I recently stuffed my pack, grabbed my walking stick, and headed out on the open trail. Okay, so the pack was more like four suitcases, the walking stick more like a Toyota Corolla, and the open trail more like northbound I-95. Embellishments aside, whatever my traveling accoutrements may be, I am always eager to leave the comforts (or confinements) of home for a new adventure.
Speaking of accoutrements...
Technology is often shunned by the die hard outdoors-man, opting for open fire and spears to roast his weenies rather than a propane grill. I am in complete favor of this passion for primal authenticity, but I have recently developed a weakness. I am unable to part with my technologically addictive smartphone. We are one in the in same. Inseparable, even. So it stands to reason that my phone accompanies me on all my expeditions.
But why can't my enthusiasm for adventure and my iPhone dependence live in harmony?
They can, here's how...
It has taken time and experimentation to find just the right mix for myself. If you're having a little trouble finding what works for you take a gander at my list of apps that are perfect for the dandy explorer (and most of them are FREE!):
AllTrails - FREE Buy it here!
This handy tool tells me the location of the nearest trails based on my current location. It provides detailed information such as difficulty, distance, and type of trail (walking, hiking, cycling). I can even save my favorite trails, make notes, and time my progress for later reference. There's even a version for skiers, AllSnow.
CampRecipes - FREE Buy it here!
Choose from dozens of recipe options, all divided up by type of meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner), cooking method (grill, foil, dutch oven, etc), or ingredients. Mark your favorites and get helpful tips for cooking delectable meals at your campsite.
tideApp - FREE Buy it here!
Its helpful to know exactly when high tide will be approaching as I pick out the perfect spot to lay my beach towel. This app lets me know the tide cycle for any beach in the US, keeping me from waking up all wet from my sun-induced naps.
Pro Animal Calls - $1.99 Buy it here!
Making friends with woodland creatures is easy thanks to this guy! It features a wide range of animal calls, perfect for the avid hunter, or mischievous scout. Beware, the "hurt pup" call definitely caught me off guard.
SkyView Free - Free Buy it here!
In the free version of this app you can view the stars and their position by day or night. The perfect guide for my astronomical hikes, SkyView depicts the constellations and provides factoids about the stars that create them.
USTrees - $.99 Buy it here!
Is that Japanese Maple or a Norwegian Maple? What does an Osage Orange look like? All my coniferous and deciduous answers are here! Don't know what I'm looking at? I can use the characteristics portion to help identify my leafy friends.
Commander Compass Lite - Free Buy it here!
Even with my vast orienteering experience (i have the merit badge to prove it) I can get turned around pretty easily. Not just a compass, this app means serious business. Honestly, most of it's features are way over my head, but it's probably the butchest looking thing on the list.
Kipper Millsap: Vacationing Non-Rules to Live By.
This leads to Non-Rule #2: No schedule. This can be difficult since vacations and holidays usually have a starting and ending point, but if I can allow myself to take my time and enjoy each moment along the way I have a much more relaxed trip. It is a vacation after all, and I deserve a little relaxing. I even get more accomplished when I'm not worried about how much I'm accomplishing. Stressing about a schedule takes a lot of time and energy.
And finally, Non-Rule #3: Do something new. I'm all about having "the usual" when I go to a restaurant, so I understand the desire to stick with what's comfortable. But life is for living, and I'm doing myself a HUGE disservice by not exploring what the world has out there. Never be afraid to ask the locals questions about the area. Some of the best adventures I've ever had have been the ones unplanned, when I was flying by the seat of my pants, without a clue as to what might happen.
Capt. Kipper - Bear Lake, NC - March, 2011