After much buildup and planning, Bobby and I finally sent it to the Dwan Light Sanctuary in Montezuma, New Mexico (just outside Las Vegas , New Mexico). Bobby had heard about this magical place from a friend, and I agreed to hop in the car without too much questioning or information. We sent the short 4 hour drive to New Mexico and found ourselves amongst a beautiful campus in the mountains, whipping around the bends, with my head hanging out the window, floating freely amongst the desert trees.
We finally found ourselves at the doorstep of a simple round white house covered in large scale prisms. We opened the door to an echoey empty chamber of light. Covered in massive rainbows as the sun rays shone through the incredible glass artwork. The chamber served a perfect expression of artistic perspective, as we rolled around bathing in rainbows on the floor, taking endless photographs to document the magic. We spent nearly two hours marveling at this incredible beauty, with the entire sanctuary only to ourselves. As we began to pack up our camera equipment, the door opened and an elderly couple walked in. We greeted them hello, and before saying anything else, the old woman walks to the center of the room, stops, looks up, and says “ is this IT?!”.
We held back chuckles as we marveled over the contrasting perspectives of the experience. We’re going to chalk this one up as a point for the millennials in terms of appreciation of beauty for the day. The couple walked back out before we had even finished packing up. We spent the rest of the day exploring the mountains and enjoying the beauty New Mexico has to offer.
Hope you enjoy these memories we captured - both Bobby + Halle in front and behind the lenses.
When I found out Zendo Edibles was a locally based all-natural, vegan, edible company... I was sold! We discussed color scheme and creative direction to fit the Zendo brand and I was so excited about the variety of images we created to fit their visual marketing strategy. Hailey , Brandi , and I had so much fun creating content for them, and let me tell you... 1.5 hours after snacking on some granola with Zendo peanut butter + apples, and Zendo cocoa honey almonds, we were having a GREAT old time. Can't wait to watch the cannabis scene continue to transition to plant based options thanks to brands like these leading the way.
After incredible inspiration from Brené Brown, I set out to define the creative journey, and identify my story within the parameters of accepting creativity through not just embracing the wilderness, but BECOMING it.
"We lose ourselves when we try to belong in the wrong places." Trapped by others views and lack of love, living a life of fear and scarcity, transforms and warps your soul, distorting even the most positive intentions. But a striving soul cannot be ignored even in the darkest pits, when it knows it is meant for greatness. The out of body observations signify misdirection, missing the path of passion. For the first time, passion is sparked, a light is visible, and success and greatness show themselves on the path that seems so far away.
Once fear is diagnosed, creativity is re-birthed, sparking the passion to step out into the wilderness. For the first time CHOOSING to belong to yourself and the wilderness FIRST. Choosing the wilderness, taking the first steps towards the destined path of intention. Transitioning from taking in the attacks of the world from the outside... to finding power in standing alone. Until your heart is marked by the wild, belonging in and to the wilderness and yourself in a completely different way. Each time after this crucial shift... if you choosing fitting in, vs. belonging to yourself, it is painful. Signifying straying from the dreamt upon path. When you decide to be a creative and share your perspective of the world with us, you sign up for the wilderness. You cannot be courageous without being vulnerable, and cannot be creative without courage. The path has made itself known, and wilderness is intentionally and inevitably embraced in choosing greatness.
After discovery of self and purpose, after being beaten down by the wild, there is no choice but REBIRTH. Creativity shines itself in a new way after CHOOSING the wilderness, and your heart has no place choosing the wills of society. In choosing your greatness, your heart is marked by the wild.
There is vulnerability in re-learning life and the world from a new perspective. Through every trial and lesson, we find that belonging , and confidence in belonging, is something we carry in our HEARTS. Finding strength in this, is the vitality we grasp to succeed.
With each lesson of life, a growth mindset is developed. Finding freedom, light, and love through becoming the wilderness, empowered by your own story. Transitioning to a life of flowing WITH the wilderness, becoming it, and becoming LOVE. Sharing your newly discovered light with the world.
Standing alone is what we're called to do. If you carry belonging in your heart, it's not negotiated externally with the world. Your heart is marked by the wild. Discovering the power of creativity, mindfulness, passion, self love, brings peace and positivity to a newly discovered life.
And at last, finding peace in the journey. Embracing the process, and finding contentment with where you’re at. Thriving from confidence in a growth mindset and the abundance of the universe. Success is inevitable, because the wilderness is IN her, and she is it.
Model: Samarah Elizabeth
Lighting: Cassandra Baca
Connor and I were honored to work with Toyota USA again this month as they partnered with Santa’s Elves to teach kids the power of giving this holiday season. Toyota sponsored a number of Denver families, whom they blessed with an abundance of personalized gifts and love at the event this Saturday. The event itself has been occurring for the past 8 years, occurring at all times of the year, to teach kids the power of generosity and giving and how good it feels to be kind. The day was filled with joy, music, dancing, gifts, face paint and LOVE. With a special appearance by Bronco, Bill Turner , face painting, and puppies, fun was being had all around. Attendees left with a smile on their face, joy in their hearts, and a sense of the true holiday spirit of giving. Here is Connor Tieulie’s recap of the day.
Wade Holland, Host Personality, and Connor Tieulie, Videographer, teamed up to develop this creative concept for the Juul Vape Pen. The Vape pen needed a product review, which Wade was happy to provide, albeit EXTREME STYLE. We set up in the studio ready to film, and Randy, from Party Safari, brought his whole cast of reptiles and critters to help Wade out with the product review. Special credit to Azul the Iguana for giving us a stellar review of the Juul, and Montucky Cold snacks and Pit Viper for the product sponsorships.
After working together on an editorial shoot about women empowerment, I KNEW I had to get creative with Samarah again. With that hair, and a badass personality to boot, I called her up with the White Whale Room in mind, having seen the magical shadows cast inside the space during the golden hours of the morning. We met up and fit several outfit changes into one shoot, with the desire to convey the fire felt when set out to create from a place of LOVE.
"The biggest mark of a life of strength, direction, and happiness, is to go from WANTING love, to BECOMING love"
Our team of 4 creatives packed our things in a van to travel up and down the West Coast in 7 days. To make the trip possible, we had the pleasure of bringing Denon Official sound technology with us! We jammed out on the beach with noise-cancelling headphones, and had happy dance parties on Mount Rainier with their powerful Envaya Speaker. The technology was not only a stylish adventure accessory, but durable and weatherproof to survive many adventures to come.
Getting to bring Noosa along on our West Coast Adventure was a dream come true. My fave Noosa adventure snack was by far the lemon (with granola and raspberries of course), Lex's was the coconut. Luckily, our van had a cooler in our kitchen unit in the back so we were able to enjoy Noosa the whole week in every single location! It was amazing having plentiful amounts of snacks to energize us throughout our hiking adventures. I've never eaten more yogurt in scenic locations in my life!
When Lex hit me up for a road trip back to her home town of Seattle, all I asked was "when do we leave?". I had been lusting after the PNW for as long as I can remember, and got so excited once I found out it would be an epic road trip through California and Oregon. We gathered up Katie and Juneau and set our itinerary - fitting as much of the west coast into 7 days as possible. We hooked ourselves up with a sweet camper van + rooftop camper to adventure in, and fit ourselves, our things, Tuna the adventure cat, and as many snacks into it as possible. We set off on our adventure with the mission to make it to Tahoe overnight.
I ended up staying up with Lex, and then took the overnight driving shift getting us into Tahoe as the sun was rising. It's safe to say I was completely delusional at that point, but I have photos to prove that the incredible views we saw were completely real! Was so blown away by the beauty of Tahoe, and the universe graced us with the most incredible rainbow over the road as the sun was rising. We sent a couple short hikes in Tahoe, and hit the road again shortly afterwards (not before scarfing down as much Denny's as possible on the way), trying to make it as far up the coast as possible with the remainder of the day.
We made it up to Northern California into the most GORGEOUS cloud layers in the mountains. We found an adventurous little hike to get views of Mount Shasta, that may or may not have included trespassing... As soon as our clothing was completely soaked and we had hit ourselves in the face with as many branches as possible, we found the most beautiful clearing to enjoy views of the moody day.
We camped in the Redwood forest that night, waking up in the morning to the most incredible views. I took a walk down the road from the campsite in the morning and was completely blown away by the COLOR of the mossy forests (unlike anything in Colorado). The sun beams shone through the trees for Golden hour and lit up the dew on the moss in the most beautiful way. We enjoyed coffee and breakfast, then hit the road again, stopping to enjoy as many of the mossy forests as possible along the way. We hit the coast for the first time all trip, and stopped at so many different location along the ocean as we crossed into Oregon. One of my favorite pull-off's was at Samuel H. Boardman State Park, I had always wanted to go, and we found an awesome little trail to wind us down to the shoreline. I'll definitely be back for this one, I've always wanted to see the arch at dawn.
Lex and I ended up staying up much later than planned, entertaining ourselves with sleep deprived conversations, before finally finding a suitable spot to park our van for the night. Got a restful nights' sleep and hit the road early the next morning, stopping at an AMAZING little breakfast burrito hub on the side of the road in Tillamook - thanks to Maria for hooking us up with the breakfast burritos and horchata! We made it up to Portland to run some errands, and made it to Snoqualmie falls by dusk!
You may notice I don't have any photos of Snoqualmie falls. FUNNY STORY. We were racing to get to the waterfall before we lost the sun, running down the path with all our gear. I was SO stoked for this waterfall, I brought a tripod along to get a long exposure of these falls I had always wanted to see. Now, when we arrived, the view wasn't what we expected, and we may or may not have had to do some finagling to get ourselves to the spot we wanted... we climbed over as many obstacles as possible, finally getting ourselves onto the chaotic wet rocks beneath the falls. I learned my lessons the hard way as the spray got the best of us. Within 5 minutes of getting there, I went to open up my tripod, and the arm simply snapped off... Long exposure opportunities lost, I shrugged and got out my camera to snap some pics. We encountered some technical difficulties to say the least, I think a few water droplets got into my sensor, rendering my camera useless in this particular scenario. Lex's camera screen cracked too during this excursion, but luckily Juneau came out with some sweet shots! Getting back up the path was a whole other excursion in itself - the gates close at dusk and the sun was disappearing faster and faster. We boosted each other up over the barriers , knocking ourselves up pretty hard along the way and finally made it back through the gate before close! SUCCESS! Thanks GOODNESS we were only 5 minutes away from Lex's mom's house where we had warm showers, food and beer waiting for us (for the first time all trip!).
We got to relax on the last half of the trip, bathing in the luxury of access to showers and food in the warmth of the house, but not without adventure. We maximized our time in Washington, hitting as many spots in Mount Rainier National Park and along the coast as we possibly could. We even picked up a new friend in our van along the way! Charlie showed us around the best spots in Washington all weekend, hitting islands, overlooks, and coastal scenes as hard as we could.
We had to stop at Palouse Falls on our way out of the state, and then sent it back to Denver overnight without stopping again, to complete our entire trip in just 7 days! This was an incredibly adventurous road trip that I will never forget. We definitely maximized our time and got to see so much of the beauty the West Coast has to offer. I can't wait to go back to all these places again to fit in more excursions!
HUGE THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS:
When I started 2018, I was in a place of rebuilding and reorganizing my path. I set the strong intention to start prioritizing adventure again, after spending some time realizing the track I was on wasn't fitting right. I dropped everything I was doing to set myself back on the right path, knowing that I had been avoiding the one thing that nurtured my soul most - nature. My goals and intentions for the year included a master list of all the adventures I'm trying to go on (as of 4/18/18 I've done about 30% of them!!), with returning to Moab at the top of that list.
Moab has become increasingly popular over the years, but has held a special place in my heart from the beginning. Going several times for backpacking excursions, and then for a very special week of Geological Engineering Field Session (spending a week in the middle of the desert mapping the incredible structures), I KNEW I had to return with my camera now that I had reset. True to all my adventures, I posted on my Instagram looking for excursion buddies, and Brandi immediately replied, the most serious of all the inquiries - asking simply when we should leave. :)
We set a date and sent it hard, generating so much creativity and happiness out in the desert. Moab truly makes my heart sing every time I'm there, the energy is incredible, and I love being tied so deeply to the structures and incredible geology of the place. This is probably some of the most exposed rock history anywhere, and pairing that with my passion for beautiful photography, I was truly in heaven. Until next time, Moab.
We set out on our West Coast Road Trip packing as much beauty and adventure into 7 days and a van, as we could. First stop, Lake Tahoe, California. OVERNIGHT. The four of us primarily connected over Instagram, over our love for Photography and Adventures. Lex, Juneau, Katie, and myself, left Monday as soon as we packed ourselves, our gear, and as much Koia into the van as possible, Lex and I are both plant-based and were determined to incorporate as many plant based options on the road as possible. It can be hard sometimes while traveling, which is why we made sure the van was stock full of as many plant based options as possible. We drove throughout the night, taking shifts through Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and arriving at Lake Tahoe, CA by 6am. The roads were dark as I took the last shift into the dawn and drove us into the most beautiful overlook. The Koia served us well giving me tons of natural energy as a lack of sleep hit hard.
We adventured throughout the day and drove up the BEAUTIFUL coast of California, to camp in the Redwood National Forest. The next two days were up through Northern California and Oregon, stopping at coastal overlooks, Mount Shasta, beautiful sunsets, and setting up our van along the coast to camp at night. By Thursday, we ended up in Washington and spent Friday and Saturday exploring around Seattle, Mount Rainier, and some islands. Our pre-hike routine included Koia for maximum energy to shoot and adventure! My favorite was the coconut-almond, Lex's was the cocoa bean, and Juneau and Katie's were the vanilla bean, and the cold brew! Thank goodness for the cooler in the van to keep all our snacks cold. After much adventuring, I can confirm that all adventures are better with snacks.
We headed back EARLY Sunday morning and sent the 22 hour drive back (fitting in a quick stop at Palouse Falls of course) to arrive back in Denver on Monday. We packed so much into our 7 day excursion, and it was so wonderful having Koia for nourishment and energy along the way. So grateful to have the opportunity to take amazing excursions like this one, learning more about myself and the world along the way. Stoked on the wonderful memories and photographs of a week well spent!
Read Koia's blog post HERE
I had been determined to visit this hot springs for so long and finally found the perfect model and perfect day to go. The sun was shining, the weather was warm, and the hot spring was warmer. We had to bring beer of course, thanks to Upslope, we enjoyed a perfect golden hour sunset as beautiful steam rose off the spring. The spring is a small little natural hot spring in Colorado, and I've returned several times since this initial day, to find it in more and more worse condition each time.
Most recently I visited, a few months after this photoshoot, there was trash everywhere along the side of the road where the pull-off is. I filled an entire trash bag while I was there but the amounts of disgusting plastic and cans and other assorted human garbage were astounding. Luckily the area immediately around the spring (located at a higher elevation than this trash pit at the trailhead) was kept clean and natural and the water was still perfect and untouched. However, while we were soaking a few months later, we noticed a truck pull up and put new signs up. As we were leaving we checked the signs, and they said the city is planning on commercializing this pool (bringing in concrete, making people pay to use it). This would be tragic given it's one of the few natural pools left in Colorado, and never highly trafficked... If you want to voice your opinion about the commercialization of this precious hot spring - you can call 970-945-1377 to speak to members of Garfield County Council.
Model: Celeste Maloney
Beer: Upslope Brewing
Beauty Inside Out, is a movement created by Event Planner and Photographer Halle Madeleine, Fashion Stylist and Designer LilFreshSam, and Makeup and Hair Artist Erica Baca to empower women entrepeneurs of all stages and ages to embrace your passions and create your own success, while supporting, loving, and inspiring one another. "Beauty Inside Out" or the BIOmovement, was born out of love to encourage women to express their ideas and believe in themselves. We as women have so much value to offer the world, but often times self sabotage ourselves with doubt or self criticism. We're here to bring together women in the most supportive way, encouraging one another to share our powerful voices and ideas with the world while looking and feeling our best!
The event (hosted on January 11, 2018) began with a panel of inspiring woman-preneurs of all ages, sharing their stories of starting up, struggles, confidence, and passion. The session included instructional sessions for tips from a digital media expert on using social media to your advantage.
Makeup Artist Erica Baca, and Fashion Stylist LilFreshSam provided instruction to help you feel and look your best, before professional headshots of each woman were taken by Photographer Halle Madeleine. Denver based boutiques, June Ruby and Seventy West were there working with LilFreshSam to help you look your best.
Bringing together the most powerful women entrepreneurs and creatives in Denver, and giving you the tools to push your passion forward through networking, inspiration, and love.
Was thrilled to collaborate with Kuju Coffee for a few recent adventures! Their pocket pour-overs were incredibly convenient and easy to use. I was hesitant at first unsure of what the coffee would taste like, but it was INCREDIBLE. Straight black coffee right out of the cup was the perfect wake up call whether watching a sunrise in the mountains, or waking up on a dewy morning in the Redwood Forest. I'll for sure be including these handy little packets on all of my future adventures! Who wants to coffee and camp with me next??
Roma symbolizes deep love, and these boots couldn’t get much closer. These boots are amazing for rainy days in the city, hikes in the PNW, and everything in between. We had so much fun taking ROMA Boots up to the PNW with us, and they were huge lifesavers amidst all the crazy weather. I’m a fan for life! My ROMA’s are still serving me strong on Colorado adventures out here and i’m sure i’ll be wearing them for years to come.
A brand founded on love, ROMA Boots merges fashion with philanthropy to give poverty the boot. Their mission is to bring impoverished children throughout the world hope, love, and lasting change through aid and education. For every pair of boots sold, a new pair is donated to a child in need.
ROMA's ultimate goal is not only to provide aid, but to educate. By doing so they hope to empower impoverished children around the world to break out of the cycle of poverty and contribute their gifts and talents to society. Which I think is pretty neat.
Here’s to LOVE!
Boots we love:
It’s hard to beat a good road trip. Good jams in the car, flying down the open highway, wind in our hair, catching the sun in our hands out the window… We recently took our crew to New Mexico to enjoy the sunshine and beautiful desert scenery. New Mexico is a seriously underrated state! We had so much fun exploring Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, and everything in between.
However exciting road trips can be though, it’s sometimes tough to stay on top of our health and energy. The long drives, and hikes in the intense sun, definitely required us to replenish our bodies. Luckily we had plenty of Koia packed along with us to energize us daily with plant based protein. My personal favorite is always the cocoa bean - it’s like magical, healthy chocolate milk that gives you energy!
All of us like our lifestyles to be as sustainable as possible, so finding a plant based protein option for our adventures has been so fulfilling. Koia is the perfect edition to a long-winded road trip, giving us the energy and strength we needed to explore all that New Mexico has to offer!
This May, we took off on an epic road trip around New Mexico. This state is seriously underrated, offering gorgeous mountain hikes, hot springs, and beautiful desert landscapes. We had our sights set on as many hikes as we could do, but unfortunately New Mexico had other plans for us. Most mountain roads were completely closed down due to fires, leaving all of our destinations inaccessible. Luckily, with our rad crew of adventure ladies, we went with the flow and found other amazing locations to explore. We went paddle boating on mountain lakes at night near our rustic cabin, we got our minds blown by the famous Meow Wolf art exhibit, and most importantly, shared infinite laughs in the car, and made memories to last a lifetime.
In between all the road trip dance parties and exploring desert forests, we definitely needed extra energy to combat our lack of sleep and match our enthusiasm. Luckily we got our hands on some of the best canned cold brew i’ve ever tasted! Big Watt Coffee, makes their incredible cold brew in their hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, with their founding company Five Watt Coffee (which is a great coffee shop atmosphere to sip a brew and get some work done if you’re based in MN!). I was drawn to Big Watt first because of the awesome taste of their cold brew to satiate my caffeine addiction, but was committed to working with the brand when I learned more about their responsible sourcing, and sustainability and philanthropic efforts. Then I found out that their amazing taste comes from the process purity of roasting and brewing everything in house. I like everything I put in my body to be free of added preservatives or chemicals, so the focus on “coffee uncompromised” led me to be a Big Watt fan for life.
We were able to share our cold brews with some friends on the trail, some friends in the hot springs, and everywhere in between! It was a fun way to get to know people, and share some really good coffee, good conversation, and good times. No matter where I’m packing to for the next road trip, you can bet I’ll have plenty of cold brew with me to keep me going.
Connect with the crew:
When we set out to road trip around New Mexico, we wanted to explore as many hikes and hot springs as we could. But all that adventuring deserves a few girls night outs… The amazing desert towns of New Mexico had so much to offer in terms of cute little cantinas, live music in the streets, and dancing under the lights with an amazing community of people. Our Viscata Espadrilles were the only shoes we needed to complete our looks out on the town. They were so cute AND comfortable, that i’m convinced I could thrive on my Viscata’s as my only shoes ever…
No one ever said backpacking was easy… but they sure do talk about how hard it is all the time! While Cassie and I took to the trails this weekend alone with our 40 lb. backpacks, we received an endless stream of “WOW how heavy are your bags??” , “Wow i’m so impressed by you guys, I could never do that”, or “you guys amaze me”. While it was nice to make connections with some hikers along the way, we found it comical how shocked and awed people were by this crazy activity called backpacking. After all, it’s just hiking… but with a bigger pack!
To me it’s so much more than that though. When you backpack into the wilderness, you gain this crazy degree of separation from society knowing you’re not going back anytime soon. You gain a more fulfilling and rewarding experience, knowing you’ve earned your views every day. You gain simplicity and unique views, being able to wake up and enjoy the sunrise from your tent - no hike needed to enjoy the sunrise views, because you’re already there! You gain an early start on the trail since you’re already camping along the way. You gain solitude, and a whole heck of a lot of perspective. Cassie and I were awed by how many different perspectives we saw this valley from! Starting from the bottom and looking up at the waterfalls and mountains above us, to climbing 3,000+ feet in elevation to the very glacial lakes and tops of the mountains that the waterfalls are flowing from. Moving from mountain ridge to mountain ridge, circling the area from all viewpoints and perspectives. Going from filling our water bottles at the base of the lake, to viewing it from a birds eye perspective at the ridge hiking out.
Physical perspectives aren’t the only thing changing, your mental perspective does some good healthy shifting while backpacking as well. It forces you to appreciate the little things like not having to work for your water or bathroom breaks, and enjoying REAL food that isn’t just snacks and pb+j (which we all know will always reign as the #1 hiking food). Luckily we didn’t have to sacrifice our health habits too much on this particular trip, because we brought in just enough Modern Oats to enjoy for breakfast! It was too much weight to backpack in a camping stove this time around, but luckily we were able to prepare our oats overnight! We used our pumps to pour some fresh water from the glacial lake we were camping at into our Modern Oats containers, and left them sitting outside our tent overnight so they would be ready for breakfast in the morning. After enduring crazy hail (essentially ice sheets falling from the sky), lightning and thunder echoing throughout the basin for several hours, we somehow dozed off to sleep and woke up the next morning to a beautiful sunrise. We enjoyed our breakfast with breathtaking views, thankful to be alive after the previous night’s chaos. We may have taken the “refrigerate overnight” instructions a bit too seriously, because our oats stayed chilled in some hail piles outside our tent - safe to say it was fresh! It was awesome starting our day with such a healthy breakfast that not only tasted amazing, but gave us the energy and nutrients we needed to make our hike up to the final glacial lake at just under 13,000 feet.
The views were epic, the snacks were great, and the company was even greater. A truly great adventure has both epic memories, and questionable moments, and Cassie and I have been through them all together at this point. From the endless streams of “is this beauty actually real??” , to hiking through the most beautiful mountain peaks, lakes, and waterfalls… to the shoulder pains, hip bruises, weathering the chaos, endless laughter, and simplicity that you find in every moment when you’re alone in the wilderness. Through it all, the memories are made to last a lifetime, and escaping into the seclusion of nature remains my most favorite way to gain unique inspiration and clarity in life. While it was hailing Cassie claimed she’s “never coming on one of my adventures again”, but I know she’ll be back for more fun the next time around :)
Our favorite oats:
To get your own oats, use “HALLEMADELEINE” for 10% an order of Modern Oats! (not paid for this code, simply for you guys to use if you have the interest)
Costa Rica was a dream come true. Filled with beautiful beaches, majestic jungles, and everything in between.
In my everyday life at home in Colorado, I put a lot of attention on my health. I am not completely vegan, but about a year and a half ago, after discovering the impact that my diet has on my body and mind, I drastically cut back on meat and dairy, and increased my plant intake. Since this shift, I’ve felt a lot more energy, and started having a lot of fun getting creative in my kitchen, playing around with recreating recipes from my favorite plant based restaurants, or creating my own.
So when I made the (honestly kind of spontaneous) decision in May to buy a one-way ticket to Central America, I was interested to see the shifts I would have to make in this new lifestyle. I knew there was no way I could keep up with the elaborate recipes I prepared for myself at home, but I was determined to make my travels as cost-effective and health-conscious as I could.
I could never have prepared myself for how much this experience would teach me. I have a whole other blog post that describes the many personal transformations I experienced, and lessons I learned on my solo traveling journey, but I was very pleasantly surprised with how much my eyes were opened regarding humans relationships and connection with each other, with food, and the land.
I packed only the essentials with me, and arrived with just me and my backpack in El Tunco, a small surfing town in El Salvador, at the beginning of June. Upon landing I was almost immediately greeted with fresh coconut water from the side of the road - the sweetest most natural refreshment after my long day of traveling, and this was just the beginning. I was in awe driving down the roads seeing coconut stand after coconut stand, stationed in between fields of banana trees, soccer fields, jungles, and volcanos. I quickly learned that the people of El Salvador are incredibly loving, they know how to have a good time, and have incredible food. I was fortunate enough to be connected to an amazing hostel owner in the center of town, and quickly was introduced to many people by friends, making connections easily in this friendly town.
I also quickly found the best places in town to go for breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee, drinks, and late night snacks. El Salvador cuisine is heavy in fruit, vegetables, meat, beans, cheese, tortillas, bold flavors, and lots and lots of salt. When traveling to any country other than your own, it’s important to take cautions against any water or food preparation that you might not be used to. For me, since I knew I hadn’t eaten meat more than a handful of times over the past year and a half, I knew a new country probably wasn’t the place to expose myself to meat again. Despite my plant-based leanings, I still think it’s important to preserve a curiosity and open-mindedness for experiencing the food of a new culture. My reasons for plant based leanings are promptly health based, but also have to do with disagreements for certain approaches to food alteration, growing, or preparation that has become corrupted in America. SO, when traveling to Central America, I kept myself open to trying new types of food, ended up eating cheese, milk, and fish while I was down there, and only placed the limit of meat on myself to prevent my stomach from getting completely angry.
The most classic El Salvadorian snack is called a “Pupusa” , a thick corn tortilla stuffed with typically cheese and meat based filling. There were Pupuseria’s on every corner, open at pretty much any hour of the day. I knew I had to preserve my health while traveling as much as I could, so I actually only indulged in one (bean and cheese based) Pupusa while I was down there. This is probably a disgrace to El Salvador cuisine honestly, because I made many friends who indulged in Pupusa snacks on the daily. Best part? They’re usually only about 50 cents to $1 , one of the best options for eating on a budget. Most of the food in El Salvador was inexpensive. El Salvador was actually the least expensive country I traveled to in Central America overall. One of my favorite spots in town was a small cafe called Day Well Being. It was first introduced to me because they have the BEST brownies, not only in El Tunco, but maybe the best brownies I’ve ever had in my life… Despite having to resist the urge to eat a brownie every single day, I posted up with my laptop in Day Cafe often, indulging in their amazing, superfood packed smoothies and salads.
On a typical day in El Salvador, I would usually eat a large breakfast, maybe some mid day snacks, and a larger afternoon meal. I definitely ate less, and more consciously while I was traveling, partially due to budget. Most days, I would start off my day by adding some Real Salt to my water*. The 60+ clean minerals and electrolytes in Redmond Salt not only helped jump start my energy for the day, but most importantly, saltwater helped me with my digestion and flushing out toxins while I was out of my normal routine. The amazing hostel I was staying at would provide breakfast - “el típico”. El desayuno típico , or “the typical breakfast” in El Salvador typically consists of eggs, rice, meat, beans, cheese, fruit, and veggies. The chef at our hostel prepared breakfast for me every morning - a veggie omelet, with cheese, avocado, beans, toast, a huge bowl of fruit, and of course coffee. It was amazing being surrounded by so much fruit all the time - there were Papaya and Coconut trees in the yard of the hostel I was staying in, Mango trees at the yoga studio I went to, and enough fruit every day to keep me so so happy. On one of my most memorable days in El Tunco, I remember spending an amazing morning learning how to surf, and came back to Day Cafe, to indulge in an amazing Plantain salad, and Papaya + Avocado + Ginger smoothie. The veggies and fruits were so satisfying and I followed up lunch with an amazing massage, without even having to leave the building!
Sometimes while eating lunch or dinner, I would sprinkle some garlic real salt on my veggies, but most of the time when I was eating out at local restaurants, the food in El Salvador is already salted plenty enough. They really love their salt there! In fact, I shared some of my Real Salt with my hostel owner, and new friend, Pedro, and he might have become a bigger fan than me! One night we were getting beers and French fries (“papas”) at a local bar, and I went to sprinkle some Real Salt on for a photo, only to be interrupted by Pedro saying I needed to “shake it like I mean it”. He proceeded to take the Real Salt from me and show me how it was really done. He was such a big fan of the salt that after I left I sent him a message saying I wish I would’ve remembered to leave some Real Salt with him, and I’ll have to bring some back next time I visit. He simply responded - “I already have 3”.
More importantly than how good everything in El Salvador tasted, I think my time taught me how powerful humans connection is to food, to each other, and to the land. One of my most memorable adventures was up in the jungles in a beautiful volcanic region just outside El Tunco. Pedro took us on an incredible drive up to a secluded small organic coffee farm, where our wonderful guide, Javi, showed us the plant nursery, and told us all about how the organic coffee plants are grown. Javi and the rest of their team, place a tremendous amount of focus, love, and attention to detail on these plants. I learned that coffee plants can have a lifespan of over 100 years, and don’t start producing coffee beans at full maturity until around year 6! Javi explained to us that they are careful to match the coffee plants with compatible plants in the ecosystem, specific types of fruit trees or plants that help the coffee plants thrive and fight off disease or invasive species. He also described the natural processes they use to create a thriving environment for the plants, but explained that corporate companies such as Starbucks, are creating hostile environments not only for their own plants, but it’s beginning to affect the surrounding farms. They use chemicals and genetic modification to accelerate the growth of their coffee plants, so that they start producing beans sooner. This also means their plants die off sooner, and cause wear and tear on the land they are growing on. This has caused Starbucks to expand and take over much of the land, and some of their chemical usage has started to invade surrounding farms. Javi ensured us that their Lechuza coffee farm would stay standing, transparent, thriving, and organic for as long as they can. His passion for his craft was clear as he took us from the nursery and growing portion of the farm, to the best part - the brewing and cupping. He described he carefully timed and beautiful process of roasting the beans. He then crafted many different coffee creations for us to sample, showing us what a perfectly ripe bean looked like, the proper techniques to brew a perfect cup, and what each type of espresso drink should taste like on our palette. He concluded his masterful presentation by brewing us a new experiment of his - “coffee tea”. He learned that the floral part of the coffee plant has it’s own unique taste palette, without containing any caffeine, and proceeded to brew us the smoothest, most wonderful cup of ‘coffee tea’, that I apparently cannot get anywhere else! Javi’s incredible passion for his art, and for the land, influenced me strongly to pay closer attention to true quality and craft when it comes to my food and common coffee indulgences. If any of you are ever in El Salvador, I highly recommend visiting Lechuza Cafe and feeling the power of Javi’s passion yourself.
On my very last day in El Salvador, I surfed, I walked the town, I took my camera down to the beach and celebrated in the waves with my new friends. Pedro and his family did such a good job of making me feel at home, and for my last night, we hosted “The Great Makoi Dip-Off” at Pedro’s Hostel and Home - Casa Makoi. A fellow traveler and I competed with his spicy mango salsa, and my legendary jalapeño guacamole. Both the Onion Salt and Garlic Salt from Real Salt were key players in this competition. However, in the end, both dips were too good to decide, and we decided to call it a tasty tie. Pedro cooked an incredible fish dinner for our group of 10 people that now felt like family to me. We ate vegetables, an incredible fish dinner, and all left completely full and happy by the end. I laughed so hard, I practiced my Spanish more than ever before, and I met some really phenomenal humans that I know I will be back to visit. Something as simple as a really good dinner, with really good people, was enough to remind me what life is really about. It’s not about the competition, it’s not about rules, it’s not about success. It’s about the little moments, and connections you make with unexpected humans, finding more love and light than ever before along the way. Pedro told me one day that his house, Casa Makoi, means “house of love”, and whether this directly translates to anything or not, I not only believe that I was staying in the house of love, but I truly felt the magic of how much love was in that house and the family living in it.
My time in El Salvador taught me how much I love Papayas and Coconuts. It taught me how to surf, it taught me how drastic the differences in cuisine, culture, and landscapes can be. It taught me that the most joy can be found in simple moments, simple food, and simple conversations. But most importantly, it taught me how to keep an open mind, how to create genuine deep connections with different humans, and how to live and love completely in the magic of each moment, every day.
I took Real Salt throughout the rest of my travels during the remainder of the summer. When I desperately relied on food to heal me in Costa Rica, I was able to save money, and get the rest I needed, by cooking simple meals in a hostel in the middle of the jungle, with just potatoes, vegetables, and the only seasoning I needed. The power of food brought me back to life during my lowest point of my travels, so I continued to rely on the mineral power of including Real Salt in my routine throughout Central America, Canada, and finally, now back in Colorado.
Since being back home, I now make more Papaya + Avocado + Ginger smoothies than ever before, I value fresh fruit and sustainably grown coffee, I put Real Lemon + Pepper Salt on my avocado toast every day now that I’m back in my own kitchen, and I make a point to enjoy more dinners with friends. It’s in the sharing of food, and stories, and connection, that truly brings people together, no matter where you are in the world.
*Not recommended for anyone who has a salt, mineral and vitamin imbalance, or who is hypertensive.
The California Cliff Cruise 2018 is officially a wrap! The cliff cruise is an annual event created by @travissims that I’ve been lucky enough to help out with for the past two years. The cliff cruise not only hosts the only Freestyle Cliff Diving Competition , but a cliff trash clean up event, hiking, climbing, camping, and 60+ of the best Professional Cliff Divers, Action Sports Athletes, Videographers, Photographers, and rad humans. We cleaned up over 1,000 pounds of trash, sent tricks off too many cliffs to count, camped in countless beautiful locations in Northern California. It’s hard not to have too much fun when you’re hanging with this rad crew.
There’s so much more to cliff diving than epic shots and extreme tricks. Though we all gather to see these feats of epic proportions, the truest memories of the trip are made while we were camping in dirt piles, getting lost on trails, stumbling upon swimming holes, going on long drives, showering in waterfalls, sharing stories, and really just all experiencing life together. We used water for everything - showering, waking up, keeping our beer cold, and staying hydrated. We backpacked and hiked into most spots, so instead of taking heavy amounts of water with us, we conveniently packed our Sawyer mini filters to get water at every stop. Whether it was scavenging for water together, getting lost on mountain roads, or staying up till the wee hours of the night having good conversations, the Cliff Cruise always brings the best memories.
The cliff diving community is rad not only because of the revolutionary sport of cliff diving, but because of the incredible level of support and love that each member of this massive family has for one another. This week was a dream. It was so hard saying goodbye to some of my favorite people, but I know we’ll all be back together soon enough to once again unite around this crazy sport we love.
Huge thank you to Sawyer Products for being our official Cliff Cruise 2018 Partner!
Backpacking, camping, and hiking throughout Colorado with C2O Coconut Water
Email to book Portrait or Lifestyle Sessions. Options to go on an adventure, or stay in the city.
When rad humans find rad humans and fall in love. Available worldwide. Email to book for 2019.
This August, Connor and I brought Otterbox with us up to Canada to experience cliff diving, hiking, rain, smoke, and all types of Type II Fun. Type II Fun is not your average adventure blog, smiling in flowing dresses and relaxing in hot springs. No… Type II Fun is the type of fun you have while struggling in the cold, or the mud with your friends. It’s a special type of fun you can only access with the right attitude. The type of fun you have smiling and laughing your a*ses off while caught in the middle of some weather. The type of memories that will last a lifetime.
As we reflected we realized that though the big moments are epic, and it’s always nice to get a “banger” shot of nature - the fondest moments are most often the simplest. The moments unfiltered, without any pressure, no rules. So we were incredibly inspired by Otterbox’s brand manifesto as follows:
Welcome to the outdoors.
It’s not just our job to photograph and document within nature, but our passion.
So we venture out, finding pieces of ourselves, and answers we didn’t know were there.
Because it’s never been about getting the perfect shot, but experiencing the moment, and capturing those feelings along the way.
So what makes an experience “share-worthy”? What makes an image “postable”?
For us? It’s about the imperfections in the little moments along the way,
Sure, the perfect shot is out there somewhere, but it’s always been more exciting to embrace the chaos that the outdoors is so good at providing.
The chaos is freeing. The unpredictability, our inspiration.
We might be here to create, but the beauty has already been created around us.
Nature doesn’t care who has climbed the biggest mountain, or swam the biggest river.
Because in the end, aren’t we all here to pursue our passion for nature while having fun?
So welcome to nature, where the best memories are made while embracing the chaos with a smile on your face.
It’s not about who showed up the most prepared, or most experienced.
Nature doesn’t care if you sent it the hardest, but if you sent it at all.
Try all we want, but it isn’t us that shapes the adventure, it’s always been the adventure that shapes us.
Welcome to the outdoors, where all are welcome, there are no rules, and there’s no such thing as a perfect shot.