BC - California
It's always a treat to fly down and visit friends in LA or San Fransisco, but nothing compares to doing the trip on the road. I hopped in my cruiser with my best friend, Graham who had recently quit his job to go chase summer, leaving behind a cooling Vancouver for sunny California.
We drove to Portland on our first day, breaking in the rooftop tent with a campout in the driveway of a cinematographer friend I met on instagram named Octave, he also has a beautiful Landcruiser and gets up to some cool stuff, so he was very welcoming to let us crash in his yard for the night before making our way south.
Our plan was to avoid going on the I-5 as much as we could, sticking to the old highways that ventured through the scenic routes. We headed east along the 395 towards Reno, stopping at Crater lake for a piss and some food. Our next camp spot was about 5 hours away from Reno, along a lake. We set up camp in the dark, cooked some pasta & woke up the next morning to find out that the lake had dried up... a sad sight, but a good sign that we were getting closer to the warmer climates in California.
In between Reno & Yosemite is a bit of a blur, lots of small California towns, deserts, mountain passes & americana. We were keen to keep rolling through until we arrived in Yosemite to start our first day of rock climbing. We made the mistake of staying at a hostel called the Yosemite Bug hostel, it's not that it was a bad spot, but it took almost an hour each day in and out of the park to get back and forth... also the decor in the place was weird to say the least and so were most of the people there... not the dirtbag climbers we were hoping to see.
Yosemite is an intimidating mammoth of granite, something you need to see in person to truly understand... and the climbing was just the same... even the easiest routes we could find proved to be difficult just at the reach of our capacity. It didn't stop us from getting up on some amazing climbs over a few days in the park, and made us itch to come back again to tackle more.
I don't know what it is about the desert, but i've always had some sort of respect for it... the same respect I have for the mountains. Just a vast baron landscape with nothing but flat lands, sandy plaines, jagged rocks and no water for miles and miles. This is what enticed me to check out Death Valley...
We drove endlessly through the desert it felt, south east towards Las Vegas. With no A/C we were windows down in shorts and t-shirt, finally found our summer. We were on our way to Vegas to meet up with our friend Andrew Knapp for a small lantern festival in the desert called RISE. The festival was a few hours long just after sunset, and thousands of people came to release lanterns in the sky. It was a powerful experience, and a great stop on the journey.
Just before we were about to leave, someone at a gas-station told us about Red Rocks, a park just 20 minutes outside the strip, a meca for rock-climbing... so with a few extra days to kill, we decided to go check it out, and to our luck, it was the best climbing i've ever done. Graham taught me how to lead my first climb, it was scary but stoked to send it to the next level.
Heading south to Joshua tree, we passed through the Mojave Desert, similar to Death Valley, except with a bit more life. Cactus start to appear, coyote and armadillo... But similar with hundreds of miles of baron landscape. You feel like if your truck broke down here, you will run out of water and the vultures will start circling over you. Lucky for us we didn't break down, but we did take a break to do some penny boarding in the middle of the desert.
Probably one of my favourite spots in southern California. We camped in the campground of the park, there were no spots left when we showed up, but luckily we were able to score a spot on the second night and camped for a few days here. The stars at night are comparable to the Rockies, the day-time is very hot, even in October... the climbing is everywhere and so are the coyotes, hundreds of them just in our campground alone.
PALM SPRINGS & LA
Graham & I parted ways in Palm Springs as I linked up with Julia & my parents for Desert Trip, a music festival with acts like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones & Pink Floyd. Our family had been planning to attend this for almost a year & it was awesome to see the legends come together for a festival like that. We were supposed to be camping on site in the truck with a friend who drove down from BC in his Landcruiser as well, but there was some complication with the camping passes we had so instead we opted for a beautiful villa with a private pool, not bad. the following few days were spent in Palm Springs at the ACE Hotel where we went to bingo night with a hilarious host named shirley. After some R&R, we ventured to LA to visit some friends, go to Disneyland & stay at the LINE hotel in Koreatown, before hitting the road back North.
DRIVING BACK ALONG THE COAST
We made good time from LA to our first camp spot along the coast... with a quick pit-stop in Ventura to meet "Chipper Bro" a legendary receptionist at the Patagonia HQ, recommended stop from my friend Harvey and then we continued north as far as we could. Things were a bit blurry between Ventura and Big Sur, we did a long day... about 8 hours of driving to get up there, and camped on the side of the 1 on a pull-out.
Probably one of my favourite stops along the coast. A small town on the rocky banks of the US-1. Just a quaint artistic town with some beautiful landscape, including the infamous Mcway Falls pictured here.
The Redwoods are a staple of California, an old growth forest with trees the width of cars, I had always missed this part of California when driving so we drove through the 'Avenue of giants' in one of the most memorable parts of the road trip. The road winds through the forest like a never-ending Jurassic Park forest... and when you pop out the other side, you are in Bigfoot Country... This was a great discovery for me, having encountered a Sasquatch in BC a few years back with some friends and now we were now in the area where the famous footage from the 1950's was filmed. The video is controversial, skeptics think it was staged, but Bigfoot enthusiasts believe that the video clearly depicts a female Sasquatch, walking unlike a human, unlike a bear. Why would someone go through the trouble of creating such an elaborate costume and depict a female? I guess it's all up for debate, either way... I was so excited to be driving through this part of California... & had to stop and meet some characters.
OREGON COAST & HOME
The last stretch was a time crunch. Julia had to be back at work, and it was evident the trip was coming to an end. We drove along the northern border of California up along the Oregon Coast, it was late & we were both tired so we decided to post up for the last night along the ocean at a rest stop... not ideal, but we were hoping to wake up to a great view.
At around 2 am, the storm begun. It started out with a heavy rain combined with thrashing wind, but only seemed to worsen. At around 3am, we decided to batten down the hatches, but the rain started to blow through the tent sideways, soaking through the canvas. At around 4am, it was a full on category 3 storm, the wind was bending the tent frame, the truck was swaying from side to side, and although I kept my cool... I was worried that we might be in trouble. We somehow managed to sleep in the wet tent through the rest of the night, maybe only falling asleep for a few minutes total before packing up and making the tired wet ride home to Vancouver. Later on, I was chatting with my friend in Bend, OR about it and he mentioned that just weeks before along the coast, tornados had actually been forming and could have ripped our tent right off... A perfect way to end an epic trip, with a little adventure.