Tag Archives: adventure

MICHIGAN HAS REAL BEACHES

Apparently, if you’re not from the flawless, beautiful, picturesque state of perfection known as California, you don’t have real beaches.

My California friends don’t seem to realize that there are other people around the country (and world) that live quite contently even though they don’t permanently reside in California.  These people go about their day walking the dog, going to work, and hanging out with friends.  They sometimes have to put on a light jacket, but they still find happiness in life! INCREDIBLE!

Some Californians refuse to accept this.  Such arrogance was shown when I told one of my Golden State friends that I was going back to Michigan to celebrate the 4th of July on the beach.

“You know that’s not a real beach right?”

I’ll show you what a real beach is. Cue the video:

 

 

 

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP: See As Much As Possible and Ignore the Trolls

california road trip plan

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP:         See As Much As Possible and Ignore the Trolls

 

I’m not the type of person who wastes time during vacations.  If I’m visiting a new place I try to see everything I can in the small amount of time I have.  Only once I feel like I’ve seen everything, then I can relax.  It’s just how I’m wired.

Most people hate going on vacation with me, especially if I’m filming.  These are the types of things I say:

“THERE ARE TWO HOURS OF SUNLIGHT LEFT.  WE CAN GET TO THE NEXT 18 PLACES IF WE HURRY!”

“WHY WOULD YOU TAKE A NAP RIGHT NOW?!”

“I DON’T HAVE TIME TO WORRY ABOUT YOUR PROBLEMS.  WE HAVE TO GET THIS SHOT.”

Believe it or not, I managed to convince two friends to come on a week-long road trip with me through Northern California.  I probably won them over when I pitched the beautiful bluffs of the Pacific Coast Highway, the scenic drive up to Glacier Point in Yosemite, and the peaceful Emerald Bay of Lake Tahoe.  But I knew it wouldn’t be all pretty landscapes.

Meet Charles and Jinelle.  Actually just Jinelle.  You already met Charles in my Salton Sea video.  I’m just going to assume all my readers have my videos memorized and know exactly who I’m talking about.   Jinelle is our friend from Michigan who actually flew out just for the trip! I must have really pitched road trip idea well!  We go way back to the middle school years.  And we met Charles in college. The three of us get along great, especially when they do what I want them to do.

Anyway, we had one week to make this trip happen.  I told them where we’d be going: Yosemite, Tahoe, Shasta, Avenue of the Giants, San Francisco, and Big Sur.  It was an ambitious plan to see so many world-renowned places in seven days.  And each place would probably be better explored in seven days on their own.  But I wasn’t going to let that stop me from having an awesome adventure.  I was going to see as much of NorCal as I could.

Jinelle flew into LAX at 10:30PM and we began our adventure at 3:50AM. Actually, that’s the perfect lead in to this video.  You’ll see why:

I promise it’s somewhat entertaining. And it’s short.

I posted this video to Reddit and other social media sites.  These were some of the responses I got:

“You go to see beautiful sites in nature and then B**@#($& about not finding a hotel? Try camping. LOSER!”

“I hate when people travel just to check things off their bucket list instead of actually spending time to enjoy a place.”

Personally, I think a more constructive criticism would have been about Charles’ wardrobe choices:

charles wardrobe

charles wardrobe 4
Look at that sock game!

As the video showed, the trip was fast, fun, and full of some amazing scenery.  This is the type of trip I like to take and I hope I can do more in the future.  Unfortunately this thing called real life gets in the way right now.  If you’d like to sponsor me, I’d be willing to take monthly payments so I can buy a tent, take longer, more meaningful trips, and silence my critics.  I’m very sensitive to their opinions.

Don’t wait for the perfect moment, situation, or right way to travel.  As always, go trip yourself!

-Randy

Yosemite tunnel view
Tahoe emerald bayShasta lake damRedwoods avenue of the giantsSan Francisco painted ladiesBig Sur coast

 

Vasquez Rocks and Charlie Brown Farms – Day Trip Near Los Angeles

Vasquez Rocks and Charlie Brown Farms –  Day Trip Near Los Angeles

 

Hey.

I wanted to write a quick post and share two new videos.  A few weeks ago, my friend Charles and I took a day trip to Vasquez Rocks.  I’m sure you’ve seen Vasquez Rocks, even if you don’t recognize the name, because it is in about 29384720639680 films and TV shows.  Most notably: Star Trek, Power Rangers, The Flintstones, Austin Powers, and Planet of the Apes.  It’s very easy to get to and right outside LA.

movie list star trektv shows films here

On our way back, we stopped at Charlie Brown Farms.  I didn’t really do much research before we went, so I was very confused when I arrived and there was no farm.  Basically it’s a shop that sells nostalgic candy, Texas BBQ, deliciously-unhealthy desserts, toys, gifts, and strange, life-size statues.  Outside you’ll find Santa, locked in a fence with a Pterodactyl, lion, horses, and the Eiffel Tower.  Why they are locked up, I have no idea.  Why they are even there, I have no idea.  I’m pretty sure you can buy some of them, though.  I guess putting dinosaurs outside your home would be kind of awesome.

“Which house does Randy live in?”

“Oh you can’t miss it.  It’s the one with the triceratops in the front yard!”

Anyway, if you’re planning a road trip near LA, make a pit stop at Charlie Brown Farms.

strange attractions california road trips

The Ultimate Road Trip Planner Internet Resource Guide

roadtripresourceguidev2

The Ultimate Road Trip Planner Internet Resource Guide

Where are all the good road trip planning resources?!

Recently, I was trying to plan a road trip up north and I realized something strange. There weren’t many road trip resources online.  At least not many good ones.  Or ones that have been updated since 1996.  But I felt like something had to be out there.  So I scoured the web, asked around in forums, and tried to find the best road trip planning resources on the web.  After a more thorough search, there were actually quite a few that I would deem “good.” And not just websites, but there were also tools, apps, and people/brands contributing to the road trip and travel lifestyle.

Since I’m weird and can’t just put everything in a bookmark folder (the easy thing to do), I decided to take all the resources I found, and put them together into one neat, easy-to-read, organized list.

I call it:

THE ULTIMATE ROAD TRIP PLANNER INTERNET RESOURCE GUIDE

Below, broken into categories, are the top resources online to help plan your ultimate road trip.  As new ones pop up, I’ll be sure to update this list.  If you know of other resources that provide readers with awesome road trip and travel content, feel free to suggest them in the comments below!

Let’s begin:

road trip planner

THE OBVIOUS: These are the big resources you should already know about.  But if you don’t, start using them now.  They’ll make your travel planning a whole lot easier.

  • Yelp – Crowd-sourced reviews for businesses and attractions.
  • Lonely Planet – Travel guides! Make sure to check out their Thorn Tree travel forum.
  • Expedia – Book hotels, flights, cars, and more.
  • Kayak – Book hotels, flights, cars, and more.
  • SkyScanner – Find the cheapest flight. Can also book hotels and cars.
  • AAA – Roadside assistance and travel services for its members.
  • ZipCar – Rent a car.  Able to pay by the hour.
  • Air BnB – Rent out a room, home, or apartment from local hosts.

road trip planner

WEBSITES: This next section is websites.  I tried to keep it to resources that have the best information on cool places to see, routes to take, and general road tripping tips.

Oh, and most of these resources are for U.S. road trips only.  Sorry, everyone else in the world.

ROADTRIPPERS

http://www.roadtrippers.com

Updated regularly, Roadtrippers features great places to visit from the strange to the beautiful.  They have a fantastic trip planner, but their articles also give readers thorough information and inspiration about the most scenic driving routes to the scariest ghost towns. Roadtrippers is king.

ROADTRIP AMERICA

http://www.roadtripamerica.com/

RoadTrip America is another good all around website.  Full of travel tips, routes, interactive maps, and forums, it has your bases covered for your road trip needs.

ROADSIDE AMERICA

http://www.roadsideamerica.com/

Although it looks like they haven’t updated their website since 1996, don’t be too quick to dismiss them. Roadside America also has some great content.  You’ll find some of the best offbeat attractions here.  I especially like how you can sort your search by state.

PLANNING FUN ROAD TRIPS

http://www.planning-fun-road-trips.com/

Another website that may be going for the pre-Y2k look. Planning Fun Road Trips offers tips, planners, and best ofs.  This site will get you up to speed quickly if you’re planning your first road trip.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICES

http://www.nps.gov/index.htm

If you have national parks in your road trip plans, you’ll want to remember this website.  The NPS has information on every national park in each state with the information you need from park fees and hours to maps and suggested itineraries.

USA.GOV – TRAVEL AND TOURISM SITES FOR ALL 50 STATES

http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Travel-Tourism/State-Tourism.shtml

Just what the title says- a fantastic page that links to all of the tourism websites for each US state and territory.  Pick a state and find things to do right away.

ATLAS OBSCURA

http://www.atlasobscura.com/

When you first open up Atlas Obscura, it’s evident that the people behind it like to explore and like to have a good time.  I like the fun, personal vibe of the website and I like that it’s easy to navigate.  What are you looking for? Ghost towns in California? Atlas Obscura will give you a list of places to visit, a map of where they are, and then a personal article about that location.  Whenever I visit the site I usually stumble across some pretty bizarre and cool places to check out.  Atlas Obscura is a new find I’m very excited about!

REDDIT

Are you looking for trip advice, trying to find a travel partner, or just itching to read a cool road trip story?  Reddit has got you covered. Here are some of my favorite subreddits for road trips and traveling.

   .

road trip with stops

TOOLS: Here’s a list of the online tools that will help make your money-calculating and route-choosing worries go away.

ROAD TRIP CALCULATOR

http://www.shareyourride.net/roadtrip/

Punch in your estimated or actual costs for rental prices, gas, hotels, and daily budget, and the road trip calculator will come up with your total.  It’s a simple way to see where most of your money is going and whether or not you can squeeze in another night of travel.

DISCOVER AMERICA ROAD TRIP PLANNER

http://www.discoveramerica.com/usa/road-trips.aspx

Discover America’s road trip planner is one of my favorites.  Not only does it allow you to plot a point from A to B, but it lets you add and subtract attractions that are on the route.  For example, if you’re taking a trip across the country, you can “turn on” museums and campgrounds and “turn off” shopping centers and airports.  You can even turn on Instagram photos so a person’s travel photos will pop up along your route.  Add any attraction to your itinerary straight from the map.  Discover America’s road trip planner is definitely worth trying out.

THE OPTIMAL ROAD TRIP ACROSS THE US

http://www.randalolson.com/2015/03/08/computing-the-optimal-road-trip-across-the-u-s/

If you’re looking to road trip all 48 states in one go and you want the perfect route, look no further.  Randy (great name!) Olson created the most optimal and efficient route using an algorithm.  The trip makes stops in each state at a national park, historic site, or other interesting landmark.  Check out the link above to read more about the algorithm and chosen attractions.

FREETRIP – TRIP ROUTE PLANNER

http://www.freetrip.com/

There are some people who just want a basic, printable, easy-to-read trip planner.  Although rare in the age of smart phones with maps and travel apps, this is a basic route planning site that lets you choose a few route options (favoring scenic routes, avoiding tolls, estimating fuel costs, etc), press submit, and receive a bare-bones itinerary.  It’s old school, but if that’s your thing, take a look at this resource.

blogs for road trips

BLOGS: Of course this section will naturally be more subjective, I tried to choose blogs that not only inspired and entertained, but also provided some type of informational content.  

Here are some of my favorite blogs to check out:

CALIFORNIA THROUGH MY LENS

http://californiathroughmylens.com/

California Through My Lens gives readers a taste of California through the eyes of Josh, a man “addicted to adventure.”  It’s incredible how many places this one guy has visited in California.  All of his guides and articles are full of detail and include fantastic pictures. If every state had someone as awesome as Josh road tripping and sharing cool places, the states wouldn’t need tourism websites!  If you’re heading to California, check out CaliforniaThroughMyLens.

NOMADIC MATT

http://www.nomadicmatt.com/travel-blogs/great-american-road-trip-part-deux/

Not exactly a “road tripper,” but I’d say he has enough travel under his belt to give you some awesome advice and travel inspiration.  Matt is what I would call a “travel hacker” – someone who finds the cheapest, easiest, and most efficient way travel.  He has a range of articles from Africa travel tips, to best gear, to how to save money for a big trip.  Nomadic Matt is another travel blogging king.

MIDLIFE ROAD TRIP

http://midliferoadtrip.tv/

Instead of having a midlife crisis Rick and Sandi are on a midlife road trip.  They’re traveling the world, checking things off their bucket list, and driving around in a Weinermobile (well, not always. Unfortunately).  Adventurous, fun, and they don’t take themselves too seriously.  Their website is full of good information, but it’s definitely more on the entertainment side!

WANDERING EARL

http://www.wanderingearl.com/

Wandering Earl is one of the most popular travel bloggers on the internet.  He set out on a three-month trip to Asia and hasn’t stopped traveling since.  He blogs about his adventures and struggles, offers tips and information, and even has his own resource books and tours. This guy is making a living off being a permanent nomad and there’s plenty to learn.

WORLD OF WANDERLUST

http://www.worldofwanderlust.com/

Brooke is another blogger who travels the world full time.  And although you may take one look and say “Oh no, just another pretty girl traveling the world,” she’s built a pretty impressive online presence.  Her website is full of quick tips, reviews, and travel stories. And she’s amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on her social media accounts.  Her content is geared more towards girls in their teens and twenties, but even if you don’t fit that demographic, you can still probably find something you relate to.

YOUNG ADVENTURESS

http://youngadventuress.com/

I like Liz.  No, I don’t actually know her.  But it looks like she hustles, and I respect that.  Her website is about her own adventures around the world.  She’s been doing it for years and her articles give her readers tips, advice, and personal anecdotes about travel.  So, no, not exactly road tripping, but I’m confident you’ll be inspired by her drive, her excellent writing style, her travel stories, her photographs, and her rad sense of adventure.

best apps for road trips

APPS: Remember when people used to use real, paper maps? No? Me neither.  I can’t imagine getting around without the map app in my phone. Although some of the apps built in the name of convenience are just plain ridiculous, some of the ones built in the name of travel are just plain awesome.  

Here are some of my favorite travel apps:

  • gas buddyGAS BUDDY – Find the cheapest gas station nearby.
  • iexitiEXIT – Tells you what’s at upcoming exits on your route.
  • troverTROVER – Instagram/Pinterest style photo-travel app.  Great for finding hidden gems in big cities or interesting places along the way.
  • roadtrippersROADTRIPPERS – Find cool places, plan trips, save itineraries.  Great interface and easy to use.
  • field tripFIELD TRIP – Be notified automatically when you get close to something cool.  Find food, drinks, historic spots, and unique attractions just by being nearby.
  • yonderYONDER – Choose an outdoor activity you’re interested in, choose your location, and find places where you can do that activity around you.  Connect with others and share tips and photos.
  • day oneDAY ONE – A nicely designed app for journaling.  Record the cool things you see or do on your road trip. Add pictures too.
  • road trip liteROAD TRIP LITE – Great app to track your car mileage and fuel economy.
  • yelpYELP – Find any type of restaurant, attraction, or even a mechanic based on category and location.  Read reviews and see pictures from other users.
  • tripitTRIPIT – Tripit take all your travel plans and confirmation emails (hotel and car reservations, for example) and creates a neat itinerary saved in one place.
  • RV ParkyRV PARKY – RV PARKS AND MORE – Find RV parks, campgrounds and more with the RV Parky app.  It also shows what amenities are at each site such as electricity, water, picnic tables, price, etc.
  • butuBUTU – Unfortunately the app hasn’t been updated in awhile (I almost didn’t put it on the list), but I like how you just tell it where you are and it will suggest where you should go and what you should see.
  • maps.meMAPS.ME – Offline maps.  Download the map of your destination, and then use it when you don’t have wifi or data access.
online road trippers

PEOPLE ON TWITTER

Do you like knowing where people are and what they’re doing every second of every day? Follow these people on Twitter then. Oh, and there are some brands that give good travel information on this list, too.
Mentioned in the sections above:
@roadtrippers
@nomadicmatt
@RickGriffin
@wanderingearl
@worldofwlust
Food:
@RoadtripsFoodie
@tvfoodmaps
YouTube Travel Vloggers:
@funforlouis
@mrbenbrown
Other:
@MikesRoadTrip
@usatourismboard
@usatodaytravel
@worldnomads
@bourdain
@when_in_roams
@tripoto
@MatadorNetwork

PEOPLE ON INSTAGRAM

Fun Instagram accounts that deal with travel (in no particular order). Get inspired.  These photos are sweeeeeeeet!
 http://instagram.com/
  • philstockbridge
  • chrisburkard
  • jordanherschel
  • kev_alvarez
  • thesamgraves
  • californiathroughmylens
  • funforlouis
  • mrbenbrown
  • when_in_roams
  • worldwanderlust
  • abekislevitz
  • deeque_
  • jodyjohnston
  • mike_pgregory
  • talking_tree
  • matadornetwork
  • youngadventuress
miscellaneous road trip tips

MISCELLANEOUS: This section is for the resources that don’t really fit in the other categories.

TV FOOD MAPS

http://www.tvfoodmaps.com

Do you like watching those food travel shows? Want to visit those same restaurants?  TV Food Maps has put together a website that lists every restaurant organized by show.  You can also explore by state or location and create your own road trip!  A great resource for the serious foodie.

ROAD FOOD

http://www.roadfood.com

Just looking for good places to eat on the road?  Road Food helps you find great local restaurants nearby.  My favorite section is the Self-Guided Eating Tours.

———

And that’s it!

The Ultimate Road Trip Planner Internet Resource Guide.  As I mentioned above, I will continue to edit this list as I find more or better resources.

If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments section below. If you already use some of these resources, I’d love to know which ones. If you hate any of these resources or just want to complain, also feel free to let me know in the comments section below.

Go trip yourself!

-Road Trip Randy

Salton Sea Road Trip: 4 Things you Absolutely, Undoubtedly, No-Question-About-It, Must See at Salton Sea Before You DIE

Salton Sea Road Trip: 4 Things you Absolutely, Undoubtedly, No-Question-About-It, Must See at Salton Sea Before You DIE!!

Wasn’t that such a Buzzfeed-esque/clickbait title? I feel like I could have perhaps pushed it a little further by adding “OMG!” or “…You won’t believe #4!”

Anyway, if you don’t want to read about my Salton Sea road trip, just watch my video of it here.  It’s short, upbeat, and gives you the gist of things:

That’s all.  Thanks for reading.

Just kidding.  I guess since you’re still reading you want to know the four things you absolutely, undoubtedly, no-question-about-it, must see at Salton Sea before you die.

Salton Sea is about three hours southeast of Los Angeles and used to be a top vacation destination for Californians.  Over time, the sea has slowly shrunk, and died, turning the once pristine beach community into a smelly ghost town.

1.  The Big, Smelly, Great Sea

The shrinking sea that smells like rotten eggs is definitely a must.  Different locations have different amenities.  If you go to the Salton Sea Recreation Area ($5) you’ll see a nice-looking beach*, with beautiful picnic tables and a visitor center.  You’ll also see piles of dead fish.  Or a fish on a stick!

*only from afar

Salton Sea Recreation Area

Salton sea palm trees

Salton Sea dead fish

If you go to Bombay Beach (free), however, you’ll first enter a town where you’re unsure if there’s anyone left living there (there are).  It’s tiny, but fascinating.  A few houses and trailers are in okay condition, while others are completely abandoned and falling apart.  The beach itself follows the latter. Rusted machinery, a pier, and random furniture litter the shoreline in each direction.

Salton Sea Bombay Beach

Salton Sea Bombay Beach 1

Salton Sea Bombay Beach 4

Salton Sea Bombay Beach 3

Salton Sea Bombay Beach 5

salton sea history

2.  Niland

If you follow the coast of the sea down to the southern tip, you’ll find the city of Niland.  Niland is a town that also looks like it is abandoned, yet isn’t.  It takes about 30 seconds to pass through, and there’s a gas station, a motel, a restaurant, and a broken pay phone.  We tried to stay at the motel, but there was no answer when we arrived.  Luckily, the restaurant we tried for lunch not only answered, but they were serving lunch until 2pm, and provided edible food.

Salton Sea niland cafe

Salton Sea niland pay phone

3.  Slab City/East Jesus

If you love hippies in the desert making art out of junk, you’ll love this place! The hippies also provide free tours in East Jesus.  Definitely go there.  The art is literally made out of junk.  I wasn’t being rude.  The rest of Slab City is unique too, as I was never quite sure what I was looking at.  Again, you’ll find trailers, “homes,”  art installations, and communal gathering areas for those individuals who enjoy living off the grid.

Salton Sea East Jesus 6

Salton Sea East Jesus 5

Salton Sea East Jesus 4

Salton Sea East Jesus 3

Salton Sea East Jesus 2

Salton Sea East Jesus 1

4.  Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain is probably the most popular stop for people visiting Salton Sea.  It’s, in my opinion, the most impressive piece of work in this area as it was created by one man, Leonard Knight.  Salvation Mountain is a hill that’s been painted in colorful Bible verses and Christian sayings.  There are rooms, passageways, stairs, and painted cars and trucks to explore.  Knight died a few years ago, but many people volunteer to keep the site from turning into the rest of the area.

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain

Although my Salton Sea road trip was an enjoyable one and I find the abandoned/post-apocalyptic theme of the area fascinating, it was also kind of depressing to see.  Everything is dead or dying, and you’re essentially driving through a barren wasteland.  The remains of what used to be an exuberant and thriving community are found everywhere.  You can find homes that still have food in the pantry as though, one day, everyone rushed out and left for good.

empty road

To end on a less depressing note, I might be getting a new camera lens soon.  And last night, I ate six slices of pizza.

Go trip yourself!