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Just Added

Barf or Fly – Ziplining in Kauai

The crayon boxes missed a color. A color called Kauai green. This is not the green you get with sprinklers in the night. This is the color you get when it rains every single day. It is the color of lushness. On this soothing island where you can hear things grow, feel your hair curl, and smell the fragrance of nature, I was lulled into a great adventure.

My husband and teenage daughter love outdoor sports. I do not. On a past trip to see the desert in bloom, my daughter told me about the mall she saw on the way. I was instructed to go there while they went hiking – I would just slow them down. But this trip was going to be different. I had been working out regularly and felt strong. We were going to zip line together.

Earlier in the week, my husband and daughter went snorkeling, paddle boarding and surfing. Since I don’t like the water, I developed a new outdoor skill. I could hold a Mai Tai with one hand, a paperback with the other, all while lying on a chaise lounge by the pool. I call this sip lining.

The great zip lining day had arrived. My confidence was high. We had two young guides who had an infectious comedy routine going between them. I felt at ease and joined in with the joking around.

This sport requires a lot of equipment. You step into a harness that you might see on a construction worker or rock climber. Then a bunch of heavy metal clasps are hooked to the front of the harness. I almost toppled over. By dragging one arm on the ground, I could have completed my impersonation of a skinny Quasimodo.

But wait, one more piece of safety equipment. We needed to put on a helmet! Lucky for me, I was having a bad hair day and was wearing my Red Sox cap. I did not want to put one of those helmets directly on my head. They have been previously worn, like bowling shoes. If my fear of cooties wasn’t bad enough, my fear of head B.O. was even worse. Sudden movements of your head sent very unpleasant wafts of the deadly helmet gas down to your unsuspecting nostrils.

Hard Hat for Zip Lining

Wearing the Stinky Hard Hart

I joined the other Bob the Builders and climbed into the safari truck. We took a short ride to the property where the zip lining takes place. I thought we were wearing closed-toe shoes to protect our feet while zip lining. There was another reason. The field we had to walk through to reach the first zip line ride was a cow pasture. It had big mama cows and their little calves. It was darling to see until the guides told us to watch our step. Being a city gal, I had only heard of cow pies before. I hadn’t actually expected cow poo to be as big as a pie.

Watch Out for Cowpies!

With each step carefully placed, we made our way to the first zip line platform. Our guides translated the Hawaiian name for zip line number one “Keiki” to the English word “baby.” As I inched closer, I observed there was nothing babyish about it. We were up at the tree tops, where the birds fly. All I could imagine was an old Batman scene. Batman is on the roof of a high rise building. He needs to catch the bad guy on the roof of the other building. Batman pulls his cable shooter from his belt. With an expert aim, he shoots it over to the roof of the adjacent high rise. He hooks himself on the cable, leaps off the building, floats for a few long seconds and lands without smashing one bone of his body into the concrete. I was not Batman. I was a misguided woman who thought zip lining was a cable attached to some tree trunks over a path you could touch with your closed toe shoes.

Marc Zip Lining

My Husband Zip Lining

One of the guides hooked himself on to the cable. He explained how to get enough momentum to get to the other platform. He would be there to catch us. In our group of ten, my husband volunteered to go first. He ran off the platform and zipped through the air like Peter Pan in Neverland. My daughter floated across like a lithe Tinkerbell. The rest of the group, calmly – or with screams – made it across. I was the only one left – a Wendy Bird with broken wings. I started chanting quietly, I don’t believe in zip lining, I don’t, I don’t.

Linsdsey Zip Lining

Tinkerbell Zip Lining

As I backed away from the platform, I willed myself to camouflage into the scenery like some Predator special effect. The invisibility trick worked only part way. Just my face turned a lovely shade of Kauai green. The remaining guide made no effort to change my mind.

“You are not doing this are you?”

I replied with an appropriate groan and started my walk of shame back to the safari truck. Evidently, letting a green-faced hunchback woman walk solo through a cow pie field to wait it out is not protocol, and the guide called in for rescue. I couldn’t help but notice the irony of walking through a cow pie landmine when I felt like shit.

After the humiliating ride back to the zip lining office, I had time to reflect on what went wrong. I had the swagger, I had the gear, but I had no idea what I signed up for. How could I have miscalculated this so poorly? Maybe the 72 hour cancellation fee with no refunds for any reason should’ve been a good clue.

As I waited for my breathing to slow down and the knots in my stomach to unravel, I returned to my Earthling pallor. During this decompression, it hit me. I was ok with it all. I am neither courageous nor cowardly. I am just me. I had a choice to make, and I made the one that worked for me. No guilt trip on how much money was wasted. I had an adventure; it just had a different outcome.

My family was gentle on me when they returned. I think, in retrospect, they were amazed I even agreed to do this. So the “Mom is a chicken” teasing was at a minimum. But don’t get me started on chickens. There are so many dang chickens or roosters or whatever goes cock a doodle doo all day and night in Kauai, I’ve thought about inventing another adventure sport. Have you ever heard of chicken zipping? The end result is similar to coq au vin but with a little twist!

Chickens In Kauai

Crazy Chickens in Kauai

Just Added

The Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm Song by Crash Test Dummies

The Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm SongThere are some odd songs out there. But everytime I hear this song, it keeps surprising me. Brad Robert’s voice is very eerie. This song hit the charts in the 93-94 time frame and won several awards in the music industry. I never understood the words. So I looked up the lyrics (below) and watched the video on you tube (click link in gold below). I find it strangely hypnotic.

The Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm Song

“Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm”

Once there was this kid who
Got into an accident and couldn’t come to school
But when he finally came back
His hair had turned from black into bright white
He said that it was from when
The car had smashed so hard

Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

Once there was this girl who
Wouldn’t go and change with the girls in the change room
But when they finally made her
They saw birthmarks all over her body
She couldn’t quite explain it
They’d always just been there

Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

But both girl and boy were glad
‘Cause one kid had it worse than that

‘Cause then there was this boy whose
Parents made him come directly home right after school
And when they went to their church
They shook and lurched all over the church floor
He couldn’t quite explain it
They’d always just gone there

Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

Just Added

What You Said

Thanks to everyone who took the emotional journey with me in the chapter “The Miami Incident.” If you haven’t read it yet, it is under the TraVal button now. Below are some excerpts on what You Said.

Fights for Her Life too! from am in CA
I loved this chapter!! Sorry I didn’t comment on your Italy chapter – just got too busy but I did enjoy it. This Miami story is fabulous – poignant, relatable, compelling, entertaining. I can’t tell if one reason I like it so much is that it gives me insight into who you are – but I imagine if I didn’t know you at all, it would still have the same enjoyment level. Like you, I also had a near-death experience but mine was caused by a medical procedure so I wasn’t conscious enough to have seen the slide show. I certainly fought for my life though – a couple people who were present told me I was like the Incredible Hulk. Your comment about your Mom not understanding the importance of taking that pill every day is both sad and powerful. There are lots of things in the story that many people will be able to relate to.

Gasping for Breath from cs in CA
What a gripping and inspiring story, the Miami Beach Incident. I was gasping for breath while I read it.

Sympathy for Mother from pm in NC
Beautiful story about your experiences. I have a lot of sympathy with the story of your mother, as I was 17 when my mother died, and felt that she had deserted us, even though I knew that was irrational. My mother had died of cancer and did all she could to stay alive. Your story is very touching and you are quite a writer.

Thoughts for Japan from hl in CA
I read and re-read this story. It made me think about what is currently going on in Japan. People who they found after 9 days of being under rubble when others died instantly or perhaps gave up. It also made me think of my own mortality. I often wonder if I were to be diagnosed with a life threatening disease if I would have the guts or perserverance to fight. Then I think of course I would, I have a wonderful husband, two beautiful daughters, two grandchildren and wonderful friends. I want to see them grow up. Well most of my friends and I think, my husband, have grown up :). It would be the love of life and all that there is still in front of me that would keep me alive. Thank you for your story.

Didn’t Expect It from cd in CA
I was expecting something light, but this really moved me. I think it is a powerful piece of writing because, although describing something profound, your style is very understated. I am glad I read it.

Heartfelt from hh in MD
This is a cool blog. I am most impressed. I like the way you write – it’s very direct and straight from the heart!

Glued to the Screen from jd in KY
I thoroughly enjoyed your new addition to your book. The “Miami Incident” kept me glued to the screen. I have also had “near death experience” and think you have captured it perfectly. New word for you : Copernican moment.

Wiping Away Tears from ml in CA
Well, the writing is lovely… so glad you’ve taken this up. Still wiping tears after reading Miami 5 minutes ago… I never knew this about you… and your roots. No wonder you are such a strong yet compassionate woman. Beautifully told story; near-death experiences are so fascinating. Also, your discussion of words is really fun… and valium… perfect analogy for your writing…

Captivating-Compelling-Captured me! From jp in CA

Another Jar of Hearts Fan by kt in CA
I love Jar of Hearts and heard it first on Sirius radio listening to my grandson’s station. When he gets here after school, he goes straight to his computer and plays the song for me, how sweet is that? Keep up the good work on valsroad!! I like the Miami chapter…

More about that Mom by sh from CA
What a powerful experience. I’d be interested to read more about the mother piece of this.

Posted on March 13, 2011
Has Costco Issues from ms in CA
As a writer myself, I must say I love your style. My favorite piece on val’sroad is the list of reasons to give up Costco. Having more free space in one’s closet and hurried to eat the fresh produce before it goes bad were ones I could relate. Enjoy your travels. We are returning to Italia later this year, so I enjoyed your Italia story and photos. Is it Araivederci?!

Misadventures in Milan from dg in CO
Your story was perfect! I loved reading about your misadventures in Milan. The moment you realized you weren’t going to see the painting will probably be more memorable than if you had seen the painting.

Blast to Travel With from jc in TX
Wow – you would be a blast to travel with! I really enjoyed your Milan story.
Keep the travel stories coming – maybe someday we’ll meet on our travels!

The Luge Made the List from hf in CA
Thanks for including me in the journey! I love it all and glad that “luge” made the list. I’m not giving up on the dream of actually having a luge at some point in our lives! Maybe you, me & a bottle of hypnotique – do they still sell that stuff? xoxo, H

Heartfelt Feelings from de in NH
You are an amazing woman. You have the courage to see beyond. You have the heart to help heal. You have the imagination to bring it all together. I am gifted to have you in my life and this site will impact and fulfill many lives. Thank you for all that you do and I am so happy that finally, my shining star, that you are doing something for yourself and for all of us. Thank you.

Been There by cc from CA
I love it…enjoyed reading your article on Milan…having been there, I could relate! You write beautifully and I look forward to reading more about your travels and adventures.

Gypsy Crossed her Path by cd from CA
Your experiences in Milan reminded me of some of ours in Rome……..while waiting to enter St. Peter’s at the Vatican, I had an encounter with a young woman pickpocket who wore a cloth sling across her chest. It was supposed to look like she had a baby there, when in fact, it was a place to stash the stolen goods! She had her hand inside my purse when I elbowed her in the chest and she took off. I had a moment of feeling guilty…..I mean, what if I were mistaken and she WASN’T trying to rob me? But then I came to my senses when I recalled that there really was no other reason for her hand to be well inside my purse!

No One Was a Loser by jc from CA
This was a nice story and in spite of being lost and without advance purchase tickets, no one was really a loser. The day spent in visiting Milan and enjoying the city and people made it a memorable day.

Reserve Tickets? by kh from VA
I loved the Milan adventure………so beautifully written. I would never think you had to reserve tickets in advance. What a fun and informative travel story….

Early Feedback on valsroad

Walked down the Road by ph from CA
Hey Val, your blog is really neat, I just got back from a Walk down Val’s road and really enjoyed it…

Choking on the Photos by em from CA
I haven’t had a chance to spend quality time reading your road, however, I do have to say I almost choked when I saw the “nature” images on your blog. So uncharacteristic of you! Looking forward to reading more….

Inspiring a busy mom by bw from WA
How fun! I’ve always wanted to do that…I “write” in my head all the time. I’m going to write a book too. It’s called, “Yes, I Do Have Eyes in the Back of My Head,” a journey through the many eyes of a triplet mom. I figure I have all sorts of sage advice to share, like how to hold 3 infants who are simultaneously projectile vomiting…….but my journey will peak when they are simultaneously driving cars, after which I will truly be ready to go somewhere and write…I sometimes dream of pausing to regenerate a few brain cells. But wait, it won’t be happening anytime soon, because I’m about to become a grandparent… You go girl! I’ll check in with valsroad from time to time.

You Did It! by bb from TX
Looks great – can’t wait to see what goes up NEXT!! Didn’t think you’d ever actually do it!! So cool!

Just Added


Quote for the day “A perfectly clean house is a sign of a wasted life.” I don’t know who said it, but it works for me. It also works well with this quote “Of all the things that matter, that really and truly matter, working more efficiently and getting more done is not among them. Chill. The Universe.”

Words, words, words. Now that I am pretending to be a writer, words have become much more important to me. You could say they are my new drug. It is a great addiction. The supply is unlimited (new words are created every day) and there are no adverse side effects.

Some words are fun and some words are great to learn. Here is where I’ll introduce them.

New additions on 3/23/2011
Joan from San Diego wants to add her two favorite fun words to say: cardigan and rhododendron.

New additions on 3/19/2011

My friend, Joy, from Kentucky loves the word serendipity. Serendipity is one of those fun words to say. Just the dipity part alone is a riot. The World English dictionary has a great definition “the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident.”

I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book “Committed.” In one chapter I found three phrases that stumped me to the point I had to write them down: prescient old friend, parasitical homunculus and unrepentant harridan. Just don’t hear those in every day conversation.

prescient old friend – meaning intuitive or psychic – well, one upbeat one out of the three.

parasitical homunculus – a blood sucking little person – I might have to go reread that sentence….

unrepentant harridan – yikes, harridan means a nag or a shrew – don’t want to be near that type of person.

BOOYAH – this started sometime during the summer of 2010. I can’t remember the exact moment. But I thought it had to do with New Orleans. It doesn’t. But it is so fun to say. Boo. Yah. It is a very happy word. Sports figures say it sometime. My friends and family wish I never heard this word.

LUGE – I heard this word with the word martini in front of it. Martini Luge. I wanted one. Whatever it was. I guess they are popular at weddings. You pour your martini down an ice sculpture and you capture it in your glass – icy cold. Some friends told me you can skip the glass and catch it in your mouth. These friends are much younger than me.

RONDO – Rondo rolls around in your mouth. It ends with a beautiful “o” sound. Go Rondo is also fun to say. He is a great basketball player.

EPHIPANY – Ok, this word is a bit overused. But, if someone I know says “I had this ephipany the other day,” it is like EF Hutton spoke. If you are too young for that reference, it means everyone gets quiet and really listens.

WINE DISTRIBUTOR – this is one of my favorite phrases to hear when I am in a bar with my girlfriends. It is extra special when it is combined with these words: “Ladies, that wine is on the house, the wine distributor is here and he wants you to enjoy yourselves.”

GULL WINGS – Not since the DeLorean have I thought a car was sexy. Then Mercedes introduced the SLS AMG. I love gull wings. What can I say – cars with wings.


Schadenfreude – this word is obviously from German origin. I read it in a magazine article about friendship. I hope I have no friends like this. It means satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune.

Lagniappe– this is used mostly in the south, like Louisiana. It is pronounced the way the French would say it. It means a gift given with a purchase or an unexpected or indirect benefit.

Torrontés – I love learning about new wines. This is my new favorite wine. It is a white wine from Argentina. It is dry and crisp. I won’t go on and on. Try it.