Welcome to Field Notes, a quick behind-the-scenes recap of the goings on in my life that didn’t make the cut for social media or larger blog posts. Essentially, this is a dumping grounds for photos and thoughts that I believe are worth a glance.
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The Bro’d Trip: March
March began where February ended. As it does every year. But you know what I mean.
We started our 3rd month on the road wrapping up a week spent in Big Bend National Park. We met up with our Florida friend, Sean, who’d moved out there to work in the park. He showed us some of his favorite spots and then we explored some new ones together.
On our last night in Big Bend, Sean took us just outside the park to the nearest town. A revived ghost town, Terlingua is home to a few bars and restaurants. We ended up at an open mic night and this old dude shredded every instrument you could imagine. I didn’t even know what half of them were called! We also got to talking with a couple cool girls that were on their way into Big Bend for a weekend backpacking trip. But I’ll get to that later….
In Big Bend someone told us that the desert is where you go to find yourself. He was pretty stoned at the time so I didn’t really take it to heart. Mainly because he’d just finished trying to convince me that he’s the mayor of Roswell. You know, that town in New Mexico with all the alleged UFO sightings.
Whether I found myself or not, I still don’t know. But we did find a little gem of a town. Marfa is a little artsy town in the middle of nowhere. It’s got a handful of hip restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries, and campgrounds. But my favorite part of this quirky little desert haven is Prada Marfa. A few miles outside the little town is a Prada storefront. It’s got a few handbags and shoes for display behind the thick glass but the door won’t open. Because it’s not a real store. It’s an art installment that uses its surrounding environment to show the juxtaposition between baron desert landscapes and a glamorous city life. Cool, huh?
While planning our trip route, Justin and I made sure we’d be in an area of interest for each of our birthdays. So for Justin’s big day, we spent a weekend at Hueco Tanks, a legendary bouldering area in West Texas. Since I’m not much of a climber, I decided to film Justin’s “Birthday Challenge.” I ended up having to do a bit of climbing just to get to the real climbs! You can watch the short film here as Justin attempts 26 climbs for his 26th birthday:
After spending a few days in Justin’s element, I convinced him to let me spend an evening in mine. I love photographing concerts and when I caught wind that Gary Clark Jr. (one of my new favorite blues artists and native Texan) was in El Paso, we jetted down for the show. Justin hates blues and ended up leaving early (my eyes rolled as I typed that) and I enjoyed a 2+ hour set of soulful lyrics and guitar solos. You can check out my live review and photos from the night here on ShowsIGoTo.com.
Remember the cool backpacker girls from Big Bend? Well we kept in touch with them and after their backpacking trip, they still had enough leg strength to hike up Guadalupe Peak with us. We can officially say we’ve been to the highest point in Texas! We can also say the four of us demolished a bottle of Fireball in the van after a long day of hiking.
We thought exploring Carlsbad Caverns would give our legs a break after Guadalupe, but we were wrong. We were taken miles underground as we explored the endless amount of stalagmites and stalactites. I still get the two mixed up though….
I didn’t run into the mayor of Roswell while in Roswell. But we did splurge for the $2 admission into the UFO and Alien Museum. After a couple hours of perusing newspaper articles and wax models, I’m still not quite convinced of their existence. Maybe I need another trip to the desert….
Albuquerque made our list of places to visit in New Mexico solely to nerd out on locations seen in Breaking Bad. We visited the car wash, Walt’s house, and Tuco’s lair, which conveniently sits above the best coffee shop in the state. Java Joe’s gave us perfect huevos rancheros and the perfect setting to pound out some blog posts.
White Sands National Monument is as brutal as it is beautiful. The miles of giant sand dunes weren’t formed gently. The wind whips them into shape 24 hours per day. That meant that our backpacking excursion resulted in sand in every crevice. I think I’m still picking grains of sand out of my hair to this day!
To redeem a rough night in the backcountry, I rented a sled from the visitor center to go sand sledding. Turns out it’s pretty difficult, resulting in even more sandy pants. You can watch my radical sand sledding skills (or lack thereof) in this video:
With the “Check Engine” light on as we left White Sands, we jetted back up to Albuquerque to get the van looked at. A pricey EGR Valve replacement gave us headaches, lots of time to do some work, and much lighter pockets if you know what I mean.
A friend in Tucson, Arizona took us to the wonderfully touristy town of Tombstone. My favorite part (besides the beer) was the reenactment of the legendary Doc Holiday gunfight in the street.
Cacti are people too | Tucson, AZ
I have a friend, Tarik, from college that moved out to Oceanside, California. And I understand why. With clean waves and consistent weather in the 70s, we didn’t want to leave.
But the superbloom in Death Valley National Park was calling to us. The last superbloom was decades ago. These wildflowers need the perfect temperatures and rainfall in order to bloom and March of 2016 provided epic conditions for these little freaks of nature to flourish. I still can’t believe I got to witness it first hand!
And just like that, our 3rd month living in a van came to a close. But not before a quick ridge run in the hottest place in the country!