I was sitting in my living room one day in Isla Vista when the phone rang. I was excited to hear the voice of my good friend Shawn, who had moved from Los Angeles down to Panama.
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Grand Canyon National Park slices the Colorado Desert like a deep, open wound, the Colorado River flowing freely like a severed artery. Teetering on the South Rim, I imagined the canyon’s visitors as something akin to being medically corrupt-a throng of grunge surgeons hovering above the imposing gash.
Much like the locations it features, Rachel Thurston’s soon-to-be-released travel guide is brimming with beauty, culture, and history. Featuring rich, bold images from Brooks Institute’s Chuck Place, The Beautiful Santa Ynez Valley falls somewhere between coffee-table book and well-organized brochure.
Every weekend, thousands of fun-seeking Americans flood across the Mexican border into Baja, California. Some are underage college students wanting to go to bars and clubs. Others are surfers intent on exploring the many surfÂ-able nooks and crannies the Baja coast has to offer.
About 14 years ago, rumors started to spread across the Napa Valley that long-time resident and vintner Daryl Sattui (owner of the famed V. Sattui Winery and tourist destination) was building himself a castle. I was living in the Napa Valley at the time, and many of the locals gossiped about how the castle would be gaudy, tacky, and would lead to the “Disneyland-ification” of the Napa Valley. Well, rumors be damned.
A stormy winter day on the Mendocino County coast can easily hint of the year-round desolation that existed in this part of the state before the arrival of expensive homes, wineries, parades of RVs, elegant art galleries, and bed-and-breakfast romance. At that time, decades ago, southern California surfers didn’t make the trek north to surf, where it was much colder, much darker; Santa Barbara was considered fringe, Santa Cruz was arctic, and nobody knew what was above San Francisco.
That thousands travel to Burning Man every year is, of course, the beauty of Black Rock City: it demonstrates just how much people are capable of, and offers hopeful proof of the age-old maxim, “Another world is possible.”
“There are two ways to see Hawai’i,” a friend once told me. “One, you get off the plane, strip down to your bathing suit in your hotel room and spend a week down at the pool, reading well-written contemporary trash that has absolutely nothing to do with Hawai’i. Two, explore these amazing islands and learn from the Hawaiian people.”
It’s a late summer tradition at El Encanto: watching the afternoon fog rolling in, enveloping the waterfront, and draping the Mesa in wet lace on its misty, streetlight-blurring crawl through Santa Barbara toward the spires of St. Anthony’s. For the past 90 or so years, that’s been the highlight of many a day for both tourists, who’d stay at the charming Riviera resort, and locals, who’d frequent the popular bar and restaurant for drinks and dining.
“C’est mieux de n’en pas parler,” I said to myself the first time I sat on top of Ryan Mountain and tried to put my finger on the exact shade of goodness the Joshua Tree National Park radiates. The expression I came up with-“everything in its place”-was the reason I quickly urged myself (in French, which is naturally the language I use to admonish myself) not to speak it aloud.