My First Trip To The Upper Left

A city built on top of a city surrounded by water and formerly known as the Queen City of the Pacific Northwest and the Gateway to Alaska is where I spent a long weekend last week.

Seattle was wicked cool, and worth the agonizing plane ride…kinda. The weather was gorgeous, sun shining for half the day and a cool haze for the remainder. It sprinkled a few times and I saw snow while hiking up Mt. Tiger!

On Friday I hiked it up to Kerry Park for one of the best views of the cityscape, ate BBQ inside the armory at the Seattle Center, walked through Sculpture Park, and finished the evening with a drink and an old friend at The Edgewater Hotel that has a view like no other. Sit in the lobby and order a drink during happy hour, you won’t be sorry.

Kerry Park, Seattle
Kerry Park

Saturday started at Pike Place Market with rows of fresh flowers, cheese churning across the street at Beechers and the longest Starbucks line you’ll ever see for convenient coffee.   The afternoon was filled with a hidden lighthouse and a bike ride down the boardwalk at Alki Beach with another spectacular view of the cityscape and futuristic Space Needle.

Alki Beach
Alki Beach

I got an early start on the day Sunday with a long hike up Mt. Tiger with the same old friend and her husband. But first, we made a pitstop at Caffe Ladro and got one of the best damn cups of coffee, ever. I went for round two on Monday morning, too.

Mt. Tiger, Seattle
Mt. Tiger

After the mountain whooped our asses (literally) and we refueled at a local Mediterranean eatery, they dropped me off at my hotel and I wandered down to Pioneer Square where I hopped on Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour. It came recommended and I too highly recommend it if you find yourself in Seattle.

Seattle is a city built on top of a city because of a massive fire and unstable (very wet) ground. This tour takes you down to the basement of Seattle where you can walk the old roads and learn the city’s history, like how The Emerald City was actually built by a woman and her…”seamstress” business.

I ate dinner at Petite Toulouse and got the spicy shrimp, homemade andouille and crawfish onto cheesy grits. The beignets are not like the ones you find in NOLA but they are at least the right shape. Also, STOP serving them with coffee sauce. I need raspberry!

Monday morning started the same way, at Caffe Ladro with The Perfect Bar for breakfast. After a semi-lazy morning, I hit up MoPop and got lost in its Prince, Fantasy, and Horror Fiction exhibits. Two hours later it was time to head back to the hotel and call an Uber to the airport.

The greenery and fresh air were exactly what I needed and I’m looking forward to more adventures this year. When I go back to Seattle, what should I check out next?

Everything you have ever wanted, is sitting on the other side of fear. (10).png


Cubbyhole Camping in Joshua Tree for National Park Week

Did you know that this week is National Park week? To celebrate the Hubs and I rented an AirBnB in Joshua Tree. A small teardrop camper that had made its roots in the middle of the desert, on purpose.

You could say, we caravanned our way into National Park week like bosses. Is that too cheesy? #longhairdontcare

For the record, I’ve never been to the desert or Joshua Tree and didn’t know that there was actually tree named Joshua, hence it’s namesake. So this is the Tree, for any other fellow non in the know people, haha.


The Hubs and I packed up his truck and our puppies Saturday morning. My husband has a nasty habit of OVER packing. The hours before go-time is peppered with his worried phrase, “what if we need this?”

I err on the side of minimalism, last November I traveled to Buffalo in the middle of winter with one carryon for 4 days. So I usually ignore the mountain of stuff growing when the Hubs is in charge of packing, hahaha.

The cubbyhole was located just outside Joshua Tree National Park and gave you the right amount of seclusion in the desert vibe, with the reassurance civilization wasn’t too far away, just had to make it down a dirt road.

I would highly recommend Leafe and Katherine as an AirBnB host, they are amazing people with some amazing desert detours, which happens to also be their Instagram account.

Here are some of the photos from our trip:

How cool is showering outdoors?!

The desert is definitely its own kind of beauty. We went to escape the noise of Orange County and lose connection with our cell phones, next time we will hit up the trails and hike our hearts out.

Cultivate it.

Three Sisters Waterfalls Hike

The hike down the canyon into the valley was serene. A canopy of purple-flowered shrubs lined a good 1/4 to 1/2 mile of the trail and could even here bumblebees buzzing around the blooms. Spring has officially arrived in Southern California.

We got to the trailhead at about 8:30 A.M. and it felt more crowded on our trek back up at 11 A.M. Earlier is always better in my book.

The last 5 miles before pulling into the trailhead parking lot is a dirt road and there are well-kept porta-johns, I mention because I was surprised! California has had an average rainy season this year and the water levels in mid-April were full and flowing.

All Three Sisters were gorgeous. Keep in mind during the hotter months there’s very little shade on this hike and it’s a good steep hike back to the car. I wouldn’t bring my dogs because the risk of overheating is high, even though I’m sure they’d scale the rocks better than me.

AllTrails suggests to only use this hike from October to April and is recommended for very experienced adventurers, which I would agree with as the hike back up the canyon SUCKS. lol

Here are some of the photos from this weekend’s adventure.


Planning these little weekend trips have been a real blessing to my marriage. We both work our asses off and forget to enjoy each other sometimes, enjoying the sounds of nature has been a breath of fresh air, for reals.

So I encourage you to plan a little getaway, doesn’t have to be far (or expensive). Mother Nature has a lot to offer, so go take a hike. 🙂

Cultivate it.

RamblinRandol is about finding yourself and learning to love yourself again. Life is real and raw, there’s no room for perfection here. If you’d like to join the Hot Mess Express tribe where we discuss the daily struggle and bring real life to light, come hang out in my new Facebook group, here. 


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Hike To Devil’s Punch Bowl

The hike to Devil’s Punch Bowl was gorgeous once you got down into the valley. Opting outside has become a new favorite hobby of mine, and it’s probably because the weather here in Southern California basically screams for you to be outside as frequently as possible.

It was crowded once we got to the falls, but I still enjoyed the scenery (and people watching opportunities). The water was freezing and even though it was hotter than Hades I didn’t feel like jumping in, wasn’t in the mood for soggy underwear.

Cedar Creek Falls Trail is an out and back trail with the Devil’s Punch Bowl as its halfway point. Trip Advisor ranks it as the number two hike for the Cleveland National Forest, which means Hubs and I will be hiking No. 1 trail sooner rather than later.

All Trails ranks the hike as moderate and strongly suggests no dogs due to the many canine deaths from the lack of no shade. This hike does require a permit.

Here are some of the photos I took from our hike this weekend. Hope you enjoy!

Cedar Creek Falls Trail

Lavender from Cedar Creek Falls Trail

the Hubs hiking Cedar Creek Falls Trail

Cedar Creek Falls Trail

Devil's Punch Bowl - Cedar Creek Falls Trail California

Devil's Punch Bowl - Cedar Creek Falls Trail California

Devil's Punch Bowl - Cedar Creek Falls Trail California

Devil's Punch Bowl - Cedar Creek Falls Trail California

This world is full of beautiful places and things, Don’t miss out on experiencing the best of the best mother nature has to offer. So go take a hike, it’s good for the soul.

RamblinRandol is about finding yourself and learning to love yourself again. Life is real and raw, there’s no room for perfection here. If you’d like to join the Hot Mess Express tribe where we discuss the daily struggle and bring real life to light, come hang out in my new Facebook group, here. 


Be my friend on Instagram @shannahan22  

Black Star Canyon Falls Trail

If you were asked, “what are you best at?” what would your answer be? The first talent of mine that pops front and center in my mind, is my ability to find fun in the cheapest of places.

There are a slew of ways to enjoy life that don’t break the bank. All you need to do is put some effort into it, like taking a hike.

Spending the day outside is free. Some parks will charge a $5 parking fee but those are easy to avoid. Black Star Canyon Falls is a challenge, but worth the sweat and sore biceps.

Go take a hike is probably what you’re thinking, right? How you going to tell me going outside is your big bright idea of free fun, like I didn’t know that already.

Hey-hey, calm down. I just want to reiterate the importance of the sweat and sun combo. I can’t remember who, but someone said there is nothing better for your soul than spending time outside.

But how do you find trails near you? Glad you asked!

I use the AllTrails App to find hikes I want to do every weekend. This weekend we ventured out to the Cleveland National Forest and took on Black Star Falls Canyon hike.

Here’s a few photos from my trip to the top of Black Star Canyon Falls.

We started at 8AM and the sun wasn’t an issue until the last 2 miles back to the car. If you’re going to bring your dog, I’d suggest starting out at 6 or 7AM at the latest because the trail is less crowded.

You are walking on a paved road for quite some time but once you hit the river bed it gets interesting. I personally wouldn’t rate this hike as difficult when it’s dry, but can understand during the rainy season how it could be hard if the riverbed was flowing and cutting down trail options.

With that being said, there is an alternative dirt path that runs parallel to the river bed. My husband and I brought six bottles of water and were fine. OC Parks suggests a gallon of water per mouth.

Once you get to the Black Star Canyon Falls there is a path up and around the cliff to get to the top of the falls. It’s steeper and requires pulling yourself up on rope. The path to the top is up and to the right of the falls.

Despite the buckets of rain Southern California got this year, the falls were reduced to a leaky faucet by the end of August. No matter, I’d still recommend this hike, because who doesn’t enjoy climbing 30 foot boulders?!

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3 Camping Tricks To Upgrade Your Vacay

About to head off into the wilderness and afraid you’re going to forget something essential to living without wifi for a week?

What if we run out of food on day three out of six!?

Don’t panic just yet, with these 3 camping tricks to upgrade your vacay, becoming one with nature is going to be a breeze.

iced over bridge

1. Ditch Ice & Freeze Water Bottles Instead

You’ve planned meals ahead and prepped certain foods you don’t want to be responsible for without electricity, now it’s time to pack the cooler.

Skip picking up bags of ice at the grocery store and freeze bottled water, instead. It’s cheaper and doesn’t make everything in your cooler soaking wet after it has melted. I lost a whole bag of bagels to a pool of melted ice, once. #saddestdayever

I tried out the frozen water bottle idea this past week in Yosemite and was pleasantly surprised when the bottles kept my food cool and stayed frozen for almost 4 days!

2. Pack Lined Work Out Shorts & Save Space

Anyone else out there a last minute packer for long trips?

A few days before a trip I pretend like I’m going to get a head start, but really I know I’m going to do anything possible to avoid packing (like sweeping the entire house INCLUDING moving the furniture) and end up rushing last minute to make sure I have enough clothes to wear.

Due to my procrastination, I think I stumbled upon the best solution for, “what do I bring for clothes?”

I didn’t do laundry in the knick of time, so I was forced to get crafty with what I brought. I’m a firm believer of never having too much underwear, but not wanting to bring a full suitcase, I cut down.

You know those work out shorts that have underwear already a part of its fabric? Well, pack a few of those bad boys and never worry again about running through all your good underwear for the trip.

It was extremely easy to ‘wash off’ with my ‘better than a shower’ wipes, and wear to bed the bottoms I would hike in the next morning and know I had an extra pair of underwear just in case.

3. No Hot Water? No Problem. Instant Coffee Scrub.

I get it, it’s camping and this shouldn’t matter. BUT, after 3 nights and 4 days without running water, ya girl could use a hot bath or at least a face and foot scrub.

Don’t tell my husband, but the camp coffee maker works as a really good sink (don’t worry I washed it out before the next morning’s cup). I put water in the percolator, put it over the camp fire for 10-12 minutes and gave my face a good scrub with hot water.

I poured hot water over my feet and did the same thing, the dirt NEEDED to come out of my toe nails people, quit judging me!

coffee grounds

Camping requires a slower pace and it promotes a simpler vacation with less hassle, well semi-less hassle. Let’s be honest, the stress of bringing enough food for the entire duration of the trip can make anyone go a little nutty.

Regardless, sleeping outside with the crickets and stars forces a sort of slow calmness we all need. If you want coffee in the morning, you have to wait at least 15-20 minutes until the water boils and then another 10 minutes for the hot water to bubble over your coffee grounds.

Your insides will be screaming CAFFEINE NOW, but it’ll probably be the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had.

Camping is a vacation from the noise, hustle and bustle of life and good for the soul to reconnect with life’s most precious moments.

But with these three simple hacks to upgrade your camping experience, your easy vacation just got a little easier.

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7 Mind Blowing Hacks to Conquer Social Media Marketing World

Are you agonizing over how to crush your first Social Media Marketing World (SMMW) conference without looking like a total newb?

Save the crippling nightmares for another day. You can thwart FOMO and prevail to the top of  marketing mountain with these 7 mind blowing hacks to conquer next year’s SMMW.


Did Andy Crestodina blow your mind with his Google Analytics session and you must speak with the Google-meister one last time?

Casually hang around the speaker’s lounge to catch one of your favorites before entering the secret layer.

It’s doesn’t hurt to introduce yourself so there’s a name with a face, you never know. One day you might want him/her to remember who actively engaged with them post-lecture.



There’s a reason this is number two on the list and strategically placed underneath, “hang out by the speaker’s lounge.” Over caffeinate too soon and you might accidentally pounce instead of casually saunter.

Over 8,000 cups of coffee were consumed during Social Media Marketing World 2017 and honestly it’s a miracle nobody was featured in a RedBull commercial for getting their wings, which isn’t required to get you through the three day conference.

Coffee is a gold-colored liquid made from the heavens, but water is nice too. Give your stomach a break and cleanse it with some high quality H20.


Take it from first hand experience, it’s the oldest trick in the book. Yes, you’re in a room filled with 30-60 people, but they are up on a platform looking down on you and can see who is the weakest link.

Sit closer to the middle of the room on an end seat or at dead center. Smile when the session speaker cracks a joke and shake your head at appropriate times to agree or disagree.

These speakers are the cherry on top of our social media and marketing sundae. They will remember the ones who were paying attention or just playing on their phone, we all know the difference.


Quiet Zone for SMMW |

Be prepared to be mentally over stimulated. Social Media Marketing World is a treasure cove for new information, tips and techniques. There is so much information being flung in every direction, it’ll get overwhelming but don’t panic.

Take the necessary time to chill out in between sessions and not talk. There will be plenty of time to network. Explore the San Diego Conference center and you’ll find the perfect rest stop to recharge your batteries.

Check out my favorite chill spots I found during #smmw17


It might seem possible a laptop, notebook, business cards, writing utensils and the snacks you snuck off the table in between sessions will all fit in your regular bag each day, but you’re telling yourself a lie.

After seeing (and being) many conference attendees slumped over to one side trying to lug everything professional they own on one shoulder, you’ll realize what should have been.

Those hipster canvas backpacks were made with a purpose and you can get your arm workout another day.


You will walk 8 miles a day at least and who in the world wants to trek around all day in a pair of shoes with 6-inch heels or a pair of loafers that pinch your pinky toe?

Business on the top, casual footwear with plenty of support on the bottom. Comic Con is held at this venue, it’s HUGE. Walking barefoot is frowned upon by the end of the day.



It’s impressive how many speakers and sponsors were accessible after lectures and throughout the conference. Take advantage of being able to speak with the people at the top of their fields.

Same goes with conference guests. Don’t be afraid to sit down at a table, introduce yourself and initiate a conversation. We’re here to meet others and learn, don’t be shy. There’s plenty of time to go mute after it’s all said and done.

These 7 mind blowing hacks to conquer Social Media Marketing World equal a successful conference. So don’t be foolish, get cracking and purchase your ticket today.

Ramblinrandola place for thoughts to stumble


5 Covert Quiet Zones at San Diego Convention Center You Don’t Want to Miss

Thousands of social media, marketing, public relations and other media professionals attend the three day conference in San Diego for Social Media Marketing World.

So, where in the world can you find some quiet time to recharge your networking batteries? Here are 5 covert quiet zones in the San Diego Convention Center you don’t want to miss.

5. Super Secret Outdoor Patio with Killer Views

patio views from the San Diego Convention Center


Eat lunch and soak in the previous lecture at this quiet patio space not far from where lunch is being served. A boat load of conference guests will be out on the main deck at tables, keep walking.

Follow the patio until there’s no more patio to be found and enjoy.




4. Squishy Grass and Art

art statue in San Diego Conference Center

There’s a large patch of well manicured grass at the far end of the conference center, perfect for giving your barking dogs a rest.

Plus, if you need something else to think about other than social media and marketing, sit for a second and figure out this two-faced statue.



3. Gas Lamp District Balcony

San Diego City SkylineThe conference center is lined with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the bay and city skyline, depending on which wing you find yourself walking.

It can be difficult to tell because the walls are sheets of glass, but there are doors and they open up to narrow balconies. Pick a favorite side and breath in the fresh air. You can even do a quick face time call between lectures and show off your killer view.

2. Bay Boardwalk 

Boardwalk breezeWho doesn’t relax when looking out into the water? Time for reflection? This is the spot you want.

Go down any of the stairs on the back side of the building and head towards the water for a quick bay breeze stroll.

Ocean water and million dollar yachts line the shore to help calm racing minds.

1. Explore, Explore, Explore

Don’t just take my word for it, walk around and find your own secret hideaways. There is nothing wrong with taking a little break from the information overload. Better to be large and in charge than half asleep, drinking coffee at the networking dinner while fumbling through conversation.

Social Media Marketing World is a great experience filled with learning and mingling. Enhance your time with these 5 covert quiet zones at the San Diego Convention Center. You won’t be sorry.

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Media Tour

This past Friday I was able to attend the annual Alliance for Women in Media Dallas/Fort Worth media tour. There were four tour options you could chose from and personally, I think I picked the best one offered.

Our first stop was iHeartMedia. We got a tour of the facilities, got presentations about the promotional, sales and integrated media departments and got to see The Jaggar Morning Show being tapped.

Jaggar Mornings  Photo Cred: Shannon Randol
Jaggar Mornings
Photo Cred: Shannon Randol

The next stop was Asher Media, a small advertising agency that sells commercial space to radio, television and Internet companies for its clients. It’s run by a small group of women who love to crunch numbers.

Fun Fact: Asher Media conducts a survey on which Fall TV shows will make the cut. They get paid to binge watch Netflix so they can go back to their clients and provide them with what TV show their ad should follow. YOU GET PAID TO BINGE WATCH NETFLIX!

Next, we got a tour of the Galleria Mall in Dallas, the one with an ice skating rink located in the center. I had never been inside of it before and could only think how much of a madhouse this place must be during the holidays. HOLY NO PARKING!

After some lunch we were able to go see the practice facilities of the Dallas Stars, the professional hockey team in Dallas. We met with Communications Director Tom Holly and he gave us some insight on what it means to work for a sport organization.

Dallas Stars Locker Room Photo Cred: Shannon Randol
Dallas Stars Locker Room
Photo Cred: Shannon Randol

Long story short, you have to have a passion to keep with the long hours for very little pay. You need to be willing to take a position anywhere in the organization (he started in merchandizing) so you can work your way up the ladder.

The last stop on the tour was Fox Sports where we got to meet Dana from The Network. I have to admit it was pretty neat to see the sets in real life. You watch it on television and when you can see it in person, you feel like you’re inside TV, pretty cool.

Fox Sports Sets Photo Cred: Shannon Randol
Fox Sports Sets
Photo Cred: Shannon Randol
Fox Sports Photo Cred: Shannon Randol
Fox Sports
Photo Cred: Shannon Randol

The story was the same there but with a twist, especially if you were a female trying to make it as a sports analyst. “You have to be better than the guy sitting next to you,” our host explained. “It’s not fair but that’s the way it is.”

Over all it was awesome to rub elbows with that many professionals in the business. I was able to hand out resumes and speak to individuals one on one. It was a great experience.

I was definitely partial to iHeartMedia, it would be awesome to be able to say I work for them and iHeart it. I strongly encourage expecting seniors and students alike to start knocking elbows early.

The two lessons I came away with was to never say no and be open to all opportunities.

Coming Home

Vacation is officially over, I was back on the road again and how depressing it was. I didn’t want to leave, man oh man I didn’t want to leave, but as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end, one way or another.

Hotel Livin'
Hotel Livin’
Hanging out in our big bed not wanting to leave
Hanging out in our big bed not wanting to leave
She's a person, I swear
She’s a person, I swear

So we packed up our belongings, sadly crammed them into the car, fed the puppies and let them wander around one last time in the patch of grass behind the hotel. We got our complementary breakfast one last time, omelets from the omelet man, and headed off to tackle the 11 hour drive we had ahead of us.

I took a few last gasps of Colorado mountain air and snapped a few desperate photos of the mountains, merely to symbolize our last morning with the mountains on our side.

A very sad morning indeed, not just because the trip was over, but because I would no longer be able to wake up next to my husband and share a cup coffee with breakfast including him. Since the day we met our schedules have been opposite, so the few times in our relationship where we can start and finish the day together are important.

I’m not sure why I thought this drive was only 9 hours, maybe because that’s how long it took to get to Florida from Virginia, but this trip was definitely almost 11 hours, my poor puppies and numb rump.

The first 5 hours of the trip were easy, we passed the time with two favorite car games, one being The Animal game – my personal favorite and the other, The Alphabet game – Matt’s personal favorite.

The Animal Game is easy, and can be played in line at theme parks or 11 hour car drives. You start with ‘A’ and name as many animals starting with the letter ‘A’ and you continue throughout the alphabet all the way to ‘Z.’ When somebody is out of animals (usually if only two people are playing) the other person has to name one more animal with that letter to win the letter, the loser has to start off the next letter. If you have more people in the group, the harder it is and instead of having to win the round the loser is out, until a winner is left.

The Alphabet Game is eerily best played with two people. One person starts at the beginning of the Alphabet and the other at the end. Using each letter to find a word, outside of the car beginning with their letter, whoever gets to the other end first wins, and as beginners luck has it, I won.

We finally hit Texas a bit after our games ended, and I was surprised to find myself excited to see this flat dry and dead hunk of lump state. A little more than 5 hours to go until home, hallelujah.

Hello, Texas ...
Hello, Texas …
They're so cute sometimes :] but obviously, over the trip
They’re so cute sometimes :] but obviously, over the trip

As we got closer, about 10 minutes from the house, we encountered the insufferable road blockage due to construction,. This lead us on a detour in the opposite direction we were trying to head towards and cut us through the little town of Krum, adding an extra 15 minutes to our arrival, woof.

Coming home is always a nice breathe of fresh air, especially when the house is already clean. Home safe and sound and already planning our next adventure. Until next time, stay weird Texas.