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  1. With the same swiftness they arrived, the London Olympic Games are now gone. The seven years of planning came to fruition, and now I know how parents feel when their children go from newborns to college grads.

    Although summer Olympic competition will pause for four long years, there are ample ways for us to follow our favorite Olympic stars in the meantime.

    If you fell in love with the infectious smile of Gabby Douglas, the bountiful tears of Aly Raisman, and the unrivaled sass of McKayla Maroney, you don’t have to say goodbye just yet. The gymnasts will be going on a national tour this fall to cities including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Broomfield, Colo., Chicago and Boston.

    If your fascination was fixed on the pool, you can see Missy Franklin swim in exciting high school meets in Colorado that match Olympic races in the sense that people swim. Or you could see what Ryan Lochte is up to in Gainesville, Fla., before he gets swept up in a whirlwind of post-Olympic appearances.

    Perhaps it was platform diving that simultaneously took your breath away and captured your attention. American diver Nick McCrory will compete another season as an NCAA athlete for Duke, all the while staying at the top of his game so maybe he, too, can reach the Olympic heights like those of compatriot David Boudia.

    Ashton Eaton, the best decathlete in the world, claims he will continue to train for Rio 2016 at his alma mater, U of Oregon. (Fun note: Eugene, Ore., home of the University of Oregon, is nicknamed “TrackTown, USA,” probably because the city seemingly pumps out champions like Eaton as frequently as Tweeters used the hashtag #NBCfail last week.)

    And if the brutal play of water polo captured a spot in your memory, incoming Stanford freshmen and 2012 Olympian Maggie Steffens is likely to dominate the college scene. Now join me in the collective asking of the question, “Stanford athletes, what can’t you do?!”

    It may be hard at first saying goodbye to the Olympics, but seeing our athletes around the country post-Games can make it a little less hard. And using MapQuest to get to them can make it even easier.

    Hey, only 1,450 days until Rio!

  2. They’re here.

    My beloved Olympic Games. London has opened its doors and welcomed the world. Television channels have turned on their cameras and invited in our country, primarily me.

    These 17 action-packed days provide more than just the glory of athletics for us to bask in, but also entertainment from people like Bob Costas and Al Michaels who tell the stories of heart-warming resilience. The melodic voices and occasionally pointed remarks from these and other commentators only amplify my love for the Games.

    That is why, if I were in London, I would start my Olympic tour with my favorite broadcasters and commentators. Unquestionably, the best place to begin the day is at the International Broadcast Centre in the heart of London and the soul of the Games. The sweeping landscapes of London’s countryside are no match for the plush seating arrangements and inviting glass windowpanes of the IBC.

    A logical next stop would be the North Greenwich Arena on the bank of the River Thames for gymnastics. While I may need to fashion an eye shield before entering the shockingly pink arena, it will no doubt serve as an experience covered in goose bumps. Gymnastics has always been a passion of mine, and seeing the pinnacle of the sport live would be a fantasy realized.

    Next, I’m off to the Aquatics Centre (or Center, for this side of the pond), where I can debate whether I am more entertained by watching swimming or listening to the commentators. If ever there were a dynamic duo, Dan Hicks and Rowdy Gaines would be it. Not to mention, their perch rests just above the truly world-class pool where Chinese domination in diving continues. Watching them and all of the other world-class athletes compete is an inescapable dose of their dedicated reality—and how much they devote to compete at that level.

    Let’s end the tour at Olympic Stadium to watch the world’s fastest men and women run speeds quicker than I am comfortable driving. Since I most likely won’t be able to get to London by Sunday to see if Usain Bolt can win the 100-meter race again, I’ll have to watch from my dark basement. Will I see the daylight for a second Olympics in a row or will the basement be too dark?

    Now all I have to do is make my dream Olympic tour come true, which may prove harder than winning a gold medal. Maybe by 2016…

    Map
  3. MapQuest Summer Travel Infographic 2012

    MapQuest Summer Travel Infographic 2012

    Sure, MapQuest has long-since been known as the road warrior’s travel companion, offering accurate maps and directions to hurried, adventurous and seasonal travelers.  But we happen to know you want more from this relationship.  In fact, we’ve spent a lot of time getting to know just what you’re searching for this summer with our latest infographic.

    For instance, we know a lot of you love national parks, so we created parks.mapquest.com as a completely devoted resource for information on the 58 U.S. national parks.  Many of you visit these iconic destinations for overnight trips between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and even more of you stop at them along the way — called via points — the most popular being Yellowstone.

    If you’re not planning on taking a trip across the country, MapQuest can also help you plan a backyard escape that takes only an afternoon. Last summer, we helped more than nine million people find a nearby place to get ice cream.  What more could you want in the summer than easy-to-follow directions to a sundae?

    While we can’t lower the high gas prices, we can tell you where the least expensive places to fuel up are.   Gasprices.mapquest.com shares where to find the cheapest gas near you; so, if you do go to the Grand Canyon, you can make the trip there even easier by finding the least expensive gas stations and prices along the way.

    Take a look at our Summer Travel infographic for more surprising stats and popular destinations, so you can get more out of the summer season.  Because after all, life’s about the journey, right?

  4. As you may have read in our National Parks post, we here at MapQuest are an active bunch.  We love the outdoors.  We keep busy with hikes and bikes and exploring our neighborhoods.  And because of this, we also know the value of a good pair of shoes or, conversely, we know what we love to do would be so hard to do shoeless.   Today is the TOMS “One Day Without Shoes.”   It’s one, big national pledge to go barefoot and raise awareness of the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child’s life.

    You can help MapQuest and AOL reach the goal of spreading the One Day Without Shoes message to 1,000,000 people by taking one (or more) of the following actions:

    To thank those who are getting footloose, AOL will be awarding 100 $50 TOMS gift cards to random winners.  See official rules here.

    We hope by taking off our own, you’ll do the same!

  5. MapQuest Vibe kicks off the “Colorado Ranch” in Austin today with an exclusive hangout for industry influencers during SXSW Interactive.  Along with Forkly, Flixmaster, Roximity and Napkin Labs – all fellow, innovative Colorado tech companies – the Ranch welcomes hundreds of tech-heads looking to plug in, recharge, and take in Austin’s BBQ, beer and local bands. MapQuest Vibe provides a “shortcut to becoming a local” to all Austinites and SXSWers by highlighting top activities, restaurants and neighborhoods in the Austin area.  Actually, mqVibe provides this great neighborhood context in 50,000 neighborhoods and 30,000 cities, but we just thought we’d do something special in Austin this week.  Have you tried the mqVibe iPhone app?

    mqVibe at SXSW

    Colorado Ranch at SXSW mqVibe Team Enjoying Austin BBQ, beer and bands

    Colorado Ranch House Music

    Colorado Ranch House - Austin Band

  6. MapQuest Sweepstakes - Win a Vespa Scooter!Late last week, we announced the launch of MapQuest Vibe, a new site that’s all about helping you find the best neighborhoods and the most popular restaurants, shopping, and spas within them.  What could make this announcement even better? Why, free stuff, of course! So, we’re giving away the ultimate neighborhood vehicles: Vespa scooters, cruiser bikes and longboards.

    Just go to sweeps.mapquest.com to enter.  It’s a 42-day sweepstakes with a new winner every day so come back daily.  We’re announcing the daily winners on the sweeps site, so keep a look out for your name!  Chris D. of Denver was our first winner – I can only assume he’s already having sweet dreams of riding his new Vespa through all the Mile High neighborhoods.

    Here’s a hint: You can earn up to 24 extra entries per day (yes, that’s more than 1,000 extra entries in total).  After you enter, just look for the 2 options: click to go to mqVibe.com (it’s that easy) or share with friends so they can enter, too.

    So, what neighborhoods would you explore on your new ride?

  7. Biking, hiking, running – no matter your sport, summer is the time to take advantage!  With today’s average gym membership setting you back at least $50 a month and even as much as $150 in cities like New York, why not take advantage of nature’s free gym and bring your fitness routine outdoors?

    MapQuest offers more than driving directions, with several free features that double up as workout tools to meet the need to mix it up!  The features below offer great ideas to keep a workout fresh by mapping out new routes before you plan the next walk, run, hike or bike.

    • MapQuest app: Available on the iPhone and Android, this free app includes voice-guided, turn-by-turn walking directions, as well as a voice search option.
    • Hit the pavement or dirt: “Pedestrian Mode” directions guide you down the most efficient paths and through parks, often avoiding vehicular traffic. To use the feature, visit mapquest.com and click “get directions,” select the “walking man” icon and enter your start and finish destinations. Plan ahead, lather up with sunscreen and drink plenty of liquids!

    From city cruising to mountain biking: Available on MapQuest’s Open Street Map, options allow you to choose paved streets or trails and paths, as well as the ability to challenge yourself with a “favor uphill” route or the leisurely “avoid uphill” setting.  Biking routes favor bike-specific paths, walkways and roads where the max speed is less than 30 mph.  The 27 country-specific open sites are available in 14 language options.  Don’t forget your helmet!

  8. According to BlogPulse, there are now 163MM public blogs in existence, with 67K started in just the past 24 hours. That’s a lot of people with a lot of things to say. We’re at BlogWorld for the next few days talking with many of these folks about where the industry is now and where it’s headed.

    If you’re planning to attend BlogWorld as well, we’d love to see you. Just stop by our booth (#503). We’ll have a free t-shirt for you (while supplies last of course) and you’ll also have the chance to take a quick poll to enter to win a $500 VISA® Gift Card. The poll is meant to educate us – we want to know exactly what map and location-based services bloggers and publishers are truly looking for. We have some great tools available now for bloggers, publishers and more – check them out on our MapQuest tools site – but we want to continue to better these and also create new products. As an example, you can see a great use of our most recent tool, MapQuest Map Builder BETA, on AOL’s Monster Help Day website or see the embedded map below.

    If you’re not attending the conference, we still want to hear your feedback. If you contribute to the blogosphere or editorial realm in anyway, take our poll now and you’ll have the chance to win too!

    To get updates live from the show, follow us on @MapQuestTech.

  9. We’re in the business of helping people.  Period. That’s actually the first of six core values for AOL and we take it pretty seriously.  Today marks our 2nd annual AOL Monster Help Day, a company-wide day of service for all employees worldwide.  Nashville will be volunteering at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Chicago’s headed to the Ronald McDonald House and Dublin is off to the Turvey Nature Reserve.  If you want to see where all of the AOL offices are volunteering, check out AOL’s Monster Help Day site for a map, the volunteer organizations and live tweets!

    MapQuest actually dedicates several days a year to contributing back to our local communities. For this year’s Monster Help Day, we’ve teamed up with Denver Mayor Guillermo (Bill) V. Vidal and the Mile High Million to plant 40 trees in downtown Denver.  He’s even proclaimed today, “AOL Monster Help Day”!  In Lancaster, we’ll be headed outdoors as well, cleaning up trails and planting flowers for Lancaster County Department of Parks and Rec.  We’re psyched to get our hands dirty (literally – have you seen the weather predictions?) and give back to our local community!  Stay tuned to our Flickr gallery for pictures of the event!

  10. T-shirt Tuesday at MapQuestIf you’ve ever visited a MapQuest office, you know you’re guaranteed to see several funny, hipster-iffic, quirky T-shirts on any given day.  We took this as an inspiration and decided to make it official:  Every Tuesday at the MapQuest offices is now T-shirt Tuesday.  We’re breaking out our Three Wolf Moon shirts, Threadless shirts, thrift store treasures, old and crazy freebies, and anything else we get a kick out of.  Check out our Facebook page or our Flickr gallery to see some examples of some of the quality tees we sported this week and stay tuned as we add more in the upcoming weeks.  Got your own sweet tee?  Share it with us on Facebook!