You know we live in a triggered, polarized world when the turn of phrase "America First" offends many people. What I mean to say here is consider America first when thinking of traveling. This phrase has taken on the emotional charge of a Red MAGA Hat. This past week I was reminded of how beautiful and diverse our country is when I visited various locations in Wyoming and Montana, two states I had never previously visited. Experiencing the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone in all their glory was incredible. When we were looking for a place to go, we instinctively looked to leave the country rather than look here first. The domestic airfare alone can be enormous savings. The National Parks and National Forests are amazing places of discovery, sport, and recreation for anyone and everyone. We also encountered great towns offering well-appointed accommodations, unique dining experiences, and incredible entertainment. For me, heading out West and spending time in nature was precisely the restart and recharge I needed as I head into Summer.
App, TravelHow many countries have you visited? How many states have you seen? What is your ratio of countries to states? This exercise may take a little time to determine, but it is a rough approximation of one's exploration of America versus the rest of the world. The best way to keep track of this is with the Been app, introduced to me by my daughter and fellow Louper Avery V. As you can see above, I have been to 67 countries and 41 states (82%!), a ratio 1.6x. I have a lot of ground to still cover through the middle of the United States, as well as South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. I could probably accomplish it with one long road trip from North Dakota down to New Mexico and be mostly done in the US. Idaho is an easy fix, but Alaska is a little harder, but definitely on my list. I certainly have my work cut out for me, but this is a pretty good start! Loupers, write to me and let me know your stats!
I just returned from a mini road trip with my wife and (one) kid. Like I have said in the past, road trips are one of the best ways to spend quality time with family and/or friends. Unlike other vacations, we spend every waking moment together, usually see no one (except friends who live in the city we are visiting), and have hysterical shared memories/adventures. The key to a great road trip is not only the ultimate stops but also the places in between. Most guides and travel apps cover the stops. For the places in between, there is Roadtrippers. This app allows you to plot your trip on a map easily, and then it will show you things to do on the way. These stops were the right balance of interesting (and significant to the location) with great photo ops! This app offers an invaluable resource for planning your very own road trip! Get started.
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This trip out West was all about walking in nature, aka hiking. There is nothing better than hiking near the mountains, in the fresh air, in well preserved public parks. For those of you who love to hike, there is AllTrails. This app allows you to explore hikes where you are or where you are going. You will be surprised by the number, quality, and difficulty of the hikes that are near your current location. You can find the right hike for yourself by filtering the search by proximity, difficulty, and/or length. The app will present you with a description, directions, and user-generated content, including reviews and recorded tracks. You can upgrade to Pro for $29.99 if you want the ability to download maps to your mobile device in the event you are out of cellular range. It came in handy for us in the Grand Tetons, where we needed a map to get us to our ultimate destination, and the local signage did not suffice. Get out there (with AllTrails guidance) and hike!
The older you get, the wiser you get ... hopefully. I have always loved to hike, but rarely did I go prepared. Who needs water? What are the chances I will come across a bear? How about a first aid kit? I have changed (mostly) in my old age and now bring necessities, as well as potentialities along for the walk. Camelbak's new packs fit comfortably (dual straps), are lightweight, and allow you to carry water and other essential items. When we were hiking in the Grand Tetons, I needed lots of water, bear spray (which yikes I did not have), suntan lotion, food, a radio, and more. The key is to have your own bag pre-loaded with these items (though you can't fly with bear spray), so when you arrive at your destination, you can embark on your hike fully prepared.
When traveling, you need great shoes. They should be comfortable and practical and tell others something about who you are and what you are about. Then, there are the shoes pictured above. I am not sure what they say about you other than you don't have a matching red MAGA hat! This is the most confounding collaboration I have ever witnessed, honestly and I don't know what to think about it. Maybe there is a certain genius here, and that is the point. Not many would associate the Valentino and Birkenstock consumers. It's not like Travis Scott and Nike Air Jordans or Chuck Taylors and Kith. Something just doesn't work here, but intrigued I am, and I look forward to seeing a fellow Louper out West in these babies!