About Me

Greetings! My name is Vicky. I was born and raised in the great state of Virginia. I grew up in a small town called Occoquan. I had a good opportunity for high school– I got to attend the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology. For college I moved down to Blacksburg and attended Virginia Tech. After college, I got a computer programming job in the area, I fell in love in the mountains, and stuck around for 15 years.

In November 2008, I found something I loved more than the mountains– an amazing man by the name of Ryan Somma. I left the mountains and moved to the swamps of Elizabeth City, North Carolina. We lived in a low-income neighborhood, but it became my favorite neighborhood of all. We were particularly fond of the neighborhood kids. We did a lot of activities with them– cooking, water fights, rollerskating, badminton, geocaching.

In February 2010, when Ryan and I were expecting our first son, we moved back to little Occoquan, Virginia. We’ve been there ever since raising a family of our own. We took Bradley Method classes and had two natural, medication-free hospital births. We welcomed Sagan in 2011 and then little Dyson in 2013.

As a child, I was a tournament bridge player. I’m retired now, but back in the day I did pretty well. At 15, I became a Life Master– which made me the 4th Youngest Female to do so at the time. I expect I’ll return this hobby one day. But for now, I would prefer to be outdoors– hiking, skiing, rollerblading, geocaching, camping, etc.

Common Things You’ll Find Me Posting On

1) Hiking and Family Hikes
Although I live away from the mountains, hiking is still a passion of mine. I am particularly fond of the Appalachian Trail. In May of 2006, I finished hiking all the mileage maintained by the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club.

Even though we are busy working parents of two young sons now, Ryan and I still regularly get out for “Family Hikes”. They are shorter and less than intense that my Appalachian Trail hikes of the past, but every bit as fulfilling.

Summit of Mt. Bierstadt in Colorado

2) 3D Printing
In February 2014, I coveted a breastfeeding charm for my Origami Owl locket. They didn’t sell one, but guess what? There’s this thing called 3D Printing. Using Blender and Shapeways, I started learning 3D modeling and was able to make myself my very own breastfeeding charm. This was the humble start to what is quickly becoming an addiction.

In December of 2014, a Christmas ornament I designed was selected to be part of a Smithsonian collection and be displayed in the East Room of the White House. : )

2) American Chestnut
It is safe to say, I’m an American Chestnut enthusiast. And so, I’m also a proud supporter of The American Chestnut Foundation. Periodically I’ll post shots of the trees I encounter while hiking. In addition, in 2010 I started growing some potentially blight resistant seed of my own. 

American Chestnut Field Day - ME!
Me with American Chestnut Leaves

4) Rollerblading
When I graduated from high school, my grandmother gave me a pair of rollerblades. I still have those blades 14 years later. It is my policy to take them with me on my travels. So far I have rollerbladed in 21 different states and 4 different countries.

Rollerblading in Montana

5) Web Development
I’ve worked as a programmer and support technician for 10 years now. When I run into a tricky problem whose solution isn’t quickly found by the search engines, I go ahead and post the solution here. At the very least it ensures *I* can look it up again later. 🙂 Technologies I typically work in include Internet Information Services, SQL Server, Oracle, VB.NET, C#, Visual Basic, ASP, ASP.NET, and Microsoft Office (VBA).

Me at work

6) Travel
I’ve been lucky to travel a lot for business and pleasure. On my trips, I typically cover my adventures here.

Skiing at Vail

Contacting Me
Email: vicky[at]tgaw[dot]com
Personal Website: http://www.tgaw.com
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tgaw
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/tgaw
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/vickytgaw

47 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Maldevane  |  September 18, 2006 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve been searching about for information on developers and quirks using Acrobat from within code and stumbled across your blog as a result of a google search.

    Here’s what I’m doing and the problem I’m having:

    I was asked if there was as way to convert a PDF back to raw PostScript while specifying various parameters.

    I figured the process out, and it works pretty well, using the JavaScrip objects and scripting that you can access underneath Acrobat.

    Unfortunately, I cannot for the life of me get Acrobat to close/quit/go away afterwards without using a “Process kill” style statement.

    I’ve tried nulling out and closing all objects, using Marshal.ReleaseComObject methods on the objects, and yet it remains.

    Do you have any experience/knowledge advice on such an issue?

    Cool blog by the way, I like ones that are a mix of quirk/content.


  • 2. Angie Heaster  |  September 18, 2006 at 9:07 pm

    I saw this on your blog: “Fret (From Angie Heaster)
    Angie once told me not to fret… right before she stole my boyfriend. Anyway, I still use that word a lot today.”

    I just want to say that I’m sorry. You didn’t deserve to be treated the way that I treated you. I am not the same person today that I was then. I am glad that you are doing well…


  • 3. tgaw  |  September 18, 2006 at 10:13 pm

    Aw, Angie— now almost ten years later, I get to use the vocabulary word, you taught me:

    Please don’t fret about our past at all! My life has proved to be quite positive and I hope it is going great for you as well (I suspect it is– I heard about the birth of your first child a while back!!)

    Also– a very strong case could be made that you do not owe me an apology. As much we women may like to deny it, husbands and boyfriends do have this annoying little thing called “free will”. 🙂

  • 4. Clint  |  September 19, 2006 at 8:37 am

    Free willy!!

  • 5. Chad Day  |  December 4, 2006 at 1:07 am


    I was just googling around to see if my recent endeavors had pushed my google rank any higher, but apparently your blog is the best ticket to fame in the intertubes.

    How ya been?

  • 6. mouse  |  April 5, 2007 at 4:34 pm

    hi coughdrop,

    bound and determined to keep the state of Virginia truly great i sifted through the ashes and reinstalled telnet://kiosk.synchro.net it it also has a web interface at http://kiosk.synchro.net – plain and archaic, devoted to nothing much except the wonderful proliferation of spam and eggs and online cheese whiz.

    BBS’ing is not dead, it’s just like Chivalry…in a coma!

    any idea how to track down Jer-man and Bill the Chad?

    mouse (squeek!)

  • 7. Tony Derricott  |  April 17, 2007 at 11:18 pm

    We noticed your web address in the most recent edition of Google Blog Alert.

    As the largest man-made site in the valley, we strive to keep a database of all sites in a categorized manner so that surfers may find your site more easily.

    As such, we’ve added a free link to your site from the Blog page at http://www.BitterRootSites.com. Please take a look at your listing and let us know if it’s accurate. Feel free to link back to us using any of the methods on our “Link to Us” page.

    Also, if you’re interested in enhancing your listing and/or sponsoring one of our pages, please contact us for pricing details.

    Tony Derricott
    powered by COMPUTX.net
    801 South Third Street
    Hamilton, Montana 59840
    (406) 880-7889

  • 8. paula-kevin's mom  |  July 31, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    thanks for your blog
    have learned lots from you, re kevin and his exploits
    eg broken ankle’s, bar fights et al
    regards paula and tom

  • 9. Clint  |  August 1, 2007 at 8:58 am

    Kevin? Huh?

  • 10. Vicky  |  August 1, 2007 at 10:24 am

    She’s referring to an old roommate of mine.

  • 11. Ramon E Carver  |  February 24, 2008 at 12:53 am

    Love your piglets. May I use them in a video about Bhutan where the trekking is the best thing there is about that country and where little pigs grow up eating wild pot. ramoncarver.com

  • 12. Stephen McNair  |  March 11, 2008 at 8:14 pm

    I’m blown away. You have a great blog, have a good eye for photography, and live near the AT. I’m very impressed. I hiked through your section last fall and agree that the highlands and Blacksburg area might be the most beautiful sections of he entire AT. Keep up the good work. No rain, no pain, to Maine.

  • 13. tgaw  |  March 11, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    @Stephen – Wow, your comment blows me away. Thanks for posting!

  • 14. Jeremy Turner  |  July 9, 2008 at 7:56 am

    I’m still in love with you, Vicky 😀


  • 15. Jeremy Turner  |  July 9, 2008 at 8:00 am

    hehe, and i know what tgaw stands for.


    • 16. Sheer  |  December 22, 2009 at 3:41 pm



      God, you have no idea what I’d give to spend a night in skate city with you guys, or at a TJ dance, or whatever..

      Life is conspicuously missing a rewind button. Or did I just not read the manual correctly?

  • 17. TGAW  |  July 9, 2008 at 8:42 am

    @Jeremy Turner – Ahahaha Fearsome Six. You are definitely the real Jeremy. 🙂

  • 18. Jeff  |  August 23, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Ooh… I didn’t know you could comment on bios (infrequent visitor here, and not familiar w/ wordpress).

    However, I too know what TGAW stands for, and holy shit, izzat teh Jer-Man? I thought running into BtC at EBX a decade ago was wild!

  • 19. charlotte harris  |  September 2, 2008 at 8:15 am

    I just found your blog via GeekHiker’s and I live in Virginia too! I’ll be back to read more of your outdoorsy adventures 😉

  • 20. C.B. Villeneuve  |  September 23, 2008 at 10:51 am

    I enjoyed reading your comments about Logan Lake! I worked at the mine for 5 years in the Instrumentation Department; now retired since last year, and living in Kamloops, that little town where the fellows at the mine sdaid you should have stayed!…
    Check my website, I edit the monthly newsletter for our flying club; we are mostly retired guys, and fly ultralight aircrafts.
    Beautiful place to live, semi-arid, apparently the Northern extension of the Sonoran Desert.
    On Google Earth, my house is at N50°38.741′ W120°21.962 Pretty good resolution, you can even see a lawn chair in the backyard.
    I will bookmark your site!
    Life is short, have fun!

  • 21. tgaw  |  September 23, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    @C.B. Villeneuve – Thanks for writing! Glad you enjoyed my Logan Lake post– I certainly enjoyed Logan Lake. Hopefully, one day I can return!

  • 22. james  |  October 14, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    You have a wonderfull blog. I grew up in Southwestern Virginia, and have recently re-fell in love with the area. Every time I do an internet search about a hike, your site comes up first and has the best info available, so thank you.

    Now that the requisite a$$ kissing is done, I do have a question. I am getting ready to hike a portion of the AT from around War Spur to Catawba, and I have read that there is an electric fence south(by way of the AT) of route 42 with a stile over it. I plan to be hiking with my dog, and am curious as to if it is dog crossable, will I have to carry him, or could he pass underneath. He is a large lab mix, and not very smart, so I could see him shocking himself like a hundred times without crouching.

    Anyway, thanks again for a great and informative blog, and best of luck.

  • 23. TGAW  |  October 14, 2008 at 9:48 pm


    Thanks, I appreciate the compliments!

    If you are talking Southbound of VA-42, then that would be going in the direction of Kelly’s Knob. I have hiked the section from VA-42 to Kelly’s Knob, but it has been a while (2004). I do remember stiles. I don’t recall an electric fence. BUT, I do remember donkeys — so with livestock around there very well could have been an electric fence that didn’t get preserved in my memory banks

    I do know that trip I did not have to carry either of my dogs. This area is pretty good about having dog friendly openings/passages next to the stile. To date, I’ve only had to carry my greyhound mix over one stile– and that was in 2004 on a stile just northbound of the Keffer Oak. (Nowadays, there is a full opening in the fence right next to that stile.) I would expect my dog to be shorter than yours– he is only 56 pounds.

    Anyway, I’m sorry I don’t remember much more about that section’s electric fence. I’ll ask around and see if I can scrounge up more details for you. Also, as your hike date approaches, if you need any help shuttling cars, let me know!


  • 24. Tanya  |  October 16, 2008 at 12:11 pm


    First, I used one of your Flickr photos on my blog today. Here’s a link: http://inthedailies.blogspot.com/2008/10/finding-red-light.html THANK YOU!

    Secondly, I love your photos!! My husband attended VA Tech also. He took me to that region for the first time almost two years ago. It’s georgous! I hope we can return again someday soon.

    Nice to “meet” you. 🙂

  • 25. TGAW  |  October 16, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    @Tanya- Thank you! I’m glad you enjoy the pictures and are putting that Creative Commons licensing to use!

  • 26. Frank  |  December 11, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    I am a teacher down south in GA and ran across your blog when I googled Kelly’s Knob. I was looking for the Kelly’s Knob section of the AT in N.C. and was surprised to see another one in VA. But what I really wanted to say was how great your pictures were and what a pleasure it was to visit your blog. Well done!!!
    Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • 27. Vicky  |  December 11, 2008 at 7:29 pm

    @Frank- Thanks! I appreciate your kind words! And I didn’t know there was a Kelly’s Knob in North Carolina! I’ll have to visit it one day.

  • 28. alcogscic  |  December 27, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    hello it is test. WinRAR provides the full RAR and ZIP file support, can decompress CAB, GZIP, ACE and other archive formats.

  • 29. Tyler West  |  January 27, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    I am a Clay County, WV resident and I doing my senior project in Landscape Architecture on an area of Clay County. I would first like to say I loved your pictures of Clay. They had great photo quality. I was wondering If you could tell me the location of the kudzo covered bridge in Clay and if you had anymore photos. I would also like permissions to use these photos in my analysis of my project. I would like to use the pictures because it is winter and winter pictures do not look as good as summer pics.
    thanks for you time

  • 30. Lynn Pritchett  |  March 30, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Hi Vicky,
    I’m the Certified Virginia Master Naturalist that attended the chestnut tree planting. You might have seen me floating around taking pictures with my little black dog…it was wonderful to see the photos that you took of the event.
    Susan and Danny Martin were in my class, and both of them are also Certified Virginia Master Naturalists. I found your blog from your Flickr photos, and was pleased to find the nomination form for the ranger of the year. I also nominated Danny, and will send this out to other chapter members, linking them to your pictures, blog, and the link to the nominating survey. Thanks!

  • 31. tgaw  |  March 31, 2009 at 6:22 am

    @Lynn- Thanks and what a great idea to alert other chapter members. I believe today (March 31st) is the last day to vote for Ranger of the Year.

  • 32. Lynn Pritchett  |  March 31, 2009 at 10:19 am

    Yup, but there’s still time! All day. Getting feedback already!

  • 33. Bill Hilton Jr.  |  September 26, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    VICKY . . .

    Nice wildflower photos from Keffer Oak.

    Some ID’s.:

    Yellow–One of the sunflowers
    Dark purple–Ironweed
    Blue & purple–Viper’s Bugloss
    Pale Purple–A Thistle



  • 34. Lynn Pritchett  |  September 26, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    I thought you might find this interesting. This is the text from the Sunday, September 20, 2009 Martinsville Bulletin. There’s a couple of very nice photographs of Danny; one at the Philpott Dam Overlook and one along a trail. The newsroom mailed me the text of the article. Your posting the link to nominate him might have been most helpful for him getting this award…I passed in around our local Virginia Master Naturalist chapter. Danny and Susan are both certified members…

    Bulletin Staff Writer
    In a perfect world, protecting the environment would be a top priority. In Danny Martin’s world, it already is.
    “I grew up in a sawmill family. I’ve always loved the outdoors,” said Martin, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers park ranger at Philpott Lake and recently one of five silver medal winners in Reserve America/The Camping Club’s 2009 Ranger of the Year contest.
    The annual award is “given to the country’s top rangers who dedicate their careers to serving park visitors while preserving public lands for future generations,” according to the Web site http://www.thecampingclub.
    With many rangers across the U.S., Martin knew snaring a win in the competition was a long shot.
    “I didn’t see anyone” from a federal agency while looking over a list of winners over the last few years, Martin said.
    He was the only federal employee to be selected in 2009, according to online information at the Camping Club’s Web site. Other silver medal winners were from state parks in New Hampshire, Florida, Louisiana and Wisconsin, the site states. The two gold medal winners were from state facilities in Colorado.
    Although his name may be on the award delivered later this year, Martin attributes his success to his wife, teamwork among employees at Philpott and doing what he loves.
    “The staff here are very dedicated to all of the missions the corps has … It’s a good team effort and a good organization to be part of,” Martin said.
    Martin said his wife has an important role in his personal success.
    “I think Susan deserves this as much as I do. She’s very supportive,” Martin said, adding he and Susan Martin work together on a number of programs, including a water safety venture that includes another family member, Bobber, a mixed breed dog they found abandoned on the side of the road.
    The couple adopted the canine and trained it to help teach water safety programs to youngsters and others. It is a successful venture, Martin said.
    During its first 45 years of operation, Martin said there were 47 accidental drownings at Philpott Lake. In the last 11 years, there have been none.
    “I’m extremely proud of that record,” Martin said.
    He and Susan Martin also work on interpretive programs aimed at teaching people how wild animals such as bears and coyotes behave, Martin said.
    “Understanding their behavior is the first step to getting along with them,” Martin said, adding Hunter and Boater education classes for the state Department of Game & Inland Fisheries also are taught at Philpott now.
    Regardless of the topic, safety is a central theme in all interpretive programs, Martin said.
    Understanding the environment also is important, because Martin said people protect what they care about. Getting people to take ownership and help protect the environment is the ultimate goal, he said.
    A quote from a National Park Service employee is his personal creed. Paraphrasing, he said, “Knowledge brings understanding; understanding brings appreciation; and appreciation brings protection.”
    A member of the District Water Safety team and the Philpott-Fairy Stone Safety Council, Martin also contributes to interpretive activities by using models and displays, brochures and activities to encourage visitors to conduct additional research.
    He won national recognition for Philpott by partnering with The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) to plant a blight resistant ceremonial tree at the lake.
    He also was invited to speak at the International Boating and Water Safety Summit in Tampa, Fla., and was selected as one of six rangers to participate in promoting water safety at the Corps of Engineers’ Headquarters Organization Day event in Washington, D.C.
    Martin is a native of Martinsville. He started working as a full-time, permanent ranger at Philpott in 2005, after working in several different fields — often two at a time for much of his life.
    He spent seven years as a ranger at Fairy Stone State Park, and for five of those years, simultaneously taught math at Patrick County High School.
    Martin also worked for 16 years as a design engineer at DuPont while teaching school, and spent eight-years as an investigator with the Patrick County Sheriff’s Office before leaving for his current position.
    At age 61, Martin said he has no plans to retire.
    “I’ve said I’ll probably die in mid-stride,” he quipped.

  • 35. readersheaven  |  September 20, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    Hi, nice to meet you !

  • 36. Lynn Pritchett  |  September 21, 2010 at 9:53 am

    Danny and Susan Martin are once again featured in our local paper with a Virginia Master Naturalist project they developed called “Trees in the Classroom.” You can read more about it here…

  • 37. eva  |  October 5, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Hi! Really enjoyed your hearts photos, please join us – we have fan page/Facebook: The Hearts Project (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=757738165&success=1#!/pages/The-Hearts-Project/100708096662804?v=wall&ref=mf)

    Greetings from Bulgaria!

  • 38. The Shoeless Wanderer  |  May 11, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading your blog.

  • 39. Shoeless  |  April 23, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Just saw you were reading The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live & Why They Matter. I started that book last year and ended up putting it down after about a chapter…looking forward to seeing what you think.

    • 40. tgaw  |  April 23, 2012 at 7:20 am

      I read the first four chapters and then Section II (Chapters 5-10). Right now I have one chapter left. I have gotten a lot of tree trivia out of it, but I do have to be in a particular mood for it.

      • 41. tgaw  |  April 23, 2012 at 7:24 am

        Oh whoops– that should read that I skipped Section II.

      • 42. Shoeless  |  April 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm

        That was my problem, you had to be in one of those educational, analysising kind of moods…and I guess I just haven’t been in that kind of mood lately…well, I guess college can kinda kill that mood, huh? Maybe this summer I’ll pick it back up.

  • 43. Mila  |  June 25, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Hey Vicky,
    I just wanted to let you know that as I was about to send you some copies of the latest Journal of TACF (with your winning photograph on the front), I realized that we never put you on for a complementary membership! I apologize for this oversight, recorded your comp membership that day (Friday) and sent you the back issues that you have missed since the contest. Be looking for it in the mail this week.
    We thank you for all your awesome contributions to TACF and for such a beautiful photograph that we got to display on The Journal this issue. Look forward to hearing/seeing more from you!

    Mila Kirkland- TACF Communications Specialist

  • 44. Demi  |  September 11, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Your style is so unique compared to other folks I have read stuff from.
    I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I’ll just bookmark this blog.

  • […] of 65,000 visitors will see them. Five lucky designers were the grand prize winners: Gil Rivera, Vicky Somma, Antar Gamble Hall, Roy Eid and David Moore and Brandy […]

  • 46. Jenna Mozingo  |  May 9, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    Hi Vicky! I hope this message finds you well. I came across the photo of your triumph at McAfee’s Knob while I was searching for public domain photos to use on a flyer for my birth doula services. I really love the photograph and wanted to see if you would mind my using it on a small flyer. There would only be about 10 flyers printed and they would be posted at a couple of women’s health centers and clinics in western Oklahoma, where I live. You’re welcome to check me out. Please send me an email and let me know what you think. I would be happy to send you the draft I made if you want to look it over before deciding!

    • 47. tgaw  |  May 9, 2015 at 6:13 pm

      Oh please feel free! Thank you for helping others have a positive birth experience!


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