Randonauting for the First Time: Here’s What Really Happened

The Randonautica app led me to a mysterious empty road. Researching it led me to conspiracy theories, quantum physics, simulation theory, manifestation techniques, and chaos magic.

The trip began with a wrong turn.

I drove confidently down the street until I realized I was going in the wrong direction, and veered down a dead-end to turn around.

Immediately, I wondered if this was symbolic, a sign from the universe that I should turn back. On a randonauting trip—at least if you adopt the open-minded and deeply superstitious mindset of many of the app's roughly 10 million and counting users—everything takes on a weird and ominous meaning, adopting a number of possibly divine implications.

The app led me down the street, out of my immediate neighborhood and up some of the windiest streets in my town in upstate New York. Treacherous even on the sunniest day of summer, the serpentine road set me on edge. Suddenly, a car veered towards me out of nowhere, forcing me to swerve.

When I arrived at the destination, all I saw was forest on both sides, two parallel ravines on the edge of the paved road. I opened up the Randonautica app as if it would give me some kind of wisdom about what I was supposed to find.

The Randonautica app, if you aren't familiar with it, describes itself as "the world's first quantumly generated choose your own adventure game." Essentially, it's an app that sends you to completely random locations near where you live.

There was nothing here in particular to be found at the destination where it had sent me—only the quietness of a suburban road. Yet a closer look revealed that even this plain-looking street was studded with potentially meaningful images. A blood-red dot on the wooden pole nearby. A few numbers emblazoned on the pavement.

I stepped out of the car and began to wander around. Though it was a sunny summer day, as the wind picked up I suddenly began to feel afraid, then almost terrified. I've spent a lot of time traveling and exploring foreign cities alone at night, and never once had I felt the same fear I did then, in my hometown in the brilliant sun.

I jumped back into the car and plugged in my next destination. On the way, I felt a mix of emotions—fear, but also a sense of catharsis, as if something had been burned out of me by that rush of adrenaline on that empty road.

When I arrived at the cul de sac in front of my next destination, I found a tag for pigskin gloves. Inside was a list of mysterious numbers and writing in a language I didn't know.

That's the magic of Randonautica. In theory, it sounds mindless. But when you're actually out there in the world, brought to a random location generated by an algorithm, it can be an emotional, even revelatory experience—which is, as it turns out, entirely by design.

What Is Randonautica?

The original Randonautica code came from a group of programmers working on something called the Fatum Project. They were interested in the potential inherent in randomness, and in gaming randomness to discover new heights. Its theoretical roots go deep.

"The Fatum Project was born as an attempt to research unknown spaces outside predetermined probability-tunnels of the holistic world," explained a Reddit user named unitiveconsciousness, "and has become a fully functional reality-tunnel creating machine that digs rabbit holes to wonderland."

In 2019, 29-year-old Joshua Lengfelder discovered the group on the messenger app Telegram, and used the code to create a bot that sent people to random coordinates. The bot would eventually become Randonautica.

While Randonautica has been popular with Reddit users and other online communities for quite a while, it's only recently become popular on TikTok, as quarantined teenagers adopted the app and began using it as an excuse to venture around their hometowns and cities.

Now, TikTok and YouTube are full of videos (almost always set to eerie horror-movie music) and vlogs about people's experiences with Randonautica.

10 Most Scary Randonautica Videos www.youtube.com

The app has guided users to some peculiar places, but no Randonautica-related incident is more infamous than the time the app led a group of kids in Seattle to discover a suitcase that contained two corpses. The incident, which occurred in June, catapulted the app to a new level of Internet notoriety.

Henry ✰ on TikTok www.tiktok.com

Something traumatic happened that changed my life checkkkk 😐🥺 @natthecvt #fyp #viral #crime #murder #randonautica #randonauting #scary #washington

The app's success is partly thanks to events like this and partly thanks to its ingenious branding. Like many meditations, manifestation exercises, or similar pop psychology phenomenons, the app encourages users to set an intention before going Randonauting—an act that, at the very least, inevitably adds layers of significance to any experience. It also asks users to go exploring with a positive mindset. (They're also asked to bring a bag to help the environment, according to the app's Pro Tips).

Randonautica Randonautica AppRandonauting

Randonautica uses "a random number generator to produce specific coordinates within a set radius of your current location that you can travel to as a way of exploring the world around you," according to Wired. "People gather these coordinates through a dedicated app...where they can further define what they want to encounter. The app encourages users to set a personal intention before visiting a location, in the hopes of uncovering 'synchronicities,' coincidences or occurrences outside usual patterns of experience."

Perhaps because of all its peculiar context, there are some dark conspiracies swirling around Randonautica that add to its growing intrigue. Some fans have spread (baseless but undeniably creepy) rumors that the app is actually collecting people's locations in order to connect them to sex traffickers—and that was the very rumor that cropped up in my head as I walked around my randomly selected destination.

These conspiracies are fueled by a variety of odd, coincidental anecdotes from Randonauts—many of which resemble those old homemade Slenderman YouTube videos in that they certainly could have been fabricated, but have a way of gripping the imagination.

There's no evidence that the app has led anyone into the hands of sex traffickers. It has, however, led users to discover strange things about themselves and their neighborhoods.

WARNING RANDONAUTICA IS REAL AND CREEPY - Do NOT Try This CRAZY App (Gone Wrong) www.youtube.com

While often eerie and some are just absurd, many Randonauts' stories are extremely poignant. A user named @gothboithrift claims that the app sent him to his relatives' graves. Another said that while setting their intention, they asked for help with an eating disorder—and were taken to a poster about eating disorder recovery. Another discovered a letter from a man whom she later discovered had recently died; she was able to transport the letter to his wife.

Another user said she was seeking closure for her sister's death when she stumbled upon a field of flowers—the same flowers she had tattooed on her in commemoration of her sister.

Sometimes users' experiences are just plain weird, often in a charmingly kitschily and beautiful way: Users stumble on fridges in open fields, abandoned houses with lights on, strange symbols, car washes doused in rainbow lights, coyotes standing in open fields, doors in the middle of nowhere.

And then you have the grimmer side of things: a corpse by a shopping mall, creepy dolls, a man who had just been shot lying by a gutter. These things aren't exactly new, supernatural, or surprising, per se, but in the context of being sent to them by an app, it's easy to see why conspiracy theories abound.

Glitches in the Matrix: Conspiracy Theories About Randonautica

Some users believe that Randonautica is sending them to places for specific reasons—in order to connect them to strange and meaningful entities or to lead them on various quests.

"Personally I wouldn't use the app cause NO ONE can give[sic] me a guarantee that those coordinations aren't 100% random. Often times people end up in eery [sic] places and sometimes there are some suspicious people there," wrote one Redditor named SchuzMarone5.

| Randonautica - [ TikTok Compilation ] 1 | www.youtube.com

Another Reddit user named Undernourish proposed a more mystical explanation: "In a nutshell: [Randonautica] messes with synchronicity. The way the world manifests things is through random events. Think chaotic good," they wrote. "So, if you put enough yin energy (cool, tingly) when you put intent into an idea while you yawn deeply (flowing stream sound at the back of your head), the randonautica algorithm sets a completely random location so that the universe has an easier time slipping things into the world."

With all its emphasis on "consciousness" and "quantum physics," the app inherently emphasizes out-there theories and leads people towards strange experiences far beyond what they would ordinarily encounter.

Some users view the app as a way to enter a more interconnected, spiritual state, or even as a pathway to enlightenment. "After visiting the point," advised one user named crackenhigh_69, "have the intentions in the back of your mind all the time. You will see that your life experience morphs into delivering for you the intention even after you left the point. After some practice you will be able to stop using the app and see life as one infinite painting and you are the painter."

Still others have followed that wavelength further, proposing that Randonautica is an "undercover operation that's setting out to prove we all live in a simulation by showing glitches in the system," according to Daniel Falconer.

The coincidences and symbolic images Randonauters find, many argue, are the app's efforts to reveal cracks in our everyday reality—cracks which could lead to doors to other dimensions.

Finding Meaning in Randonautica (and in a Random World)

Most likely, Randonautica has led so many users to peculiar experiences because it's asking them to actually look at the world around them.

We often go through our lives on autopilot, yet the world around us abounds with strangeness, omens, violence, and mysterious, offbeat beauty. There's a reason why people have always believed in gods, extraterrestrials, and folk magics; regardless of whether these things are actually real, our minds are wired to search for much greater forces than what we usually see in our day-to-day lives, and our world seems happy to present hints of those forces if we let it.

Possibly the Randonautica app utilizes some kind of chaos magic, a form of modern occultism that relies on the idea that "belief is a tool for achieving effects." In chaos magick, as in Randonautica, "nothing is true and everything is permitted."

It's simple logic: If you go somewhere expecting to find something coincidental or eerie—or if you just truly open your mind to the possibility that strange forces might be afoot—they'll probably appear.

That's part of the magic of real travel. You see things you'd never ordinarily see, make connections, and discover that the world is a lot stranger than you ever imagined.

Neurologically, humans only see a very limited part of the world at one time, and our brains patch in the gaps in our perception. We're also excellent at detecting coincidences, connecting disparate experiences, and essentially seeing what we want to see—yet another example of the power and pitfalls of our perception. Confirmation bias leads us to search for and detect information that confirms our values or beliefs. These psychological phenomena are the foundations of manifestation techniques as well as, arguably, prayer.

In light of all this, it makes sense that Randonautica is currently going viral. Many of us are stuck at home; the world seems more random and chaotic than ever; it's clear that evil and invisible forces are at work behind the scenes, be them pathogenic or political.

In an often disconnected and random world, Randonauting allows us to make contact with our natural, immediate surroundings, while also playing into our desire to find deeper meanings in it and in our lives.

So if you're going out seeking evidence of parallel dimensions, Randonauting might be your way in. Though if you're planning on venturing out alone into a strange destination selected by a glitchy app, be sure to bring a mask, a friend, and some ample caution, because you never really know what you'll find.

As for me, my Randonauting trip made me reflect on the beauty of nature and the infinite complexity of the trees, as I knew it would. I also reflected on the wastefulness of suburban lawns and the eeriness of suburbia in general, and confronted my own feelings about being at home for such a long period of time. I thought about the pliability of my own thoughts, and how easily my emotions can be warped by a few flickering lines of code. Inevitably, I made a TikTok.

And of course, I started planning my next trip.

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Taking Control Of Your Finances Has Never Been Easier With Truebill

See Exactly Where You Dollars Are Going With Truebill

Personal finance is extremely complicated. But we don't really like to admit it. There's this weird expectation that once you're thrown out into the real world, you're required to know every little thing about finance. Where does that stigma even come from? I never took a single finance class in school, nor was I ever given the option.

I looked up the best way to manage money online and was greeted with a slew of Microsoft Excel tutorials. Is this really the best way to do this? I mused over the different chapters on formulas but felt like I was reading a different language.

I didn't have time to learn a brand new software, but I still needed a way to stay on-top of my finances. I knew there had to be an easier way (and obviously there was).

While on the phone with my cousin, I mentioned the difficulties I experienced while trying to manage my finances. Since we're both in our twenties, I knew that she'd be able to relate, but I never expected to receive such helpful advice. She mentioned an app called Truebill, which she described as "the best way to take control of your money."

After quickly looking through the app's features, I knew this was the tool I was looking for. Truebill offers everything, including subscription canceling, bill negotiation, pay advances, and more! The entire app is designed to optimize your spending and stay on top of your financial life.

Here's everything you need to know:

How Does It Work?

Truebill is the tried and true way to manage your personal finances. In fact, Truebill provides the most transparent view I've ever had into my finances. It works by aggregating all of your account information into a centralized location, then provides actionable insights you can take to organize your finances, lower your spending, and save yourself time. Once you connect your accounts, you're good to go!

What Features Does Truebill Offer?

Truebill offers a range of services, including on-demand credit reports and pay advances, but I found the subscription cancellation and bill negotiation features to be the most useful.

Every little subscription and bill is neatly organized, letting you know exactly what you're currently paying for. Not only did Truebill help me cut out $40 a month from unnecessary subscriptions (with a click of a button), they even helped me negotiate my electric bill, giving me 20% back in the process.

Is It Easy To Use?

While spreadsheets are great in a lot of ways, they sure aren't fun to use. In fact, most personal finance assistants aren't very accessible. All of these apps boast incredibly complicated interfaces that are impossible to navigate.

Luckily, Truebill's interface is seamless and easy to understand. Upon opening the app, you'll see an overview of your spending, your current subscriptions, as well as a budget planner and bill tracker. It's all neatly outlined to let you take the best steps possible to optimizing your spending habits.

Is It Secure?

Absolutely! Truebill uses bank-level security with 256-bit SSL encryption. It is one of the most secure encryption methods and is used in most modern encryption algorithms and technologies. This encryption also allows read-only access, meaning that, if there are any breaches, your account will be safe from hackers.

Is It Affordable?

Yes, it's free! There are a ton of features available upon download, but if you're looking to unlock the full potential of Truebill, you may want to consider their premium version. In fact, Truebill allows users to choose their own price for their premium service. Users report that the small monthly cost is easily offset by the savings they accumulate from using the premium service.

Why Do I Need This?

Everyone could use some help in managing their finances. There's no reason to struggle with something so complicated, especially when there is a service that can do it for you. Your time is important and Truebill values that.

I can think of dozens of things I'd rather spend my time doing each day than monitoring my finances and budgeting. So why do I love Truebill so much? It's simple. I wouldn't be able to live my best life without it.

Update: Our friends at Truebill are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to sign-up for Truebill.

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How to Visit New Orleans During a Pandemic

What can you do when you're wearing a mask and social distancing? Plenty.

Ask most people what they conjure when they hear the words "New Orleans," and they'll come up with the usual suspects: Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, young drunk people, costumes and beads and debauchery.

Oh, and there will probably be some great food in there, too: those weird French doughnuts covered in powdered sugar; some sort of thick dark soup called something-or-other; and "what's the difference again between jambalaya and gumbo?"

Regardless of whether people have actually made a trip down to the Big Easy or not, they'll have some preconceived notions about the city–and we residents say that's fine. It's cool. Sometime, maybe, you'll see more than the inside of a Hurricane drink cup.

But here's the thing. Not only is a visit to New Orleans in autumn the perfect time to check out America's most unique city, but it's an ideal getaway in the middle of these COVID days. The weather breaks in the Gulf South in October. While Minneapolis dips into the twenties, New Orleans luxuriates in the balmy 70s in the day, inky sweet nights in the 60s.

What can you do when you're wearing a mask and social distancing? Plenty. It will be a slower and more gentle visit than one to Bourbon Street, but if you feel absolutely compelled to walk the French Quarter, go for it. While you're nearby, visit the art galleries in the Central Business District. The gallery owners and artists would appreciate your business. And wherever you land for a place to lay your head—all hotels and local temp rentals are beyond clean and ready—you should head out for a bit of nightlife. Yes, even in these COVID times.

But a good wander away from the usual traps will give you a much better understanding of the city. And in most places, you can even take off your mask.

Ride The Streetcar

Sure, this is a bit of a touristy thing to do, but in autumn–in a pandemic, no less–it's infinitely safer and more beautiful than riding in an Uber. The streetcars are nearly always empty at the end of their lines. They have real wooden seats and open windows, and except for a short stint after Katrina, they have been in service since they were very first installed to travel the neutral grounds, the grassy medians of our boulevards.

The last stop in the Carrollton streetcar line will land you at The New Orleans Art Museum. Don't go in it–not to start, at least. Your time might well be better spent walking the adjacent sculpture garden, newly expanded, free, and with that invaluable open-air factor. To round the bend and take your first look at "Karma" is to experience something much bigger than your average landscape painting, although the Rodin sculptures put up their dukes too.

Go for Barbecue and Snowballs

You can just walk down lovely Carrollton Boulevard, traipse beneath the ancient live oak trees and past the stately old homes for a couple blocks until you arrive at Blue Oak BBQ. Your nose will guide you. Again, considering COVID restrictions, you can't get better than Blue Oak's huge outdoor dining areas, multiple shaded and tented spots with plenty of room to properly socially distance. Their staff is as friendly in their masks as it comes, and the food? The ribs are luscious, arguably the best BBQ in the city, but their Happy Hour specials make for the perfect fit after a walk-around in the sculpture garden.

Save room for dessert just across the road. Head to Pandora's Sno-balls. There's a walk-up window, and you only need to stay the requisite six feet away from the other eager patrons lined up at this iconic locale. Flavor recommendations are unnecessary, because every one is divine. Choose your own, but if you want to act like a local, try the wedding cake or pink lady. Shaved ice is a far cry away from a typical snow cone, and you might well be spoiled for life with the soft texture and New Orleans' unique flavors.

Bacchanal in the Ninth Ward

Yes, the word is out about Bacchanal. It's no longer a secret. But it's still a destination worth experiencing, in no small part because it does a much much better job of representing New Orleans than some daiquiri hut with neon green icy drinks. Bacchanal has a massive outdoor seating area, extraordinary wine selections, and incredible nibbles. They support local musicians, and you'll find live music here that will always knock your socks off. You can't visit New Orleans without hearing music, and Bacchanal is a great place to start.

​Find the River

New Orleans river

Of course you can find the river by walking across the street from the Cathedral in the French Quarter. You can stand and watch its roiling waters, but it's not so easy to experience the majesty of one of America's grandest rivers watching shoulder-to-shoulder with others in their masks in a pandemic. Consider a couple of other options: Go to one of two places—both of which are local secrets, so you're going to have to do a little research. Head across the industrial canal and into Holy Cross. Take a right at the first opportunity and drive straight towards the Mississippi River. Try it at sunset. Park and walk up onto the levee. You will not be disappointed. It will tell you everything about this old and wise city that words can't say.

Visit The Fly

The Fly Orleans

Across the literal way and around the bend of the big loop of river, you can find The Fly. A local favorite hangout, it's adjacent to the zoo. Don't go into the zoo either—at least not right away. Save it for another day when the pandemic has abated. Bring lemonade or a couple locally brewed beers to The Fly and make sure to clean up before you leave. Take a seat at one of many spots with a clear view. Consider what it means to see water passing that originates in a tiny creek in Minnesota. Melted snow, tributary waters, it all ends up right here. Watch passing tankers from Russia, tugboats pushing flats of one thing or another, sip your beverage, and enjoy the fresh autumn air.

The River Shack

Follow the wobbly straight line of River Road upriver. You'll probably drive past The River Shack the first time. Just double-back. The place has been around longer than most of us, its exterior old signage now preserved for its historical treat. Try their gumbo. You won't be disappointed. You can sit outside, of course, but you can also take a gander at the dozens and dozens of framed photos on the walls that bring context to the locale.

It's nothing new to say that New Orleans is steeped in history. But that's sort of the point these days, to "go back" and experience a place that's stood the test of time. We have carved out a place unique to this country. Find the unbeaten path and walk our cobbled lanes. There is wide-open breathing room in a beautiful autumn in one of America's oldest cities.

Amanda Boyden is an American author and recipient of Nerve.com's Henry Miller Award for Best Literary Sex Scene in Pretty Little Dirty. Her latest work, I Got the Dog: A Memoir of Rising was released on September 15th, 2020 and is available for purchase here.

7. Low Prices (vs. other Airbnb lodging options and flexible cancellation policy)

Before I found out about Getaway, I thought, gosh. Travel can be expensive, even with everything that is going on. Cabin rentals on Airbnb are so pricey, not to mention their no exceptions cancellation policy—which is totally a turn-off. Even the discounted all-inclusive lodging vacation I've been daydreaming about was out of the picture with my work schedule, sigh.

I was almost at my wits end, then, my friend Kiara brought up this cool new Getaway experience she recently got back from at a beautiful tiny cabin outpost nestled nearby in Hill Country, Wimberley, Texas for $99 a night! I immediately told my boyfriend, and we decided why not go ahead and try it for the weekend!

6. Facilities and Amenities (What's included)

So we went online to Getaway's website and chose the Cabin for Two, which actually had everything we wanted for a weekend escape in nature—giant windows with beautiful views and great amenities including: a comfy queen bed that sleeps two, warm shower, bath products, AC and heat, plus a mini-kitchen stocked with cooking supplies and light meal provisions available for less than $10 each. And, with self-check-in and check-out, booking was as simple and easy! That next weekend we set off into the auburn sunset, next stop—Getaway Hill County!

When we got to our tiny hand-crafted hideaway we instantly fell in love.

5. The Blue Hole Experience

The next morning after my boyfriend cooked us breakfast (yes, he's house-trained), our first stop was the Blue Hole Park Trail Loop with one of the most beautiful natural swimming holes in Texas. We made sure to make a reservation in advanced, and boy can I still smell the oak, cypress and cedar trees surrounding the crystal blue water and canopied trails, I didn't hesitate for a second and jumped in body-first. After a dip, we spent the rest of the afternoon in leisure completing the 1.6-mile hike around the Blue Hole Trail, can you say unplug and unwind, I couldn't recommend visiting this magical place enough.

4. The Wimberley Valley Driftwood Estates Winery Experience

Later in the evening, we headed to the Driftwood Estates Winery which had a great wine varietal, and the winery hostesses were very friendly and helpful in explaining the various wines. The building garden areas and facilities were set perfectly on lush rolling acres of surrounding vineyards with the cutest donkeys and little ponies—and the passing burros, longhorns, double decker English buses which added to the atmosphere, just perfect. Plan your to make a reservation in advanced and soak up the experience of tasting and exploring, a must-go winery!

3. The Wimberly Zipline Adventures Experience

After a sound sleep under the moon and stars, we woke up the next morning with one thing on our mind, the last and final stop on our Getaway weekend-adventure (and arguably most favorite) which included soaring over 10-miles of breathtaking views of Wimberley Valley creeks and canyons, absolutely a thrilling and unforgettable experience. Another must-go, you'll learn about the local ecosystem of plants and wildlife, local history, and other interesting Wimberley area facts. By the end of our tour, I was bursting with adrenaline and excitement. We had so much fun, and I must say I can't wait for our next weekend escape!

2. Disconnect to Reconnect

We got back home late after a late dinner following the ziplining, we were so exhausted but honestly I would not trade a great experience for anything else in the world. It's nice to disconnect from the daily grind and reconnect with nature. I was so happy with my stay and how clean and cozy the cabins were. If you haven't had the chance to Getaway, then what are you waiting for!

1. Experience Your First Getaway

If you're looking for a safe, clean, and rejuvenating place to both relax and have an adventure, whether with your partner or friends, I'd highly recommend Getaway.

Plan Your Escape With Getaway! Book One Month In Advance And Take $20 Off Your Fall Adventure With The Code FALL20!