How To Find Adventures.

Monday, July 27, 2015
I get asked quite frequently how I find the places I venture off to.

My adventure style is thinking outside the box: find places that very few people know about....

Here's my process:

My main weapon of choice is social media. 

Pinterest is an awesome place to get ideas for where to eat in a new city, popular places to visit, etc.
Just type in the name of the state/town you want to visit and you'll be overwhelmed with ideas!

But when I really want to discover a hidden, quiet place.... I resort to my Instagram Fam.

Yup. I'd say this is where I find a solid 75% of my adventures.
I find and connect with popular photographers in my area on Instagram -- they always know the good spots ;)
But I also look under popular tourism hashtags on Instagram. #VisitNC is a great one for North Carolina, and #DiscoverSC is awesome for South Carolina. Scroll through the photos found under these hashtags to see what everyone else is posting...find a cool photo, make a new friend & ask the owner where they took it...then off you go!

Through Instagram and Pinterest I've found a Pub Cycle in Asheville, several Key West hideouts, and my favorite find,  Botany Bay.

While social media is definitely a tool us adventure junkies are lucky to have, I must tell you, never underestimate the power of a good ol' fashion map.

One of the first things we purchased when we moved down here.
A giant map.

This picture is something you'll see on daily basis in our apartment. Me wearing the same sweats every day, unbrushed hair, and staring at this map planning my next adventure.

What I look for are 'green' areas on a map. That indicates a park or a wildlife area. I zoom in to get the name, plug it into a GPS, and go.

Very wild and unplanned, but you know what?
Take it from a seasoned traveler; the best trips are always unplanned.

Like this sunflower field we found this past weekend. All I did was google 'Sunflowers SC' and this wildlife management area popped up. In the middle of nowhere, South Carolina. Hardly anyone was there besides for a few locals just fishing.

I don't have any major trips coming up, so the blog might be a little quiet. Which feels bizarre, but It's my norm for the Summer time. Did you know Summer is the most expensive time of the year for flights/hotels? Because of the perfect weather and school vacation. Knowing this, I try to stick to local road trips to get my adventure fix during May-August. But as soon as Fall and Winter roll around....See ya!

Especially around My Birthday.

Did you know the first week of December is the cheapest week out of the entire year to travel? Because it's nicely wedged between Thanksgiving and Christmas - Everyone's so busy with holiday planning and shopping, the last thing on their mind is taking vacations.
I'm talking rows to yourself on the plane and no lines at Disney Land.
I knew hospitality school in Las Vegas would pay off someday.


PS. Mitch and I started a natural-health based instagram account! Our name is @evolve2health.
Our goal is to open your eyes to things you probably never knew about the American diet.
We also throw in a few mental health tricks here and there.
I love posting on it, I just shared our 'earthing' hike the other day which was so cool.
Be sure to check it out!

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.

New Hampshire

Wednesday, July 8, 2015
The little granite state of New Hampshire nestled way up in the Northeast, will forever hold a place in my heart. A big place. It's where I morphed from a child to an adult, met some of the most amazing people, where I graduated college, and most importantly where I met my husband.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking how crazy it is that I once called that place home. Although it's only been a little over 2 years, it feels like I never lived there at all. It was the longest chapter of my life yet in hindsight, the shortest. It went by so fast- it feels like it was but a beautiful dream...

Maybe it's because my soul was born in the Midwest/South. As soon as I moved to South Carolina I instantly recognized the sounds, the smells, the weather. I felt at home again, like I picked up right where I left off back in '98 when I left Southern Indiana to move to New England.

I get jealous of people who were born and raised in one place and know exactly where their home is. People who have their entire family in one town and have a solid routine. But then, they've never experienced new places and different faces. Different landscapes, different weather, wilder sunsets, interesting animals and accents...and then the jealousy dissolves into gratitude. This gypsy life of mine, it's so full.

My week in New Hampshire was no different than my life as a whole. I spent every day in a different part of the state. Sometimes I was in the mountains eating wild blueberries and playing with dwarf ponies..

... other times I was at my brother's place near the coast visiting UNH and playing on a farm

Most of the time, though, you could find me in a quiet lake doing my favorite Summer activity:

When I lived up there, my family and I used to be out in the boats every single weekend. Fishing, exploring, you name it. We had fishing competitions and sat in the middle of a lake during thunderstorms. Out of all the places I've been, it's with ease that I say New Hampshire is the best place to kayak.
So many peaceful, hidden lakes.
My personal favorite is Clough State Park in Weare, NH.

Another favorite spot that's more commercialized yet still stunning is Lake Massabesic in Manchester, NH.
It's the city's water supply so you must be careful not to dip your toes in the water!
It provides classic New England views everywhere you look.

This was my first time experiencing visiting 'home' after a long period of know, sleeping in your old bed, seeing your old pets... it was emotional. Yet fulfilling to look back and know I survived those crazy years of growing up. Of course, what would a visit to mom's be without going through old photos.

My mornings were spent roaming around the backyard with two cats following close behind me, collecting fresh vegetables for breakfast straight from my mom's garden in that bright New Hampshire sun.

Afternoons were spent chasing rainbows (Thanks Shane!) and going on quiet bike rides.

I even surprisingly found a moment of silence to enjoy my last sunset in town..

It was an amazing trip. Since leaving NH and now returning after a couple of years, I see that place through a totally different lens. (All pun intended)
It's beautiful. It's different. It is it's own little world that I feel lucky to have once called home.

One day I hope I'll live within driving distance of my family.
But until then, New Hampshire makes a pretty sweet Summer vacation spot.

And most importantly, to all of my friends I didn't get to see-- please accept my deepest apology. You know I'm a free spirit; it's hard to wrangle me down. I also failed miserably at estimating how much time I would need up there. Know that you always have a home in the South with a free tour guide.
And, let's be honest, you know I'll be back soon.

In the meantime, I've got storms to chase and juicy peaches to eat!

Hi Carolina. I missed you.

Home, sweet temporary Home.


4th of July

Monday, July 6, 2015
They say as you age, time starts to fly by faster and faster with each passing year.

Guys, it's true.

Did last week even happen? I don't know. It was that fast. I almost feel like it was just a wild dream I had during a Sunday evening nap. 

If you follow me on Instagram (@freespiritfun1), you know I just got back from New Hampshire. I lived in that cold, green state for 15 years. I have a lot of wonderful friends there, and most importantly my mom and brother. It was an eye opening trip and I plan on writing a separate post on that later this week :)

I spent my 4th of July holiday there and it was awesome. I finally taught myself how to do the cool sparkler photos and let's just say it got wild. My brother was the creative genius behind the majority of these photos....he came up with some crazy good ideas for poses!
Like for instance, a cat:

Or a rainbow:

And best of all, a wizard battle!

These photos really aren't as hard as they look, and best of all, they require little to no editing.
I have a Canon Rebel t3i and to create these photos I just needed a good tripod and creative minds.

If you're using a canon, here's some tips:

1. Use the TV mode on Manual Focus. With this, you can adjust the shutter speed and not worry about the camera not taking a photo because it can't focus on anything in the dark. As for shutter speed, it depends on what you're doing. For a simple star or heart, use 5 seconds. For an epic wizard battle, use 15.

2. TRIPOD. This isn't actually a necessity, but with it you'll be guaranteed to get the sharpest flames.

3. Buy a LOT of sparklers. You'll go through them quick trying to get the perfect photo

I hope you had a fun 4th! I'll be back with lots of pictures of the Granite State

And let me know in the comments below if you have any questions about how to take these photos!
I'd love to help
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