The journey to the metaphysical mecca of Joshua Tree, deep in the Mojave desert is a spiritual one. There’s a solitary feeling that arises passing through those gnarled trees.Read More
We're a day away from the "Wanderful" release! I'm over here with the biggest butterflies ever. I promised final previews of the remaining chapters. So here we go!
Chapter 5 is Route 66 and 6 is the western deserts of White Sands and Joshua Tree! I'll share the final three chapters next (featuring New Orleans, Savannah, Nashville and my favorite little towns in Montana) and if I haven't convinced you yet to get that pre-ordered copy or hit your local bookshop I don't know what will! 😉 Photos for these two chapters were shot by Allister, Keiko and Ben shot much of the desert chapter too (Allister's are the Route 66 chapter and the first one in the Desert chapter, Keiko shot the photo of Allister and then Ben's photos are the last 3 here!)
Much love for riding this wave with me, celebration commences tomorrow!
Way Out West
After spending most of 2016 on a series of cross country road trips I knew it wouldn't take long before I hopped a plane, train or automobile to get back out there. I live for adventures that involve the great outdoors and while I truly wasn't intending to spend much of this summer traveling (I have a book release to prepare for! Ahhhh!) it was inevitable, I suppose, that the bug would bite at some point and I'd have to get out there.
One of the things that really occurred to me on last year's road trips was the meditative feelings that are often induced while solo traveling. I'm finding that more and more I'm making last minute plans to go out traveling alone. I'm not getting all Into The Wild on you guys, but honestly, it's a whole lot easier to plan when it's just you and the world. There's not too much coordination required and double honestly: I kind of like traveling alone even more so when I'm intending to document the experience ... the creativity arises differently when it's just me, the camera, and the sights and sounds of nature.
A few weeks ago I decided to take one of these trips. I was already planning a visit to Los Angeles to see Ben play a few shows, and then in the meantime, a friend called and would be hosting a birthday party in Joshua Tree, so, well there in the middle of LA and Joshua Tree I'd have 3 days for solo trekking.
I rented a car, studied up on a route and with a plan of a day drive along the PCH followed by a day of canyon hiking and then a day of desert wandering I was ready to go.
I've gotten pretty good at knowing what to pack and how to prepare (and I've shared a lot of that with you here), however, it's a bit different when going at it alone.
It's so incredibly important to take stock of your intended journey to best prepare and to create a plan in case of an emergency too. Here’s how to get started.
1. Pack Maps & Guides, Charge Up and Inform Your Friends of Your Plans
It doesn't matter how experienced you are, out in the wild it's easy to get turned around. GPS and phone service is often non-existent so a paper map can be your best friend. Battery power can drain quickly (especially if you're using your phone GPS) so having a back up source is necessary too.
In regards to routes: there's all sorts of trail tracking websites that you can get recommendations from others that have gone before you. That's good to get some perspective on the landscapes (and the creatures) you'll be meeting along the way. Example: on this particular trip, while hiking Topanga Canyon I came face to face with a coyote for the first time... hi Wiley, don't take me out please. His presence was ominous however, I knew from what I'd read he likely wasn't very interested in me. And while you might be in the mood to go all Thoreau-rogue (and I highly recommend you do!) it's important that someone knows where to find you if you don't report in. A bee sting or a slip & fall might be nothing at home, but out in nature those things can make easy trekking difficult fast.
2. Protect Yourself, You Delicate Flower!
Conditions can change fast and you'll be glad you've got extra gear if the rain kicks up or the temperature drops at night.
Here's a few things you should never travel without:
- water, and lots of it (the recommendation is a gallon per day per person, however I always go with a bit more than that...) you never know when you'll need it to clean up with too, and if for some reason you stay out longer than planned extra water is the #1 necessity
- extra cotton T-shirts and lots of layers (if you're hiking distances you'll sweat and you'll want cotton to wick away the moisture)
- rain gear, and potentially mosquito repelling clothing or sprays (rain + heat is a mosquitos favorite condition!)
- a sun hat, to keep yourself face protected, but also to keep critters from getting in your hair (yep, that's real)
- plenty of sunscreen, SPF-rated lip balm and sunglasses with UV protection
3. Let the Creative Muse Flow
Okay, so now that we've talked about the practical things that will keep you healthy, and well alive...here's a few ways to invite in creativity while traveling alone. I (and so many others before me) find that time out in nature alone lends to brilliant creative moments. I always pack my cameras, extra polaroid film for quick moments, a journal and a favorite read. I'll bring some sort of mystical study materials, maybe a constellation map or the birth charts of my 3 closest friends... (when I get home I'll tell them all about the things I've learned about them!).
And if I'm being super real... I pack a pretty vintage dress and take a few photos documenting me... in my element. Why not?! You'll always have the memories, of course, however, the photos make for lasting keepsakes too (and who doesn't want that instagram moment?).
I'll be back again soon with more details on that solo journey. If you haven't yet been to Joshua Tree, it's my second trip this year and I'm kind of obsessed... Salvation Mountain and Santa Barbara were on this route too. More to come and thanks for following along my wanderful babes!
This feature has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BlueLizardSummer #CollectiveBias
Over the last 12 months I've had the tremendous opportunity to travel to 8 National Parks, 5 National Forests and countless other local and state parks. Every time I take off for an off the beaten path outdoor adventure I think of winding dirt roads and buffalo roaming freely juxtaposed against beautiful girls with easels painting wildflowers and ravens circling overhead.
The National Park experience can range from blistering heat in the summers to stark white cold in the winter, sprawling across ecosystems, from the dramatically high peaks, ancient desert badlands, old-growth lush rainforests and wildly rugged coasts. At each of the parks I’ve experienced (the full list is at the end of this post) the visitor centers always offers fantastic itineraries for day visit and overnight stays.
This weekend is weekend #2 of the National Park free weekend, so to celebrate I've got a quick run down of a few need to knows that will help you plan a dynamite experience in preparation for the great outdoors!
Before we get to that, however, a note about the park program, it's current funding situation and a way you can help!
Our National Parks are currently facing extreme budget cuts, there are 84 million acres of National Park land at stake. In honor of National Park Week (through April 24) Free People has created three vintage-inspired tees that represent three of the most traveled National Parks: Yosemite, Yellowstone and Joshua Tree. They're $68 and a portion of each sale will be donated to the National Parks Foundation.
I've always been a fan of the brand and now I'm like 🏞 💕 🙋🏼 seriously high fiving them for taking on this initiative. Get your hands on one of the tees to donate to the Park Foundation (and to represent your park love all year round).
You can shop the tees directly here:
So next up! Here's a few things to keep in consideration before you venture out this weekend:
Hours and Seasons:
The National Parks are open year-round, however, which parts of the parks you can access varies with the season. Depending on where you're traveling to and what the weather conditions have been - all roads aren't always open. Take a read back through my post on making out of the desert alive for a little reminder on how significantly a little bit of rain can impact a seemingly easy off road adventure.
Even if all the roads are opened, not all the trails will be open. When we visited Glacier National Park last May many trails were still snow covered, some were closed for grizzly sightings and others had avalanche conditions - including the Going to the Sun Road (one of the highlights of the park).
Always call or stop into the visitors center to get current information about what's happening out on the park roads. You'll have a beautiful time no matter, but safety is always first!
Camping, Lodging, and Where to Stay:
There's typically so many options for camping, or parking an RV, however, if you haven't planned in advance you'll need to get a game plan before making your way out, don't assume you can just pitch a tent and crash. Often camp sites are first come first serve, and I'll tell you, one late night as I Ben and I drove along the primitive roads of Big Bend we came across campsites wayyyyy out.
There's no way I would have wanted to stay where rattlesnakes and scorpions make their home and I don't watch movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre for a reason. We typically Airbnb or stay in roadside lodges in nearby towns, however even these can fill up quickly on weekends like this one. If you're braver than me check in early to get dibs on a campsite; and - if you'll be spending your day hiking make sure you remember how to get back to your tent, things can look very different after dark.
What to Pack
I shared this list before in my Glamping Essentials post however, it's a good one I think so here it is again:
Tent, sleeping bag and pillows (or an air mattress and an SUV) - unless you're traveling in an RV, of course or staying in an Airbnb or lodge
Bug Spray, Bear Spray (yep, that's a real thing) and a Traveling First Aid Kit
Jugs of Water (lots of it)
Sunscreen (I can't stress it enough, you need it even when you're not swimming or in direct light!)
Bathing Suits (I like to pack a one piece and a two piece, the one piece can double as a top when worn under skirts or shorts)
Layers of Clothes (hot days transition to cold nights)
Baby or Makeup Wipes (there isn't always water for washing your face at night)
Your Favorite Read (I like to pick up used books on the road too)
A Journal and a Pen
Travel Beauty Products (just the basics!)
Snacks and Organic Canned Foods (things that wont spoil)
Solar Powered Chargers and a Portable Record Player (there's nothing better than old records under the stars!)
I'll close with a few of my favorite photos from our journey across the park system. Over the course of the year we visited Big Bend, White Sands, Zion, The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Joshua Tree. The National Forests we spent time in: Los Padres, Santa Fe, Gallatin, Shadow Mountain and Arapaho. Whew, I'm having such nostalgia just thinking about it! So much of these adventures are covered in my coming book! Be sure to pre-order you guys!
I hope this list is useful and I'd love to see your National Park photos! Share with me where you'll be going in the comments and tag #OuiLoveParks to share your park photos!
All photos were shot by Ben (the landscape shots from the parks are all 35 mm).