Aug 062016
 

I’ve been hibernating lately, as if you hadn’t noticed. A necessary side effect of switching gears. A few months back I started using Traktor to play out instead of Ableton Live, which has been my tool of choice since 2007. I wanted to be more spontaneous in my track selection, like I used to be when I started playing in 2005, and since most of my Floasis crew uses Traktor, it just made sense.

It’s been a bit of a learning curve, and so while I’ve been recording most of my sets lately (as reference points for later to understand where I need to improve), this one stood out to me as enjoyable just as it is. I hope you’ll enjoy it too.

This summer I was invited to submit a mix to the music team of a small-ish underground campout music festival called Friends and Family Campout, or FNF. I played in an amazing indoor space called the Heart Lodge, which was decked out not only with amazing decor, but also a couple dozen large mats adorned with fuzzy blankets a lots of pillows. The theme of the music I chose was “cuddle”.

Tracklist:

1. Ocoeur – Timeless
2. Electricwest – Bruises
3. Hinkstep – Sno (Instrumental)
4. M-Seven – Observatory
5. Nicolas Jaar – Colomb
6. Lab’s Cloud – Hypnotes
7. Kuba – Amber
8. Occam – La Dolce Vita
9. Rocket Empire – Red Room (feat. Chuck Love)
10. Occam – Midnight Taper
11. Module – Fragments of You (feat. Rhian Sheehan + Tom Firth)
12. Desolate – Pain
13. Circular – 3 Moons
14. il:lo – Var (Rework Bonus)
15. Scann-Tec – Phaeton Remains

Jan 262016
 

This week brings not one, but two new mixes into the world. First up – a new trip hop/downtempo mix called Electric Hullabaloo. It’s a studio mix of a set I designed for New Year’s Eve 2014, but due to technical difficulties I didn’t get to play it through or record it. This past Fall I had another opportunity to play with it for a friend’s 40th birthday cocktail party, so I recorded it and then played with it some more in the studio. I’ve got it uploaded to SoundCloud, Mixcloud and Hearthis. Stream and/or download at any of these locations. Enjoy!

In addition, I was asked to donate a mix to the Healing Temple, a new community-based collective dedicated to sharing music of a positive and healing nature. The mix is up for streaming and downloading at SoundCloud. Here’s the link.

Aug 022015
 

Stream from link above, or download Mp3 here.

I was commissioned by yoga instructor Jessica Annand to craft two one-hour mixes for a yoga retreat taking place in July 2015 at Stewart Mineral Springs Retreat Center near Mt. Shasta, California. While I’ve played live during yoga sets before, this was the first time I’d created any in the studio. This is the first of the two. The word “Yitha” means “One” in the Karuk tribal language, indigenous to the region. There are gentle beats and expansive spaces in this mix, as per her request.

Mastered by David Sonoform.

Tracklist:

1. Modcam – Sonic Zen (Album Mix)
2. Makyo – Soar Angelic
3. Samorost – You
4. Xerxes – Longyaard
5. The Sushi Club – Mujo
6. Union Jack – Water Drums
7. String Theories – White Dragon
8. Coppice Halifax – Greensea
9. Snakestyle (feat. Minnie Rogers) – A Rainy Night in London
10. Electricwest – Bruises
11. Keston and Westdal – Spring in December
12. Krusseldorf – Creation
13. Rhian Sheehan – Standing in Silence Pt. 4

Jun 102015
 

In May 2015 I was invited to take some pictures of my good friend Dennis Bunton, aka Ion Driver, who was opening for one of my favorite electronic music producers, Tipper, in a show at the incredible venue called Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado. After connecting with the show’s producer, he decided to offer me one of only three all-access photography passes so I could shoot the entire show – and I had a blast! The venue is on a hill so there was a lot of ground to cover, but I was on the move most of the time and had the time of my life.

Check out the set here.

2015_Red_Rocks_Tipper-Etc-Final-20

 

Jun 072015
 

Another Fine Day - A Good Place to Be (Remixes)

This new EP of remixes from Interchill’s company of downtempo talents is full of beauty, an enjoyable ride through ambient and rhythmic interpretations of the well-received original release. Every single track here is a keeper.

1. And Dream of Seals (Alucidnation Remix) – Lush piano intro calls softly to have a listen as more varied sounds are introduced. Bass line and soft percussion merge perfectly with piano, beginning a hint of a journey toward dub. As percussion and bass disappear, we are submerged into a bubbly dubbly soundscape, ever wending its way through like a droplet of water falling through leaves on a tree.

2. And Dream of Seals (Another Fine Day Chaos Theory Remix) – Forestlike sounds greet our ears before the piano, beautifully stuttered, begins its tale. Right on cue, the rhythm begins. By the time the tabla and mild glitch appear, a theme has been set and we are on a gentle, wandering tour through staccato percussiveness, all the while the thread of the xylophonic melody keeping us on track. The track slowly, very slowly, makes its way to silence, never losing its itinerary.

3. And Dream of Seals (Ishq remix) – A prayer in sonic form which allows our brains and ears a narrative while offering plenty of space for exploration. As with other remixes in this collection, the piano is an integral part of the story, introduced almost immediately and remaining present like a buoy in the sea. At just under 9 minutes, this remix has the time and space to define itself. While the progression toward the center – where the crux lives – rolls along slowly, it is also as sure as the sky is blue. When the bass appears, it wraps up the elements nicely. These sounds play well together. The latter third of the track withdraws most forms of rhythm from before, yet remains familiar to us; a natural completion to a beautiful journey.

4. Spanish Blues (Greg Hunter Remix) – The strings of a Greg Hunter track are a welcome signature, an announcement that the world is at our door, ready to tell a dubby tale. The structure is set up almost immediately, and so the framework allows us to move to the rhythm while still maintaining a spacious vibe in our brains. This kind of rhythm can be interpreted with movement of the body or simply in the mind, making it a versatile accompaniment for a wide spectrum of activities one might do while listening. Keep this one close at hand.

5. Spanish Blues (Hibernation) – Smoky jazzy orchestral sounds make the initial case for this interpretation, but when the dance begins, you might not want to remain seated (if you even were to begin with). I found some part of my body wanted to be moving with the rhythm of this the entire track, and yet the slightly jazzy psychill environment kept my brain occupied with the perfect blend that Seb Taylor (Hibernation) is known for. The center of the track glides gracefully into a film soundtrack feel, the jazz and trippy accents singing in harmony. There is a good reason why Seb’s music is so central to my listening and DJing playlists – his expressions just simply resonate with my aesthetic so succinctly that it’s like welcoming an old friend in for a cup of tea (and often a dance).

May 202015
 

Photography has been an essential part of my self-expression for over a decade. It brings me joy and a sense of purpose like nothing else. It’s been such a wonderful way to connect with this planet we call home. I firmly believe in the importance of remembering the beauty we’re surrounded with, whether it’s in the mundane or the sublime. This is my intention with my photography.

I’m delighted to announce that I will be exhibiting some of my work soon here in Los Angeles. The space is just perfect and I’m looking forward to welcoming friends and family to join us for the opening night. I hope you can come!

Groundwork Indie Garage ~ Hollywood
1501 N. Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood

Moments of Beauty: Photography of Maggie Houtz

Gallery Opening and Artist Reception
Friday, June 12th 6:30pm – 9:30pm

Lens Flare Over Malibu

Mar 072015
 

Stream from link above, or download MP3 here.

This was a set I created for Tropical’s 16th anniversary campout held at a yoga retreat center in California. Most of the weekend’s music was house music, but there was a block of ambient-into-downtempo on Saturday morning. Starts off ambient and rises into danceable trip hop & downtempo.

The recording of my set had technical issues, so this is a recreation in my studio. Mastered by Brian Saitzyk.

Tracklist:

1. Erothyme – Sunshine Through Speakers (feat. Madelion Moondrop)

2. Giyo – Astro (Give You All I Can)
3. Orchid Star – Wildflower Feat. Myo & Samanta Ray (Pete Ardron Remix)
4. Fresh Moods – Decisions I Made
5. Romo – Awakening
6. Bomb the Bass & Lali Puna – Clearcut (Arovane’s Amx)
7. Bronx Dogs – Cosmos
8. Govinda – City of Pleasure
9. Kaleidoscope Jukebox – Flame Thrower
10. Mr. Squatch – To and Fro
11. Nightmares on Wax – 70s 80s
12. The Eff Word – TBC (Crustation Mix)
13. Backini – Electro Industry
14. Parov Stelar – If I Had You
15. Ugress – Fields of Thieves (2000)
16. Backini – Champagne Flute
17. 40 Winks – Kodak Moment (Long Arm Remix)
18. D-Echo Project – Wind Trails
19. Govinda – Two Become One

Nov 292014
 

I was invited recently to give feedback on the latest comp release from Interchill, one of my favorite labels for choice downtempo. It’s a real winner in my book, so I wanted to share my thoughts here and encourage you to check this out for yourself.

With a comp like this, this is where Interchill and I see eye to eye.  Andrew Ross Collins has come up with a treat for the senses, with an ode to the more melodic side of chill and downtempo, while still maintaining an edge with elements of glitch and bold rhythms. The way I felt when I’d finished listening to Waypoint reminds me of the aftermath of listening to Interchill’s comp releases from a decade ago, which is to say feeling thoroughly satisfied with the journey. Due to the way I tend to process music for review and consideration into my permanent library, I hardly ever tend to listen to a release all together in sequence, but this one works quite well for that. A wonderful compilation, assembled in a defining flow that just works.

Interchill's Latest Compilation

Interchill’s Latest Compilation

01. Grouch – Indifference (Hibernation Remix)

My ears lit up with the last collaboration between these two talents (Grouch remixing  Kaya Project, another of Seb Taylor’s artist projects) and once again I’m digging the melding of their two sounds. Both artists are laser-precise in their mastery of sound manipulation and design, which ensures that even though there’s a lot going on in the track, it never tips over into a crowded soundscape.

02. Drift – Invisible Spirit

Overtones of bossanova start things off and then are switched up by a glitchier palette. It’s a mixture that doesn’t always blend well together for my tastes, but the track weaves back and forth between the two palettes and eventually the more classical palette wins out, which is a win in my book. (Not that I have anything against the glitchy palette – just that it can be challenging to blend it well with more classic sounds and phrasing)

03. Guru Shishya – Rich in Loss

It’s been many years since a new Guru Shishya track has graced my speakers, and I quite liked the one from 9 years ago, Cagian 3 (also released by Interchill). I’m not sure what this artist has been up to in the ensuing time period, but I’m very happy that a new track is upon us. Beautiful acoustic guitar with whispers of angelic voices singing, and an acoustic drum accompaniment that feels like it would be a treat to see this one performed live. A heart-melter for sure.

04. Gaudi – Solaris Vision

Gaudi is one of the most authentic dub-into-dubstep artists I know, remaining entrenched in the crossover between the genres. His sound design is unparalleled. The genre itself is one I can only listen to small amounts of at a time, as I find it all a little too similar; Gaudi’s composition here, however, creates a soundscape that is hypnotic and delivers through to the end.

05. Kaya Project – Dust Devil (Hibernation Remix)

Seb Taylor has a permanent place at my musical table, let me just get that out of the way. Of all his projects, I started out loving him as Kaya Project and then found Hibernation, the perfect mixture of fresh modern sound design and classical, jazzy tones. So a remix of one by the other was bound to perk up my ears. The rhythm here is hypnotic, the sounds varied, and it all blends together into something quite wonderful.

06. Variant Field – Dulcet Dalliance

Wonderful catchy rhythm and sound design from one of my favorite artists, Amani Friend, with his co-creator Alex DeYoung. I’ve previously only known Amani’s work with Treavor Moontribe as Desert Dwellers, and while there are definitive markers in this track to alert you to Amani’s same sensibilities, there is a devotion to a more cinematic, jazzy spectrum that I find irresistible. It’s the kind of track that sounds at home in either a jazzy/loungy playlist or a more modern one.

07. Another Fine Day – Walk Tall (Throwback Dub)

Wonderful, sultry jazz tones with swirls of psychedelia, perfect for a lazy sunday afternoon.

08. Austero – Fuerza Brutal

Lovely mix of electronic and acoustic elements. The bass line is prominently the backbone of the track, and yet somehow doesn’t manage to oversaturate it. Skilled guitar work by Austero.

09. Fredrik Ohr – In Orbit

I was a fan of Ohr’s early eponymous release and have tracked his evolution ever since. As it is with almost any artist and me, not everything hits the nail on the head, but In Orbit is definitely a keeper in my book. It has a laidback rhythm that is only suggested at throughout the first half of the track, but the musicality and the hints of bleepy accents are enough to carry it through, when the rhythm fully reveals itself and drives it home.

10. Liquid Stranger – Flipside

I love it when Liquid Stranger ventures far into the realm of emotion with his unique brand of soundscape. It rarely disappoints, and this track is a wonderful expression of that emotion. It manages to be spacious and cozy all at the same time. I see Flipside being a trusty companion for those delicious afternoons in the desert.

11. Sinepearl – Cosmic Center

I was deeply touched by the release earlier this year of Cycles Within Cycles Within, as it came to my inbox just as I was learning of the death of a dear friend’s family member. While that release was gorgeous in a more ambient way, this track retains much of that lush sensibility while inhabiting more of a rhythmic space. I have not yet been disappointed by what I’ve heard coming out of his studio.

12. Spiral System – Mondays

I was a fan of last year’s release Be, so I looked forward to hearing this new track, and I was not disappointed. A gentle rhythm that invites swaying with eyes closed, delicate vocals with a touch of psychedelia, and a gorgeous melody welcome you in to the world of this track. Salve for the soul.

13. Alucidnation – Prefer to Stay In

Lush, pastoral ambience with just a hint of beats. The piano lends a delicate narrative. A perfect end to the Waypoint journey.

Waypoint can be reviewed and purchased at the following places:

BandcampBeatportAmazoniTunesJuno

Or check it out here:

Oct 122014
 

Being on the road means you never know what twists and turns will come your way. This one was no different. Our first true outing with Adeline, our popup trailer, yielded some rookie mistakes, underestimates, and other unpredictable results – and we still had a grand time.

For more photos of each leg of the journey, go here. For the post about Day 1, go here.

Day 2 – Santa Cruz – nostalgia on many levels

Victorian House in Santa Cruz

Victorian House in Santa Cruz

Day 2 for us was an easy drive, with dear friends waiting on the other end in downtown Santa Cruz. It was a wonderful visit. While we knew we would be staying the night with them, what we didn’t know is that we would be put up in a 143 year old well-preserved Victorian house. It’s not often that I get to see such ornate architecture, but to savor every corner, every detail, over the course of almost 24 hours was a real treat. The house is officially a historical landmark, and while it’s situated on a private property and not on any tourbooks, does get rented out from time to time for weddings and other special events. Our friends live in the guest cottage on the property, so my husband and I had the full run of the place. The grand tour was full of oohs and aahhs, and then the following morning, prior to convening for breakfast, I set out with the camera to poke around.

The day was filled with reminiscing, as my friend Amy and I have known each other since we were young children; communing with her husband Karl and their family was easy and enjoyable. Stories followed queries until we were all caught up. It was a delight.

Day 3 – Spring Lake (Santa Rosa) – foggy feast with a friend

Spring Lake in the Fall

Spring Lake in the Fall

Day 3 we were headed to Spring Lake in Santa Rosa, but first my husband David gave me the dime tour of Santa Cruz, as he had lived there for a few years around the turn of the century. It’s such a lovely town. We passed by his former residence and stopped at a local eatery, Emily’s Bakery, which had been a staple of his when he lived there. Drivetime was chock full of recounting old stories from those days. Time passed quickly as we drove up the 1, through Half Moon Bay and across the San Mateo bridge, then passed through Oakland, San Rafael, and onward up to our destination for the night.

Once we arrived, there was just enough time to set up camp, dash to the nearby market for supplies, and get ready to receive David’s longtime friend Alicia who lives 20 minutes away. We had arranged to do a potluck dinner and we had plenty of fresh produce to share, as Amy & Karl had given us plenty from their garden. Peaches, tomatoes, lemon cucumbers, pears…so tasty. There’s nothing like organic produce grown with love. Dinner was a delight, between our offerings (fish, salad) and Alicia’s (homemade veggie chili). It was an early bedtime for us, and the next morning I was up bright & early at 6am to see what the place looked like in the morning.

Spring Lake is a manmade reservoir at the edge of a pretty little neighborhood of Santa Rosa, with a mostly-paved path that surrounds the perimeter of the lake which is frequently populated by joggers, walkers and the like. By the time I made it down to the lake (a short 5-minute walk from our campsite) at 7, there were plenty of people out and about, but the fog was incredibly thick which limited the scope of the shots I was hoping to take on the lake. The still air meant the reflections were pretty reliable and so as I made my way around the lake (3.7 miles), I tried to find a few spots where I could actually see something through the fog.

Day 4 + 5 – Lake Mendocino (Ukiah) –  disaster & drought

Meltdown! Remnants of our former wiring

Meltdown! Remnants of our former wiring

I was looking forward to Day 4 as it would be not only a short drive, but our first destination where we would stay for two nights instead of one. One thing about road trips – when there’s an itinerary and reservations to honor, there isn’t much wiggle room for procrastination. We were making good time packing up and getting ready to head out on the road when disaster struck.

The trailer was all packed up and hitched to the truck, but there must have been a problem with a grounding wire because as soon as David attached the harness that powers the brake & signal lights, a small electrical fire broke out, both at the junction box on the tongue of the trailer and at the deep-cycle battery. Smoke and hot electric smell were enough to make us panic and David did an admirable job of disconnecting things as fast as he could without electrocuting or burning himself. As we surveyed the damage, we could see that practically all the wiring that goes from the harness to the junction box and from there to the battery was melted. Oh, joy. We breathed a sigh of relief, however, as we both realized how fortunate we were that things didn’t get deadlier than they were – the battery could have exploded, the fire could have reached into the wiring in the truck, and so on.

We limped out of there, headed to an RV repair place I’d found on Yelp, without any brake or signal lights on the trailer. Much to our chagrin, the nearest place was closed and every other place we called was booked for 3 weeks. I took a chance and looked up repair places in Ukiah, our next destination, and we had a place to go. The fellow at the repair place, while booked into next month, knew that since we were on the road it was imperative to get the lights fixed so he squeezed us in and made sure we knew his name to mention if we got pulled over (we didn’t). The rest of the afternoon was spent waiting while the apprentice painstakingly replaced all the wiring for the lights. It meant that we would be without power for the rest of our trip (unless we camped somewhere with electrical hookup, which would be few & far between), but since we are used to that it’s not such a tremendous loss.

Once we had that sorted out, it was time to head 15 minutes’ drive down the road to our next destination, Lake Mendocino. I was so very much looking forward to setting up and relaxing after our harrowing day. We had made plans with David’s aunt & uncle who live in Boonville, a half hour drive from us, to join them for brunch the following morning; however when we called & explained what had happened they very graciously offered to meet us in Ukiah somewhere so we didn’t have to get on the road so soon. We met up for lunch and had a lovely, if brief, visit. There were plenty of errands to run in Ukiah related to items we’d forgotten we needed to complete our gear,  a visit to the laundromat, a session at a coffeeshop with Internet & power (we had neither at our site), and a grocery run. Ukiah’s an interesting place, where big-name corporate chains sit alongside little mom & pop places, including one we saw which offered hand guns for sale – at a deli. (??)

Lake Mendocino has suffered the drought that has affected much of California and the water levels were at an all-time low. We could see clearly that the boat dock was marooned and much of the foliage was dying out that usually lived underwater. It was a sad state of affairs and I found I wasn’t terribly inspired to take a lot of photos. The lasting imagery of the palpable drought stayed with us, however.

Part of the culture of a road trip camping at campgrounds is meeting people along the way. While we were in Ukiah, we met some folks who had started touring the country in their small RV full-time about 6 months prior. It’s fascinating to talk with people and get a sense for how their own philosophies about being on the road differ and are similar to our own. One adage these folks we met that day has held true for us as a learned lesson from this trip – once you reach critical mass in the stuff you pack both in the car and in the trailer, nothing else can come in unless something else comes out. It’s a mad game of Tetris, one which gets better with more routine and practice.

Day 6 + 7 – Patrick’s Point – our northernmost reach

Moonstone Beach Walk

Moonstone Beach Walk

Day 6 was one of our longest driving days. In most cases the drive would be no more than 3 or so hours a day, but this was a long haul to get to the top tip of our itinerary. A good portion of the journey would take us through the redwoods of Mendocino and Humboldt counties, and through a lot of little towns where there seemed to be a lot of barefoot folks wandering through, hitching rides here and there. The majesty of the redwoods made the long drive worth it, however, and so even though it was a 4+ hour drive, we were in awe most of the way.

We schemed where we would need to stop for ice and produce, and planned to roll through Eureka for these tasks, the last big town before Trinidad, home to Patrick’s Point. Eureka was quite the eyesore, such an industrial town and sadly sporting quite a serious meth and homeless problem. I was curious as we encountered so much of this so I Googled “Eureka homeless problem” and found we were not the only ones noticing this, not by a long shot. I wish the town well in seeking out a tenable solution to what seems to be an unsustainable problem. In the midst of this, however, we found a local natural foods grocer that could have rivaled Whole Foods in its scope, breadth and pricing. Go figure.

20-odd miles north and we were at our destination for the next couple of days – Patrick’s Point in the teeny town of Trinidad. We had a privately owned campground to call home, with power and water hookups (a luxury I’ve come to appreciate, even in the midst of camping). I’d heard about all the beaches in the area so our primary order of business on our full day there was to scope out the local beaches in hopes of finding one that would suit a sunset photography session. I’d seen a greeting card in the store of the campground with a shot someone had taken at Moonstone Beach so that was one of our destinations. It did not disappoint. Many clicks of the camera later, we started our drive back to camp, only taking the scenic way back (a road called Scenic Drive, of course) and came upon even more beauty, and lots of people taking it in. Truly my favorite sunset of the entire trip was here along this coastline.

Day 8 + 9 – Nestled among the redwoods

Morning on Eel River

Morning on Eel River

The stretch of Highway 101 that is called the Redwoods Highway is breathtaking as you wend your way through these centuries-old trees. There were very few pieces of our trip where we backtracked along the same route coming and going, but this one piece was so enjoyable that we didn’t mind doing it once more. Better yet, our next destination was up in the middle of it all, and ended up being our favorite place we stayed on the entire trip.

We’d Yelped all the places we stayed, but the reviews of the Redwoods River Resort were so positive, and about the manager Millie in particular, that we were excited to arrive. Millie was a gem. Born & raised in Manchester England, having worked at RRR for 15 years, she gives the job a personal touch that was so very welcome. Every encounter when we’d go to the front desk – for ice, for firewood, to rent the pool cues and balls – was a treat, and hugs were genuinely exchanged at the end. RRR was at the tail end of their busy season, and thankfully the camp was quiet so we could hear the wind through the trees. A 350 yard hike down a steep hill took you to the shores of the Eel River, which sadly was at about 1/3 its capacity, another sign of the drought affecting our state. I made it down early in the morning to see what the light and reflections were like, and was chagrined to see that the river was a mere shadow of its former self. Still, the water was reflecting against the trees nicely and the hike back up was a serious workout, so all in all a wonderful way to spend the morning.

 

Day 10 + 11 – Bodega Bay – our anniversary & the top of Hwy 1

Bodega Bay on a cloudy day

Bodega Bay on a cloudy day

By far one of our favorite drives of the entire trip was the drive from the redwoods to the top of Highway 1 and on down the amazing coastline of Northern California. I’ve been through Big Sur many times and am quite familiar with its ragged beauty, but to witness the twists and turns of first the redwoods and then the coast of this section of California was like nothing else I’d ever seen. Granted it was one of the slowest drives we had to do, with the heavy trailer behind us and very little shoulder, but we were gasping with amazement at every turn nonetheless. I was so enamored of the drive (as the passenger) that I started holding my camera steady through the moonroof of the truck and setting the exposure for a second, which lent itself to an eerie quality of motion. For a look at the series of in-motion shots that I took, check out this album on Flickr.

This travel day also happened to be our actual wedding anniversary so we were feeling quite tender and even stopped for a bottle of champagne in a cute little romantic town called Westport (which I hope we can return to) before the roads started getting pretty hairy with twists and turns that gave Big Sur a run for their money in terms of a challenging yet beautiful drive. Clouds turned into fog as we neared our destination, Bodega Bay, so by the time we arrived the visibility was down to only a 100 yards or so.

Our good friend Dan, who lives in LA and was an integral part of our wedding day last year, just so happened to be visiting his kids near Bodega Bay while we were there, so we invited him to come join us at the campfire, and the following day we were treated to a personally guided tour of the surrounding area. It was a real treat to see a new place through the eyes of someone who has spent quite a lot of time there – very different from the rest of our exploring. I’m certain we wouldn’t have found half of the places he took us to if we were on our own. It was a feast for the eyes – the socked in foggy coast, the blazingly hot & sunny mountains nearby, the tiny town of Occidental in the redwoods where his kids live, and the Russian River…all so very diverse and equally as enjoyable.

Day 12 – Time in the big city & extremely social 24 hours

Day 12 was our busiest day, adhering to the schedule of others. No complaints here – we had some wonderful visits with friends and family alike – but the whirlwind pace meant that the camera did not come out at all! The drive from Bodega Bay to San Francisco was another astoundingly beautiful drive – along the Pacific Coast Highway, past Tomales Bay (we are SO coming back!) and up into Mill Valley by way of some seriously hairpin turns. Those turns can be challenging enough in a regular car, but towing our trailer behind meant an extra 2000 pounds of weight and turns are not as easy. Thankfully, David drove the truck like a champ and we made it to Mill Valley in one piece. First up was a visit with David’s cousin Eric, a cheery reunion, while we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at a spot in his neighborhood. This gave us enough time to skip across town to East Bay where we were meeting up with our friends Dusti & Craig at their place in Oakland. Dealing with traffic and parking was so very different from the remote areas of coast and forests we’d come from, but handle it we did. After a luxurious shower and some much-needed Internet time to catch up on emails, it was time to meet up with more friends and walk to a delicious sushi & sake dinner in the heart of Oakland. Such a feast! Great company too, but the amazing food had a predictable effect on me and the early riser part of me was in bed and asleep before 11, while our hosts took off to spend the evening watching the lunar eclipse from the comfort of a hot tub. Would that we could have joined them, but we had our own pace to keep and it wasn’t in the cards.

Day 13 + 14 – Big Sur, we love you

Fog Bank at Big Sur

Fog Bank at Big Sur

The following morning, after gathering some supplies, it was off to brunch with a grade-school chum of David’s, Lisa, at another culinary highlight of a spot in Berkeley. (The foodie in me was well-satiated) After a good deal of reminiscing and storytelling, it was time to bid our fond farewells and hitch up the trailer to head south toward Big Sur, what ended up being our final camping destination. We barely managed to make it through San Jose before the commuter traffic took over, made our way westward via Monterey, and began the familiar drive southward into some of the most iconic and beautiful coastline in all of America. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve driven this stretch of the coastline, but I never tire of it. Our campsite for the following two days was in Plaskett Creek, which is toward the southern part of Big Sur, so we had the enormity of the dramatic cliffs to traverse. As per usual, it did not disappoint, and I took plenty of shots over the next few days.

The reminders about the drought were ever-present, however, as the campground announced everywhere that the water had been shut off at the sinks in all the restrooms in an effort to conserve water. It was a subject of discussion among all the campers there. Of all the places we camped, Plaskett Creek was surely the most populated – not only is Big Sur a draw year-round anyway, there was also the Big Sur Jade Festival that was imminently about to take place, right next door to the campground. The place was abuzz with jade traders and others, and we enjoyed meeting many of our neighbors. One lovely man, there with his 6-year-old son and a monk-like hitchhiker from Italy he’d picked up the day before, became fast friends with us and was even moved to give us a heart-shaped piece of rose quartz crystal as an anniversary gift. The Italian traveler was lovely as well, and will likely be coming to visit sometime in the next few weeks as he makes his way down the California coast. Our home is welcome to him.

Day 15 +16 – coming in for a gentle landing

Our last camping destination was supposed to be San Simeon, but as we emerged from the last of the rugged Big Sur coastline, both David and I had the same thought occur – since we were headed to my parents’ farm (and its relatively luxurious quarters) the following night, what if we forfeited our reservation at San Simeon and kept driving into Santa Ynez, to spend two nights in the comfort of family before descending back into our lives? We laughed about the synchronicity of our thoughts and a quick phone call to Mom confirmed that all was well with us arriving a day ahead of schedule. Our subsequent lunch at an exquisite restaurant in Cambria had us in a relaxed mindset as we knew our travels would be coming to a graceful end shortly. A couple more hours south and we managed to arrive just in time to honor cocktail hour. Hot showers, real beds, and home-cooked meals awaited us and made for the best kind of decompression we could have asked for. It was a perfect end to a quite perfect adventure!

 

Sep 272014
 

Ever since we were gifted a popup trailer last year for our wedding, we’ve been wanting to take a proper road trip with it. Our popup, Adeline, has taken us in style to a music festival and a destination wedding, but we’d been wanting to travel with her for pure camping pleasure, with no stimulating social events driving the experience. Of all the destinations we discussed, the one we kept circling around was to drive up into Northern California and see as much of the coastline as possible. Thanks to the handy folks over at Roadtrippers, we plotted out our journey and spent the last few months prepping for it in so many ways.

Adeline, while road-worthy as a glorified tent when we took ownership, will require some fundamental repairs and replacements to bring her to her fully realized state. We didn’t quite get everything done that we wanted for this trip, but got a good start. New flooring, cabinets painted, and a slew of other behind-the-scenes fixes took place. The moment is upon us – we have begun!

Our first night was a shortened one for us, given how long the days leading up to our departure were. 12 hour work days blended with late night packing & assembling sessions, so by the time we hit the road (four hours behind schedule) we were barely able to stay awake for the drive. Thankfully the plan has been to never have to drive more than 3-4 hours per day (and some places we’ll stay more than one night) so when we arrived to our first stop in Morro Bay, we had enough sunlight to set up the popup – but decided to “rough it” and forego setting anything else up. I took a brief break from setting up to run to the shore in hopes of catching the sunset – and missed it by mere minutes.

(shot taken with phone camera – not enough time to grab the “big” camera)

sunset at Morro Bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dinner was a simple chickpea & spinach stew, cooked inside the trailer as it was rather windy outside. I don’t think we’ll be cooking actual food in the trailer again unless it rains – the smell of onions lingered into this morning!

Sleep was luxurious after the manic pace of the last few days at home, and when I awoke at 6am (as per usual), I felt rested. The bed was cozy warm, but the shoreline beckoned – if I had to miss the sunset here, I was bound and determined to catch the sunrise and see what it did against the main feature of this beach – Morro Rock.

I donned a few layers and broke out the “big” camera and found my way out to the beach from the campground, as my camping neighbors started building their morning fires. The smell of wood burning was a nice detail to the crisp air of the morning. I was not disappointed by the view, and set up to take shots of the sunrise on the rock. I’m pretty happy with the results.

Good Morro-ning

I’ve started an album over on Flickr that will be my repository for all shots that make the cut from this trip. Come check em out – hope you like them!