Enjoy the Destination

Todays blog is all about unique stays. Why you may need them, how to find them, and gems I’ve come across in my travels.

There are several factors that can hinder an adventure while traveling:

  • Being too introverted and/or shy to attempt something or going somewhere that seems “scary”. I myself am part of this group. I have gotten better as time goes on and I have increased my ability to deal with un-comfortability with my constant adventuring. However, I would be lying if I said I still do not drive by someplace I wanted to go after seeing a crowded parking lot, if I can’t find where to go, or if it just looks sketchy.
  • Time constraints. Sometimes there is an end destination that requires you to rush through. Whether you just need to get from point A to point B for a job, you are heading to a wedding or other family obligation, really any set time table that says you need to be HERE NOW.
  • Our current global pandemic. It is hard to pack up and say “I am just going to travel because I want an adventure.” You must be cautious about where you are coming from, where you are going, where you are stopping. Lots of big destinations are closed, lots of states/cities are constantly changing their COVID-19 prevention measures. Depending on who you live with/need to visit/work with you do not want to risk bringing anything home.

I have a solution to all of these, make your destination your adventure! I know, I know, it goes against the age old saying “life is a journey, not a destination”, but hear me out. If you do not have time to stop, if the big stuff is closed, if you do not want to be around a ton of people, what do you still have? Where you sleep. Especially currently, while travel is scary and often frowned upon, pick a place to sleep that is not your bed. It can do wonders for your mental health. You can vet the hotel, air bnb, camp site for their COVID-19 precautions. Read their description, comb through their reviews, and even reach out to the host before you go.

When I look for an adventure accommodation, I consider several factors:

  • Price, I am not willing to spend much more than I would at a motel 6 so I limit my searches to around $75.  Be cautious that some places (ahem, Airbnb) have a lot of added fees to double check what the all in price is before you fall in love. I’ve had places priced at $40/night end up being over $100 after taxes/cleaning fees etc.
  • Style, I try to get away from basic hotels, I will utilize search engines like Airbnb and Hip Camp that can get me more unique stays. A tip for Airbnb is that you can filter by accommodation style (tiny house, camp site, rv, hut, etc.) It is also not a bad idea to look up historical and/or locally owned hotels, they can provide a little more warmth than a generic one.
  • Activities, you don’t always need your accommodation to provide an activity but if it iss located on a farm (pet the animals, get fresh eggs), in a forest (hiking trails) or in a community (gardening), they often come with fun things to do on site!

If you need some examples keep reading. In the rest of this blog I am going to break down a few times in this past year I used this great option to keep my adventure quota high while running into the three hindering factors above.

Medford, Oregon

Too introverted. In my case this past spring I took a road trip without an exact plan. I figured I would just drive and stop when things looked cool, something I have done before and enjoy in normal circumstances. Unfortunately, I had been quarantined for so long that my anxiety in new places was on overdrive and I just kept driving. Luckily for me I had also planned on this being a possibility and I had booked an amazing tiny house that made it worth getting there early. As part of my trip I really wanted to get a lot of writing in so I had booked a place with a porch, beautiful sunsets/sunrises, and an adventure feel.

  • Not enough time. This year I also took a long road trip to Kentucky to visit with an old friend. I knew between my finances and homesickness my timeframe had to be right around two weeks.  This meant after deducting my three day visit in KY, I would need to be driving between 7-10 hours every day to fit my trip into my time frame. Driving that much a day (especially during the first half of my trip where I was solo) meant that I would not be making a lot of meaningful stops. I of course fit in some silly and quick roadside attractions but my main way to balance the driving with adventure was my sleeping arrangements. With my 8 nights sleeping out on the road I utilized 5 campsites, 2 nights in unique accommodations, and 2 nights in a hotel. The two hotel nights and 1 of the camping sites I would compare to a motel 6 style of accommodations. Just used to rest your head and/or grab a shower. The other stays were planned specifically for their adventure feel. I will only highlight a few here (feel free to check out my Instagram where I go into more depth on some of these).:

Golden Valley, Arizona

My first night camping in a tent by myself. Private campsite (Airbnb) out in the middle of nowhere, with a soundtrack of wild burros throughout the night. This location also offered a really cool hike but unfortunately I did not have time to explore it.

Cerrillos, New Mexico

Shanti Community (hipcamp), where I got to sleep in an old VW van. A scary (but worth it) 20-minute drive off the highway and down a dirt road brings you to this village on the edge of a canyon. This place is constructed  of a ton of amazing old buses/vehicles that are outfitted for sleeping. This unique stay had a community kitchen where I made a quick cup of coffee in the morning to enjoy the sunrise before packing up and hitting the road.  

Kanab, UT

White Horse Campground in Escalante National Monument. This cheap ($5) BLM established campground gives you a great basecamp for some epic hiking as well as just a breathtaking place to set up your tent. Only two miles off the highway and down a dirt road.

  • Pandemic precautions. A bit ago I was feeling extremely closed in with all of the shelter in place and stay at home orders, which is bad for my mental health. I found an off-grid option within a day of travel and planned this epic adventure. This unique place offered a variety of accommodations and I booked two of them to create a weekend of secluded bliss. I enjoyed a beautiful drive up the coast, stocked up on groceries, and with the company of one of the greatest humans ventured into the woods. This place is a blog post by itself, so I will not go into a ton of detail, but Blake and I were able to sleep in both this cute A-Frame and this spectacular Tree House. Check that off the bucket list for me!

Whether you are staying local or getting away, Happy Roaming!

Disclaimer: I also am not sponsored or receiving payment from any of these places, I just found them to be enjoyable and wanted to share the love! Below find the links to all the places I listed above:

Off Grid Village – AFrame and Tree House (plus other awesome structures like the hobbit hole, witches hut, half moon etc.)
Shanti Community – Old VW bus (plus other awesome old vehicles to sleep in!)
Campsite in Golden Valley Arizona

White House Campground | Bureau of Land Management (blm.gov)

White House Campground in Utah, BLM established campground

Tiny House near Medford, OR

Road Trip Tips

Texas State Line 2010

Today marks the 10 year anniversary of my first big road trip. I packed up everything I owned in my tiny Toyota Yaris and with my best friend by my side embarked on the trek of a lifetime. We traveled west to east across the country and ended a 15-day trip, with over 18 states under our belt, and 5552 miles on our tires. Something so momentous to me that I ended up tattooing that number on my body. Since then I have done a second cross country trip and countless other road trips. There is something so fun about exploring new areas of the United States and spending time in the car while doing it. From all my experiences I have come up with some great rules to live by for taking a road trip.  

Don’t over plan. If you have specific places you would like to go that is great. However, do not plan every moment. Leave room to relax, room to stop at fun things on the side of the road, room to slow down. I hate putting a time frame on when you need to officially get somewhere, it adds so much stress to your journey.

Finding great places to stop. As much as I hate the idea of over planning its not a bad idea to do a little research of places you are heading. Keep in mind places like trip advisor list the most POPULAR places. Although they might be fun they also might be packed. There might be something else as equally amazing if not better in the area that is not as busy (and/or cheaper). I love using Atlas Obscura. Just plug in a city you are going to or use their map option to look up weird places in a set area. I have found some of my best road trip stops on there. Including this fun tree:

Another great place to find places to stop is the road signs! I have enjoyed some very unique and often overlooked places by reading the “attraction” signs on the side of the highway. Including this fun little bridge in Oregon. The official shortest, and claimed oldest, covered bridge in the state.

Packing. I strongly believe that over packing is better than under packing. You have a whole car! (normally unless you are moving in which case all your stuff is with you anyways). Do not be afraid to throw in that extra sweater, or comfy pillow, or heck a tent just in case the wind blows you to a campground. There’s nothing worse to having to spend hard earned road trip money on something you could have packed and own at home or miss an experience because an item is not with you to make it happen.

Snacks. I am a big believer in a cooler. I did not always have it and now that it’s a staple road trip item of mine I don’t know how I lived without it. Easy to bring cold drinks, cheese, sandwiches to keep your expenses low and allow you to picnic wherever you want! Plus, a giant bag of snacks! You don’t always want to stop when you get the munchies. I also love finding hidden gem rest stops or viewpoints to have a snack and stretch my legs.

Navigation. Try not to rely on your GPS for the whole trip. If you have a basic destination to head towards, a state or a city, just point yourself in the right direction turn off the maps and enjoy the trek. Sometimes you miss the journey if you are focusing on following a line on your GPS. I will say I have carried a paper map of the US in the back of my car for years and never used it. Its never a bad idea to have a backup if you get lost but technology has come a long way.

Overnight Accommodations. First up, decide whether you want your overnight accommodations to be a place to rest your head or part of your experience. If you are just looking for a place to rest your head sticking to the old faithful’s (motel 6, Super 8) is not a wrong way to go. One interjection is that if you find yourself in a smaller town some of the “inns” and “motels” you might normally overlook as seedy can often be such gems. Same price as a brand name but run by families with so much more character. Either way do not be expecting ritzy quality. You are literally paying for a bed and a roof.

If you are looking for more of an experience, I’ve found great options through airbnb and hip camp. Know your budget and know that the “price per night” isn’t always the final cost so make sure you know what you are paying for before booking. On airbnb I love finding fun unique places to stay like tiny houses or hidden cabins. Hip camp gives great one of a kind alternatives to your normal overnight stay. Besides for campsites and RV parking they also offer off grid living, yurts, and overall great glamping experiences.Cost/expenses. More often then not I am on a budget for my road trip. I cannot drop hundreds on food and everything else you can find on the road. As mentioned above two great money savers are bringing snacks and avoiding highly popular attractions for cheaper (equally awesome) ones. If you know you are going to be frequenting specific attractions like National Parks, investigate getting an all-inclusive pass. More money up front but a saver in the end. Also look for attractions that give AAA discounts. Even better, find the free attractions! So many hiking spots or fun stops are 100% free. Another way is to adjust your overnight accommodations. Do not be afraid to utilize car camping at free spots or cheaper camp sites to spread out your budget.  

Fuel. I have two rules for your gas tank. If you are on the main highway start looking for a gas station as soon as your tank hits ¼. If you are anywhere off the main drag start looking for a gas station as soon as your tank hits ½. You might feel that is over exaggerating the need. However, I would rather stop more and feel confident that I can get where I am going, then miss out on great stretches of road stressing over finding a gas station. Or worse, running out of gas on some back highway.

Staying Safe. There are a few quick tips I follow for safety.

  1.  Whether you are traveling by yourself or with a friend never underestimate the way a place makes you feel. If you do not get the right vibes from someplace, do not stop. There are plenty of other amazing things out there to experience.
  2. Always make sure someone knows your itinerary. You do not need to check in at every stop just make sure someone knows your general route, i.e. what towns you are expected to stop in for the night.
  3. Take all your bags into the hotel each night. As a rule, do not leave anything in the car you don’t want taken. It might be a drag, but as someone who used to work in the rental car industry, I cannot tell you how many peoples trips were ruined by someone breaking in a window and stealing their stuff.

Hopefully, you find these tips helpful and if you would like any extra advise or have any more questions for your upcoming road trip feel free to email me! (over on my contact page).

Happy [road trip] roaming!

Big Foot Trap

Location: Big Foot Trap (Collings Mtn. Trail), Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: < 3/4s of a mile. If you can get a spot at the trailhead it is only about half a mile. Otherwise park at the Hart-tish Park parking lot and it will be ¾ of a mile. (see parking).

Elevation: 300 feet.

Cost: $5 for day use at Hart-tish Park parking lot. I got away with parking at the trail head for free but I would recommend bringing the cash.

Parking: There are roughly two spots on the side of the road for this trailhead. Otherwise parking is available across the road at Hart-tish Park (see cost for fees).

Directions: I-5 exit 30. Hwy 62 turns into Hwy 238 and follow 13.5 miles. At the town of turn left onto Applegate Rd. At 15.5 miles you can turn left into Hart-tish Park or the trailhead will be a few more feet up on the right hand side.

Preparation:

  • Sunscreen. It is pretty covered with tree’s, but sunscreen is always a good idea.
  • Water. No water at trailhead. May be some available at the park but I didn’t use it. Always better to come over prepared than under.  
  • Bathroom. There is a rest stop with a pit toilet roughly half a mile before the trailhead or one available if you pay to park at Hart-tish day use area.  

Experience:

The trail is pretty much off by itself in the forest. There is a good trail head sign visible from the road (see picture above) that has a foot print telling you that you are in the right place. You start by cresting a tiny flat mound between the road and the trail, then it quickly shifts downhill hiding you immediately from the view of the road. After only a hundred feet or so the trail splits between hiker and horse access. You will cross through a wooden barricade and start a semi steep descent. Less than five minutes into the trail you cross an incredibly unique footbridge that crosses a creek. When I went (early summer) there was no water, but I would assume in the wetter seasons this footbridge would be helpful to keep you dry.  Shortly after at about a quarter mile there is a wooden bridge.

On my first pass to park at the trailhead there were forestry services parked and I assume doing trail maintenance. The trail was extremely clear the whole time. I am also assuming/hoping the several arrows hand drawn into the dirt were communication between a trail maintenance crew. Otherwise it was extremely eerie to be down this trail by yourself not knowing when the last person hiked through, following crude arrows in the dirt…

I did follow them, however, and was rewarded with my prize. Towards the last bit of trail, it forked into what felt like two very defined trails. I almost went down the wrong one when I noticed the arrow in the ground pointing to the very left trail option. I followed it and was rewarded with a creepy smiley spray painted on a cut tree that passed over the trail. In retrospect it is not creepy but when you are alone, surrounded by forest, walking towards a big foot trap; Everything seems creepy. Later I saw that the right fork of the trail is a short jaunt to a demolished/decayed minor’s cabin. I will have to explore next time!

Up the hill on the left fork is the trap!  In a nice open space with a giant steel gate is the big foot trap. Thankfully, bigfoot was not there when I got to the clearing. It has been spray painted throughout the years and was remarkably still very sturdy. Although it would be no match for Big foot!

Big Foot History:

The Big Foot trap was first created in 1974 by the North American Wildlife Research Team. Which is no longer an organization. They tried for 6 years to trap Big Foot, baiting the trap with carcasses but all they ever caught was beers. The structure is 10 by 10 feet and made with 2×12 planks, combined with heavy metal straps, and fastened to the ground by telephone poles. In 1980 the door the was bolted open for good. It is now a tourist attraction and maintained by the United States Forest Service.

Full Trail Specs:

The Big Foot Trap is part of the Collings Mtn Trail

The trail continues past the trap and increases elevation rapidly up to the ridgeline before taking you along the western edge of Collings Mountain. It will drop you into Watkins campground. If want to do the whole thing find the additional info below!

Difficulty: Moderate/Hard

Distance: 7 miles one way.

Elevation: 1000 feet.

Extra Trail:

There is an easy flat half mile (one way) trail between the Hart-tish day use parking lot and a rest stop up the road. It runs along the side of the lake and provides great views for little effort. If you get to the rest stop there is also a short walkway that takes you out into the lake and gives a nice view of the dam.

Until next time, Happy Roaming!

Making Time for Life

It would be inaccurate for me to tell you that I didn’t have a mild, mental, time management related, meltdown as the New Year started. There are so many things I want to do! I want to begin pushing my career forward again, which means getting to work on time (I’m notorious about being late), staying late, going to more happy hours, pursuing mentor relationships, and basically that corporate hustle. I want to finally help my mom start our Etsy shop that we’ve taking about for almost two years. I want to achieve 365 outdoor miles. I want to run five 5k’s. I need to plan my wedding (April 2020 what’s up!) and continue to build and foster my relationship with my fiancé. Last, but not least I want to devote the proper time to this blog and my writing.  THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO!

So if you’re like me, and you have big aspirations and big dreams to balance your personal life needs with your corporate life needs, I’ve laid out my plan below for the year. Feel free to steal, execute, and critique.  I stole little bits of my plan from what’s worked before, from a book I’ve started reading about creating more time with the time you have, and life advice from those closest to me. I’m excited to see how it goes, and if anyone else has additional idea to try please leave it in the comments below!

STEP ONE:

 SEPARATE THE IMPORTANT FROM THE INSIGNIFICANT 

I put down on paper everything that is important to me. That’s everything from the big things (like I listed above), to the little one time things like doctors appointments and getting my vehicle registered in California. 

 PICK YOUR ORGANIZER
I picked up a big monthly & weekly planner that allows me to plan my day based on time, top 3 important items, and a to-do list. It even has a spot for what I’m looking forward to this evening and my gratitude for the day. I appreciate that It separates the “important items” from the “to do list” because it really allows you to feel accomplished if all you were able to do is 3 things. So what my todo list is a mile long, I accomplished the three most important things and that makes my brain happy. 
I include the most important work items in my planner but I also have a smaller to-do notebook on my desk to organize my ten hour work days. It makes me feel so much more accomplished when I get to mark things off as done and motivates me to work harder!
 CUT DOWN ON SCREEN TIME
I wouldn’t say I’m addicted to my phone but I also am not the best at putting it down. Thanks to some nifty new settings from Apple I’ve set myself up for success. First I scheduled “screen down time” from 9pm to 5am which means that only phone calls are allowed in that time and everything else is turned dark. I’ve also set myself an hour limit for all social media apps and once I hit that all of those applications also go dark no matter what time of the day it is. “Going dark” just means that the application icon dims and if you try to open it a message pops up stating that it is locked. You can easily choose to bypass it but it’s a nice simple reminder to my brain that I’ve reached my time limit for the day and to go do something more useful.
 FOSTER A SPACE FOR SUCCESS

When things are dirty or cluttered it’s like my whole brain freezes up. It puts me in a bad mood, I can’t focus, and things just don’t get done. So first off I took an entire weekend to deep clean my apartment. I didn’t only just take out the trash and vacuum but I went through every bin, box, closet, and shelf to toss anything I didn’t need or didn’t find useful. I then reorganized what I had left and finally even got some of my pictures up on the wall I’ve been putting off. Now that everything is clean I make sure to pickup every time I leave the room. I fold the blanket, put the glass in the sink, put the cat toys back where they belong. Every little thing adds up and walking into my apartment now is so relaxing. 

 GET UP EARLY 

This is probably the hardest part for me. But after my fiancé mentioned my ten thousand alarms disrupts his sleep in the morning (lucky duck gets to go to work later than me) I had two reasons to get up early! Now I try to get up on my first alarm, as hard as it is to drag my butt from the bed. My goal is to have time to drink a cup of coffee AT HOME, get ready (which is a snap now that everything is clean and organized) and sit down to read/journal/write a bit before heading off to work. I’m not noticing that my body misses that extra 20/30 minutes of sleep but my brain loves having time to really wake up before getting in the car for work. It tricks me into thinking I have more time, since I can do things for myself before and after my work day.

And that’s what I have so far. It’s still a work in progress, like almost everything in my life. However, it feels so much better than all the clutter I had in my head and my life beforehand. Never be fearful about changing up your routine and until next time, keep on Roaming!

Pick your adventure: Time Frame – One Day

Two of the most frequent things I hear from friends, family, and colleagues are “You’re always doing something!” and “I wish I could do that!” The awe I receive at doing something with my free Saturday or free Sunday always slightly astounds me. At the same time I also realize this is something I’ve cultivated over trial and error. Attempting too much or heading into something underprepared. Luckily for you over the past few years I’ve turned my adventure day into an easy can do process. Read on to see how you too can turn your Netflix Sunday into a day of unique fun!

We do not remember days, we remember moments.

1.Pick your interests.

For me I love to hike, I love art, and I love cozy towns/coffee shops.

2. Check for local events.

About once a week to a month I will scan our local community paper, facebook, or a quick google search to see what might be happening near me in the near future. I also am very close to a fairgrounds so I check what’s coming up in their season as well. Then I put it on my calendar. I might not go but it’s nice to know what is out there if I get the time off.

3. Make a list.

One of my favorite things in my apartment is these whiteboards I made from dollar store frames and craft paper. On each frame I have lists for things I want to do, one is dedicated to local places I want to visit, one to local places to eat I wish to try, one to hikes I wish to accomplish, among others (picture included!). img_2206-1Both of these are great to keep track of things I think I can accomplish in a day. Everyone’s list is going to be different. If you don’t like to travel out more than ½ an hour, then you’re going to have a lot more of in town events. If you are like me and can drive up to 2-3 hours out for a day, your list could include events from several towns over or even other states.

4. Check the weather.

Thankfully I live somewhere where I have pretty great weather year round but if you are somewhere where your weather is more temperamental then definitely keep it in mind. If a clear Saturday is unusual than make sure you are tackling your outside adventures on that day versus your indoor adventures. Don’t be afraid to change your course at the last minute because the weather changes.

5. Get up early.

The hardest part for me is getting out of bed. I always bribe myself with hitting a local coffee shop or bakery on my way to where I’m going. It’s just another incentive to get out of bed. Then I have all day to go do adventure and if I finish early I can NAP! But if it takes all day I’m always grateful I got up when I did.

6. Remember it.

If you take pictures, take pictures. If you check in on Facebook, check in. If you journal, journal. I used to be self-conscious about posting things that I was doing because I felt I was trying to draw attention to “how awesome I’m being,” but I really just use it to keep track for myself. It’s nice to have all of adventures highlighted in one place to reminisce when I need some future inspiration to get out of bed. So whatever works best for you to have something to remember it by: DO IT!

7. Plan the next one. Research research research.

This step can really be at the beginning or the end. But what is your plan for the next adventure. I don’t always have a ton of time in the middle of my week to figure it out. So as soon as I get home or while I’m driving home I’ll start thinking about what I want to do next week. If I know I want to go to the pumpkin patch with the largest corn maze in driving distance, I’m researching it Monday-Friday so that on Sunday when we wake up we already know how long the drive might be, if we need money for tolls, and what else is in the area to explore after. If I want to go on an epic hike I’ve researched the trail, how long it will take, and what the water supply is like. That way I can clean out our hydration packs, buy more water, and plan our equipment in the middle of the week before we wake up Sunday. Saves more time day of so we can get out on the trail early!

img_1911

The most important thing to remember is that plans change. No matter how much you prepare things will go “wrong.” You might start thinking you’re going to one brewery only to find they closed for the day due to a family emergency. Don’t let it get you down. Hit up the local coffee shop and map out either another brewery or ask the barista where’s someplace to visit nearby. The point of this day is to explore, find something new, and get out and about!