some shelter but we’re still outside and not closed off from the sounds and smells that go with it.

What is your favorite other outdoor activity?  Honestly, it’s sort of a mash-up because personally I’m a nature photography nut but as a family we love geocaching…both of which require hiking much of the time.  It’s a bit chicken-and-egg as to why we do them.  They’re all natural extensions of each other.

How long have you been camping?  I’ve been an outdoor explorer since I can remember.  My folks always took us camping, canoeing, fishing, etc…  I didn’t really pick up hiking/backpacking until college but, of course, realized quickly that it was awesome.

Tell us more about how you became interested in camping.  Early immersion as a kid.  I fell away from it somewhat in my teenage years and actually entered college as a (shudder!) marketing major.  Then I took a basic geology class and had the epiphany that I was in the wrong place.  I changed majors quickly and got back to my roots since geology obviously requires a lot of outside time…and all was right in my world again.

How has your life changed because of camping and hiking?  It helps you keep things in perspective because you get to step outside of the trappings of modern life.  When you make the effort to step away from those complications, you’re able to focus and remind yourself what’s important.  The times when we haven’t gotten enough nature/outdoor explorations are the times we’ve become short-sighted and stressed out.

With whom do you share your love for the outdoors?  I drag the whole family out typically, including the beagle.  And even though sometimes they think they’d rather stay home, they’re always happy for the trip once we’re out the door.  And they always ask when the next trip will be.  Sometimes we do manage to convince friends to come with us as well but since we travel at odd times (i.e. when most kids are in school) it can be hard to get the timing right for them to join us.

Describe your best, worst or most memorable camping trip.  Wow, I’ve lots of material to choose from but I think the trip that stands out the most was camping our way out to the Four Corners and back.  Since we’re homeschoolers, we can travel off-peak and take a more leisurely pace so we packed up all our gear into the car and headed out for two weeks of camping bliss.  We wandered around the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, Sunset Crater/Coconino National Forest, Grand Sand Dunes, Taos, and Santa Fe.

We had great weather, bad weather, amazing food, almost ran out of food, made plans but changed them as the whim suited us, and just generally left our cares behind.  It was so fulfilling to be able to give the boys such an adventure at only 6 and 9 years old.

What camping or hiking tip would you give to our readers?  The first order of any trip is to know where you’re going.  Not just the dot on the map, but understanding the weather, terrain, and wildlife of your destination.  Camping and hiking are great family outings but the wilderness isn’t Disney World…there’s no protective bubble.  You can have a wonderful trip if you minimize surprises and frustrations.  Knowledge is key to a safe, amazing journey.

Great advice.  What wonderful memories your children will have of their childhood.  Thanks for sharing with us your passion for the outdoors and for taking the time to chat with us today.  Before you go, it’s Silly Question Sendoff time.   What is your favorite funny scene from a comedy movie or sitcom?  I adore Monty Python.  My favorite bit is the Dennis the Peasant scene in The Holy Grail.  Sends me into fits of laughter…just brilliant! “Listen–strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of govenment.”

It’s been great talking with Val today.  If you’ve enjoyed our visit with Val take a sec and head over to her website Val in Real Life and give her a virtual high-five in the form of a comment :)  But before you go, it’s time for you guys to answer our Silly Question Sendoff:

What is your favorite funny scene from a comedy movie or sitcom?

It’s been a fun Trailblazer Tuesday!  I’ll see ya soon– by the campfire.


If you are interested in being a featured Trailblazer send me a note through my contact page.  Tell me a little about yourself and your experience in the outdoors.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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Tiffany loves tent camping and knows how to bait a hook.

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  1. Campy Mom says:

    On Spaceballs, Dark Helmet tells Lonestar, “I am your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate.”

  2. Thanks for making me a Trailblazer! Sounds like we have similar taste in humor.

  3. Michael & Donna Douglas says:

    I know…I know…this is like 3 months too late…but I gotta comment. I am a HUGE fan of M*A*S*H. I watch it every chance I get. There was one scene from an early show where the unit is being bombed and they hide anywhere they can find. Hawkeye and MAJ Frank Burns get stuck next to each other behind something. Frank is crying, moaning, groaning and complaining. Hawkeye turns to Frank and says…

    ” I hope if I die in this and you live, I come back as a squirrel, and run up your pants legs!”

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