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!

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THE INSPIRATION

“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

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THE HIGHLIGHTS

“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.”

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THE NEXT ADVENTURE

“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!”

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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.

 

Summer Road Trip Series: from Big Sur to Seattle

Summer Road Trip series

The Great American Road Trip was the stuff of my dreams in high school.

When we were teenagers, my best girlfriends and I used to fantasize about taking a Volkswagen bus (the color of which was negotiable) across the country all the way to sunny California. We didn’t talk about what we’d do once we got there—the trip itself would be adventure enough, possessing the same aesthetic as a Free People catalog.

When I finally did take that epic road trip from Baltimore to Los Angeles, the circumstances were a bit different (moving with the boyfriend, headed for grad school, with no way of justifying $80 Free People jean shorts), but the trip was no less magical than I’d dreamed up years before. Driving through the mountains, the plains and the desert all the way to the coast was satisfyingly surreal.

Almost just as surreal as that life-changing trip was then is the fact that it happened a year ago this month.

An anniversary like that can’t go unacknowledged. So I invited a few talented and adventurous friends to share their travel stories for a Summer Road Trip Series. Once a week over the next few weeks, I’ll introduce you to a bold traveler who will tell you all about their road trip—destination anywhere—in their own words and, of course, through their photos. And what better time to start than on the Fourth of July?

Kicking off the series, meet David of Death to the Stock Photo (a site some of my blogger friends might recognize… I’ve used it for gorgeous, free photos!). He traveled more than a thousand miles along the West Coast and saw some beautiful sights along the way.

In David’s own words:

“We started in San Francisco renting a car and driving it down the coast to Big Sur. From there we traveled around the area, then back to San Francisco and up to Seattle. We went north of Seattle about an hour to Deception Pass for camping.”

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Big Sur to Seattle

THE INSPIRATION

“The purpose of the trip was that we had crowdfunded it to create really quality imagery for designers and bloggers to use in their work. So each location was filled with shooting everything we saw that inspired us and sharing it with the backers who had been following along.”

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THE HIGHLIGHTS

“Catching sunset at the Bixby Bridge was incredible. The contrast of all of the elements from the hills to the rocks to the water was incredible and we got to share it with some other people who had been waiting there for the sun to go down. At the end of that night we went to these really private hot springs that only open from midnight to 2 a.m. at a place called The Esalen Institute. The hot springs were under an amazing night sky full of stars and the hot water and crashing waves below were incredibly relaxing.”

Bixby Bridge

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THE NEXT ADVENTURE

“I really want to go to Iceland to explore around and see the Northern Lights. There’s a promo called Iceland Airwaves which is tickets to a music festival, hotel, and plane ticket for under a thousand dollars because they’re trying to promote tourism. I’d love to explore that landscape and capture it with my camera. Thailand has always been a place calling my name, as well.”

DavidDavid on Twitter // Instagram // Facebook

I hope David takes that trip to Iceland soon so I can swoon over the photos.

Where is the Summer Road Trip Series headed next? I’ll give you a hint next week, and you can see if your guess is right next Friday for part two.

 

Through the Lens: photos from June

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Once again, another month has flown by, but July marks a special anniversary for me.

In mid-July of last year, John and I hit the road for an epic cross-country road trip. We were headed West by way of the suburbs of Baltimore.

I’ve lived in Los Angeles for almost a year now, which is surreal to say. It seems like just yesterday we were crashing at a family friend’s house scouring Craigslist and Padmapper and Zillow and every other rental site you can think of for a place to call home. We’ve come a long way since then.

But before I get all nostalgic for last year’s big adventure, let’s take one last parting look at June’s adventures.

amp Angel City brewery

John played a couple of gigs, and I even joined him on background vocals for a few songs. We met some awesome people those nights.

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I got to check out the L.A. Zoo, discovered my new favorite fish taco stand in Silver Lake, peeked into windows and dreamed about the houses in the hills.

This month’s highlight was a road trip to Big Bear Lake, just a couple hours east of L.A.

Big Bear Lake mountains

Big Bear was incredible. We camped there for the weekend and found the perfect site in Hanna Flats campground. The weather was perfect—crisp air and insanely blue skies. The highlight of the trip might’ve been the drive itself. As we climbed up more than 7,000 feet, we rose above a thick bed of clouds. I felt so small in the best possible way up in those mountains.

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Every time we go on a new adventure like this mini road trip and our last trip to Joshua Tree, I’m reminded of last summer and how I explored so many new-to-me parts of the country for the first time. I plan to always make that kind of adventure a regular part of my life. Being on the road and seeing how insanely different the landscape can be in just a couple hours’ drive blows my mind every time I get out there. I think that mind-blowing factor is good exercise for the brain.

For my fellow road trip enthusiasts out there, I’ve got something special planned for July that I think you’ll enjoy.

I’ve reached out to a handful of travel and photography enthusiasts who are going to be sharing their adventures in a summer road trip series, which will kick off this Friday (the Fourth of July!) and last throughout July—possibly longer. Because you can’t romanticize the Great American Road Trip enough.

So keep an eye out for that this week and join me in welcoming July! What are you looking forward to this month?

Through the Lens: Photos from May

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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.

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Joshua Tree plantlife

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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.

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Los Feliz home

Palermo Los Feliz

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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.

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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?

Hanging in Pacific Beach, San Diego

Pacific Beach

One of the biggest benefits of going back to school is having breaks again.

And I kicked off my spring break by driving two hours south to sunny San Diego with John this past weekend. (It was his birthday!) We’d stayed in the city before, and we each had spent some time on Coronado Island, but this time, we opted for Pacific Beach, which was beautiful, laid-back and very bike-able. I was so glad we brought our bikes along—we hardly drove anywhere all weekend.

bike Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach pier cottageslifeguard standTurns out a lot of other people were traveling to San Diego for spring break, too. While there was some debauchery, nothing ever interfered with our visit. It helped that we were only half a block away from the beach.

Pacific Beach

My favorite part? Watching the sun set over the Pacific two days in a row. On Friday, we watched it from a rooftop bar. On Saturday, we watched it from the beach. Both times, the crowds that had gathered to watch applauded when the last sliver of sun disappeared.

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

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Other trip highlights include stargazing by the shore. People watching. Dog watching. Making rum-infused smoothies in the hotel room. (We brought our own blender.) Spending a weekend away from the computer. And simply relaxing. A shout-out to Woody’s, Beaumont’s and Dirty Birds, which were some of the food & drink highlights of the weekend. Not to mention all our servers and bartenders. Is it just me, or is everyone nicer on the West Coast?

Now, I plan on using the rest of my spring break wisely by getting some reading, writing and cleaning done.

Do you have any upcoming travel plans you’re looking forward to?