The original idea for this trip west had rough plans to make the Pacific Northwest a final destination. A place where the mountains met the ocean seemed like an obvious option for relocation, whether along Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, among the Cascade mountain range or even as far inland as the beautiful high desert of central Oregon. But in spite of a fun filled summer among the mountains and rivers of the northwest, the road has felt like my home more than any destination I’ve found.
Fall saw a temporary change in pace to my travels, as will happen after a while. Dwindling funds led to a period of downtime in the ranier locales of northern California. Staying with friends and finding odd jobs to get back on top of things allowed me a period of recuperation and reflection among forests full of some of the biggest and tallest trees in the world—a beautiful place to find quiet to think, it should be noted.
The famous Redwoods of Northern California
Vinny and I enjoy some scenery on a hike in the green hills of Northern CA
For another change of pace, I ended up with a travel partner. Vinny and I had close mutual friends for years but had barely met eachother when we rendezvoused along the ‘Lost Coast’ of California. Vinny had spent the previous year and a half living and traveling in Nepal, India and southeast Asia, trekking, volunteering, learning and refining his skills as a writer and photographer. After arriving home and driving cross-country on an 1980’s Honda motorcycle, we found that our styles of travel worked smoothly together.
After some time in the rainy north, Vinny and I promised outselves an ample dose of desert time. Starting with Joshua Tree in southern California, the desert was to be a refreshment for body and spirit, a return to the humble but rewarding pursuits of rock climbing and a fresh foray into new lands and communities.
Sleeping out among the cacti and coyotes, we felt reunited with our natural surroundings in a way even our time among the big trees couldn’t provide. Finding a natural rhythm again was the refreshment we needed, experiencing dusk and dawn each night and morning and learning our lessons from the rocks, the moon and the desert life.
Reconsidering the underlying goals of my travels has only been valuable and illuminating. Like anything else, travel should be undertaken with intention. Finding a place to live in Oregon or Washington may no longer be the goal of my travels, but the life I have discovered since hitting the road has taken on a momentum of its own. For now at least, the life I live, the growth and learning I seek, will continue to come to me in my life as a traveler.
Its easy to feel small among these giants.
Even at the end of a dry summer in the midst of a long running drought, life springs forth in those forests.
A special experience, waking up above a sea of clouds
Dawn light in Joshua Tree National Park, a very different scene from the clouds of Northern California
The first in a series of night shots I took on my first night in Joshua Tree. I was looking forward to arriving here for a long time, for the climbing and a return to the desert, but it felt like we were treated to a particularly special show for our first weekend.
One of the coolest things about Joshua Tree I've seen so far is the climbing community. Whether making new friends to climb with or watching these guys freesolo by moonlight and headlamps, it's a pleasure to be surrounded by people truly enjoying the life they choose to live.
As usual, a return to the desert feels like a revelation. Feeling both otherworldly and uniquely earthbound, an environment like this can allow us to shed so much of the artifice we inherit from our society and listen to ourselves and our surroundings.
Vinny rappelling in the background while my friend Leo climbs in the foreground. For some fun backstory, I first met Leo at a hostel in Istanbul in 2013 and we were both in for quite the surprise to run into eachother in top of a climb at the park.
Vinny 'topping out', finishing the tallest climb in Joshua Tree.