What Does Responsible Tourism Mean?

What Does Responsible Tourism Mean?

This post may contain affiliate links, for more information read our full disclosure The travel industry is throwing around this term: Responsible Tourism or Sustainable Tourism. So what does Responsible Tourism mean? Each year we travel, consume, photograph and share on our social media channels, exposing friends and family to expand their knowledge of the cultures of the world.

The world gets a little bit smaller, those in different countries can see your social media posts on Instagram and Facebook and may compare it to your lives. Animal rights, environmental responsibilities are becoming more and more talked about….especially the use of plastic. Stop and question what you think you know about plastic vs paper bags, look at the whole environmental impact. Look at how the production and use of plastic impacts and effects low-income households, did you know there is an actual place called ‘Cancer Alley’? In our ever-increasing virtual connection, what can we do as travel addicted wander lusting Instagram posting fiends to be more responsible when we travel? First things first….to understand what it is.

What does Eco-tourism mean

Responsible Tourism is a multifaceted approach, which includes:

  1. Minimizing negative social, economic and environmental impacts while traveling
  2. Generating greater economic benefits for local people and enhancing the well-being of host communities
  3. Improving working conditions and access to the worldwide industry
  4. Involving local people in decisions, markets, and trade that affect their life and chances at life.
  5. Making positive contributions to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage, embracing the diversity.
  6. Providing more enjoyable experiences for tourists through more meaningful connections with local people and a greater understanding of local cultural, social and environmental issues.
  7. Provides access for physically challenged people
  8. Is being culturally sensitive, encourages respect between tourists and hosts, and builds local pride and confidence.
What does Eco-tourism mean

There are many different ways that this can be addressed and focused on. The Culture Trekking Community is one that focuses on numbers one, five, six and eight. Creating a community where ideas, religions, cultural idiosyncrasies are both shared, respected and embraced. As the Community grows I want to improve awareness on environmental impacts as well as fight the uphill battle of having more meaningful human connections. Today I will focus on the latter.

Where the idea started for my own Responsible Tourism:

The video was quite graphic when I saw this 2 years ago, but it really impacted me in so many different ways. The moral of the story is…..you don’t know what you don’t know until you educate yourself on how small choices like using single-use straws can impact the environment. I now carry a reusable metal straw in my purse at all times. This video is where responsible tourism started for me….watching this turtle in so much pain made me feel like I needed to do more for the environment.

It isn’t just the plastic straws, it is garbage that is left strewn about in all the different places that I visit. I remember walking behind someone in Yellowstone National park…..they dropped a wrapper on the ground (a large one). I was so frustrated by this because they had a bag they could have easily slipped that wrapper into. I picked it up and gave it back to the tourist, who naturally acted like they dropped it by accident (even though I watched them look around before dropping it). It is not that hard to slip those wrappers into a pocket, a bag, in your shoe….anything but on the ground. Taking a few more steps to ensure your rubbish gets into the proper receptacle is not as hard as you think…..as Nike says ‘JUST DO IT’!

Another video that truly impacted me was one man in India, who returned to his home to find the beach he loved filled with garbage. He knew he had to do something so he started knocking on doors and aims to be that change he wishes to see in the world. Take a look at the video & then I want to think about how much of a difference we could make if each of us committed to picking up 3 pieces of trash wherever we travel to. What about taking an extra garbage bag on a local hike in your hometown? We could all use a few more squats in our day, right?

Why am I showing you all these videos? A picture is worth a thousand words (or so they say), but I feel that videos are the way to make an impact that can create change. What is better than a video? Visiting a place like the Washed Ashore Gallery in Bandon Oregon (several displays are located throughout the United States, see the Washed Ashore Exhibit Locations for more information) can both teach our generation and the generations below us how to protect our earth and save our oceans.

Traveling can be an exotic thing full to the brim with activities that will make your friends envy your life & maybe even despise you a little. The more I travel the more I realize that I want to make a difference in the world, no matter how small it is. Ecotourism and Volunteering for cleanups and service can help connect our communities, open minds and hearts, and help start the change we wish to see in the world.

Supporting Companies with good causes:

What does Eco-tourism mean

Save the Baby Turtles!

A Blogger friend of mine in Fort Lauderdale Florida was able to participate in the nighttime protection of hatching baby turtles. These baby turtles get confused by the city lights and instead of going into the ocean (following the moon), they follow the city lights. This leads them to be run over or crushed by bikes, cars or fall into holes they cannot get out of. What these volunteers do is once the baby turtles hit their 10-foot periphery line, they gather them up in a bucket and take all the confused little fellas to the ocean where they set them free. They also move beach chairs and sandcastles to allow for the mothers to come to the beach easier and lay their eggs. Check out her post on Saving Baby Sea Turtles and how you can help or participate!  

Soul Flower Clothing Company

As soon as I found this clothing company, I know I had found my tribe. Just look at their tagline:

Soul Flower is a natural clothing brand for kind souls and free spirits. Mindfully made with natural fibers and heartfelt art, we design our threads with kind vibes from start to finish. We seek inspiration in the simplicity of everyday life – in nature and in music, in free-spirited adventures and in like-minded souls. We create clothing in a way that supports our planet, spreads a positive message, and most importantly — helps you express yourself.”

what does responsible tourism mean

Beyond the message of Freakos‘. When looking into building your eco-friendly and ethical wardrobe, look no further.
The inks they use have a low impact on the environment with citrus solvents being utilized. They reuse paper boxes and packing materials to ‘keep the story going’. All cotton that is used in their clothing is organic cotton, recycled fibers or hemp. Not only do they focus on the clothing, but they also decreased the catalog printing and now use recycled paper with soy-based inks. They are also green office certified (aka: energy wise usage of products and environmentally savvy).

Why is this important? Small companies like this are able to be more environmentally friendly and I support those who make an effort to do so whole-heartedly! I feel privileged to be able to collaborate with this company as I love their manifesto, Soul Flower’s practices, and policies and their clothing is SO COMFORTABLE!

What does responsible tourism mean?

To all my big headed ladies out there (I’m talking literal, not egotistical) – this is the place you should get your headbands! Every time I wear these headbands I feel a little better about myself, I read the inspirational message printed on it and cannot help but feel inspired to finish out the day with a bang! Plus, let’s be honest, sometimes a girl just needs a headband to decrease the stress of doin’ da hur….ya feel me? To get your headband:

What is responsible tourism

The other items I have personally tried and fallen in love with so far are the yoga pants and shirts. If I’m being honest, I wear the pants EVERYWHERE! Not just because the pants are comfortable, but because they have the most adorable prints on them that inspire me to continue to be Eco-friendly in my day to day life & inspire me to live a simpler life to help have less of an impact on the environment.
I wore the shirt for two days in a row people! I know that’s gross but it has been so hot over here, and it is so light, airy and cute with the little leaves on it… I couldn’t resist

Personal Note: It is sooooo hard to find cute and comfortable clothing as a curvy woman — so to find a company that caters to my desire to be eco-friendly and embraces those of all shapes and sizes really just gives me warm fuzzies and I want to shout out from the rooftops how much I appreciate and love them for this.

You don’t just have to participate in environmentally friendly activities at destinations you visit. You can start being environmentally friendly to companies just like Soul Flower. Check out Soul Flower Summer Specials today!

Other Ways to be a Responsible Tourist:

Be Respectful of Religions and Cultures:

Look at local customs and rules when entering churches across the world. Do not make derogatory jokes or compare those within the country to something you deem as ‘more sensible’ or ‘better practices’. Do not impose your beliefs on those within the country unless prompted to. Respect the cultural idiosyncrasies of what is considered ‘normal’ for that country.

What is responsible tourism


The bottom line is, just because something, someone, or a country as a whole does something different than what you know to be normal — doesn’t mean that it is wrong. There are some exceptions where it endangers basic human rights, practices, or harms/mutilates any animal or human being (obviously). Even if you do see something wrong, intervening as a tourist could land you in jail – be careful, be cautious and if you have a concern about the country/destination use a guide that you can ask questions about what is appropriate or if you can do something/intervene without landing yourself in jail.

Be Respectful of Shop Owners Overseas:

Do not take photos of products, items, or anything in different countries that could affect their livelihood. Do not get offended if they ask you not to take photos, there is a reason! Unnamed countries citizens will visit these economically struggling countries and take photos of their products and produce them at a fraction of the cost, but they are not authentic products.

What is responsible tourism


Moroccans, for example, rely on their skill and artistry of furniture, clothing, architecture, woodworking to profit from their craft and provide for their families. How many times have you visited a country and thought, ‘Oh I can get that back in my own country, I don’t need to buy it here’. This is why it is so important….so many countries rely on tourism and the money it brings in to put food on the table. So please….before you take a photo in a store, ASK the owner if it is ok.

Be Aware and Educate Yourself on Regional Issues:

What is responsible tourism

Human trafficking, terrorism, and so many more unsavory things happen in this world. I have too much of a tender heart to focus in on the negative all the time, so rarely listen to the news – but I do search for those individuals who have the capacity to handle situations such as this. I support them, I share their stories and donate when I’m able to.

It is important to be sensitive to cultural and religious practices (as part of Responsible Tourism) that help to positively define a culture, but that never means we should tolerate those who continually violate the basic human rights of food, safety, and shelter.

With having experienced Rape and sexual assault myself, the topic of sex trafficking is a very passionate topic for me. Operation Underground Railroad is a team of individuals of highly specialized individuals who have years of experience in special forces, law enforcement working proactively since 2013 with local governments that I wholeheartedly support. This is a video that had me in tears for how grateful I was to the men & women who do this. Please support them in whatever way that you can….
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_CgQcNkUlw&feature=youtu.be
If you would like to Donate to O.U.R. please feel free to do so, if you are unable to donate, then try and Volunteer for O.U.R. to help aid in their efforts.

Small changes can make a big difference:

Wear environmentally friendly products:

  • Keep any soap while camping at any location away from runoff areas (at least 100 feet).
  • Bury or pack out your human waste. Look at the requirements for each camping spot you visit for their rules and regulations.
  • Wear environmentally and Ocean friendly sunscreen as this often washes off the ocean, causing damage to coral and marine life.
What is responsible tourism

Biodegradable products:

  • Bringing your own straws, skip the straw at Starbucks. If this doesn’t make sense, please keep watching the video of the Turtle above until it does.
  • Get a recycling bin or start a recycling group in your neighborhood. (More information below on recycling that could be available in your country).
  • Make a list of low-cost companies that produce Biodegradable Products and keep a list. Hand the list out to anyone who uses straws, show they alternatives. Don’t force it down their throat — educate with KINDNESS! Honey works better than vinegar when trying to entice people to change their daily habits or companies to change the status quo.
What is responsible tourism

Utilize the Reusable Grocery Bags:

  • This is such a simple change that we can all do (especially those of us in the States). In most other countries they are charging for the plastic bags, yet when we implement it here to try and help support the environment….everyone loses their minds! They tried to do this when I lived in Texas and I would stand there and see with my own eyes, these grocery baggers get verbally assaulted for doing their job and charging for the plastic bags. Come on people…..be better than that……do better than that…….realize that this isn’t just about YOU and YOUR needs, but for the betterment of humanity and animals. If you still aren’t convinced that plastic bags are a big deal, watch this video of the whale found dead with hundreds of pounds of plastic bags in its stomach. If that doesn’t convince you, well…..I don’t know how to help you become a better human being.
  • I need some advice myself on this one….grrrhhh….. I have all the reusable bags I can handle. I start daydreaming on the way to the grocery store, then out of habit, forget to take the reusable grocery bags I brought off the garage wall where I put them so I wouldn’t forget them. If you have some advice on how to remember these things…..let a girl know in the comments below.

A Call to Action for Responsible Tourism:

Ecotourism

  • Here is a great resource if you would like to participate in Ecotourism on your next trip: Ecotourism.org

Volunteering through worldwide programs/cleanups

Companies that Participate in Eco-friendly Product Production:

Clothing: Patagonia, Thought Clothing, Encircled Clothing

How to encourage clothing companies to not use plastic hangers

Straws: The Last Plastic Straw is a great website for a list of all the different types of straws, where to get them and how they are better than the plastic straws. There is also a site completely dedicated to Living a life without plastic, this is where I get my reusable metal straws (bamboo and glass is also available).

Home, Pets, Cleaning supplies and more: Life Without Plastic gives you so many bamboo or steel options that can replace many of the household items that have or contain plastic. Gift certificates, gift registry, and points program are also available on this site to help you invite friends to the #noplastic movement.

Trash Bags: Biodegradable Trash Bags, Green Legacy Tall Kitchen Trash Bags

Grocery Bags: Reusable Grocery Bags

Sandwich Bags: Eco-Friendly Reusable Sandwich Bags

Recycling throughout the world: Recycling in the States (contact your city councils to arrange this), Recycling in Australia, Recycling in Canada, Curbside Recycling available in New Zealand please check your local city councils, Recycling is also available in the United Kingdom for each household (mandatory supply of bins from government), Spain also has recycling available in some areas, and the Netherlands actually pays you to bring in your recyclable materials (typically at grocery stores).

IF YOU HAVE RECYCLING IN YOUR COUNTRY AND IT IS NOT LISTED HERE, PLEASE LIST THE RESOURCE OR WHO TO CONTACT BELOW  🙂

A Must Read Plastic Free Blogger: If you are like me and feel a little overwhelmed by how many things in your home contain plastic, visit Beth Terry: My Plastic Free Life Blogger. She will teach you, take you step by step through the process and show you how to live a plastic-free life.

Worldwide Plastic Pollution Coalition – Now NO ONE has an excuse to not participate in reducing their plastic use. This is a global alliance of individuals, organizations and businesses working together to stop plastic pollution.

what does responsible tourism mean

How To Tour Responsibly:

We have such a duty to protect creatures who outlived the dinosaurs, are essential to our planet’s ecosystem – the Sea Turtles. We don’t have to start being Eco-friendly or participate in Responsible Tourism practices only when we are traveling. Get involved in the activities now, one goal or plastic straw at a time.

Be respectful of religions, people, cultures, and races as long as they do not infringe on basic human rights to live life peacefully, safely without fear of bodily harm and can provide for basic human needs of shelter, food, and water.

Get involved in volunteer programs locally where you can help end human trafficking, gang violence, opioid epidemics, and so much more. There seems to be an Instagram hashtag or Facebook group for everything these days. If you have any suggestions for local groups you are passionate about, please let it in the comments below with a link to their site.
Teach those around you, share the information on your social media platforms….it just takes one rock in a pond to start a ripple that turns into a wave. Be that change you wish to see in the world.

How do you like to contribute to Responsible Tourism?

What is the most important thing to you regarding Responsible Tourism?

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter

The Night I Thought Would Be My Last My first backpacking trip was an exciting prospect, but little did I know what a disaster it would turn out to be. It was November, and I was turning 30 years old & I had decided I was going to do something unique for my birthday. My roommate, Lo, a camping/100K/rugby superstar invited me to not only backpack but snow-shoe in winter up the mountaineering route on the second highest peak in the United States……Mount Whitney.

For the record, I have never been backpacking prior to this, I have never been snow-shoeing, I have never carried so much weight for so long on my back in my life. I had just received 2 steroid injections in my feet for Plantar Fasciitis. I was afraid of not being invited again, so I said, “OH! Really!?! That would be so fun!”

As the trip got closer I became anxious about what exactly I was to pack. I knew Lo would know what to pack, but I was embarrassed to ask for details — so I did what I do best…. ignored my problems and made it up as I went. I did a little research online and became even more terrified as the information I found warned me of people having to be flown off the mountain for medical emergencies.  Great……I was likely going to die on my birthday.

The day of the trip came, I didn’t weigh my pack, didn’t check to make sure the batteries were in the navigation device….but I set out on the trip anyway. We drove to California where we stayed with Lo’s family, picked up her cousin (a military man). Then we headed on over to Lone Pine where Mt Whitney awaited us, a 14,505-foot peak, with an elevation gain of 6,500 feet over 11 miles on the Mountaineers’ route.

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter

I was tasked with carrying the climbing rope, and we had to park quite a ways down the road and hike in because of rock slides and snow. The road was still fairly steep and by the time we got to the trailhead, we were all sweating to the point you could see the salt in our sweat. I had brought some music with me but was told that it was a cardinal rule when hiking with them that you should not listen to music. At this point is when I realized I may not have the mental nerves of steel to do this without music. Not wanting to appear like a pansy princess I continued to trudge forward.

At the trailhead, we put our snow-shoes and I felt the real challenge start. I was hot, heavy, red as a beet from sweating with huge metal/plastic things on my feet that I didn’t even know if they would work or how to hold my poles. I said a little prayer that I wouldn’t look stupid and started down the trail after Lo and her Cousin. The snow was powdery and soft & three feet deep (at least). I was just so glad there weren’t many people on the trail because there would be fewer people to make a fool of myself in front of.

It started to get hard for me about 20 minutes past the trailhead and I was sure to bring Cliff bars and had the water in my pack to slurp on. I was still dripping sweat and my hands were really cold. All I could think of while I was walking was, ‘I’m not even to the hard part yet and I already want to turn around, come on Janiel you are stronger than this. You need to get a good song in your head and just keep singing’. The only song that really worked was a rap song, ‘one step, come on two step come on. I hate rap but somehow it kept me going up all those switchbacks. 

Lo and her Cousin were blazing the trail & would switch off with creating steps up and down the snowbanks. They were always ahead of me or waiting for me & think I said sorry about 7,000 times. I knew if I didn’t pace myself that there was no way I was going to make it up the mountain and more importantly back down it. I would be too afraid of getting lost if I turned around at this point, because like a greenie knucklehead I forgot batteries for the GPS. I had no choice but to keep going & fought through the mental blocks.

I could tell they were thinking something every time I would catch up to them — but maybe it was my own anxiety and insecurities telling me that. The sun started to set and all the moisture from sweating and falling into the snow had seeped into my clothes started to make me quite cold. My water was frozen so I couldn’t drink any more water, I turned to eating the snow to at least get some moisture in my mouth. The further up we went the dizzier I became. I knew this symptom was a touch of altitude sickness combined with my asthma, but I refused to be any more of a weak link than I already felt like I was.

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter
Stages of Hypothermia

At one point I caught up with them, and Lo’s cousin took one look at me and said, ‘come here a second’.  I crossed the stream we were at and he pulled off my glove and panic set in a little bit when I realized the tips of my fingers were turning blue down to the first knuckle. I am a Physician Assistant and knew subconsciously what it was. I wasn’t thinking so clearly and all I could say in the panic was, ‘Why are my fingers turning blue?!?’ He immediately took both of my gloves off, shoved them in his pockets, took his warm gloves and put them on my hands. I think that is the point I started to develop a bit of a crush on this man. (I love a good Mountain Man, military trained tough nugget.)

We ate a little bit, refilled my water with non-frozen water and then kept walking and they stayed close to me after that, putting me in the middle of them. I knew I was slow, and could tell they were frustrated…..but what could I do? I knew I was trying as hard as I could, but this was my first trip doing any of this! Lo stayed quite and her cousin just told us stories and kept us laughing at least. We came to a really tough spot where we had to really try and get over this ‘hump’ in the snow — we all got over it and her cousin went ahead of me.

As soon as I got up he started talking and walking again, became a little off balance and stepped to the side & all I saw was his hiking poles going overhead and heard a large ‘THUNK’ sound. He had fallen into a hole where he was stepping on his snowshoes, had to take his pack off & was literally over his head in a snow bank. Lo and I were laughing so hard we couldn’t even help him out of the snow pit he had fallen into, which brought on more frustration from him. He was a great sport the whole time. I was glad he was there to offset my mood of feeling pitifully slow and weak.

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter

We came to an area they thought would be good to put the tent down. I had never been snow camping and felt so out of sorts in what I was supposed to do to help. I admit that I stood there, soaking it all in and trying to put as much as I could in my memory for if I ever did this again. In doing that I feel like I looked bad, as in lazy…. they asked if I wanted to help get the tent set up and I came out of my mental processing phase and said ‘oh yeah, sure! Sorry about that – what can I do?’. We got the tent set up and then hurriedly got into the tent and made some dinner that we all shared like we were starving animals….it was our Thanksgiving dinner of freeze-dried spaghetti and meatballs, mixed with the water we boiled & a pumpkin pie Cliff bar.

We all changed out of our wet, sweaty clothing and snuggled into our sleeping bags. I didn’t realize that I had inadvertently grabbed the 15-degree sleeping bag instead of the negative 15-degree sleeping bag. Once I laid down, I started to shiver hoping that I would get warm from the shivering. The ground was cold, there was condensation from our breath in the tent, the warmth of making dinner in the tent started to dissipate…..and that’s when I really started to shiver.

I’m not talking about the kind of shivering you get when you go sledding at night. I’m talking about the kind of shivering that makes you wonder if you are actually shivering, or if you are having seizures. I couldn’t stop, my adrenalin & panic kicked in – I was afraid to go asleep. I think Lo became a little worried and asked if I wanted to use her emergency blanket, I really appreciated the gesture and took her up on the offer. It wasn’t enough though, my body just couldn’t recover from being so cold.

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter

I pulled out the coat I had been wearing, put every piece of clothing I had on, opened up a pair of hand warmers I luckily brought and put them on my feet, my femoral arteries and my armpits- then squished into my sleeping bag like I was slipping into a condom & began to pray for forgiveness for all my sins. I told God that if he let me live through this night that I would be better and do better. I think at one point I cried a little when the convulsions finally started to slow down a little and I could feel my chest start to become a little warmer. Over the next 2 hours, it spread to my shoulders and hips. I don’t think I ever truly became ‘warm’, as long as my core body was warm – I felt like I wasn’t going to die from Hypothermia.

I think I was able to sleep around 3-4 hours that night (if I’m being generous). We awoke early the next day and started to pack up camp again. I felt like the Tin man from Wizard of Oz that hadn’t been oiled in 500 years but refused to complain. After breakfast they had me use my ice ax for the first time. I snowshoed up the hill above us a little bit and trialed that out & ended up burying the tent with snow….just bloody perfect. Let’s just put my rookie mountaineering mistakes on my ‘idiot’ tab for this trip (insert frustrated groan). I seriously considered calling myself the Bridget Jones of Yosemite. We unburied the tent and headed up the hill again, it was so steep we ended up having to do about 20 switchbacks just to get up this one hill.

We made it to a juncture that required her cousin to blaze the trail on the edge of an icy cliff…ON HIS KNEES. I’m not kidding people, he was crawling on his knees with his ice ax. There was a sheer drop off into the huge pine trees and jagged ice below.

My heart just started racing even writing this…. I was the next one to go along this real-life video game from Hell. I tried to swallow my emotions down, but it came bubbling out as I turned around to Lo and said, ‘Lo……I’M SCARED!’ she looked at me dead on and said, ‘Well, GO!’ I remember thinking, ‘God, please don’t let me die! After making it through last night I feel like this should not be the way I should die’.

I fought the shifting snow with my snow-shoes and got onto my knees trying to figure out how to hold my ice-ax properly without stabbing myself in the heart should I fall. About 15 feet along this ridge, I hear her cousin say something loudly. I stopped and looked ahead and couldn’t see much, but heard him yell, ‘Hey Lo, I don’t think we can go this way’. You could feel the disappointment behind me when she said, ‘Really?’. He responded emphatically, ‘Yeah, this is making me nervous & it gets really shifty up here’. I found out later that he had to use his ice ax so that he wouldn’t go sliding down the sheer drop off and it scared him a little to have us get in the same situation. I poker-faced my relief at having to turn back and not use this terrifying path.

We headed back to our last fork in the planned route and after Lo and her cousin talked they realized that there was just no way up the mountain at this point in the year. They tried to go another route and her cousin just ended up getting stuck in the brush and she had to help him out of it.
The decision was then made to head back down the mountain as it had defeated us with the icy conditions and depth of the snow. I could see the disappointment in both of their faces, and truly felt bad because I felt like I had ruined their dream of mountaineering Mt Whitney in the Wintertime.

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter

Heading back into town and had some good laughs along the way when Lo tried to ski down on her butt and her snowshoes ended up catching an edge, the momentum lifted her up whitewashing her face first in the snow. The weight of the backpack was so heavy it was pinning her down, which I didn’t realize, and she came up gasping.
Besides the negative self-talk that plagued me on this particular adventure. I have to say this was BY FAR, the most adventurous birthday I have ever had. I especially loved the surprise blueberry pie protein bar Lo had brought for me for my Birthday. I honestly think God saved me on this trip.

In the end, I still felt like I was the weak link on this Mount Whitney hike and was determined to prove myself again. It took a whole year to be invited somewhere again, but I still feel like I’m one tough broad and did a dang good job of persevering despite the complexity & difficulty of this particular venture.

Mount Whitney Hike in Winter

So what is my message to all those out there that it is your first time backpacking? BE KIND TO YOURSELF! If it is hard, keep going, but know your limitations, ask questions, communicate and make sure you choose people to go with who are patient, kind and good-humored should you fail.

Make your first time backpacking an easy summer, spring, or fall so you can get used to the weight of your pack & train your leg muscles to work that hard (especially your calves). Remember to have fun, and take your time when backpacking – it doesn’t matter how quickly you go, or how fast you make it to the top. You are in nature, to enjoy nature and the peace that comes from being away from the rat race of life.

As Always…Happy Travels, Happy Tales and See You on the Flip Side.


Where To Stay

Booking.com

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Things to do in Crescent City California

Things to do in Crescent City California

Not many people know where Crescent City is, likely because of the nearby Redwood Forest that frequently overshadows this quaint town. Yet for those who don’t want to spend the entire time in the Redwood forest, here are a few tips on what to do in Crescent City California. I have also included the best Redwood Groves, and tips for visiting.

Things to do in Crescent City California

Battery Point Lighthouse:

Built in 1856 with 22 inch thick slabs of granite, this lighthouse is only accessible at low tide. The beach near this area is quite small but full of agates that locals come to regularly collect and make into jewelry. If you look to the right, there is a house nearby that has a comical yard piece that made me laugh til I cried…..the one and only, Harry the Henderson.

Things to do in Crescent City California

Beaches near Crescent City:

South Beach is the first beach you will come to when heading North up through California. This is a very popular beach in winter and summer. Here you will find some of the best tide pools near Crescent City, and if you are lucky you may see the annual Noll Longboard Classic Surf Contest.

Things to do in Crescent City California

Endert’s Beach

Endert’s Beach is my favorite Beach near Crescent city. This place is a hidden gem right off of the 101 hwy, with sand dollars, sand crabs at low tide and fishing for red-tailed surf perch at high tide. There are plenty of agates, shells, and other fun gems on this beach as well. This beach is perfect for that holiday BBQ as they have picnic tables and BBQ stands every 500 feet or so. There is hardly anyone on this beach & the perfectly untouched sand stretches on for miles. We let our dogs off the leashes and let them run for miles and miles.

Redwood Forest

Things to do in Crescent City California

Simpson Reed Grove 

This Redwood Grove is great for families and those with children. The path is easy and full of the gentle giant Redwood Trees that have created a natural playground. Climb over the enormous trees, hide in the center of the fallen giants, wiggle across branches that have created natural bridges.

Stout Grove

Things to do in Crescent City California

This is the grove that is a favorite among locals due to it being right by the shoreline of a river. Here you see these massive trees and then a beautiful river running right next to it. The best time to visit is in the summer around 3-5pm during the golden sunlit hour. Be sure to bring loads of mosquito repellent as they are quite bad in the summertime.

Smith River:

Things to do in Crescent City California

If you are not much of an Adrenalin junkie, then you may prefer to Kayak or Tube the River by the Redwood Groves lining the shores. Take a dip in the Smith River at South Fork where the water is crystal clear and will give you a refreshing jolt to those on a road trip.
Try your luck at fishing, the Smith River is the best place for salmon, trout and steelhead fishing in the whole State of California.
There is also class IV-Class V white-water-rafting, snorkeling with the salmon and trout, and taking a helicopter to the only open water lighthouse open to the public….St. George Reef Lighthouse.

Trees of Mystery:

Things to do in Crescent City California

This is the slightly more commercialized area of the Redwood forest, with statues of lumberjacks and a chair lift that takes you soaring above the skyline of the forest below. This is the ideal place to go if your party or family is feeling a little run down as it has a museum, a forest café, and six different trails that everyone can enjoy.

Ocean World:

Things to do in Crescent City California

Takes about 2 hours, has a little show with sea lions, kids get to touch the fish. The aquarium has a guided tour of the sea life touch pool, aquarium & sea lion/seal show.

Why Visit Crescent City California

Things to do in Crescent City California

When you first drive into Crescent City California, you will think you are driving into a bit of a ghost town. This is likely because most of those who do live there are out exploring the surrounding areas themselves. With so many wonderful outdoor adventures from whitewater rafting, the Redwood Groves, the Smith River, and the plentiful tide pools and ocean activities… it is hardly a ghost town. Crescent City is a town teeming with adventure waiting to be had.

As Always Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and See You on the Flip Side.

Where to Stay in Crescent City California

Booking.com

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What to do in Bandon Oregon

What to do in Bandon Oregon

Bandon Oregon is steeped in native history, teeming with fisherman, and plenty of activities for the whole family. So while you are on your Oregon Coast Roadtrip, Bandon should be on your list. If you happen to visit, here is what to do in Bandon Oregon.

What to do in Bandon Oregon

History of Bandon

The tribes were defeated in their resistance and relocated to the Siletz (the collective name of the 20 tribes relocated here) Reservation. This reservation is a 48-hour walk (with current road systems) from Bandon to Siletz Reservation. They were placed in an area that is 5.82 sq miles, and have gone from 10 distinct languages to one.

The Siletz language now has a talking language dictionary due to the help of National Geographic Society and the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, their language will hopefully continue to be preserved. Time went on and in 1873 George Bennette with his sons Joseph and George, along with Mr. Sealy came from Bandon Ireland to this area.

The original name of Averill is changed to Bandon a year later and the town continued to flourish. Mr. Bennette helped to both build and destroy Bandon. He brought his native grouse plant from Ireland, which you will see throughout the town. The grouse is characterized by waxy leaves and small yellow flowers in thick thickets of bushes (especially along the coastline).

The grouse plant is what started the great fire in 1936. The older folks in the town may remember the fire still, it would take years for the town to rebuild itself. Wood production, sawmills, water plants helped the town flourish, even the first Bandon Cranberry Festival took place (1947). You can still visit the Cranberry Sweets factory today and sample some of the treats and other boutique shop items. Have I piqued your interest in Bandon yet? It may look like a small town that is brand new, but this little town packs a big punch in both history and in the outdoor activities you can participate in.

Floras Lake State Park:

This hike is a lot more strenuous than it appears. You start off walking over a bridge to a beach like area. It is quite unique as there is a lake on one side and over the sandy hill is the ocean. The sand is more like small pebbles that really took a toll on my calves. The lake is a very popular place to come Kitesurfing as the wind is usually perfect for this sport.

As you walk along the edge of the lake to the forested area, I would suggest bringing water shoes so you can walk on the packed down sand near the shoreline. Once you reach the wooded area you feel like skipping down the trail singing, ‘Lions and Tigers and Bears oh my!’. Although nothing really jumped out of the woods at us, except for an occasional squirrel it is truly a place where you feel Gnomes and Fairies could live.

We walked for quite a while, 1 mile before most of the group turned back. My friend Breanna was so excited for this trail as it is supposed to spit you out along the sweeping cliffs complete with gorgeous waterfalls. As she led us along this trail we ran into large puddles of water. With the edges of the trail being thick with sticks, moss, and underbrush we had to wade straight through the ankle-deep mud. I finally looked at my Fitbit watch and informed Bree that we had just hiked 2 miles in (which means we would have 4 miles back). She was sorely disappointed when I told her she could keep going, she caved and turned back with me.

On the way back, about 1/2 mile past where the others had turned back, we noticed a tiny little sign (its brown and has a 1 inch by 2 inch arrow with tiny little black mileage on the sticker)….this was where we were supposed to have turned to head to the end of this hike. In total, we hiked 8 miles this day through pebble beaches, sand, sludge, wooded areas and were completely knackered by the time we reached the rest of the group. So if you decide to hike in Floras Lake State Park, be sure you either have a GPS guide or someone who can tell you where the bloody turn is.

Coquille Lighthouse:

This 40-foot lighthouse was built at the mouth of the Coquille River to help the Mariners get by the dangerous shifting sandbars that dot the river. In 1890 the Bandon Oregon area was known for its fishing and timber industries. Congress approved the $50,000 it would take to build this lighthouse (in 1891) and it was completed by 1895 and was first used February 1896.

The fire in 1936 slowed the ships into the town of Bandon and with the amount of money needed to rebuild the town, the Coast Guard decommissioned the Lighthouse by 1939. Eventually, the lighthouse was restored, and in 1991 was gifted with a new solar-powered light. It is now open from mid-May to September. Address: 56487 Bullards Beach Rd, Bandon, OR 97411

Washed Ashore Gallery in Bandon Oregon: Art to Save the Sea

This was by far my favorite place to visit and where I feel my quest of using the least amount of plastic possible began. You wouldn’t expect something like this in such a small town, but artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi started this non-profit community art project in 2010 to bring awareness to the plastic problem in our seas.

What to do in Bandon Oregon

Every single piece of the marine life sculptures in this gallery are made entirely from garbage that is removed from the Ocean. After walking the magnificent beaches of Oregon Angela decided to make a bold statement through Art, by using this garbage to created the animals who were the most affected by the garbage pollution. Be sure to stop by and help create one of these masterpieces, I’m sure you will leave the Washed Ashore Gallery with a greater sense of responsibility to #SavetheSea Address:  325 2nd St SE, Bandon, OR 97411 

What to do in Bandon Oregon

Other exhibitions: St Paul Minnesota at the Como Park Zoo, Chicago, Illinois, S at the Shedd Aquarium, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Washington, DC. Donations can be made to WashedAshore.org – a Non-Profit organization

Shores Acre State Park

What to do in Bandon Oregon

A picture can tell a thousand words, but a video can help you experience all that Shores Acre State Park has to offer. This park was once a magnificent estate of Baron Louis Simpson, a logging tycoon that wanted to create a palace for himself on the Shoreline of Oregon. Stroll along the trail from the parking lot to the Ocean Cove at Simpson Beach.

What to do in Bandon Oregon

Take a gander inside the viewpoint gazebo during any season and watch the waves at high tide crash against the shoreline. You may even see some migrating whales along the shore during December and March. The Simpson mansion has since disappeared but the formal Shores Acre Gardens are still well maintained and close by. Walking through these gardens is a like a botanical Disneyland.

What to do in Bandon Oregon

You start your journey through a tulip-lined walkway with fountains and benches. Birds softly chirping around you, and you are sheltered from the Ocean winds. A small house sits on the property with a cottage like feeling that welcomes all who enter. Be sure to take in the Japanese-style garden with a lily pond, and the two rose gardens. If you are there during the Christmas holidays, volunteers will delight you by filling the garden with lights making for a perfectly romantic holiday getaway.

Address: Cape Argo Hwy, Coos Bay, OR 97420 Note: Credit Cards are not accepted for parking pass purchases. Receipt from any other Oregon State Park Campground is accepted as a daily permit, just display it on the driver’s side of the dashboard.

Crabbing in Charleston:

Did you know that you can go crabbing in Oregon and California? I thought that crabbing was reserved only for being on the boats in the middle of the Alaskan Bearing Sea. When we went to Oregon, I found out that you can go Crabbing just off the Pier in Charleston (a town right near Bandon). Grab some Crab Pots at Davey Jones Locker, along with some thawed out fish heads and such & catch some fresh Crab for your dinner.

ATV Riding:

Right between Bandon and Charleston are two places where you can ride ATV’s. Our itinerary did not allot for the time to do this, but is definitely on the list should we go back.
The trails that you would be looking for are Winchester Trails for ATV riding, and Blue Ridge for ATV, Camping, and Sand Boarding.
Check out Oregon’s riding restrictions before you go, so as not to get a ticket.

Circles in the Sand at Facerock Wayside Beach:

We happened upon the Circles in the Sand group when checking out Bandon’s City page. This wonderful group goes out to Facerock wayside beach and using rakes to create labyrinths in the sand. Once the labyrinths are completed, the attendees are gathered together – a message of hope and encouragement of a medatative state of mind is encouraged.

As you disconnect from technology, follow the paths along the beach, and truly listen to the waves crashing nearby – a state of calm and peace with descend upon you. Truly one of the most unique experiences while in Oregon. Be sure to connect with them through the Facebook website

Other activities near Bandon:

Beach Cleanup Volunteering is a great way to teach your kids about sustainable travel, or participate in an activity that could save marine life from deadly trash.
Visit Bandon Tourism Board Calendar of Events for the most up to date activities per season.

What to do in Bandon Oregon
Facerock Wayside Beach

How to get there:

You can also take the Coastal Express up and down the Oregon Coast by calling 1-800-921-2871 – please note that this service only runs Monday through Friday.

What to do in Bandon Oregon
Shores Acre State Park Japanese Garden

Where to stay:

Book with Airbnb and get $55 off your first booking

Booking.com

Bullards Beach State Park Campground103 full-hookup sites, 13 yurts (Six pet-friendly).

Boice-Cope CampgroundWI-FI and Laundry Facilities Available within the Park! Please contact the on-site park host at (541) 373-1555

What to do in Bandon Oregon

Where to Eat:

Best time to visit:

Why You Should Visit Bandon

Although Bandon is not well known for its attractions, it is a truly beautiful place. If you are an outdoor fanatic like me, you will feel so at peace and at home being amongst the moss lined trees. Seeing Bandon on the map is quite a different experience than actually being in this city. The area is suited not just for the outdoor savvy, but those with children, elderly, families small and large, and for those who may have disabilities. Participate in as many hikes, sand labyrinth walks, and art projects as you can while visiting.

As Always Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and See You On the Flip Side.


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Things To Do Off the Las Vegas Strip (from a Local)

Things To Do Off the Las Vegas Strip (from a Local)

Living in Las Vegas for six years taught me a lot about what is advertised vs what is reality. I realized that much of what is advertised is only a portion of things available to experience when in the Las Vegas Metropolitan Area. So if you are a local, or if you are visiting and need to give your liver a break (or you bank account) here are a few things to do off the Las Vegas Strip from a local.

Town Square:

Things To Do Off The Las Vegas Strip (from a Local)

This is just a quick stop down the road from the Strip and will be much kinder to your wallet. Take an Uber about 10 minutes from Mandalay Bay Hotel and you will find this area filled with locals. Town Square includes designer shops, outlets, Whole Foods Market, children’s splash pad, fountain, bars, dancing, movie theatre, free concerts, African Drum classes and so much more. This was by far my favorite place to hang out with friends for the Country Dancing at Stoney’s.

Things To Do Off The Las Vegas Strip (from a Local)

Stoney’s

has the infamous bikini bull riding where you can pay for your trip should you win the bikini bull ride, with prize money at $500. This is not for the faint of heart, and make sure you superglue your suit on before attempting this. The shows here are live shows and are really quite good artists that grace the stage. There are plenty of places to sit and enjoy the entertainment of watching others attempt to dance.

Whole Foods for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner

If you are wanting to save money on going out to eat on the strip, Whole foods has a ‘self-serving bar’ where you can pick and choose what you would like to eat. The cost of this food is based on weight, is healthy and organic (for those of us who are watching those waistlines). They have breakfast available by 8 am, lunch/dinner around 1130am and they are open until 10 pm. There are places where you can sit and eat your meal near the cash registers up front.

Outlet Shops

These Outlet Shops were my favorite when I lived in Las Vegas, with a food court, major discounts, and outdoor shopping setting. There are small stands littered throughout this mall that will have unique knick-naks that are budget friendly to take home as souvenirs to your friends and family.

Things To Do Off The Las Vegas Strip (from a Local)

This is where I found the majority of my jeans and work blouses. You cannot go wrong shopping here, when my family would come down – this was always a MUST stop.

Green Valley Ranch Hotel

One of the greatest Hotels in Las Vegas area. It has a sandbar, lap pool, kid pool, adult pool, music and a view of the Las Vegas Strip in a very relaxed setting. It is only a 20-minute drive from the strip, and if you would like even more seclusion, there are suites available with a small private pool if you so desire.
Movies: I found this movie theatre to be adequate, but overpriced. If you like peace and quiet when you watch a movie, well then this is the place for you to be. Check out Royal Green Valley Ranch Stadium 10 for movie showtimes and options.

Local shopping: This was one of my favorite places to shop for clothing. There are several boutique shops along the strip mall right outside of the movie theatre. Be sure to at least stroll along this area, and visit REI at the very end. REI is one of my all-time favorite stores, they have never let me down, always have great deals and their stuff actually lasts. No this is not a sponsored post, but an honest statement about how much I love this store.
Restaurants: My friends and I would always visit the Elephant Bar. It is a place with Unique decoration, delicious food, and great service. (Again, this is not sponsored). After I took some of my friends here, we ended up going back for every Birthday, Graduation, and Celebration from that time forward. There is also a great BBQ restaurant behind the shopping area, that has you drinking out of mason jars, which I thought was fun. I am not a big red meat kind of gal, but the smells coming from this place are delicious. When my Uncle and his kids came to visit, we ended up going to Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ and he loved it.

Red Rock National Parks

I was stunned at the beauty of this place when I first visited. When I moved to Vegas/Henderson area I figured there would be no beautiful green trees, and the only wildlife I would see would be beetles and crows. I think I even ended up writing a poem about how desolate things were, my car battery dying constantly because of the heat and how my body would be picked apart by the last living things that can survive the heat of hell. I know it is a little dramatic, but until you survived a summer in Las Vegas, you don’t know heat (I still think dry heat is better than humid heat though).
Back to Red Rock National Park.

Things To Do Off The Las Vegas Strip (from a Local)

Once you discover how kind the sandstone is on your hands and feet, rock climbing because of an obsession for me. I was never a competitive person about it, I just liked getting to the top of the mountain away from everyone & enjoying the view. For those who are avid climbers, there is the climbing conference called the Red Rock Rendezvous, where climbing gear companies, professional climbers, guides and the best of the best will teach you how to climb from beginner to expert. Check out the Red Rock Rendezvous Facebook Page for the most accurate dates on the Rendezvous.

Things To Do Off The Las Vegas Strip (from a Local)

Lake Las Vegas

This vast Desert Oasis has some of the best Instagrammable spots! The man-made lake is nearly 320 acres large, with a magnificent Hotel overlooking the lake. This lake boasts a plethora of water activities, massages, golf.

The water activities include Flyboard & Jetpack experience, Paddleboarding, Kayaks, Pedal boats, electric boat rentals, La Contessa Yacht Reservations, Rowing club, and last but not least the Las Vegas Dragon Boat Club! With all these activities I can imagine it would be hard to know which one is the best.  My favorite activity was with my dear friend Chanelle, doing Stand Up Paddle Boarding.

Things To Do Off The Las Vegas Strip (from a Local)

It was our first time going, and they provided ample instructions, were kind and helpful and was surprisingly so relaxing! There are so many little nooks and crannies to go and explore, but be careful on windy days as it can blow you too far away from the dock. The wind in the Vegas/Henderson area can be a bit relentless. If it does get windy, you have a free pass to the pool where you can listen to live music on the weekends and sip on a Pinacolada under the Swaying Palm Trees. Now that is a perfect way to spend your vacation!

Things To Do Off The Las Vegas Strip (from a Local)

There is also a well-established community in the area, with plenty of local hangouts that will likely cost you less than what you pay on the strip. Be sure to check out the events at MonteLago Village, and the Concerts on the Lake which is a huge hit in the summer for locals.

I have always wanted to stay at the Lake Las Vegas Hotel if you would like to book a room – make sure to check out the Hilton and Westin Hotel Booking sites. (This is not a sponsored post, it truly is one of the magical hotels I would love to stay in at some point).

Hike the Tunnels & Mt Charleston

It is no secret that I love the outdoors, so including a hike or two is a must. I know what you are thinking…..’Hiking in Las Vegas! It’s too hot’! In reality, the heat is not as bad as it seems. You get up around 6 or 7am and then during the hottest part of the day you are by a pool or a lake, and then you finish out the day with something fun. The Mt Charleston hike is a great one to do any time of year, during the winter you may get snow, but during the summer it is a perfect hike for cooler climate at a higher elevation.

Things To Do Off The Las Vegas Strip (from a Local)

End the day with a hike through the tunnels, it is a little creepy at night because it is so dark, and I’m pretty sure there are bats that live in those tunnels now. What are the tunnels you ask? Well, this place was where the old train tracks used to be. They have since removed the train tracks but you have 7.1 miles of scenic hiking that takes you right up near Hoover Dam. The best part about this trail is that you can take your dogs 🙂 It is also a place that is commonly used for photo shoots.
How to get to the tunnels: Take 93 South to Boulder City. Turn left on Lake Shore Drive. The trailhead is about 500 yards down Lake Shore Drive on the right.

Visit Railroad Tunnel Trail and Mt Charleston Trail for more information on this hike and others in the area.

Hoover Dam

On the Nevada side of the Hoover Dam, as you are wandering around, you will find a flagpole with two winged statues flanking it. These statues are a tribute to the men who built the Hoover dam in a time when technology was not so abundant, a monument in its own right. These statues are said to represent  “the immutable calm of intellectual resolution, and the enormous power of trained physical strength equally enthroned in placid triumph of scientific accomplishment.”

Things To Do Off The Las Vegas Strip (from a Local)

Be sure to book a tour of the Dam while there, must be booked 24 hours in advance & may be canceled at any time if there is even a slight question of safety. You will see the inner workings of this magnificent piece of engineering in a time when calculators and computers didn’t do the work, it was the hard labor of hundreds of men and their uniquely gifted minds that constructed the largest reservoir dam in the world (at that time) in 1931.
If you want to see Hoover Dam from Lake Mead side (the reservoir side). I would suggest renting a jet ski or two and enjoy your day frolicking around on the water. There are also party boats, speed boats, sport fishing, camping, picnic sites, and short desert hikes near the lake that will get you incredible views of the towering mountains surrounding the 16th largest man-made lake in the world.

Things To Do Off The Las Vegas Strip (from a Local)

Valley of Fire

This was the most surprising thing for me to see while in Vegas. Las Vegas and the Henderson area are known for being windy and extremely hot in the summer time. going to a place of rocks in 117-degree weather isn’t the smartest idea & I also thought ‘well I can see red rocks at Red Rock National Park’, but I was coaxed into going to the Valley of Fire and am so glad that I went.

Things To Do Off The Las Vegas Strip (from a Local)

This place has more history behind it than you could imagine! This is where the Indians lived with their natural streams and easy hiding places with foliage and places for their livestock to graze in peace. It was also the hideout for some notorious wild west quick slingers as well.

Lion Habitat

How often have you gone to Trip Advisor and found something incredibly unique listed there about your hometown or current place of residence that you have never been to? This was one of those items for me. The Lion Habitat is a way out from the strip, but these Lions are the retired MGM Lions.

Things To Do Off The Las Vegas Strip (from a Local)

I felt really sad for these Lions actually. They are required to work for the casino and then get put in cages and wood crate boxes behind fences to live out the rest of their days in the sweltering heat of the Las Vegas desert. I guess Africa is hot, but I dunno, just made me sad to see them like this.
It was really fun to see them up close and personal, but with how much the MGM Casino & Hotel makes…..you think they would give them a decent home to retire to at least. If anyone knows more about how the MGM and the other casinos take care of their animals after they get too old to perform, please let me know in the comments below.

Things To Do Off The Las Vegas Strip (from a Local)

This place is fun to visit if you are going to play with the cubs for 30 minutes to 1 hour with trainers in the same vicinity. The pricing is quite steep for 30 minutes, or you can book small birthday parties or something and it is much cheaper.
I found it interesting to see them up close, but sad at the same time. So if you choose to go and visit these animals, check out The Lion Habitat Website.

What Happens In Vegas….Is Up To YOU

You don’t have to get plastered on the Las Vegas Strip every time you visit. There are plenty things to do off the las vegas strip with beautiful landscapes, and vistas that will allow you to enjoy nature and stay out of the Emergency Room or empty your bank account on drinks. If I were to make a tour of these places I would start at the Outlet Shops, then go to the Lion Habitat, next head over to either Red Rock National Park for some hiking, or to the Valley of Fire to explore their trails, End up back at either Town Square or Green Valley Ranch and enjoy some activities and entertainment to wrap up your evening.

As Always, Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and See You on the Flip Side!


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Travel Hacks for Road Trips

Travel Hacks for Road Trips

No matter if you are traveling with children, alone, or just with your furry friend – Road Trips can either be Hell on Earth; or a vacation in and of themselves. So after driving all over the Western United States for most of my life, here are a few Travel Hacks for Road Trips I highly recommend following when planning your own Road Trip at home or abroad.

Download Road Trippers

This is a fantastic app for your road trip, and can also be accessed online to help plan your vacation on the road. I first found and utilized this when taking a Road Trip from Dallas Texas to Nauvoo Illinois. I was going to be traveling through a bunch of open fields. After planning out my route I explored all the spots along the road that had a good rating and found this gem in the middle of nowhere! It is in the Spinach Capital of the United States. A statue of the spinach-eating machine himself has his own little garden and fountain. This also happens to be across from the Police Station, so you have ample entertainment for all!

This app and website are a fantastic way to make those 12 hour drives a little more bearable on the road. From a medical standpoint, it also gives you an excuse to get out of the car every few hours to walk around. People who sit and travel long distances can have swollen legs and blood clots at times as well if they do not walk around sufficiently.

How to stay awake while driving

Get enough rest the night before

Doing this will help you be more alert on the road and less prone to falling asleep at the wheel.

IF YOU ARE TIRED AND START TO LOSE CONCENTRATION THAT IS THE FIRST SIGN YOU ARE AT RISK FOR FALLING ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL.

Pull into a gas station and take a power nap.

I have done this a few times in the past, where I pull into a busy gas station and take a 15-20 min nap. This always helps me feel more refreshed.

Avoid sugary foods or high carbohydrate content as your snack.

When you eat high carbohydrate and high sugar content foods, it starts a vicious cycle of fatigue. Why? Well, you eat that doughnut or candy, your body sees it as too much sugar, so it releases insulin and then drops your blood sugar again. Then you become very sleepy or hungry again, starting the cycle over. I try to avoid sugary foods whenever driving for this reason.

Keep Cool

When I get warm I tend to fall asleep much easier. It is more comfortable to be warm, but I would rather have cold toes and arms before risking crashing my car and killing someone else.

Audiobooks

This is my favorite way to stay awake. Imagine this like the old radios back in the day that would tell the cowboy stories to the children. The children would be so enthralled by the battles and day to day explanations because they didn’t have TV, this was their entertainment.

Audiobooks typically have quality actors and actresses that are able to do multiple accents, voices, and inflections to keep the listener engaged. Yes, some of the audiobooks are entirely too boring and drab to listen to on the road, but there are many that are not.

I personally have signed up for Amazon’s Audible Book subscription for $14.95 per month. I am an affiliate with them, but I have never been more grateful for the positive entertainment value it provides and now listen to them on the way to and from work all the time.

Podcasts

This is something my flatmate is really into. She has several Podcasts that she listens to on a daily basis to and from work. I think this could also work for road trips as well, you may just need to download the podcasts to your mobile device prior to starting your trip.

What are some of your favorite podcasts?

Caffeine

If all else fails, just start swigging Caffeine. Think of all those boring meetings from work you have survived on the sweet nectar of the Gods.

Travel with a friend:

Switching off while driving is really important while on the long road trips and stretches of the road.

Stretches and Facial exercises:

This is an odd one, but I start stretching my legs, toes, fingers, neck, back arms etc…. It keeps your heart rate slightly more elevated than at baseline, thus increasing blood flow to your brain and keeping you refreshed.

Facial exercises also help to keep me awake at the wheel. I open and close my mouth as hard as a can, wiggle my jaw side to side, see how many animal sounds I can make with my tongue etc….

Check road conditions and weather conditions

With the age of the internet came the ability to check your road conditions prior to starting your journey. There have been several instances that I wish I would have, and others where I didn’t and wish I would have.

There was one instance where I didn’t want to leave my parents house to drive back to Las Vegas and did not look at road conditions. I ended up leaving the house when it first started to snow, and by the time I hit Cedar City Utah, I was in a complete blizzard. Traveling at 25 mph on the freeway because of road conditions, and was nearly hit by a snow plow.

Organizing the car

This is paramount for safety while driving. The less distracted you are on the road, the better off and safer you will be.

I will put all the luggage in the very back of the car, the cooler in the middle of the back seat where it is easy for your friend to reach if needed. If you are traveling alone, set up your ‘snack bag’ where you can easily reach it.

Wear sandals

Make sure you have Sunglasses to help with Glare.

If you are driving at night, turn down the dashboard lights. This will help your eyes not feel as tired from trying to adjust to the brightness of the dashboard vs the road.

Have your music or audible book playing before you put the car in drive.

Garbage bag, paper towels, and Kleenex should also be nearby where you don’t have to bend over, reach, or stretch to access them.

Check Your Car for Maintenance

Before you pack anything in the car, make sure your spare tire is filled up and in good condition.

Have a small gas can handy, just in case you miss an exit and the next gas station or turn around isn’t for another 50 miles and you are on empty.

Make sure you check your tire pressure after everything is loaded and in the car.

Change your oil, cabin filter, and engine filter before you go. This will help with gas mileage in your car.

Have your local mechanic esure all fluids are topped off, and the washer fluid is the appropriate one for the area you are traveling to.

I once was driving from Las Vegas to Utah in the snow and went to use my windshield wiper fluid and it froze on my windshield. I had to do an ACE Ventura head out the window to drive to the next town to get it fixed. They had to thaw out the windshield wiper lines with a hairdryer and vinegar, then unplug them. This really cut into my total driving time and was a major stressor. So mention to your mechanic if you find you will be driving to different climates and what they suggest for those areas.

Plan for Gas Stops

Don’t push the car to the point the gas light comes on! I always make a rule for myself that should I take a long road trip where I have never been before I never let the tank get down past 1/4 tank. Even a 1/4 tank is pushing it for me, I typically will fill up at 1/2 tank because I know I will be able to drive for several hours to the next gas station.

Get On The Road Again

Road trips can be a fantastic way to make bonds with friends, and see new destinations. It is important to plan, stay safe and stay awake on the road. There are over 100,000 car accidents per year from people falling asleep at the wheel in the United States. Make sure you know your own limits on when you need a break, even if it is just a mental break. There are plenty of unique things you can see on the road, not every place has to be Instagram worthy. The best adventures will always be the locations that make you feel more fulfilled and productive in your daily life, spark your creativity or help you create a more meaningful connection.

 Happy Travels, Happy Tales & See You On The Flip Side.


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Unique Things to do in Dallas Texas (from a Local)

Unique Things to do in Dallas Texas (from a Local)

Dallas is a great place to visit, with food being the center of this southern culture. When I lived there, the day that the Dallas Cowboys were playing you could smell BBQ smoke in the air. Even if you aren’t a football fan, there is till plenty of Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas.

Football games

As I mentioned before, you MUST attend some type of football game to experience the culture. While Football games in Texas are not exactly a unique thing to do on the whole, but until you have been to a TEXAS game…..you really have no idea what a real game is. The tailgate parties are……well…..off the chain (as some would put it). The fans are either avid (and sometimes rabid) Cowboys fans. Every morning I would walk into work, and if you wanted to start a heated discussion to wake the office up you just had to say loudly, “How ’bout dem Cowboys”? Everyone has an opinion, and you don’t even need to watch Television with how excited people get about this.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

There are also plenty of visiting games, concerts, events that happen at or near the AT&T Stadium. I was able to go with my Dad to the NCAA championship and show off his giant flag, which he does for these events. Yes, yes I know he has the coolest job in the world. He has been to NCAA Basketball games, World Series Games, Sugar Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Superbowl and so many more. I have stood on countless football and baseball fields with him while he puts his creative outlet onto the national stage.

This particular football game had so much energy from the crowd, the tailgate party etc… were second to none in my book. It is definitely true when people say, “Everything is bigger in Texas”, their football games are no exception and why I included it in these Unique things to do in Dallas Texas.

Dallas Arboretum

With more than 1 million visitors a year to this 66 acres of carefully curated botanical paradise, you shouldn’t miss a visit to the Dallas Arboretum. When I entered the gates, I didn’t know what to expect, but it reminded me of the Edinburgh Botanical Gardens. Each season, they change the gardens just a little bit to match the season.

It is open year-round and also has a children’s garden next to it that is sure to wear out your kiddos so you can enjoy the foodie paradise of Dallas Texas. If you are there during the summer, make sure to purchase a season concert ticket. The concerts they host here are highly entertaining. The people who come, come along with their short picnic chairs, small tables, wine bottles, and snacks for the evening. You get to watch the sunset over White Rock Lake being serenaded by the energetic bands that grace the outdoor stage.

Kayaking on Lake Ray Hubbard

I have always wanted to try Kayaking, and still, it has a draw for me. When I was browsing Groupon in the area, I found a lovely little Kayak instructional boot camp on Lake Ray Hubbard in Rowlett. Rowlett is about 45 minutes to the north of Dallas and well worth the visit! When you arrive you pay the fee to rent and get the kayak safety instructions (or you can just go out on your own). Our guide took us all around this lake just after the terrible flooding in 2016. The lakes and rivers were overflowing because of all the rain.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

It was a sunny day and being in the water in the humid Dallas summer heat felt amazing! We kayaked around the lake, even stopping at a makeshift dock in the middle of the lake. For the people who were brave enough, you can jump off the top of this rickety 2 story platform into the water. Be careful of the rusty nails when climbing up the ladder. Would be a good idea to have a tetanus shot prior to attempting this, lol.

Visit the Lake Ray Hubbard Homepage for more information on this and other hiking, boating, stand up paddle board information. Also, the reason I did not suggest Kayaking on White Rock Lake, is because it is so over utilized that it has become quite dirty in the last few years.

Texas State Fair

State Fairs are a fun way to get out of the house, enjoy the rodeo, and the fried food. Texas, not surprisingly, takes their Stat Fair VERY serious. The contest of ‘who has the best fried food’ has even been featured on the Food Network.

It isn’t just the food, it is the rides, the unique art, the games and even an adult real car truck race track that draws people from all over the world to this massive festival. Be sure to take a photo while there with the man himself, ‘BIG TEX’, he is the iconic symbol of not just the State Fair but Dallas as a whole.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

Ever since watching the food network episode on the Texas State Fair, I have wanted to see how it stacked up against the other State Fairs I have been to. For me, well this place did not disappoint. I was able to get a season pass to the fair at a relatively cheap price. It gives you a certain number of rides you can go on, tickets to purchase food, special event entrances and so much more.

My favorite food was the classic ‘Fletchers Corny Dogs’, which has won multiple awards for the covering on their hot dogs. Just to tell you how delicious it is, I NEVER eat hot dogs because I think they are gross mystery-meat, and I enjoyed this.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

Not only can you eat food but there is typically an exhibit of one kind or another involving food. If it is butter statues or 3D art with canned food that will be donated for Humanitarian efforts – it is certainly worth a look.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

If the rides, art, food, shows, pavilions, exhibitions are not your thing and you get overwhelmed with the crowds, then find a quiet corner to plan some games with your family or friends. This State Fair has something for everyone.

The only thing I felt was missing from this fair that I am used to is a competitive Rodeo, complete with a clown. It is TEXAS after all…..

Seasonal Activities:

Kaboom Town

This is a great celebration for fireworks and is on the North End of DFW area near a town called Addison. This is where all the locals go to see the air show, fireworks, and lounge about in the heat watching music shows. Check out Addison Kaboom Town if you are in Dallas over the Fourth of July.

Praire Lights

Drive through Christmas Lights are typically not my thing, but this was a show like I have never seen before! There were scenes from movies recreated, music to accompany it, a lighted garden that had every square inch of the place covered in lights. Texas truly does do everything BIGGER! Check out Grand Prarie’s, Praire Lights, for more information.

Downtown Dallas

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

Just walking around downtown Dallas is going to be a fun adventure. There are a few things that I would suggest seeing and doing:

Yoga at Klyde Warren Park

This was surprisingly very fun and all ranges of people can attend and participate for free. It is a way for Yoga teachers to bring people in the community together and gain clients for their business. I was invited by a friend and doing Yoga outside in the elements in the morning is far more grounding and peace-giving than I thought it would be.

For more information on Yoga and other events visit Klyde Warren Park Website.

Katy Trail

This trail is a highly utilized area in Downtown Dallas and for good reason. Perfect for the joggers, runners, bikers, wheelchair and rollerskating excursions. This is an easy trail that stretches 7.5 miles across, around and through the city.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

Not only can you get some exercise in, but be motivated to reach your favorite restaurant along the way. This trail is adorned with quaint bars, eateries, and walkways lined with beautiful trees and plenty of shade. For more information check out the Katy Trail and the other 10 best hikes in Downtown Dallas.

Crow Collection of Asian Art and Artifacts

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

This is a free exhibit that hosts some of the finest artworks of the Orient. Here you will see Asian fashion through the years, murals that will fill the room, and even a full Samurai outfit perfectly preserved. For extra luck be sure to go out back and ring the gong for good luck. Check out the Crow Collection website for more on the opening times of this fabulous find.

Perot Museum

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

For every science nerd out there, this is the place for you. Admittedly I am a science nerd and love psychosocial historical facts. Here you can see a building that recycles rainwater in its structure. You get to pretend to be a weather woman or man in front of a green screen and see just how hard it is to be coordinated on camera. This area teaches of cyclones, and you can create your own indoor cyclone right there!

Next head over to the Dinosaur exhibit and see how evolution has shaped so many of the birds, flora, and fauna as we know them today. The Perot Museum is a great place for learning and integrating the love of science for all ages. One of my favorite exhibits was the stone and rare stone exhibit. I couldn’t believe how many colors, and textures that were in rocks. There was one rock, where it had a magnetic charge to it and you could never get the dust off of it, isn’t that so WEIRD!

Dallas World Aquarium

This was one of my favorite places to go when I lived in Dallas. Seeing animals behind cages isn’t something I typically enjoy, so this was the perfect place! When you enter it is like entering the Jungles of Belize. You are greeted with a stunning waterfall in the center of the building with habitats safely and subtly sectioned off to prevent from territorialism of those residing here.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

The path you take mimics one that you would take hiking. As you wind your way around and through this building, you are greeted by sharks, otters, monkeys, owls, and sloths. At the end of the path, however, is the crowning jewel…..the fishes!

Each tank is designed to mimic that of each of the oceans throughout the world along with their respective species. My favorite was the Figi tank and the tank with the glowing fish!

If you only had time to visit one place in Downtown Dallas, the Dallas World Aquarium would be my suggestion. Make sure you arrive early as parking is very limited and can cost almost $25 if you have to park elsewhere.

Find all the Texas BIG Signs

This is another fun activity that is sure to get some exercise in and satisfy those who like geocaching and treasure hunting. Take some time and research where all the BIG Texas Signs are in Dallas and the surrounding area.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

This will take you all over Dallas and every few months they change their location. It may seem trivial and like a lot of work, but I guarantee that you will feel like a kid again as soon as you see one 😉

Look at events like the Urban Slide

Dallas is never short of supplying activities throughout the city. One such event I found was in the heat of summer, an Urban slide that was 2miles long in the middle of the city. This was the highlight of my summer! Despite Dallas being flat as a pancake, they found a way to make this work and I am so glad they did.

Unique Things To Do In Dallas Texas

Make sure to browse through Facebook and search for local events to see what is in the area. Many times the local businesses or events will advertise to the surrounding population on Facebook as a way of coordinating these things.

In Summary:

As much as I wanted to loathe Dallas for all the bad experiences I had there, I really enjoyed the activities that the city and local venues provided. I personally feel it is a great place to visit, but I don’t think I could ever live in Dallas again.

I would like to go and see some of my favorite spots I have listed here. It is true what they say about Texas, everything is truly bigger in Texas. If you are visiting or moving to Texas and would like more information please email me at culturetrekking196@gmail.com and I will try and aid you in whatever way that I can to help you have the best adventure while visiting.

As always Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and see you on the Flip Side. 

Where to Stay in Dallas Texas

Booking.com

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The Perfect Oregon Coast Camping Roadtrip

The Perfect Oregon Coast Camping Roadtrip

An Oregon Coast Camping Road trip should be on everyone’s bucket list. There are so many things to see, do and experience it is hard to narrow it down into a week or two. So here are my suggestions for your perfect Oregon Coast Camping Vacation, and my experiences along the road that will help you plan your own.

The Bad Omen:

Omens are a thing of legends and a word often used by mystics in the age of King Arthur, right? Well despite the word being associated with paranoid people and magicians in movies, I am still a big believer in them myself. Case and point number one, my roommate forgot her wallet about 45 minutes after we started on the road. Some may call this an accident, but I jokingly kept saying, ‘ It’s AN OMEN’! When things like this happen, it often puts you on the wrong foot when starting, what is supposed to be, a relaxing vacation. Be sure to check out my Packing Lists to ensure that you will not forget anything you could possibly need, but at the same time, not over pack.

Heading from Salt Lake City Utah, we were able to make a few extra stops along the way to Oregon. Our first stop is the Bonneville Salt Flats.

The Salt Flats:

There are several places among the Salt Flats that you can stop and get stellar photos and selfies. Because we are short were short on time, we stopped at a rest stop with a short 5 foot walk onto the Salt Flats with gentle rolling hills in the Distance.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip
Photography Tip:

Try to wear monocolor clothing without any wording on it or symbols. In photos it just looks distracting. Don’t wear sunglasses unless they are reflective and you just want the attention to be on your face. Avoid watches as this can also be distracting for the viewer. I personally love to wear flowing dresses here, because it just looks cool when it blows in the wind. Otherwise pair your clothing with something that will contrast to the background. For the Salt Flats, Sunrise or Sunset is the absolute best time to go, the white ground gets very reflective of the sun and can blow out your photo.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

After this Quick stop, we were on our way to Tokatee Falls. If you are driving from Salt Lake City on your way to Wendover, this is also a great little stop that is only 1.5 hours away.

Timing Tokatee Falls:

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

We arrived at Tokatee Falls about 30 minutes before Sunset was complete. We had to do the hike rather quickly, and there are lots of stairs folks. I also had swollen legs from sitting for 16 hours in the car. It made it very difficult to do this trail quickly, this was the first instance I kicked myself for being so out of shape of many on this trip.

Traveler Tip:

To avoid those swollen legs when driving or flying for long distances, compression stockings are a LIFE SAVER! No literally, they are life saving. When I would have patients come into my office with calf pain, one of the first things I ask is if they have done any traveling that required them to sit for long periods of time. The ones who ended up having blood clots in their legs, were often the ones that said yes. I bet you are thinking, ‘Oh, that only happens with old people’…..NOPE…..think again. Some people are more prone to it than others, especially younger people who overload themselves on energy drinks and caffeine to stay awake. No one is immune to blood clots. A good rule of thumb is to get out of the car every hour or two and walk around for at least 15 minutes.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

Getting to Tokatee Falls was awe-inspiring and took my breath away. I have never seen a waterfall like this in my entire life. The hike was fairly easy getting there (minus all the stairs). There is a hike that goes by the river, that I spotted plenty of swimming holes. Tokatee Falls itself was a contrast of white and dark, smooth and jagged visual delights. When there are such contrasting elements in one photo, I get very inspired. Views such as this are nourishment for the soul.

Floras Lake State Park

We arrived in Bandon and set up camp quickly in the dark. It is a lot more humid in Bandon than you would expect, so a drop of 15 degrees at night can be the type of chill that sinks into your bones. (I will post some tips on how to stay warm camping in Humid environments on Culture Trekking YouTube Channel, be sure to check it out).

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

The next morning we were delighted with eggs and toast by Bree’s sister, who lives in Grant’s Pass. We headed to Floras Lake State Park and started a hike that would take us around a lake known for its kite surfing, into an enchanted forest. The forest had moss-covered branches, topsy-turvy turns and truly felt magical. We couldn’t help skipping down the trail singing ‘Lions, and tigers and bears OH MY!’

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

The trail is best to do in the summer as it is likely a bit drier on the trail itself and covered in shade for most of the journey once you make it around the lake. We decided on doing this in Spring as it would be cooler for the 3 children that accompanied our group. The kids loved this hike, playing among the logs strewn about, and splashing in the lake on the way to the hike. If you look closely in the muddy puddles that dot the trail, you may just spot a Salamander. Bree attempted to kiss it, at her niece’s delight, to see if it would turn into a handsome prince, but alas….it did not. I have taken too many microbiology classes to attempt that, lol, handsome prince or not.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip
Traveler Tip:

If you plan to go in Spring or Fall, be sure you do this hike in Keens or sturdy watershoes.

After about 2.2 miles the kids started to get tired, the trail was then covered in water and required those without water shoes to start bushwhacking. Those with water shoes were walking through sludgy mud that had pinecones and sticks, fantastic cushioning for your feet. Half of the group turned back at this point and then 0.25 miles later Bree and I were the only ones left on the trail with our dogs.

We hiked another mile or two through the rough conditions & I finally told Bree we had gone too far and I could no longer hear the ocean (our final projected destination). Reluctantly she agreed, and we turned back around to head into downtown Bandon and meet up with the rest of the group.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

On our way back to the group (2 miles back), I noticed a metal pole with an indiscriminate trail on our left. I examined this closer, and it was a sign to another trail, I could also hear the ocean at this point. Pointing this out to Bree, she said some things I will not repeat here, and we both yelled our frustrations for the Forest to be witness to.

At this juncture we were both so exhausted we decided not to attempt another trail as our party had already been waiting quite awhile for us and headed into town, grumbling the whole way. If you have problems with tight calves like I do, when you hit the sandy area, walk closer to the shoreline for a more solid surface. It really aided in being able to make it back to the car.

Now, this was the second time I chided myself for my out-of-shapeness. Bree’s sister, however, is an active Triathalon Athlete, and even she was exhausted by the end of this trek. Moral of the story, don’t try hiking in heavily wooded areas without GPS, or something to tell you exactly how far you have traveled. I luckily had my Fitbit on me (not entirely accurate, but good enough of a guess) to tell us we hiked a total of 4.1 miles in 4.1 miles out and a total of 8.7 miles that day……ouch. We visited Cranberries sweets, and the washed ashore gallery that day as well, which are also in Bandon. I will post a full list of activities in Bandon within the next few months.

Bad luck Crabbing in Charleston:

Day three was an exciting day for our group and the kids go crazy seeing us catch crab. We headed over to Charleston to visit Davey Jones locker to get our crab gear and pots.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip
Traveler Tip:

Arrive early and rent a pot, otherwise you will have to pay $29.95 to buy one. Out of state-vs-in-state licenses are going to be different pricing.

After getting our licenses and crab pots, we headed over to the pier and found there were plenty of people attempting to catch some delicious Dungeness crab. There are guides to show you what kind of crabs you are allowed to catch and which ones you are not. It is based on gender and measurements, you keep the males and their shells must be a certain length from side to side. If you want to watch a show I’m totally obsessed with, Deadliest Catch, you can see how they measure the crabs when they pull their crab pots in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zp6ZwaO1Sps&t=4s  

Traveler Tip:

The best time to catch the crab is when it has not been raining for several days, and also at the end of summer. (Stay tuned for all the details of how to catch crab, along with more tips and tricks to make it memorable).

I was able to catch one crab for the seven of us for dinner. This was not going to be very filling for all seven of us feasting on one crab. Luckily there are some friendly folks who taught us how to cook our crab, clean the crab and even had a few more crab waiting there for us in the shop at the pier. As far as I could gather, this was the only place that sold crab, and in March of 2018 it was $5.99 per pound and they clean and cook it for you right there. We elected to cook it ourselves back at camp, so they cleaned it for us, put them on ice for us.

The Redemption Meal:

The crab turned out to be delicious! The most delicious crab I have ever had! There is nothing better than getting fresh crab, or fish from the rivers and oceans. We melted our butter over the campfire which gave it a nice smoky taste and then cooked some S’mores to top it off. I called this, the redemption meal because of how good it truly was. Are you salivating yet? If this has tickled your fancy for crab, head over to Whole foods and get your Crabby on 🙂

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

Witnessing Mother Nature at Shores Acre State Park:

This is the day that we were robbed…..by raccoons. Well, Bree’s Sister was robbed anyway, her food cooler was broken into by Raccoons. The food was everywhere, bags were ripped open and strewn about the camp. None of us thought that Raccoons knew how to open coolers, but apparently, they are evolving and getting smarter. Consider yourself warned!

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

Bree and I salvaged breakfast with French Toast, Eggs, and Turkey Bacon. The group then headed to Shores Acre State Park. The best time to go here is at High Tide, this way you can see just how powerful the ocean truly is. In spring and summer you won’t be able to witness the full extent of mother nature, but during a Winter Storm….prepare to be awed by the power of water.

There is a small shelter with a viewing platform that you can appreciate just how much the land has changed from the relentless pounding of the sea. Here you will also learn of a logging millionaire that built a mansion on these shores, complete with tennis courts that have since sunk into the ocean. If you pay attention you will see a large slab of concrete peeking out from under a blanket of Ivy that use to be the spot where his tennis courts were.

If you take the trail to the right of the viewing platform you will be able to see these tennis courts. Approximately 200 feet beyond the tennis courts is a unique area filled with, what I call, bubble rocks. These rocks and their current shapes, pockets, and bubble-like appearances were what has been sculpted by the seat itself. explore all the nooks and crannies with your kids or friends and witness the wonder of nature.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip
Traveler Tip:

One thing I must stress to all my readers is to NEVER challenge the ocean, it will always win. The people in Oregon call those who visit, ‘Flat-landers’, those who come on vacation and do not have a healthy respect for the ocean. Do not travel in Oregon without a Tide Table booklet, these are available at any visitors center or major port city center. You can turn your back on the ocean and the next thing you know, you will be swept out to sea by the ‘sneeker waves’, as the Oregonians call them.

Facerock Wayside Beach and Sandy Labyrinths:

After some downtime after Bree’s sister’s family headed home, we went out to Facerock Wayside Beach for a special experience. I was particularly excited for this adventure. At Face Rock Wayside Beach, you will find a group of individuals that are committed to inner peace, healing and reconnecting with the humans that surround us.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

This group was started by a man named Denny, who in an effort to find that inner peace, you started to draw in the sand. Circles in the Sand The drawings soon became large, intricate works of art that were a walking meditation for him. Word grew and soon it expanded into a Community of like-minded individuals who meet on the weekends to take the walk. Each walk has a theme and can be up to 0.5 miles of walking.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

There is encouragement given as you decide to take the walk through the circles, to disconnect from the world around you and realize happiness comes not from our electronics but from the peace we find within our own hearts and minds. It helped me recenter my beliefs for our own community, that in order to truly be the change I wish to see in the world, first I need to be happy with myself.

Rain, Snow, Waterfalls, and Racoons:

After heading back to camp from the Circles in the sand appearance, we were enjoying a lazy and euphoric evening. Luckily our dogs were around, the rasciliy raccoon tripped over my tent stake, and triggered Zoey into a barking frenzy. Zoey is my dog that is part Cocker Spaniel, part poodle and definitely loves to chase animals of any kind.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

My dog likes to think she is a bear, but in fact is a 16-pound ball of zest and fluff. Zoey pulled the leash right out of my hands and took off into the bushes after what I assumed was a squirrel. She deftly tracked the Raccoon up the tree where it stayed for the next hour with us examining it. This Raccoon was GINORMOUS! The raccoon was easily three times the size of Zoey, and likely had all sorts of creepy critters crawling on it that I didn’t want Zoey to inherit. I quickly gathered her up, calmed her down, took a few photos of the Raccoon, and then packed our own cooler in our car.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

We couldn’t do much with our garbage as we had just been headed to bed, so we put the garbage in our extra cardboard box. The next morning we found the garbage bag ripped into, but all garbage was neatly contained in this box. We loaded it, and all our gear up into the car and headed out to Silver Falls State Park.

Haceta Head Lighthouse

Haceta Head is part of an interconnecting network of seven miles of varying difficulty of trails. You can stay in this lighthouse as a B&B, and then traipse down the trails viewing the seals, Eagles, and all wildlife along the trails. Explore the tide pools, go sea glass hunting, or simply enjoy the cool breezes coming off the Ocean.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

We spent an hour or two in the area exploring trails and hunting for sea glass. It was o relaxing and wish we would have had more time in this area.

Thor’s Well

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

This is known as the drainpipe of the sea. This natural sea cave pounded out by the crashing waves is about 20 feet deep (approximately). Then the roof caved in and created an opening that sucked in the sea and pounded it into the floor. Eventually it became known as Thor’s well. Like most everything else in Oregon, this phenomenon is its most glorious at high tide. If you want an even more spectacular show, go at sunrise or sunset as well and get a shot that will shock even the most professional of photographers.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

Silver Falls State Park

In checking the weather on the way to Silver Falls State Park, I discovered we were heading to an area where it was actually going to snow. I only own a 3 season tent and was worried about being too cold when we got there, especially Zoey as she doesn’t handle temperatures lower than 45 degrees very well. Luckily Bree was able to reserve a small Yurt or cabin for us for when we arrived at Silver Falls State Park. These are often equipped with an outdoor firepit, picnic table, electricity, beds, and a small heater that really does a stellar job. We were both so happy to have a warm place to dry off our clothes, we stayed here awhile just to enjoy the warmth.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip
Traveler Tip:

The cabin costs about $61 per night with dogs. At Silver Falls State Park there are only two cabins that are available for those with animals, so be sure to book early.

Many trails within Silver Falls State Park do not allow animals on them (for unknown reasons other than water contamination). So renting a cabin is a great way for you to put the pooches in a warm area that is contained and protected from visiting wildlife. Our first stop was to South Falls, the most iconic waterfall of the entire park. This towering monstrosity drops 177 feet (53.95 meters) into the River below. There are several different areas to take iconic photos, the first being at the top of the viewing platform. This is a platform where you can park your car and walk to the edge of the stone shelf and take a photo. The other photo areas are along the trail itself, with one location before the bridge, and one location on the bridge itself.

From the bridge you have several options:
Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

1- Continue along the trail that will bring you to a total of 10 different Waterfalls, each with its own unique appearance. 2- Take the trail up, around, and behind the waterfall. This is the option we chose as we were running out of daylight. Hiking behind the waterfall was not like anything I have experienced. The sheer drop of the water into the river below sends reverberating sounds into the caverns that you hike through. It truly is an experience like none other, as these sounds are so loud you can hardly hear yourself speak and feel the thunder sink into your chest. We stayed behind the waterfall for some time, getting soaked from the spray of the waterfall and the rain that had begun for the evening. I wanted to stay there forever, just watching the mesmerizing fall of the water into the river below.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip
Traveler Tip:

Bring a Poncho with you, or a garbage bag that you can drape over yourself to help you from getting soaked. If you are taking photos, make sure that your camera is either waterproof or has a protective covering like a shower cap on it to help keep out the majority of the spray from the waterfall.

Giants, Elves, and getting lost in Ferngully:

Leaving the warmth of that cabin was entirely too difficult. I wanted to stay and explore all the waterfalls within Silver Falls State Park! Alas, our itinerary did not allow for enough time to explore properly. If you want to properly explore Silver Falls State Park, make sure you allot for AT LEAST 4 days in this park. Loading up our gear, and our pups, we headed to Willamette National Forest to hike the Tamolitch Blue Pool Trail.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

When we arrived at this trail, we were both greeted by a place that looked as if fairies would live here. This hike tracks the river for about 2.0 miles up to a spectacular Blue Pool of water fed by the McKenzie River. We assumed that it would be easy for us to spot, but after hiking for what seemed like ages, we ran out of time and ended up turning back. We did not have GPS, nor did our cell phones have service to let us know where we were.

After coming back home we realized we were 0.25 miles away from where it actually was. I don’t believe that trail is only 2.5 miles though personally, my Fitbit said I had gone 3.92 miles by the time we turned around. We were extremely disappointed about missing this feature as this is a very popular trail. Be sure you explore the Tamolitch Blue Pool Trail on Google Maps and drop the little man to see what it looks like on a normal day. There are several areas that appear to be the right spot, but alas are no.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

The trail was not a total loss for me, I had no idea what we were hiking towards, so wasn’t really disappointed when we had to turn around. The trail was absolutely stunning! There was moss over EVERYTHING and the areas that you could see the river were breathtaking. When I visit Oregon again, I will definitely have to do this trail again as I really enjoyed just playing in this forest that looked like I was walking in Ferngully.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

The Hot Spring that Isn’t So Hot:

Hiking 6-8 miles a day for me is a big deal, I have a typical desk job that I sit for most of the day taking care of my patients. Needless to say, my body hurt by day 6 and I was ready for a nice soak in a boiling Hot Spring. Heading to Bigelow Hot Springs after our failed attempt at reaching the Blue Pool. Parking the car in a nearby parking slot, we headed back across the road and to the left trail along the bank of the river.

The Bigelow Hot Springs was only a 0.1-mile trek in if that. Make sure you come with water shoes because the rocks are not friendly on bare feet. This Hot Springs I feel was very deceiving in many ways. When you first see it, it is on the right-hand side of the river with rocks that form a sort of hot tub appearance. The bank of the river is 12 inches away from this Hot Spring and would be fantastic in the Summertime.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

There was steam coming off the top of the water and my excitement level peaked because I thought for sure it was going to be piping hot. I peeled off my clothes with my swimming suit underneath I fumbled my way across the rocks and into the pool, anticipating delicious warmth from the frigid cold air. I was sorely disappointed at the initial dip of my foot but wanted it to be warm so badly I decided to venture further into the pool. There was no area of this Hot Spring that was an actual HOT spring, it was more like a tepid bath……highly disappointing.

We only stayed in the bogus Bigelow Hot Spring for about five minutes. If you were to come in the summertime it would be fantastic though. The spring would be tepid enough to not overheat you, a good place to wash off the grime of camping and lounge by the river. In the Spring and Fall getting out of this spring will be frosty, not to the point of snot-sickles.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

Whatever part of your body you decide to immerse in the water will quickly become numb upon emerging from the spring. Cougar Hot Springs is the better Hot Springs as it is so hot, that you have to experience it in small doses. Unfortunately, the road was closed due to a rock slide and we could not safely reach it according to the Willamette National Forest Service Website. Make sure to check conditions of roads prior to visiting the different areas in the Pacific Northwest as the road conditions are dynamic. If you want to check out other Hot Springs in Oregon, check out the Oregon Hot Springs Website, for the information you will need about the different Hot Springs.

A Perfectly Picturesque Conclusion with Sand dollars:

There are not many people that know about this beach, and I hesitate to share this with you because it is so fantastic but come on, I have to share it with my Culture Trekking Crew! It is marked as just a Picnic area in Crescent City, but is a beach full of Sand dollars!

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

If you go at low tide earlier in the day you will see that the beach has sand dollars. When Bree told me about this I imagined a beach with all the Sand dollars in perfect condition lining the Beach. When you actually get there, you have to look for the Sand dollars. I would suggest going close to the waterline and looking for white pieces.

If you find a greenish looking Sand Dollar, please put it back as this is still alive sand dollar. There will be broken ones and whole ones of the white Sand dollars, these are ones that have already died. We went at low tide later in the evening and it looks like people had already picked the beach for the whole sand dollars.

The sunsets here are amazing and would suggest you take a picnic and enjoy it as a perfect ending to your trip along the Southern Oregon Coast.

The Lessons Learned for our next Oregon Coast Camping Trip:

Overall the trip was an utter success, with many memories that will stay with me for a very long time. Some things that I took away from this trip that I would do differently for next time: get a paper map for any trails we go on, get a GPS device, bring more sweaters, allow more time for enjoying the journey, and don’t try to take a dip in the hot springs when it is 45 degrees outside and you can’t defrost in a hot shower afterwards.

Oregon Coast Camping Road trip

Make sure to check out my car camping list for any items you may need for your trip. This list will continue to be honed down and carefully crafted to help you travel. I will also be posting detailed videos of my experience & crucial information for your trip on the Culture Trekking YouTube Channel, be sure to subscribe and stay tuned.

Top Highlights of our Oregon Coast Camping trip were definitely Silver Falls State Park, Tokatee Falls, and the Sand Dollar Beach. As always my friends: Happy Travels, Happy Tales, and see you on the Flipside.


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Top 15 Safety Tips for Hiking

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Top 15 Safety Tips for Hiking

Top 15 Safety Tips for Hiking

How many times has your Mom told you that you need to be careful? Well in this case she is right, Hiking in any terrain can be hazardous if you don’t have at least a basic knowledge of safety tips for hiking. Here are my own top 15 safety tips for hiking that I personally utilize when I go out on an adventure.

Top 15 Safety Tips For Hiking

Tell Someone Where You Plan To Hike

Tell someone where you intend to go with a map of stops you plan to make and where you plan to park. Leave some dirty laundry for the dogs to sniff should you get lost. I know this sounds really silly, but living so close to the Wasatch Front Mountains in Utah, we hear about people being lost, falling off trails all the time. Despite avalanche warnings, the high river swells, and inclement weather – there is always the ONE person who doesn’t listen or thinks it does not apply to them.

Top 15 Safety Tips For Hiking

Wear Bright Colors When Hiking

Wear bright colors so you can easily be spotted, for winter avoid light colors as it can blend in with the snow. Summertime wear a reflective vest. If you haven’t seen the movie 127 hours, you should. It takes place in Utah, and the guy made all the wrong choices when it came to safety. The only thing he had going for him was to cut off his arm after being pinned in a crevice.

Top 15 Safety Tips For Hiking

Stay On the Trail and Set A ‘Turn Back Time’

Stay on the trail and set a time limit for your final destination or turn back spot. Even if you don’t make it to the final destination it is better to be safe rather than sorry! I get lost incredibly easy due to my inability to tell if I’m headed North or South etc… I always stay on a known trail that has a name and try to stick to the well worn or trampled trail as I know I will always be able to turn around and go back.

Top 15 Safety Tips For Hiking

Bring Water and/or a Water Filtration System With You

Bring a Lifestraw or a camelback with the water you will need, a snack and an emergency blanket should you find yourself lost overnight. A flashlight can also serve as a beacon should a helicopter be flying overhead at night. I like to bring flashlights that are manually charged in addition to my headlamp. This way if your batteries on your headlamp were to go out, you could still manually charge the handheld flashlight.

Top 15 Safety Tips For Hiking

Bring a First Aid Kit

Bring a small first aid kit complete with Band-Aids and a sling. The classic triangle sling or even a bandana can be used to create a tourniquet. This will account for the more serious injuries and small cuts or blisters. Band-Aids for the blisters and minor cuts, a snake venom kit should you be hiking in the bush or the desert. Check local hospitals if snake bites are common and where the nearest facility is with anti-venom. I know that in Utah, we have to be careful in the summertime when the snakes are more active. Do not bring your pets on trails that warn of snakes on the trail as this can make them more defensive and likely to attack. I also like to bring along my trusty Swiss Army Pocket Knife…..I always say, “You can never go wrong with a bandana, pocket knife, and duct tape”.

Top 15 Safety Tips For Hiking

Wear Sun Protection

Wear Sunscreen, especially at higher elevations as Sunburns are often more likely to happen. I have seen skin cancer cases that have left my patients disfigured and debilitated, some even that have progressed to melanoma. So do yourself and your loved ones a favor, wear at least an SPF rating of 30 with a hat. If you have a bald head, don’t forget to cover that up & put sunscreen on your ears, neck, and chest. Wear sunglasses that have full coverage of UV rays.

Heat Stroke And Dehydration Precautions

Know what Heat Stroke and Dehydration look like, and what the best way to treat it in the wilderness is. Check weather patterns and never start a hike that looks like there will be lightening, when you are on the side of the mountain, you may as well put a target on your back that says, ‘hit here first’.

Top 15 Safety Tips For Hiking

Wear Supportive Shoes

Wear shoes that are supportive and slightly above the ankle joint. I have seen so many broken ankles over the years, and not from just missing the curb. You can be hiking along, hit a rock in just the wrong way. Your balance can be thrown off, you try and catch yourself, and *SNAP*, 4-6 months on crutches. Depending on where you break your bone will determine if you need to have surgical intervention. So be careful people, as much as I like doing ORIF’s of the Ankle, it is miserable for the one getting it done to them.

Top 15 Safety Tips For Hiking

Wear Proper Clothing

Moisture-wicking clothing and cotton clothing that is UV resistant. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see light through your clothing, so can the sun. Even in the Summer months, a fleece sweater stuffed in the bottom of your rucksack is a good rule of thumb. If someone was to sustain a bad fall and go into shock, having an extra layer around can save someone’s life.

Top 15 Safety Tips For Hiking

Use Common Sense

Don’t take people up on dares of ‘Who can climb that shale 80% grade to the top of the mountain the fastest and not fall off the sheer cliff’. I feel this is more common sense than an actual safety tip. However, my six years in the operating room taught me one thing, common sense is not so common.

Have a Contingency Plan for if You Get Lost

If your situation is really dire, start making signs pointing to where you are with twigs or rocks along the trail. This way if someone is coming to look for you they have a way to track you down.

Remember that the Sun rises in the East and sets in the West. This can give you a little more direction.

If you find a river or a water source, it will typically lead to civilization. This is my personal observation because of how most of the towns we know today are centered around a water source. It may be difficult to follow the water source directly, but following the sound of the stream or river to the collection pools/lakes is also a good idea. This will also provide a large open area for people to more easily spot you.

Top 15 Safety Tips For Hiking

Know Your Limitations

Know your physical limitations! When hiking with other people, I have had to teach myself to listen to my body and what it is telling me. Only the best hikers and climbers in the world can make it to the top. You have to listen to your body, pace yourself and enjoy the hike, you don’t have to sprint up the trail! STOP when you feel like you have run out of half of your energy stores.

Pack a Snack

Keep plenty of water and energy supplying snacks in your bag. Your body needs nourishment, not junk food. I always keep dried fruit in my bag along with some carrots. These do not need to be refrigerated, don’t get smashed in my bag and are lightweight. If you feel yourself start to get tired (I’m not talking muscle burn) snack on the energy supplies you brought. I always know when I need a snack because I suddenly feel like I need to lay down under the nearest tree and take a nap.

Top 15 Safety Tips For Hiking

Bonus!

Make sure to check yourself and your dogs for ticks and any creatures that may want to hitch a ride home with you.
 

Safety First

So there you have it! These are my Top 15 Safety Tips for Hiking. If all else fails, just remember that panicking never helped anyone. My Grandma always tells me that, “worrying is like sitting in a rocking chair, rocking back and forth all the time, but never really going anywhere”.
Most of all, have fun and enjoy nature, but please don’t try to conquer it. Mother nature is both a beast and a beauty, she will always win and bites hard with a sure finality if you try and challenge her.

Do you have any tips on how to hike without GPS?

What about if your GPS fails in the middle of a hike?

Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts!

Happy Travels, Happy Trails, and see you on the Flip Side 😉


Disclaimer: Please consult your Primary Care Physician before attempting any strenuous activity. Train properly for each trail you are attempting to hike. Check AllTrails.com for GPS coordinates, difficulty level for each trail and the conditions of the trail. If you are hiking in a national park, check with the local ranger station on trail conditions or warnings for the area.

Top 15 Safety Tips For Hiking

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