PSA: the app that can save your hike AND save your life!

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*This post is 100% unsolicited by AllTrails.  They have no idea who I am, although I’m sure they wish they knew me because I know for a fact I drove at least two Facebook friends to buy a Shark vacuum after my numerous endorsements.

**Shark vacuums are amazing, btw.

Today I want to give you a BIG piece of advice, and by “you”, I’m talking to anyone who plans to step out-of-doors today, tomorrow or at any point in the future:

Download the AllTrails app.

Pay the man (or use the free version!).

Get movin’.

It’s just that easy–you’ve signed up for the technology magic that is GPS and saved your hike, and possibly your life.

And the best part is that you can use this app for just about ANY outdoor trail on any mountain or in any community park that has ever been trekked!

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495 trails.  I have work to do.

This is what I find when searching my location.  And when I settle on a trail the app gives me just about everything I need, even driving directions!

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If you knew better, and if you are just now starting out on any kind of outdoor adventure plan, you would profusely thank me.  I don’t even want to tell you what Mark and I went through before we found AllTrails.

But I will, because you are my friend and my embarrassing failures are your teachable moments.  My only problem now is deciding where to start; we did many dumb things.

Waste the trees to see the trees

This is probably the one I can laugh the most at, it’s the least dangerous misstep but still a very rookie move.

Mark and I started hiking with the big hikes.  We don’t do things small or gradually, so in researching our adventures we followed what a lot of other hikers were doing.  There were blogs and websites and we had to ingest all of the hints and tips and landmarks to use on our own hikes.  To keep track of all the “turn at the rusty pails” and “make sure the water is on your rights” we Printed. Everything. Out.

I cringe.

Mark carried pages and pages of blog posts and maps and pictures so that we were sure to get it all right!  We got it right, all right, but boy did we look stupid.

Picture this: you’re walking along a trail and you come to a junction with a sweaty couple, frantically flipping through pages to see if this junction was THE junction because ohmigoshwhatifwemakethewrongturnahhhhhh?!

Getting lost is serious, but this level of detail made us doubt our own sense of direction and common sense.  The map says blue trail.  Follow the blue trail.  Miss the blue trail?  Backtrack until you find the blue trail.

Less headache.  Less paper.

Don’t be like us.

Of course we got lost

(Mom, maybe you stop reading, mmmkay?)

This is a given.  Because every trail is going to have that “hmmmmm….” moment where you can’t quite tell 1) where the next marker leads, and 2) if/when/where you’re supposed to turn.

On our way down from a peak, trying to navigate the many junctions with our trusty paper map, we came to a fork in the road we weren’t expecting.  Some of the longer trails deep in the Adirondacks take several turns and some are more clearly marked on the map than others.  This particular turn we were unsure of.  Mark said “right”, I said “left”, the guy that came up on us said “left” and then whipped out his phone confirming the dot was us, the trail back to the car was in red, and it was indicating to head left.

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What sorcery?!  This was our first experience with AllTrails.  And it was when we first started noticing all of the hikes it would have come in handy, including some of the shorter hikes we were already very familiar with!

In conclusion

Friends, download AllTrails and discover what is around you!  Discover a new trail in that park you frequent.  Discover a waterfall tucked away in the woods.  Pack a bag of snacks and get out!

And AllTrails, you are as dear to me as my Shark vacuum! ❤

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Pacific Northwest might be best

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Mount Olympus peaking out

But shhhhh…don’t tell the Adirondacks I said that!

The truth is, I’ve been a BIG fan of the Northwest for more than 30 years, and it’s hard to beat that kind of history.  

Back in the early 80s when I was just a wee lass of three, my aunt and uncle moved from our town in Southern California to Washington State, on the Puget Sound.  A few years later, at just six years old, I hopped on an RV and rode up the coast with family friends to spend what turned out to be about a month with my aunt and uncle at their home in Bremerton. (From where I sit at thirty-something, this still looks like an epic adventure!)

We caught crabs on the shore, hunted for clams, visited the mountains, ferried to Canada, climbed the Space Needle in Seattle. To this day (well, yesterday, actually) the friend I tagged along with and I still talk about that vacation.

Side note: this is the trip where I discovered I’m afflicted with terrible motion sickness.  Apparently, I can’t have all the luck.

My most recent jaunt to the Evergreen State in early May proved to be no less exciting, although much more condensed!  (To my Instagram friends, I sincerely apologize for the volume of stories, it was excessive.)  My aunt and uncle’s daughter, also known as my cousin, was getting married and so I flew out for a week of shenanigans.

This is going to be less of a trip recap and more of an adventure guide.  As my main, number one, ultra special goal is to help YOU enhance and enrich your lives through authentic adventures, I’m not sure going on and on and ON about how I spray painted a building is going to propel YOU into your best life.

But I will tell you about it because it’s awesome, you guys.  I tagged a building.  #SoRebel.

Just remember, memory making adventures are everywhere.  You don’t have to travel across the country to find them.

Take the road less traveled

Sometimes that means not taking a road at all!

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Seattle to Bremerton ferry

There is a perfectly maintained highway that goes from the airport in Seattle to Bremerton, our destination on the other side of the Sound.  It would have been a quick and comfortable trip.  But there’s a ferry, and guess what: in my every day life I don’t get to ride a ferry.  And guess what else: sometimes there are cafeterias on ferries.  If you are anything like me, snacks drive your decisions, so drinking a glass of wine and eating a yogurt parfait while riding to your destination majorly enhances the experience.  Never mind there’s the opportunity to see killer whales, no joke.

On my last day, my travel day, I chose the ferry again.  From where I stayed, I walked the short few blocks to hop on the boat, which took me to the port in Seattle.  I then had to walk the few short blocks to the train that would take me to the airport.  Along the way I discovered Biscuit Bitch and the best biscuits and gravy I’ve ever had, no joke.

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Biscuit Bitch at Pioneer Square.  Go there.

Another side note: I don’t like sausage, so that closes the biscuits and gravy door for me.  Biscuit Bitch has a vegetarian gravy that blew my world.  I mean, blew it wide open.  Go there.  Tell them the girl who precariously balanced all of her luggage on one chair sent you.

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Gritty Scrambled Cheesy Bitch, if you must know…with a side of politics.

Allow yourself to break your budget…a bit

Disclaimer: I’m not telling you to miss a mortgage payment to splurge on a gold plated memento, please don’t do that!

When you head out on a memory making adventure, you are already doing something out of the ordinary.

Every other day you forgo the extras because you are responsible human being (go YOU!), but during your time away you are not doing the every day.  So splurge… a little!

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Clams and crabs and mussels, oh my!

Get the bucket of seafood down by the sea, especially when it comes with tiny mallets and oversized bibs!  You won’t forget those times with loved ones in which you whacked a crab leg so hard you shot meat to the table beside you.

Hypothetically.

Stop and smell the roses

Everything is new and different, let yourself check out ALL the beautiful details!

Sometimes that involves pausing your morning run (because fitness doesn’t take a vacation, amiright?!) and chatting with the nice young man spray painting a wall because you just might have the opportunity to literally leave your mark on that moment.

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Jonathan, the artist who loves purple and The Avengers.

To be clear to the authorities: this is a “free wall” for local artists to “decorate.”

But also, while you’re at it, look at what’s around you.  If you’re not in your home, your neighborhood or your community, you are in a place that is different and the things you will see are worth really seeing.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

I know you have a picture in your head of how your weekend away will go.  It will involve perfect timing, blue skies, and happy children//pets//spouse.

Wake up, buttercup.

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Ah yes, six-year-olds are the BEST!

Either one, or all of these things, will go the exact opposite of your perfect plans.  But that’s ok…

Step One: breathe.

Step Two: remind yourself that disaster and chaos don’t take a vacation either.

Step Three: pivot, you’ll find an adventure and make memories somewhere else!

Above all, stay positive, friends.  Life is so good ❤

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