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I'm a solo travel enthusiast who began traveling in my thirties. Now, not quite still in my thirties, my goal is to encourage other women to get out and explore. For the more adventurous, I'm also a backpacking and hiking guide helping adults learn to explore our backyard of NC, TN and VA. Although not quite there yet, my next goals are mountain biking and rock climbing.
I didn't see pictures of people that looked like me when I started traveling and backpacking. All I saw were beautiful twenty-somethings in exotic locations. There were no pictures of women in their thirties or forties, overweight but active, out there traveling. After a few trips, I realized the reality is that more actual travelers looked like me than the models. You can stay in hotels or go on tours solo, you're not destined to stay in hostels and journey on foot if you don't want to.
Life is full of adventure. No one "missed their opportunity". It's always a good time to start.
Our last day on the VA Triple Crown. Heading back to our cars. Once we emerged from the woods it was meadow after meadow after meadow. Which is usually nice unless it's 95 degrees. If you turn around after the last meadow, you can see Dragon's Tooth poking up from the top of the mountain behind you. Just zoom in on the photo.
One year later and we're back doing the Virginia Triple Crown. McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs, and Dragon Tooth. Day 1 - McAfee Knob for "that" photo. If you walk further down, the overlook, you can see Roanoke in the distance. And, of course, everyone enjoys checking out the ridgeline they'll be hiking the next day to Tinker Cliffs.
I'm making it my mission to explore more of North Carolina's State Parks, and Cliffs of the Neuse was next on my list. It's a small, beautiful, peaceful park. Even though it has its namesake cliffs (one at 90 feet above the Neuse River), it's surprisingly flat. Hikers of all levels will enjoy the well-manicured trails. And the campground had a good crowd, but it wasn't completely full. The spots were well spaced, and the campers I spoke to said it was quiet. You can spend a few hours, or an entire day at the park. It's a little off the beaten path which means it's not crowded. For summer, the 11 acre lake looked like a great place to cool off. Perfect for swimming or boating. I'll definitely be coming back. It's only 1.5 hours from the Raleigh-Durham area - what's not to love about that? https://explorationsolo.com/cliffs-of-the-neuse-state-park-nc/
I'm excited to share my post on the Top Things to do in Kinston, NC. I enjoyed by time in the town and learned a few things about how to explore NC's small towns. Many businesses are closed on Sundays and Mondays including museums. A few may also open once a week. Most keep their hours updated on social media (usually right here on Facebook). Be sure to check with the business directly before you head out. Save all the fun, free, outdoor things to do for these days and you'll have a great time. Just 1.75 hours from Raleigh-Durham, it's perfect for a day trip, or a lazy overnight when you want to get away from it all. You can also stay in Kinston and explore nearby areas like Cliffs of the Neuse State Park. It just takes a little more preparation to make sure you've timed your trip to enjoy the places you want to see. Come visit Kinston. I'm excited to share my post on the Top Things to do in Kinston, NC. I enjoyed my time in the town and learned a few things about how to explore NC's small towns.
I was surprised by all the art in Kinston, NC. There were murals throughout downtown, small installations along Pearson Park, and then Thomas Sayre's Flue Earth casting. I've been a Thomas Sayre fan for a while, but somehow missed this incredible piece of art. The murals are also so colorful and well done. It's such a great downtown to explore, even on days when many businesses are closed.
I had a great time exploring Neuseway Nature Park in Kinston, NC. It was my home base for the night. At $10/night for a tent spot (with shower!), you can't go wrong. It's a beautiful place for a peaceful night. Kids will love the Exchange Nature Center and Ellis Planetarium. There's also a nice playground, an old train, and tons of space to run around. Check the hours of operation for the Planetarium and Exchange Nature Center before heading out. Many places in Kinston are closed Sundays and Mondays. The park itself is open every day. If you want to come and camp, just stop by site 18 to check in with the host, Ron. RVs should call ahead, there aren't many spots and they can fill, but tent campers should have space.
Oconee SC is home to Oconnee State park which has part of the 77 mile Foothills trail. I had a blast hiking that last April. But I didn’t get to visit the town. It’s so much fun to check out my friend Stuck On The Go’s experience touring the area and finding so many great things to do and see (and I’ve heard some awesome food too). Check it out!
Are your hiking and backpacking apps getting a little stale? Looking for some new and exciting ideas that won't break the bank? I've highlighted my favorite hiking and backpacking apps. All but one have free options. While I do recommend choosing your favorite navigation app and paying for the subscription, you'd be surprised at how far you can get with the free services. We've got hiking apps, backpacking apps, navigation apps, safety apps, and fun apps. Take a look and be inspired. https://explorationsolo.com/best-hiking-and-backpacking-apps/
Wait --- don't skip -- I know it's a shoe, but there's a story here. A story about traveling. A story about having to pack shoes. Like real shoes. 👠 I was asked to go on a business trip. First one in 2 years (maybe 3 - time is wonky). And it hits me I have to wear nice clothes. Not "I'm going to the grocery store", but actual, "I'm representing a company and need to wear real business clothes". Then I have the thought that maybe I should try on my pants, because, you know, it's been 2 years. That's when I realize my pants were hemmed for heels. C.R.A.P. 🙀 I gotta pack shoes. Real shoes. With heels. ARGH. Surprisingly my stilettos were more comfortable than the sandal wedges. So I guess figuring out which shoes work is part of the "new normal" people keep talking about. 🤷♀️ But the worst part was, after walking around like a clumsy baby giraffe, I switched to sneakers to check out the city. Right away I'm tripping myself, doing that weird shuffle step, and overall just walking weird because the ground is not where my feet think it is. This is gonna continue to be an interesting ride.
I love my new @zoleoinc hat and buff. Thanks to Road Post for the gift. I probably should have worn the hat BEFORE I got all sunburned 😂 If you’re heading into the backcountry silo, a satellite communication device should be a consideration. In many places phones don’t work. Yes it’s extra weight, but it’s as essential as that first aid kit. You can read more about satellite devices on the blog at explorationsolo.com #backpacking #zoleo #backpackinggear #backpackinglife #explorationsolo
Are you looking for some great apps for your next adventure? I've compiled a list of my favorite FREE travel apps. My best recommendation is to load the app BEFORE you travel and play around with it. My second recommendation is to create a folder and add all the apps for your trip in it. This makes it easier to find what you're looking for on the fly. While there are tons of apps, these are a few faves and can be used as inspiration to make your next trip a little less stress and a lot more fun. https://explorationsolo.com/top-free-travel-apps/