september sixth, almost seventh

I haven't written a blog post since almost a year ago. Here I am now: in an Airbnb in Nice, France next to my boyfriend, Jake, who's fallen asleep because it's 11:53pm and he's on a normal sleeping schedule. It's September 6th, almost 7th. 

Lately, I've just felt so happy to be alive. 

For the past few weeks, I've been working in Europe, which means I've gotten to spend time with friends, old and new, in amazing locations. I started off in England with my good friend, Zoe Morton, whom I met by shooting her brand a few months ago. Isn't it funny how you can instantly connect with someone and then [four months later] end up in her hometown, being escorted ever so regally in her beautiful green van to all of her special spots, befriending her friends and be-family-ing her family? We camped along the English coast, swam in the most refreshing sea, "kayaked into town for a coffee" (LITERALLY walked down the hill from her fairytale house to the beach/port and kayaked some meters into town, tied up the kayak, climbed up a rusty, barnacled ladder up on to land and into a cafe for coffee... what?!)... Needless to say, it was a sad goodbye for me as I waved goodbye to the explorer and her green van at Stansted Airport after a lovely, laughter-filled six days. 

As soon as I landed in Lagos, Portugal, I was filled with excitement to work with one of my favorite brands again: Wrangler Australia! My over-excitement led me to babble away to my bilingual (Portuguese-Spanish) uber driver in Spanish. We were both too chatty and stopped paying attention to the GPS, and only realizing so after we'd gone 30 mins too far in the wrong direction. I had no service, thus no way of contacting the Wrangler team, and the poor gals were freaking out at the Airbnb thinking I had been taken. I finally arrived to join them, and the next few days were the most fun days of my life, shooting with Ocean Alley band and Wrangler. Of 16 people, I was the only non-Australian, so that was great... Lots of practicing accents, being taught random words/phrases, and being teased for sounding so Californian! The beaches in Portugal are absolutely breathtaking, with dramatic cliffs tracing the otherwise delicate coastline and massive rock formations standing tall in the otherwise calm waters. 

I met my boyfriend, Jake, in Paris a few days later. We spent some days in Paris, eating lots of baguettes and crepes, picnicking along the Seine, listening to the street performers, and catching up after being apart for a few weeks. We caught a train down to Nice, where we continued our baguette/crepe streaks, swam in the most captivating shades of blue, hiked up towards and around a castle (though we never actually ended up at said castle), and rented a cheap scooter that took us alllllll over the south of France and even into Italy! We were literally chillin' on the beach in Menton, France (last French city before Italy) when Jake asked how close we were to Italy. I told him about 15 mins, and he was so keen on crossing the border. We made a random turn and ended up at a beach front resort, where we, for the following 45 minutes, enjoyed wine and chips over a view of a remote beach and the verdant Italian hills, speckled with warm-hued roofs.. Oh, and we scored some free pizza! 

It's 12:45am now. And lately, I've just been so happy to be alive. Life's simple pleasures have been sweeping me off my feet, bringing back a childlike sense of wonder and appreciation for the world. Sunlight dazzling on water, picking up ocean-polished rocks, going for sunset drives, indulging in sweets of every kind, claiming a favorite restaurant in a town that that you call home for three days, and human connection... These simple joys are the most fulfilling ones, and the best part is, you don't even have to go off to some far, foreign land for them. You can find them anywhere--actually, everywhere--in the world. 

The Turkey Tour

The thought itself of driving from San Diego to San Francisco exhausted me. Of course, that all turned to excitement once we finally packed into our vehicles and hit the road. We shot north up the 101 and drove the long, windy roads of Nacimiento Canyon to get into Big Sur, due to the road closures on PCH. As we drove deeper along this route, we expectedly lost service and thus our music streaming privileges. Luckily, we had an old Lumineers CD, the raw and slow melodies of which seemed to soundtrack the drive quite perfectly. Having already had spent the past couple of hours catching up and discussing plans, we began to slow down ourselves. Words and laughter phased out, and we soon embraced the silence that clouded us, only to be interrupted by the occasional camera shutters. 

Turn after turn, we sat patiently, both in awe of the unique forestry and in anticipation of the first ocean views. And when we finally broke through the tall trees, the cliffs that surrounded us, it felt like a never-felt-before breath of fresh air. Stunning—seeing the ocean in this way, dressed modestly in the marine layer, waves crashing both violently and elegantly against the rocky shores. The sun magnified the warm hues of the grasses (phragmites australis, as I later discovered) that blanketed the cliffs, and, in that moment, everything that was gold, even in the slightest, seemed to glisten. It was a magical beginning to a fun-filled trip. We set up camp on a ridge somewhere along the Pacific Valley and as darkness approached, the moon and stars arose shortly thereafter. 

The next few days consisted of water that was not as cold as we had expected, lots of last-minute-pulling-off-the-road surf checks, pouring coffee out of a craftily split Coors can (which would later be coined “the Coors-over”), over 5000 calories of peanut butter (wish I was kidding), all documented on 7+ rolls of film and 3 minutes of Super 8 movie film. 

Straya Stories

My friends told me not to go to Western Australia. 

"It's a desert wasteland. There's nothing to do there." 

"It's soooo sharky."

"Why don't you go to the Gold Coast? Byron Bay? Noosa?"

With that said, here's some film from my time in Western Australia.

 After a few days of settling in around Mandurah (suburb south of Perth), we set off for a road trip down south towards Margaret River. 

After a few days of settling in around Mandurah (suburb south of Perth), we set off for a road trip down south towards Margaret River. 

 This meant a lot of car time. And when your crew can't sit still for longer than 10 minutes, that means a lot of pit stops. 

This meant a lot of car time. And when your crew can't sit still for longer than 10 minutes, that means a lot of pit stops. 

 At lookout points...

At lookout points...

 In car parks (parking lots)...

In car parks (parking lots)...

 In, uhhh, random dirt roads...

In, uhhh, random dirt roads...

 And in the jungle...... (Why do I have so many car photos of Zac?)

And in the jungle...... (Why do I have so many car photos of Zac?)

 Sooooo, after all those pit stops, pee breaks, farmers market trips, etc. We made it down south. And woke up to this for the next couple of days. 

Sooooo, after all those pit stops, pee breaks, farmers market trips, etc. We made it down south. And woke up to this for the next couple of days. 

 We summer-ed so hard.

We summer-ed so hard.

 We got barreled in 2 ft waves,

We got barreled in 2 ft waves,

 found our own private beach,

found our own private beach,

 and got friiiieeed.

and got friiiieeed.

 After a really amazing few days, we went back home and into Perth.

After a really amazing few days, we went back home and into Perth.

 This is Perth.

This is Perth.

 And this is where Jaxon lives.

And this is where Jaxon lives.

 The beaches here aren't bad, either.

The beaches here aren't bad, either.

 We spent our days back home skating around,

We spent our days back home skating around,

 visiting farmers markets,

visiting farmers markets,

 and playing/listening to music. (We might be better listeners than we are players.)

and playing/listening to music. (We might be better listeners than we are players.)

 During my last week, we took a ferry to Rottnest Island--a true dream land.

During my last week, we took a ferry to Rottnest Island--a true dream land.

 As soon as we hopped off the ferry, we got on our bikes. 

As soon as we hopped off the ferry, we got on our bikes. 

 Everyone bikes around because there are no cars allowed on island.

Everyone bikes around because there are no cars allowed on island.

 And you end up in places like this.

And you end up in places like this.

 And this.

And this.

 And THIS.

And THIS.

 Hmmmm, and then you also might end up biking for a good # of kms... on broken bikes... to camp in a really cold cave... with one blanket for three people... 

Hmmmm, and then you also might end up biking for a good # of kms... on broken bikes... to camp in a really cold cave... with one blanket for three people... 

 Then, you wake up the next morning, ignore the fact that you only slept for (at most) 2 hours, and do it all over again.

Then, you wake up the next morning, ignore the fact that you only slept for (at most) 2 hours, and do it all over again.

 More biking,

More biking,

 more diving,

more diving,

 more crayfish-catching.

more crayfish-catching.

 And then it hits you that you're leaving. And you enjoy every. last. moment. before your ferry arrives to take you back.

And then it hits you that you're leaving. And you enjoy every. last. moment. before your ferry arrives to take you back.

Coming back from Rottnest, I had a few days left to enjoy in WA with my friends... and although they were fun, they were sad. As epic as all of our adventures were and as picture-perfect every scene seemed to be, the most beautiful images I have of Australia are all in my memory and I don't even think I could have captured them if I tried. Speaking in radio voices for over half of our time together, listening to the same three songs on repeat for two weeks straight, cooking vegan meals together, running around the bluffs and working out in Iron Paradise (aka Elliott's home gym), starting a band and playing our two hit covers, playing backyard (cricket), having friends' moms (or mom friends, rather) feed me and pack me snacks... All of the laugh attacks had while laying on the floor, all of the different accents we attempted, all of the deep life talks, and, of course, all of the chips + hummus... These undocumented moments, the times in between, these are what I will treasure forever.