We had originally planned to spend six months on the road until I booked fall weddings back in Florida and the Caribbean. At the time we figured we’d fly from wherever, but the thought of leaving Sterling and Bruce behind for a few days was too much. Then right after we left I got a gig in Breckenridge for the end of September, which we rerouted entirely around.
That meant we only had a few weeks to travel through Cali then Colorado and make it back to Florida before our inaugural road trip came to a halt. The journey had to get cut short, but we’re not even close to stopping this train. In fact, the timing couldn’t have worked out better since we have some repairs and responsibilities to take care of before continuing the adventures.
The final month mapped out to be a mini tour of National Parks. We left Crater Lake for the Redwood Forest and landed at a very NorCal campground on the Klamath river. It was Labor Day weekend and the hosts were throwing a BBQ, so we bought tickets with our reservation and thoroughly enjoyed the local salmon with a generous side of people watching. This was Sasquatch territory and it felt like we would encounter Big Foot at any moment. We took the beaten path to marvel at the mighty Redwoods. The winding pavement led us along the coastline and into the enchanted forest for hours of entertainment. Cruising down the Avenue of the Giants, each tree trumped the next with massive stumps and endless root systems.
Instead of dragging Sterling down the PCH, we ventured inland to the other wine country. Harvest Hosts for the win with our two day stay at Six Sigma Winery & Ranch - a major highlight, where we tasted all. the. wine. Jack rabbits, deers, cows, pigs and herding dogs were regularly spotted during the three mile stretch into the gates. It was an awesome experience. Everything was covered in dust and we may have gotten a stowaway mouse while parked there, which was later caught and released covered in peanut butter. Hope you made it, little buddy!
We were able to steal a night in Sacramento with my roommate from Italy. Jessy & Scott had us over for an alfresco dinner at their adorable home in a very Brady Bunch neighborhood. Bruce lived his best life with their pups, Winne & Chip while we consumed the rest of our Six Sigma wine. The drive from there to South Lake Tahoe was hardcore. Coming down 395 put us on the east side of Yosemite National Park for three days of camping off the grid. Yellowstone was breathtaking, but the rugged terrain of Yosemite totally blew our minds. The truck's brakes and transmission were put to test through the great state of California. Chevy Silverado, like a rock.
Some fresh brake fluid and the most expensive gasoline purchase of the trip ($5.99/gallon), and we were back on track. I spotted an old ghost town off of Sterling Road, so you know we had to stop. We were on our way to Simi Valley to second shoot a wedding with Joshua Kane Photography, another impromptu addition to the itinerary. Somehow we avoided the infamous LA traffic but encountered America's bumpiest roads in Beverly Hills en route to San Diego.
Our friends Oliver & Marlee (aka Marliver) got us a $4 permit to park in front of their sweet little setup and kick it for a week in La Jolla. Taco consumption was at an all time high and so were the vibes. We cooked together, cocktail'd and competitively played dominoes each night. Marlee and I had an evening with John Mayer while the boys surfed into dusk, a total win-win situation.
The party continued in the desert when we rolled our caravan into Joshua Tree National Park and celebrated 100 days on the road. Spiky silhouettes covered the horizon as we melted into the sunset and waited for the full moonrise. Our campsite glowed under the harvest moon, which polluted the stargazing but made for epic long exposures and our favorite memories of the trip.
We skipped the strip and did a quick refuel in Vegas so we could catch sunrise in Zion and sunset at Arches National Park, making the most of our brief time in Utah. Fall made its introduction as we entered Aspen to stay with Travis & Hannah for a few short, but sweet days. Hannah took me on a TEN mile hike up Lost Man trail and I honestly thought I was going to die. Between the extreme altitude and being so out of shape - my lungs and legs equally struggled over Independence Pass, but the views were everything. And so were Maroon Bells with Bruce & Gus.
Speaking of scenery, the next stop was at our family’s mountain house in Beaver Creek. From there I commuted to Breckenridge to photograph Sarah + David's wedding. Then we spent a week with the fam in Denver and loved every moment - from making homemade pasta with the kids to nightly fire pit sits and reconnecting with old friends. Calli opened the dreamiest shop in Berkley - Miller Lane Mercantile and let me snap pics. Denver looks good on you, girl! Colorado has always been a special place for us and this visit especially made us want to move to the mountains.
Leaving Colorado was rough. The leaves were beginning to peak and we had less than a week to be back in Florida. We knew the last week on the road was going to be a marathon, needing to cover as much ground as possible. Much less concerned about where to stop and what to see, we were focused on making progress and getting back safely. From Colorado we drove straight through Kansas and lost our back window somewhere along the way. That was fun.