There’s nothing quite like exploring a new part of the world you’ve never been to before, be it a new place in the deep woods or a new city. The only thing better would be having your own personal tour guide that knows the area well and can take you to all the secret spots. And the only thing that can top that is that tour guide being someone who’s presence you deeply cherish in your life. Lucky for me that’s exactly what I had.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one to shy away from the touristy stuff just because it’s touristy stuff. Yeah, I went up on the Space Needle and yeah, I took lots of photos as well. But I would have never found some of these other amazing places without the help of my significant other. I got to stand on top of a giant troll that lives under a bridge, have a fun jam sesh at the EMP Museum, and had the most delicious pizza I’ve ever had… that also happened to be vegan. I’ll say it again: the most delicious pizza I’ve ever had is VEGAN. Don’t even care if you all don’t believe me. It was seriously the best.
Great trip with a fun person. We definitely don’t do this often together so I’m happy to finally be on a little road trip together.
So the story of Whiskeytown Lake is like this. Sometime in the early 60s, there was a place called Whiskeytown. There was no lake. Just a little town that sat in a valley. But during that time, the government wanted created a dam that slowly had Whiskeytown filled with water. People moved out of course but the remnants of the town are said to be still below the now giant lake. One needs to only go scuba diving to see it.
To be fair, I didn’t actually do any research on this story. But the way my friend told it, it seems pretty legit, right? :)
My story of Whiskeytown was 4 days with 3 friends, playing on the water, boating and playing with my impulsive purchase of a wind surfing board converted into a paddle board. It’s pretty huge, 12 feet to be exact, which is pretty hilarious if you all knew how tall I am. I’m calling it my house boat. And if I decide to keep it I will most certainly deck it out with all kinds of fun stuff. It can seriously fit a little group of people on it.

So I got stranded in Buellton, which is 3 miles West of Solvang, CA. Solvang was cute with it’s awesome Danish architecture. It was like I was transported to the Danish countryside… in the middle of fucking nowhere. Danish meals, pastries and wine tasting was how I spent my day there. But alas, my journey north needed to continue. And after I passed by Ostrich World USA (yup, that’s right). I stopped for gas before continuing north.

And boy was I thankful for stopping because my front driver side tire was not quite as straight as it should have been. And also thankful that there was a mechanic just across the street.

Normally I just stay in the van in any situation really. But I looked across the street at a cute little Danish style building which happened to be a Days Inn. Now for $70, not just a bed (which is unnecessary) but I get free wifi, a shower and breakfast. Totally worth it.

I surprised myself at being this comfortable when essentially stranded in a little town. I feel weird ever being scared of a situation like this, but it has me thinking a lot of the last time/ first time I was stranded in the middle of nowhere. Granted it was not as nice of a situation but, I think the main difference was my approach to it in the beginning. There’s nothing like breaking down on the highway and having to keep pushing your van to make it to Bakersfield and then eventually finding a church parking lot on an empty street, to park and stay the night until you can call a tow truck. That wasn’t the first time in the van but it was the first time in the van outside the LA county and definitely the first time in a desolate church parking lot; the only place lighting up the street surrounded by farmland. I remember being so scared and crying on the phone talking to Jack, wishing that he could just somehow magically be there.

But then in the morning my attitude was much different and I managed to make the most of the situation. I mean, the mechanic that I went to couldn’t fix it the same day so he let me stay in the van and left his wifi on for me after hours. The guy even set me up with an extension cord for my computer. Talk about a chill as dude/shop.

Now with this sitiation, I definitely feel more relaxed. More accepting of whatever is going on. And I like that. Just going with the flow is really the way to go. I’m learning that more and more these days. It’s easy to get hung up in certain situations and when things don’t know the way you had planned, everything seems to get flipped upside down. But when you don’t set such definitive expectations you really give the opportunity to let some amazing things happen.
I’ve met some nice people here. Granted alcohol makes it easier when the only place to go is a bar. But still. I do what I do best and go out there and start talking to people. I find it so interesting to hear other people’s perspective of the world. Shit, I even got some free American flag suspenders from some guy who broke down the reason why he wears them. To support our troops, the ones he can’t join because of a medical condition.

It’s all about perspective really, and I sure have been given a different view being here. I’ve spent so much time in the city that it’s great to talk with country folk again. Sure not the same type of country but I think we’re in the same boat in that we have values that we’re trying to uphold. We’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got. And I may live in a van but I’m one of the lucky ones. Because I can do this by choice. I don’t want for food or shelter or anything of real consequence. I choose to do this and I have that choice. It’s not always that easy for others, no matter what type of lifestyle I choose to live. This last minute adventure has reminded me of that and I will continue to keep that in mind.

Why I like to go to music festivals.

  • Great people and great vibes
  • Feeling more at home especially with the van
  • Having like minded people all around you and feeling like you actually have a place
  • Meeting new people and reconnecting with people from the past
  • And at the Joshua Tree Music Festival specifically, I love how small it is as far as festivals go. But it packs a big punch. The art there is psychedelic.
I remember a time when I was younger, I went on a drive with a friend of mine. We drove up to a scenic spot outside of Santa Fe and parked at the edge of a cliff of one of the iconic mesas in that area. It was dark outside and the sky was so black and covered in specks of light. Like spilled salt on a black table cloth, stars were sprinkled all across the night sky. If you stare at it long enough you feel like you’re actually in space. I mean, the amount of stars you can see out there, in those desert skies, is nothing short of spectacular. In that moment, that was the first time I really understood why they call it the Land of Enchantment.
As we sat there and talked about what the fuck we were going to do with our live we felt were just beginning, I saw a shooting star pass across the sky. I felt so fortunate to see one and made a wish. But before I could even think of what to wish for, another passed through the sky. Then another. And another. And then we realized we had chosen the perfect time to be up there as a meteor shower was unfolding before our eyes.
I’m all for living in the now and enjoying what’s right in front of me. When I see a New Mexico sky, whether  it be a sunset, sunrise, a night sky, or just the middle of the day when you wouldn’t expect anything special, I can’t help but look in awe and take a moment to just observe and appreciate it. I joke sometimes that when you look at a New Mexico sky, you can almost see the curvature of the Earth. But every now and again, slowly but surely, that memory of being up on that mesa and watching the meteor shower pops into my head. The synchronistic nature of us being up there at the right time and in the young and eager state of mind we were both in, I felt like I we were supposed to be there. To observe and appreciate what’s in our lives and understand the vast expanse of the universe.
Maybe that’s a little too hippie for some. But to me, not enough people appreciate what’s right in front of them. Let’s maybe try, just once, to take off the blinders and realize where we are living, wherever that may be for anyone. And maybe… just maybe… we’ll actually see the world.