Going to Church

Being able to go to the mountains every week is a major reason why we made the move. Just a short drive and nature will cleanse your spirit from the shit that is life. The mountains and wild of this land are my church.

This second weekend I was living in Colorado we headed up to Nederland for a quick hike to Lost Lake. This was back in early November and We made the hike in good time and decided to head up the Forest Service road and make our way to Diamond Lake. Both hikes were absolutely beautiful. The day started out sunny for the first hike but it started to snow on the second. It was amazing being out in the wild during the snow and trudging through the deep powder to make it to the lake. The last mile we should have probably had snow shoes but made the trek up anyway. It was breathtaking figuratively and literally, as the last mile was tuff for these low elevation midwesterners. We probably should have turned back, and in hindsight it was stupid to continue but now we fully understand the power of wool socks and their amazing ability to insulate while wet.

Diamond Lake Trail near Nederland and Eldora Colorado. Part of the Roosevelt National Forest

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The Channel Islands. Close…yet so far.

Channel island National Park may not be the most well known or most visited national park, but it may just be one of the most beautiful and unique. Because the islands sit off the coast of California there is little to no development on the islands, the park visitor centers are not even on the islands, they can be found in Ventura and  Santa Barbara. The beauty of the islands is breathtaking but the biodiversity is what makes them so special. More than 2,000 different species of plants and animals can be found on the islands including the Channel Island Fox which is endemic to the islands and adorable, except when they are trying to scavenge your lunch. The history of the islands is also interesting. Seeing and learning about the native inhabitants who had lived on the island thousands of years ago.

To get to the islands you have to book a trip with a charter boat that will either take you for the day or drop you off for some overnight camping. We opted for a day trip on Santa Cruz, where we took a sea cave kayaking trip and finished the day with some hiking. On our kayaking trip we were lucky enough to see dolphins, sea lions, seals, and the American kestral. it was unreal to be in the middle of the ocean floating through kelp forest and having sea lions pop right up to see what was going on. Besides seeing all this wildlife we had the chance to venture into a multitude of sea caves with the help of our guide. Kayaking into these caves was super awesome but also sketch at times as the tide would try to slam you up against the ceiling. After hours of sea kayaking we quickly ate lunch while fending off the foxes. We then headed up to the cliffs to take in the views and admire just how untouched these islands truly are. In just the short time we were there we learned so much about the biodiversity, geology, human history and many other things that are happening and have happened on these islands. We were only there for a day but the memories will last a life time.

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Channel Islands Santa Cruz

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Channel Islands Santa Cruz

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Channel Islands Santa Cruz

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Channel Islands Santa Cruz

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Channel Islands Santa Cruz

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Channel Islands Santa Cruz

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Channel Islands Santa Cruz

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Channel Islands Santa Cruz

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Channel Islands Santa Cruz

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Channel Islands Santa Cruz

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Channel Islands Santa Cruz

Not a Tree, But More Than a Yucca

There are something about these yuccas. There’s something magical about them, other worldly and calming. All far more than what I expected from the Mojave.

Seeing Joshua trees for the first time is an interesting experience. You drive through the desert seeing nothing taller than a bush then all of a sudden seemingly out of nowhere, massive Joshua trees appear. They can range in size from tiny palms, sticking out of the ground to massive 20ft+ trees.  Each one with its own branch system, seemingly telling a unique and beautiful story. All while showing, that even with the chaos and erratic path of life there is always beauty to be found.

All of these photos where taken at our AirBnb in Yucca Valley about 20 minutes outside of the National Park.

Joshua Tree Sunset

Joshua Tree Sunset

Joshua Tree Sunset

Joshua Tree Sunset

Joshua Tree Sunset

Joshua Tree Sunset

Joshua Tree Rain

Joshua Tree Rain

Joshua Tree Sunset

Joshua Tree Sunset

Joshua Tree AirBnB

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Joshua Tree AirBnB

Joshua Tree AirBnB

Joshua Tree AirBnB

Joshua Tree AirBnB

Back Home

This will be the first time Sarah or I won’t be home for the holidays. Luckily we live in a beautiful state and have family that graciously invited us over for Thanksgiving. So instead of going back to Missouri I’ll post some photos from one of my last Missouri Adventures. These are from September right after I bought my first Subaru, so naturally I had an itch to get the Subie dirty. I had been wanting to see Klepzig Mill, Big Spring and Rocky Falls.  My first stop was Big Spring, not the prettiest Missouri Spring I’ve visited but definitely the most impressive. It is Missouri’s biggest spring and sometimes America’s biggest depending on local rainfall. The average daily flow is around 286 million gallons, carrying with it over 70 tons of dissolved limestone a day.  My second stop was to Rocky Falls. The water level was fairly low, so there wasn’t much water flowing over the falls. It was still a beautiful spot, aside from all the locals sitting in the river drinking their Busch light and Natty. Finally I ended at Klepzig Mill. I had seen photos of this and had been wanting to make the trip for a while. It was down a very rocky old service road but the new Subaru soaked up the bumps like they were nothing. It was a beautiful secluded spot with an old mill sitting right next to some classic Missouri Shut-ins. After a fall rain, the beauty of these places would be magnified by the colors in the trees and rush of water. But the hot September day offered plenty of  beauty and adventure.

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Klepzig Mill

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Big Spring

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Big Spring

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Klepzig Mill

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Klepzig Mill

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Klepzig Mill

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Klepzig Mill

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Rocky Falls

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Rocky Falls

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Big Spring

The Beginning of a Dream

I’ve wanted to move west  for a long time now. After taking vacations as a kid to visit friends and family in the Denver area I loved the mountains but was too young to truly appreciate the land. Then there was a few more trips in high school and college that brought me to the wide open spaces of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. These trips made me realize how special this land really is. They also spoiled me with the weather which is pretty hard to beat, especially coming from those hot and humid St. Louis summers. I then took a trip last summer with a few friends and my fiancee at the time. It was during this trip the realization that I belonged here really hit me. After marrying my best friend and love of my life I started looking for opportunities to make the move. It just so happened that she found a job before I did, making both our dreams a reality.  We just recently made the move and can’t be more excited about living this close to the mountains, canyons and rivers of the great American west. For our first trip as Denver weekend warriors we headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park to do a couple hikes including Dream lake. The weather wasn’t ideal but it’s all part of what makes these mountains beautiful.

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Dream Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

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Dream Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

Nymph Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

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Dream Lake Rocky Mountain National Park

A Wild City

I recently took a family vacation to southern California, starting the trip in San Diego. We watched the Cardinals take on the Padres, we toured the aircraft carrier Midway that my father served on and ate a lot of tacos. Even with all of this, the real show stopper was the amount of wild so close to the city. When you visit a big city like San Diego you don’t think you’ll see some amazing sea caves, tidal pools and sea lions. But San Diego offers all of this. This post features photos from Cabrillo National Monument and a few sea lions in La Jolla.

Not Johnson Shut-ins

Not Johnson Shut-ins. That’s what I had to say when I showed a couple of photos I took of Tiemann Shut-ins to a few friends. Most St. Louisans know about the epic swimming hole that is Johnson Shut-ins but not many people know about the other geological wonders that are Missouri’s lesser known shut-ins. I’ve been to the beautiful pink granite shut-ins of Castor near Fredricktown MO but this was my first trip to Tiemann Shut-ins, which are part of Millstream Gardens Conservation area. Surprisingly, for being lesser known they are very easy to get to. The Shut-ins are right off the highway and down a well maintained dirt road. You can either take the short walk down the paved path or drive a little farther to a little overlook. We walked down the path through the clearing and were absolutely amazed by the size of the shut-ins. They just seemed to stretch on forever in both directions. I immediately jumped down and started shooting! The water flowing through the smooth gray granite and the size of the boulders are photography playground.  This State never ceases to amaze me. There are always new and wonderful places just waiting to be explored. Apparently they even do some white water kayaking through these shut-ins in the spring. We are truly lucky to have the amazing waterways and geological wonders right in our own backyard.