I met the Rival Summers guys in 2012 at a show in Mojoes because somebody had mentioned to me that they needed a place to crash in Chicago. They were a friend of a friend so I offered my place up to them. I didn't know that I would be meeting life long friends and supporters.
Years later, we had lost touch but they jokingly said something about 'anyone want to come to california with us while we record our album?' and me being off tour and bored in chicago said, "um... yes."
The rest is history. We left a little over a week later on the morning of August 22nd to head to San Diego. The guys arrived at my house in Chicago at around 1PM, we decided to make a very unrealistic detour and explore San Francisco and we drove all the way to California and made it there at 10PM the next night, making very few stops. It was a complete adventure and we didn't have to be in San Diego until Tuesday. Here's our adventure.
So we didn't take many photos until we got to Salt Lake City, Utah. The drive through the midwest is something I've experienced many times. Very lucky to do what I do but the drive is SO BORING. It's just completely flat until you get to Wyoming. Luckily we got to Wyoming as the sun was rising so it was beautiful! We cruised straight to SLC, stopped at Whole Foods for lunch, then stopped at a viewing point to look at the Salt Lake. When we got to the Salt Flats, we pulled off and went running around. It was the strangest thing because it was about 90 degrees (F) out but it looked like the antarctic. It honestly messed with my head. The fog/smoke combo in the sky made me feel like I was completely lost and we walked nearly a mile out into the abyss.
We got back on the road and I drove from SLC all the way to Reno, NV where we treated ourselves with IN N OUT BURGER where I ate a grilled cheese in five seconds.
At about 8PM (Sunday) we then got back on the road and cruised straight to San Francisco. We stopped along the way at some vista points because it's a bucket list goal of mine to photograph stars in the mountains. It was just absolutely insane. In the middle of the drive we took some time to re-evaluate what our plan was going to be since we were so ahead of schedule. The original plan was to take all of Monday and explore San Fran, and then drive down to San Diego tuesday morning. But we realized we had time to explore the Pacific Coast Highway (a bucket list goal for all three of us) so we bailed on San Fran (sorry) and decided to go for it. Because of this, we went about 40 minutes out of our way to go over the Golden Gate Bridge and also stop at a few vista points to do more long exposures / be in complete awe. When we got to the GGB, we blasted the Full House Theme song and I tried to shoot as many long exposures as I possibly could.
The next day (monday) we got up about 8AM and went to find a Starbucks and supplies for exploring the PCH. Pictured below are trail mix and all of the polaroid / instax cameras we had, etc. I thought they looked cute on the seat! Right after we left the gas station in Monterrey we hit the PCH.
If you're not familiar with what the Pacific Coast Highway is, it mostly consists of Highway 1 but also has parts of 101 in it. It's a very long stretch of highway along the pacific coast from Washington to Seattle and the majority of it is practically in the ocean. In California specifically, you're driving on the edges of mountains almost the entire time. It's breath taking and makes you feel so irrelevant on the larger scale.
My favorite part of the drive.. well. There was two. The first one was this beautiful hidden path. Leo and I happened to see these stairs built into the side of a hill. So we turned the car around and parked across the street to go see what we found. It was like an enchanted garden and there was a path built that lead to this beach that NOBODY was at. There were flowers, a creek and it was just insane. So we explored there for about an hour and chased some waves.
After we left, we headed to Big Sur. Another bucket list item of mine specifically because of Death Cab for Cutie's Bixby Canyon Bridge reference. When we got there I realized how terrified I was. We parked across the street from the BCB sign and noticed that the road we parked near was closed but used for bridge passage when the bridge was under construction. So we after we explored the bridge, we walked down the road for about a half mile to see what we could find. Sam kept bringing up mountain lions on the entire trip and I started panicking (haha) so we eventually we headed back. We we got back to the car to head out we noticed this group of fire fighters had also pulled over to enjoy the view. I thought it was really cute. They are pictured below. Then, we put on Death Cab for the rest of the trip (the entire discography was played) and headed to our next unknown destination.
One of my favorite Vista Points we stopped at was Hurricane Point. Here it is! Along the PCH there's a vista point around nearly every bend.
When we got to the southern point of Los Padres National Forest, we started passing roads that were stacked with the most beautiful Red Wood trees. We pulled over so I could try and hug one and took a few leafs for the car so it would smell like pine.
After this we kept on cruising and decided we would just stop whenever we felt was necessary (so every five minutes because everything was so perfect).
Eventually we got out of the mountainy area of the PCH and everything was pretty flat. I mellowed out on photos and just enjoyed the views. We ended up at In N Out Burger again in Arryoyo Grande. The original plan was to continue on the 1 all the way through malibu but it was so dark that it was easier for us to just take the faster route since we were so exhausted. So we just kept on cruising to LA because we were staying in Studio City that night with my good friend Fish (host on idobi radio). He was kind enough to let us stay with him which was amazing!
The next day we left Studio City at around 9, stopped at coffee bean for the best vanilla lattes and bagles and got to Jesse's house in San Diego at around 1! We spent the day with Jesse, his amazing girlfriend Grace and their two BEAGLES (Copper and Ceasar). They showed us some amazing spots including Pokez where I had the best tofu burrito of all time and then we grabbed the dogs and went to a dog park. Can I just add in here that dog parks are the happiest place in the world? We pet puppies for a bit and then went to this place called Sunset Cliffs. It. Was. Amazing.
The entire trip down the PCH I was complaining about how I wanted to find real life tide pools. Side note about me, I am obsessed with the ocean. I've taken almost every ocean related college course you can think of. All I wanted to do was experience real tide pools. Well, guess what! At sunset cliffs the tide was low and there were TIDE POOLS EVERYWHERE. I didn't bring my camera down here because the waves were pretty nuts. But Leo and I took our shoes off and climbed down the cliff to get a good look. There were so many small tide pools with little crabs, fish, sea anemones, snails and more. I got into the ocean up to my knees and the tide came up, I slipped and held on for dear life. I was hanging out with this little boy who sat and talked to me about baby crabs for about 10 minutes. We had no luck catching a crab (haha). I was so tempted to jump off the cliffs fully clothed but didn't.
While Leo and I were exploring, Sam, Jesse, Grace and the puppies stayed up on the cliff and Jesse snapped a bunch of photos of us exploring on my camera!
The next few days were spent in the studio with Jesse and the Rival Summers guys. After that I went to La Jolla with my good friend Julia. It was beautiful and we went sea kayaking and explored. The next day they evacuated the beach due to sharks. Apparently that never happens there. Call it a coincidence? Bottom line it was so good to see Julia and her boyfriend Dave. I met Julia in April of 2014 and I just connected with her so much. We're similar in the sense that we love adventure. Her soul is amazing and I can't live without her. I introduced her and Dave last spring. Now they are madly in love and their happiness makes me really happy. They made San Diego feel like home and let me snuggle their puppy. It was a happy time.
Saturday and Sunday we mostly were lazy and hung out with the puppies at Jesse's house. It was such needed down time. I left Monday (31st) to head to Minnesota for some quality time with my mom before I leave on the 22nd to began the madness of fall touring. It feels good to be home.
I guess that's it. It's hard to summarize this trip in words. To me, it was more of a blissful feeling. I had so much time to think about life and the entire trip made me realize how content I am with where I am. Does that make sense? I was just surrounded by such incredible friends and positive people. The long drives to technically nowhere helped me clear my head and actually feel mellowed out.
Life is good. I love road trips and California. I need more of them. 2016, I'm coming for you.