Middle of No Where

I’ve always wondered why people fled the city life to go hang out in the middle of no where for their vacations. Every paid vacation from work is like fine gold, every moment must be used to have the highest level of fun and inspiration. My ideal vacation is to travel thousands of miles away to a foreign land, to escape my culture and world and to have some new experiences. This summer I was invited to join Gus family on their family camping vacation.

Though this sounds like a classic plot set up for a girlfriend to be pranked on by the family who doesn’t really approve, (Parent Trap and every episode of a 90’s sitcom.) I knew I had to be open to try new things, I wanted to show I could have a good time away from the city life.

I was looking forward to learning how to fish. At first, I was bothered to kill a fish in order to eat it, but my boyfriend’s Native American roots taught me the relationship between nature and man. The fish was giving it’s life in order to sustain mine. The fish could feel everything I was feeling through the line, being relaxed and developing a connection with nature, would attract the fish to bite. The beautiful mountains and lake was office for the day.

We spent the day at the lake, fishing, catching fish, getting excited and cheering each other on. I snapped a few photos, but because I had no phone service, I was forced to put it on airplane mood and focus on getting dinner. By the end of the day I caught my first fish and Gus showed off by catching the largest fish out of all of us. I am now a fisherman!

In the evening when the normal routine is to relax and watch some television, or youtube, we were left with no options than to talk to each other. We made a fire and talked about faith, our careers, and family life. It was a nice bonding experiences to get to know Gus’ family. I saw familiar mannerisms of Gus all though out his family. It was fascinating to see parts of him in his parents and brother. This was his tribe, and I was an outsider being allowed in.

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I began to wonder about the women through out history who had to leave their families in order to marry. How hard it must have been for them to serve a new family, always daydreaming about the family they left behind.

Coming home, I was thankful for the time spent away from my world, but I was also very happy to return to my family and share my adventures with them. I still find myself putting my phone on airplane mode, chances are, whatever it is.. it can wait.

California Road Trip – Santa Cruz

I’ve must have passed Santa Cruz many times while on my way to San Francisco. My Australian friend had went for a visit during her last stay and told me how awesome it was. Gus and I drove up after Santa Barbara and took in the fresh over cast morning at Pleasure Point.

Gus told me about his family growing up in Monterey and suggest we take a drive to enjoy the town the following day. But first I wanted to check out Mission Santa Cruz since we where so close. We went to the church only to discover it was very small, compared to Santa Barbara mission there wasn’t much to see. We enjoyed a walk in the garden and headed towards downtown.

Driving in to the city I noticed the Museum of Art & History, right away I wanted to check it out. I enjoy visiting art museums in new places. I never know what they will focus on and its interesting to see the different exhibits. There was a lot of interactive art displays. I joined in and created a passport about my family history. Gus was impressed at my drawing of myself. I laughed because if there is one thing I know how to draw, is the face I’ve looked at all my life.

Walking downtown was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Looking at all the old buildings and discovering new shops is so fun. We spent some time at the record store looking at all the music past generations enjoyed. I bought two albums for the road trip back but both albums end up sucking, haha. I like taking risk but thank goodness for iTunes preview!

With the last bit of energy we checked out the Boardwalk. Talk about busy! There wasn’t an empty space in the park. Gus and I were so worn out, we spent less than an hour here. I’m sure my 14-year-old self would have loved every bit of it. The rides, the crowds of young people, and all the fatty food!

The next day, we headed over to Santa Cruz Breakwater Lighthouse. My friend had told me about this cute little place to have breakfast called Aldo’s Harbor Restaurant that overlooked the dock and lighthouse.

We got in the car and headed to Monterey to check out Cannery Row and the Fisherman Wharf. We first
took a break at Starbucks which I saw this man and his dog relaxing. He chatted with me about how his dog likes to do his own thing and doesn’t listen. I smiled and laugh at his dog’s little tongue hung out. After we checked our email and social media, we headed to grab some famous clam chowder at the Fisherman Wharf.

Time flew by and back to Santa Cruz we drove. Our vacation time was ending with just a few days left. Two more missions to see on our way home. We stopped by Mission San Juan for a few shots.

We drove to our last mission only to do a drive by. We where worn out and now needed a vacation from our vacation.

I’ve lived in Southern California my whole life and never bothered to visit central California. It was a nice road trip to do with the missions as an excuses to drive and take in the location. It was interesting to visit these historic sites and appropriate a school lesson I kinda slept through in 4th grader. I’m sure Mrs. Luper would be proud!

 

California Road trip – Hollywood

Growing up my parent’s idea of a holiday is staying home. This summer because I wanted to save money, I was about to do that too.. but just couldn’t stay home for a week doing nothing! I talked Gus into doing a road trip with me but this time focus on California. We made our first stop in Hollywood to visit a church. After we went around the blvd and captured some photos and video. Gus shot and edited a travel series of our trip. I’m so happy to share the videos here along with my photos. Keep in mind, I am awkward in front of the camera! Next post – Santa Barbara!



Road Trip: Portland

The  moment we drove in to Portland we could tell it was different from any other. The streets were full of bike riders, dog walkers and skateboarders. We got off the highway to find a coffee shop. We picked a small place called The Red Square, which made it easy to find because it was a red square.

As we drove the streets of Portland, we laughed at how accurate the TV show Portlandia is. We parked the car and did some exploring.

When we had to leave after only spending a day in Portland, we couldn’t stop talking about it in Seattle. “Can’t wait until we go back home.” When we returned, we both took a deep breath of relief.

The first thing we did was walk around Old Town. We found a great comic store in China Town. It was a young boys dream.

When we walked around the block we discovered the Portland out door market. The whole city was outside doing something creative.

By the end of the day, we were all tired. It was time to look for a hotel. For some reason every room in the city was booked. We all looked at each other hoping one of us would have a solution. After spending hours calling around we finally found a room open at a fancy hotel, which meant lots of money. Sleep in the car or in a palace? Us California kids chose the palace.

The next morning we all agreed to go to a rose garden. As we walked around and relaxed in one of Portland’s beautiful garden we all felt refreshed.

When Monday finally came along, hotel rooms were open in abundance! Living out of a suit case isn’t easy but it never loses its excitement. (I’m sure it does at some point haha.) But you never know what kinda room you’re going to get. At the Shilo Inn, we got a retro room that we adored!

Our last and final day in Portland, we did a Portlandia tour. I found a site that named all the places the show  filmed at.

Oblique Coffee Roasters – This coffee shop was in the middle of the suburbs. We ordered the house coffee and enjoyed the morning paper.

In Other Words – This store was pretty exciting to visit. I was astonish that this place was real. I figured the show created it for the skit but when I looked in the window everything was exactly the same.  Video Clip

The last Portlandia location we went to is where they filmed the Pilot… which turned out to be a music video. We understood why, when you walk around Portland, you can’t help but sing how special it is.

We were finally understanding the city. Not everything is open during normal business hours, people make old houses in to coffee shops, you can’t buy a book but you can borrow one and weird is normal.

While we were out we came upon our own great Portland discoveries. Record stores!

The first thing we saw driving in to Portland were these space ship looking things going across the city. We spent all afternoon looking for it. Finally we found it at the Portland Hospital.

There was this book we found in the hotel room that explained that Portland is divided unto four parts. North-East, North-West, South-East, South-West. “Ohhh, now we get it!” We were finally understanding the city.

The last thing we did was hanging out at Powell’s Book Store. We must have been there for a few hours, there were floors and floors of books. I of course wanted to see if they had a Christian section, to my surprise they did with a lot of old vintage books.

After we walked around looking for an open coffee shop but no luck. I guess every one went home for the day. We went back to our car, left the city and said good bye to a place that felt like home.

Portland, I love you! 🙂

Road Trip: Seattle

The most rememberable thing about a road trip are moments of insanity. When talking about nothing produces the most random jokes or replaying a George Michael song and making it in to a game. Five hours and a speeding ticket later we decided it was time to stop driving, Portland and Seattle could wait. We came across this beautiful little green town, stayed the night and tried not to think about how much the ticket would cost.

The next morning I tried to snap out of my bad mood, after all money is replenishable. Gus did what he does best, make me laugh. We discovered with his new hipster glasses he looked like Clark Kent.

At one of the rest stops we saw this large American monument in front of a Casino. It was a perfect photo op.

The moment we drove in to Portland we knew this place was different, after all everyone was letting us in their lane during rush hour.  We stayed in Portland for a day and fell in love with the city! (more on Portland later)

We arrived in Seattle in two hours. We met up with Briana and Mario who are also from California. Meeting up felt like we were a few cities away from home.

The cool thing about a city like Seattle, is that you can walk upon a concert at any given moment. As we were walking to dinner there was a show taking place in an All Saints store.

The next morning we woke up to rain. As California kids we all said, “Well there goes the day, shutting down…” But then we saw the city moving forward. I suggested we go see Batman… but then.. we went down stairs to eat breakfast and all over the news.. the horrible tragedy  . The Aurora massacre. I sat there numb. I’ve visited Aurora many years ago, my best friend from high school use to live there. Going to a theater was the last time we all wanted to do.

It soon stopped raining and the sun began to peck out. We made our way to one of Washington’s Parks.

For lunch I took my friends to Capital Hill, a place I discovered last time I was here. As we walked around I began to daydream about last year, walking these very streets, how much life has changed since then. A lot of questions that were running my head then were now answered.

Just before leaving, I met up with a couple who I did a Creativelive workshop with. I remember how easy they were to be around. They shared the story of how they met, about their new dog, having a missionary father in Africa and so many random adventures they had together. It was exciting to see them again, they made Seattle feel like home.

I looked at my watch and knew my time in Seattle was over. Time for Portland.

Road Trip: San Francisco

On our way to San Francisco I read off a sign with all the towns we were passing through. I remembered I had an aunt that lives near by. When I called her she was so excited, I couldn’t even get a word in. I introduced her to Gus and told her about our adventure camping. She fed us and let us get all cleaned up. It was a breath of fresh air to visit. I loved how happy she was to see us.
When we arrived in San Francisco we were ready to see the city. We drop our stuff at a hostel and went to go take some photos in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

After dinner we made our way to the Arcade Museum. It was fun to actually play with the vintage games. I was so excited when I saw they had a photo booth. Gus said they are a curse for couples but I reassured him my parents took a ton when they were young.

The next morning Gus woke up early (due to staying in a hostel.) He text me early in the morning and said, “I’m ready.” We were up so early nothing was open when we walked around town. We set out a quest to find china town. I had driven pass it many times but never bothered to walk the streets. Since he is in to marshal arts, this place was heaven for him. We ended up spending three hours shopping, and looking around.

When we were done I said, “My turn, lets go to hippie town.”

I finally got a t-shirt made that I’ve been talking about. “Go Indie.” It was a comment I made once on Facebook when a friend was complaining about how dumb movies are. We made our way down to Dolores Park to get a coffee. It was kinda strange to find so many people sitting at the park on a Wednesday morning, it seemed like no one had anything to do. We found the atmosphere to be relaxing.

3pm hit and it was time for the long 10 hour drive to the magical land of Portland and Seattle!!!

Road Trip: Yosemite

I remember flying to Canada, looking out the window and seeing the west coast light up with splendor. I got excited when I recognized the Golden Gate Bridge. I tried to guess where Portland was. It seemed like there was so much to see down there, and here I was flying over it.

I first mention a road trip to my boyfriend, only to get one of his honest answers, “You do know we will hate each other by the end of it.” I smiled as I knew this was his way of saying lets do it.

A few days before our schedule departure date, we began to make plans, which wasn’t easy. It turned out to be very confusing, “Which day are we sleeping in Seattle? Where do you want to stay in Portland? So we leave San Francisco in the morning? Do we really want to drive 10 hours straight?” We decided we would figure it out on the way. With only a blue print, we would let the trip unfold before us. It sounded nice at the moment…but more on that later.

Our first destination, camp at Yosemite National Park.

The ride was exciting, listening to all of our new music, talking about what we would do in each city. When we arrived to Yosemite, we stopped right away. I didn’t want to miss anything while driving to our camp site. The first thing I noticed was everything was green, the air was fresh and the world seemed so big.

What caught my eye was the way the sun was hitting the forest. The shadows seem to make the forest come to life. When we were out looking for fire wood, we saw a deer. I had never seen a wild animal. We made eye contact with the deer and all of us stood still for thirty seconds.

That night was one of the longest nights ever. We knew we couldn’t bring any camping gear since both of us would be flying out of Portland, so we figured we could sleep in the car. We had no idea how small that car really was. We put the back seat down thinking it would level out, but instead made two levels. Gus slept in the trunk and I on top of the back seat. Both of us would wake up in the middle of the night laughing at how squished we were. The car was so small, and the temperature was dropping every hour.

I woke up around 6am, got ready and walked around.

When Gus woke up we left to find a look out. What we found was heaven.

I tried to figure out how early explorers traveled through these mountains back in the days. I guess the old fashion way, hiking. Lucky for us there was a road leading straight to this look out. We left Yosemite knowing there was still so much to see. Up next, San Francisco.

Journey to Salvation Mountain

Niland, California // 200 miles from LA.

Being a city girl I was amazed at how many stars I could see at the Mecca camping ground. As I set up my tripod to take some photos of the sky, I snap my first photo and laughed as it was just a black screen with one white dot on it. My friend then helped me figure out night settings.

That night my friend and I went to check out the Salton Sea. When we pointed the flash light to the ground to watch our step, we found that we were surrounded by hundreds of dead fish. The next morning we went out and snapped some photos. The smell was so strong that when we returned to our camping ground we had to blow our nose in order to get the smell of dead fish out.

Niland is this small old town, it almost a ghost town. We followed the google map directions which lead us to a dirt road. When I saw the painted mountain in the distance it felt pretty surreal.

Right away we were welcomed by Leonard, the creator of Salvation Mountain. He began to tell us the story behind the mountain. You can check out my film shots Road Trip to Salvation Mountain (35mmFilm) and some more writings about the place.

I loved when he told us the story of the blue birds, he was so passionate about it. He explained that he spent years on creating a tree but only a few minutes on the blue birds. The birds were see on “Into the Wild” and are now world famous.

Its a beautiful and inspiring place to visit.

An older couple in Santa Monica told us we had to go and see Joshua Tree.  But before, we stop in the middle of no where and played with our echos.

The drive through Joshua Tree was long but was worth it. I never knew the desert could be so beautiful.

The warm sun and the cool air made us both so sleepy, and since I am a great friend, I drove home. Sal snapped a few photos of Palm Springs.

Camping was really fun, I highly recommend it.