Summer Road Trip Series: from Detroit to San Diego

I remember the surreal feeling I got every time I told someone I was moving to California.

It’s something you need to keep repeating to remind yourself that it’s real, especially when you’re moving all the way across the country to do it.

That’s why Sarah of XO Sarah fame’s recent move to San Diego was so exciting to read about during the process. It brought me back to the rush of anticipation I felt for so long before my own big move.

To continue on with the Summer Road Trip Series (here’s part one), Sarah tells us about the big move she made last month to San Diego all the way from Detroit—more than 2,300 miles!



“This road trip was a quickie! Four days in the car, blasting our way across the states as I moved from Detroit to San Diego. My friend Beth and my rat terrier, Slayer, came along for the ride in my tiny Scion.

Since we were trying arrive in San Diego at a certain time, most of the scenic photos were actually taken out the car window, flying 80 mph down the highway. Detroit to Omaha was fairly uneventful, outside of some killer enchiladas, a hail storm (thanks Michigan!), and massive wind turbine blades being hauled down the highway every hour or so. It was mostly farms and cows and quiet, which we happily disrupted with an Ace of Base Pandora station.”

XO Sarah



“In Denver we downed giant salads and met up with Beth’s friend who gave both of us dead-on tarot car readings over beers in the back of a dive bar. The next day we stopped a couple hours into the Rockies to cool off in Grizzly Creek and listened to old-timey bluegrass, which seemed perfect for the scenery.

Driving through the canyons in Utah was my favorite part of the trip. People use the word amazing a lot, but for this it is completely appropriate. I had never seen anything so big and empty.

On the creepy pitch-black drive into Vegas, Beth told me alien abduction stories and we were stunned by the sea of glitter that poured out of the mountains upon our arrival. Vegas from the ground is much more spectacular than Vegas from the air.

I drove the last five-hour leg to San Diego alone (Beth flew home from Vegas) and was drawn to the parched, vacant vastness of the desert more than I expected. Growing up in Michigan there are trees and grass and people everywhere – in the desert from Nevada to California there is nothing but sand and heat and I loved it.”





“Now that I’m in California I’d love to road trip straight up the coast to Seattle. I’ve always wanted to see the redwoods, take a photo in front of the Full House house in San Francisco, kill my sugar craving with VooDoo donuts in Portland, and visit Pike Place Market and the Space Needle in Seattle. I’m also planning, now that I have my passport (only took me 29 years!), to get further out of the country than Canada at some point soon!”


Sarah’s Blog // Twitter // Instagram

Live it up in San Diego, Sarah!

This time next week, I’ll have another cross-country trip to share. But this trip is taking the southern route.


Through the Lens: Photos from May

VW camper

It seems like just yesterday half of my Facebook friends were sharing that tired old “It’s gonna be May” meme. (Just kidding. That grinning, curly-haired JT mug never gets old.)

Now, it’s almost time to officially kick off the summer months. Is anyone else as happy as I am when it’s 7:30 p.m. and still light outside?

It’s been a jam-packed past few weeks, and I’m looking forward to the month ahead. But first, here’s a look back at some of my favorite moments from May—photo roundup style.


Joshua Tree plantlife


Ah, yes. More Joshua Tree pics. I was pretty snap-happy that weekend, and the landscape never disappointed. The wild plant life fascinated me as much as the impressive boulders did.

Also impressive? Rooftop bars, baby.

DTLA rooftop

Los Feliz home

Palermo Los Feliz

fire escape

Besides taking in the downtown skyline at night, I also spent a fair amount of time checking out Los Feliz, which is adjacent to my neighborhood. (In fact, I’m right on the border between Los Feliz and Silver Lake.) It has such a neighborhood-y feel—I love it.

Joshua Tree


And I can never get enough of those dreamy mountains.

So that’s my May in a nutshell! Now, I’m ready to kick off June with a day at the beach. (Tomorrow’s gonna be a hot one.)

What are you looking forward to in June?

Camping in Joshua Tree

Johsua Tree

Photo by John Mancini

This weekend I slept in the desert beneath the stars, and it was just what I needed.

No WiFi, no cell reception, no looming deadlines and no worries. And it. Was. Awesome.

Joshua Tree rocks

Joshua Tree

John and I ventured two hours out of the city to Joshua Tree National Park, a place straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. With the crazy rock formations and twisty yucca plants, it feels very much like a made-up fantasy world, and I was happy to call it home for the weekend.

Joshua Tree wildlife and landscape

We pitched our tent in the popular Hidden Valley campground, a first-come first-serve site nestled among several large rock formations that make for great climbing. There were a lot of pro climbers who scaled impressive boulders—we stuck to the formations that didn’t require a harness and rope.

The sun woke us up early each morning, and John and I got two full days of climbing, hiking and exploring in. We followed several trails, checking out the plant and wildlife along the way (I spotted one lizard way up high that was the size of my calf), and we took breaks by firing up the propane stove and eating canned soup in the shade.

Joshua Tree cave

Joshua Tree rock climbing

camping in Joshua Tree

Temperatures were in the low 90s, but I truly felt the difference between the desert heat and the East Coast summer heat I’m so used to. 90 degrees in Maryland feels like death. But in Joshua Tree without humidity, it was tolerable. There were regular cool breezes to offer relief, and the shade was a perfect respite as well. It was almost perfect weather-wise, though tourist season will soon die down when higher temperatures become more frequent. It’s not a place you want to be when it’s 100 degrees or more.

Joshua Tree sunset

Joshua Tree panoramic view


Joshua Tree

What are some of the camping essentials for Joshua Tree?

Sunscreen is a given. And twice as much water as you think you’ll need. (This campground doesn’t have pumps for water, so you’ll need to bring extra jugs for washing out pots and pans.) That means you’ll also want hand wipes or sanitizer after using the lovely restrooms. Firewood is a must for evenings—it cools off considerably at night, and all of the campsites have in-ground grills. We didn’t have any, but I’d love to bring headlamps here, too. We spotted several climbers who wore headlamps and braved the boulders at night. Finally, remember there’s no cell phone service whatsoever, so it’s important to plan ahead and let people know you’re going off the grid.

John & CassieCamping in Joshua Tree was the perfect way to kickstart a summer that I’m hoping will be a good mix of both work and play. Our next camping adventure? Big Bear!

Have you been to Joshua Tree? What are some of your favorite national parks?