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offthebeatenpath

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Testimonial Tuesday: Jasmine + McKenzie

Q: Why did you sign up for your trip? What were you looking to get out of it?

A: McKenzie and I like to plan a trip once a year - this year, we wanted a weekend trip for our birthdays. We began looking at locations (Seattle, Boston, etc.) and couldn’t seem to fit in everything we wanted with the budget we had in mind. We also work pretty stressful jobs and just didn’t have the time to truly plan out a trip. McKenzie heard about Pack Up + Go and, after looking at the website and reading testimonials, we decided to take the leap on a surprise trip!  

Q: Did you have hesitations about taking a surprise trip? Were you nervous?

A: The only hesitation was possibly going somewhere we didn’t really want to go to. We talked about it and realized that as long as the hotel was great and we had restaurants to eat at, we would be able to make any place work.

Q: Where did you guess you were going to travel? Were you surprised by the destination?

A: When we first received the forecast, we immediately guessed New Orleans or the East Coast. One recommendation, don’t do what I did and search forecasts - after I did that, I eventually guessed Philadelphia so I wasn’t as surprised by the location once we opened the envelope (we still waited to open at the airport).          

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Q: Upon discovery of your destination, what were some perceptions about your city prior to the trip?

A: My dad is from Philly, so I already knew the city from my family’s point of view. It had been years since I had been back so I was excited to see the city from a tourist perspective. McKenzie was excited because Philly wasn’t a city that she would’ve planned to go visit. 

Q: What made the trip feel unique and tailored to you?

A: From the first confirmation email to the packet of information, and the bottle of champagne waiting in the hotel, the entire trip felt tailored to us. We really felt that Pack Up + Go took all of our likes and wants into consideration with the activity and restaurant suggestions. Lillian was so responsive via email and everything was perfect!

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Q: What did you like most about your travel accommodations?

A: I don’t know if there is one specific favorite! We love to eat and the restaurant suggestions were on the money. We did love the suggestions from the local as well which gave us another perspective of the city. 

Q: What was your favorite experience that we recommended for you?

A: We had breakfast at the restaurant attached to the hotel, Urban Farmer, and it was amazing! Such a great breakfast to start out the day. We also did all of the Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, etc. activities. As for cheese-steaks, we didn’t want to Uber to Pat or Geno’s so we went to Sonny’s which was recommended by folks we asked along the way. Delicious! 

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Q: If you could do the trip over again what would you do differently?

A: I would recommend getting folks to the destination early on the first day and leaving earlier on the last day. We had so much fun the first two days that we were quite exhausted come the last day and ended up waiting at the hotel until we could head to the airport!

Q: What did you discover on your own (not on your itinerary) in your destination that you feel is shareworthy?

A: We had breakfast at the restaurant attached to the hotel, Urban Farmer, and it was amazing! Such a great breakfast to start out the day. We also did all of the Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, etc. activities. As for cheese-steaks, we didn’t want to Uber to Pat or Geno’s so we went to Sonny’s which was recommended by folks we asked along the way. Delicious!

Q: What was your favorite part of your trip?

A: Not having to plan a single thing and having an amazing experience when we got to our final destination. The amount of detail Pack Up + Go put into our trip didn’t go unnoticed!

Q: What did you learn on your trip, or from your trip?

A: I learned to keep an open mind about everything! I already knew Philly from my family but, after my trip, I have a completely different perspective on the city. 

Q: How would you describe Pack Up + Go and your experience to your friends and family?

A: It is probably one of the best travel experiences I’ve ever had! I would recommend everyone book a trip with Pack Up + Go!    

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Q: What would you say to someone who is hesitant to go on a surprise getaway

A: Be open-minded! You don’t know what gems you will find in the city they send to you and as long as you have a comfy bed and good food, you can make anything work for three days! 

Sign up today to experience your own tourist moment: http://bit.ly/2gpxuKt

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Into the Great Wild Open: California’s Yucca Valley

by Jen Lucas, Pack Up + Go Contributor

As I made the decision to move back east after a 12-year stint in Southern California, I knew I had to make one of my last trips to the Yucca Valley area. I’ve always felt at peace in the desert and felt the calling to visit several Mojave Desert landmarks before returning to to my roots.

We left Orange County California early one morning and made the 2-hour drive inland to the Yucca Valley area toward our home for the evening, the Pioneertown Motel. In 1946, Pioneertown was founded by a group of Hollywood investors, including actors Roy Rogers and Gene Autry.

Directly in front of Pioneertown is the famed restaurant and music venue, Pappy & Harriet’s. A famous pit stop for those en route to the Coachella Music Festival, Pappy & Harriet’s has hosted some of the greatest musicians, including Robert Plant and Paul McCartney.

After a peaceful night’s sleep, we awoke and had time until our sound bath appointment at the Integratron, so we walked the grounds of Pioneertown, down “Mane Street,” to take some pictures. Amidst the Joshua trees, California’s cactus, and dusty desert floor, we stumbled across an older gentleman who actually lived in one of the buildings. Once we mentioned our day included the Integratron, I think he understood our thirst for the not-so-conventional adventure the Mojave had to offer. His name was Rick, also known as Grampz, and he was well-known in the area, as he’s called Pioneertown home for 20 years. He told us about all of the literal gems the desert had to offer including Giant Rock, which is the largest free standing boulder in the world, as well as his good buddy Garth’s place, Boulder Gardens. Since we had an early appointment at the Integratron and no reason to rush home, we decided to continue our journey based on the insider information from our new friend Rick.

We said goodbye to Pioneertown, out to do our best at finding the Integratron, about 15 miles away in Landers, California.

The history behind this amazing structure goes back to the late 1950s, when George Van Tassel claims extra-terrestrials from the planet Venus instructed him on where exactly to place the building and how to construct it. It’s said the structure was built on an intersection of powerful geomagnetic forces that concentrate and amplify the earth’s magnetic field. The dome-shaped building does not contain metal, a single nail or screw to avoid interference with the conductive properties. As a result, the body’s cells are regenerated due to the electromagnetic frequency, rejuvenating those participating in the sound bath, a claim I can indeed vouch for.

There was no doubt of the immediate calming effect of the property, complete with a “hammock village” where people can relax while waiting for their sound bath appointments. Also located on the property is a well for guests to hydrate from the natural water that runs underneath where several sources converge amongst the already powerfully charged earth. Be sure to bring a bottle and hydrate!

After some quality hammock time under the desert sun, it was time for our sound bath. Crystal bowls, all different sizes and tunes typically made of pure quartz crystal, are used and played to activate each of the chakras in your body.

The bowls were played for about an hour and my friend and I, in the most relaxed state ever, decided to chill and drink more of the electrically charged water before heading onto our next stop, Rick’s buddy Garth’s Boulder Gardens, which he named God’s Way Love.

Heading down Gamma Gulch Road, we were surprised to see a sign for God’s Way Love but understood quickly how it was less of a secret spot and more of a welcomed gathering spot. Once on the narrow dirt road, it was clear that this is literally off the beaten path as we ascended up for several miles past boulder formations of all shapes and sizes until we reached what we believed to be the main area. Being total strangers, in a normal situation you might feel as though you are trespassing. However, this was not one of those times. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to visit the land and appreciate it’s beauty.

Garth had his entourage—some permanent, some who stay for a short time and do their part to help the community. All welcomed us with open arms. There was a small outdoor kitchen area, couches, grand piano, meditation gardens and hot tub that’s he’s built in between two large rocks. Garth keeps his venture funded by offering his land to various groups for yoga retreats, camping trips, etc., and people are encouraged to leave donations when leaving the property.  After a live jam session and pure kindness we received from the group, we didn’t blink an eye at contributing to fund this desert oasis and keeping it’s beautiful people thriving.

Unfortunately, it was time to head into the sunset (literally) towards the Pacific with a quick stop in Desert Hot Springs to enjoy the natural hot springs pools, relax the muscles and clean off the desert dust. It was the perfect way to end these two amazing days, jam-packed with random adventure and an even greater appreciation for the great wild open desert.

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