Tips for the Yosemite Traveler

[Photos & video below]

As an East Coast kid, California seemed like a fairytale world where movies were made and surf bums lived out their days in Volkswagen vans in search of the epic wave. I admired it from a distance like a child admires his or her favorite superhero; unsure whether I’d ever get the chance to travel there. That dream came true recently when my now-fiancé and I (I’ll touch on that) visited Yosemite National Park.

We spent a total of three days in Yosemite, flying cross-country from Albany to Fresno and renting a car  — a gas-sipping Ford Fusion Hybrid — for transportation. Tip #1: Rent a hybrid over an SUV. Use the money saved on a nice dinner. We booked our accommodations on March 1st: three months early, but still not soon enough to get the prime campsites on the “valley floor,” where you’re a stone’s throw from the trailheads and attractions. Instead, we bounced around: from a campsite on night one, to a bed and breakfast in Groveland, CA on night two, and returned to the valley for the third night to stay in a “tent cabin” — which wasn’t quite “glamping” but close. We weren’t complaining about having a bed to sleep on after a full day of hiking. 

Tip #2: Reserve your campsites early, like February, if you want to snag a campsite on the valley floor for consecutive days. 

We made the most of our three days in Yosemite, setting out at sunrise and not returning to base camp until well past dusk. We checked off an impressive number of sights: Tunnel View, the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias, Glacier Point, Sentinel Dome, Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, and meadows and roadside vistas that seemed untouched by the passing of time.

Thanks to our friends (and Trampoline client) Fountain Square Outfitters, Alexis and I were well-equipped for our adventures. In addition to the FSO gear we already owned, owners Matt and Nancy Fuller hooked us up with some essential (and lightweight) gear, including the MSR Mutha Hubba three-person tent; Thermarest sleeping pads; Luci rechargeable solar lights; ENO Doublenest Hammock; Patagonia Torrentshell rain jackets, which kept us dry when I proposed to Alexis at Bridalveil Fall (yeah, that happened!); and GSI stainless steel wine glasses that kept our champagne ice cold when we celebrated later that night. Not from FSO but worth mentioning was my zero-degree EMS sleeping bag circa 1974 passed down from my father. We stuffed all of our gear into the waterproof Patagonia Black Hole Duffel and didn’t have to check a bag at the airport — clutch for cross-country trips where you risk luggage being lost in transit.

We capped off our trip by driving from Yosemite to San Francisco. We had dinner at a great restaurant/brewery, Thirsty Bear (awesome branding!), and then headed to our hotel near the airport, where we were able to take our first shower in three days and sleep in a real bed before we flew home the next morning.

My first trip to the Golden State exceeded my expectations, and I’ll miss it. What I won’t miss is the traffic and congestion during peak hours; from noon until about 5 p.m., when Yosemite Valley turns into a carousel of cars and buses on the valley’s only main road. Tip #3: Get an early start, pack a lunch and hike outside of the valley floor during peak hours. Return in time to catch sunset.

Unfortunately, photos don’t do Yosemite any justice — which brings me to Tip #4: Go and experience Yosemite for yourself. 


Go North: an Adirondack Invitation

“We have a story to tell and a vacation to market, but no name or look…we would like you to create that.”

It’s kind of the ideal scenario when the story and journey are situated in one of the most picturesque regions of New York State and the client is someone you enjoy and admire. Working with the Wild Center in conjunction with the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, Warren County Tourism, the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau , and I Love NY, on this project was exciting.

The goal was to package a tour-based itinerary that would loop through Saratoga Springs, Lake George, Tupper Lake, and Lake Placid to be presented on an international stage. For us, this meant creating something that was not rooted in insider language or regional specificity. Consideration was given to translations and scalability to include other parts of the region at a future date.

We presented half a dozen name options, each with its own spin. The concept that was selected, Go North was followed by the simple line: The sights, shops & stories of Northern New York.


The itinerary was unveiled at the U.S. Travel Association‘s annual business conference, IPW, in Washington DC earlier this month. We created shirts to allow the team at the conference to represent Go North in both language and person. The itinerary branding on the front of the shirt, paired with the partner brands on the back, created the opportunity to spark more conversations with attendees.


According to The Wild Center, the project aims to recruit new tour companies and travel agents to highlight Northern New York in their travel product offerings online, in print catalogs, and brochures. “We found that for the international market, the Adirondacks is a tourism ‘black hole.’ There just isn’t information out there to help draw people up and out of New York City,” said Patrick Murphy, Group Sales Coordinator at The Wild Center and one of the GoNorth team members.

Once the branding and naming were established, we worked to create iconography, maps, and other visuals to bring Go North to life. A brochure told the expanded stories of the potential stops on the tour, from the activities they could enjoy:

Go Hike

Go Eat

Go Learn

as well as the places they would experience, from waterfalls and fountains to casinos, museums, and shopping. Each  A rack card and preloaded, branded flash drives made it simple to share information.


The website for Go North, to support the print collateral, was developed by Mannix Marketing, who worked swiftly to ensure that the Go North was ready to Go Live for the conference.



The Luxury of Pickiness








As we all participate in the sprint/marathon/obstacle course for people’s attention the truth is that consumers, with very few exceptions, have the luxury of pickiness. They get to go full on House-Hunters-judgey and define their own expectations and reasoning.



They can tune you out, be drawn to new things by a fleeting sparkle, or even change their minds without explanation. Being sneaky, disingenuous, or half-hearted is no way to win someone over. So what the heck are you supposed to do when algorithms constantly change, ad rates soar, the market gets crowded, and something like a fidget spinner comes along and makes your product or service as appealing as week-old potato chips in a bag that wasn’t properly closed?


We would suggest that the first thing you do is laugh. We’re all misunderstood, burned, and wounded from time-to-time, and the stories are often amazing. Honestly, finding true love is hard and the pitfalls along the way are inevitable, brand love is every bit as tricky.



If consumers are picky, let yourself be upbeat, undaunted, and unyielding in your offering of your service or product. Remember that what you offer is something of value, it serves a purpose, produces an emotion or an outcome that is desirable. When people try to define you in a way other than that, go back to center.

We sell candles—-> We deliver light.

We write copy—–> We bring stories to life.

We have cabins for rent—–> Your yet-to-be-made memories live here.

It isn’t necessary to be like everyone else or to feel it’s a failure if you don’t appeal to all people. Be you and for the right people that will be more than enough.

Learning the Ropes

“Hey Allison, would you be open to sharing your impression of Trampoline from the perspective of a new-to-the-team person?”

“Sure,” she said, “Could I do it in a comic?”

Everyone thinks about it for a minute. “Don’t see why not.”

“Great,” she said cracking a sketchbook.


Here it is:


Design delivered from the 518

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