California. Why did it take me so long to go here? Should have been a long time ago because it was such a good time. Stunning scenery, cool people, diverse foods to try - loved it.
Basically went to LA, stayed in Marina del Rey. I did see the Hollywood stuff, but for the most part we kept to the beach. Surfed in Malibu, visited a favorite surf shop in Newport, just looked around and tried to get a feel for the place. It's so different than the east coast, but really good. I'll definitely be back.
Surfing in Malibu
The desert. What is there to say about it? It's stunning, inspiring and a whole pile of other descriptive words. I can't do it justice, so I'm going to post these photos and maybe they will do the job.
The Painted Dessert, AZ
The desert felt comfortable. I don't know if anyone else has these reactions to landscapes, but to me, some places feel like home and some don't. Example: The mountains of NC - to me they are uncomfortable. They're beautiful, but they're too jagged, the trees are too dense, the foliage is too saturated with green. It's not my thing.
So I was trying to figure out why the desert felt right, when it seems to be the exact opposite of my usual inspiration - the ocean and beach... I think it's because it's not the opposite, it's the same. The shapes of the desert are incredibly similar to the shapes underwater. The empty spaces there, with their curved elevations, look very much like the ocean floor. Driving by I saw plants that were the shapes of corals. There was a cactus that looked almost exactly like a gorgonian.
Petroglyph National Monument, NM
The Petrified Forest, AZ
And then there's the colors! The beautiful, pale, faded colors - exactly the shades that I like to work in. You have no clue how many times I've been told to abandon these colors and work with bright, vibrant ones in order to make people like my work better. I actually felt like nature had vindicated me for liking them, as if nature likes them too, but secretly keeps them all together, only here, for itself.
Creative wise, the dessert was the most inspiring thing on this trip by far. I think that when I finally finish with the traveling, it'll be a big part of what I do next.
So I was one day into a cross country road trip.
The most impressive thing about driving on a trip like this is that you get to see the landscape change. When you fly somewhere you just pickup at home and plop down where you're going, but you never get to see what the earth has to do to look the way it does there. Entering Oklahoma, I noticed the first of these changes. The land that is soft, hilly and green turns flat, harder and yellow. And it's windy. Very windy. This is also where I started to see the first bit of Native American themed stuff. I like that stuff, so I was excited. I looked out the window for buffalo the whole time, but the only one I saw was in a travel stop. He was kind of awesome tho.
In Oklahoma City we stopped and saw the bombing memorial. It was sad, of course, but worthwhile and Oklahoma City was actually very nice. The buildings downtown were beautiful in an old fashioned midwest way and everything was incredibly clean. So far, it was the best city we'd seen.
Somewhat unexpectedly, I had the chance to go on a major road trip. I love being on the road, but it's been awhile since I lived in my airstream, so I was psyched to have the chance to go.
This time I'd be heading out west, with a destination I'd spent a lot of time dreaming about, but had never been to before: California. I was ready. A new ocean to meet, some supposedly awesome surfing, and a chance to see with my own eyes things that are constantly referenced in movies and books.The Plan
Leg 1. South Florida to Western North Carolina
Leg 2. North Carolina to CaliforniaTravelers:
me, my husband Joe and his brother Shane.
The point of the trip was to take Shane's new car that was bought in NC, out to where he lives in Marina del Rey. Drive out, fly back.Day 1
We set off from outside of Asheville on route 40 early one morning in August. This day took us through Knoxville, Nashville, & Memphis. When you take this kind of trip, you get the chance to drive by all kinds of things that you've heard talked about throughout your life. It gives you a chance to be able to say "I've seen that" about a lot of stuff. So the plan was to stop and see all that kind of "stuff" whenever we came upon it.
In Nashville we stopped at a food truck
and walked around by the river. In Memphis we got some fried chicken and saw the Mississippi for the first time. Then we headed on west and saw the sun set as we drove through the Ozarks. All I could think of was being a kid and reading "Where the Red Fern Grows." I wished I could spend some time in those hills.
At this point the landscape, although beautiful, was still fairly familiar. The next day it would start to get interesting. That night we stopped along the Arkansas and Oklahoma border.
A few shots of summer from the past months. I've just realized I don't have any recent wave riding footage. There is some video of myself and other people actually surfing, but I've been to lazy to take them off the camera. One day. Probably when it gets much colder.
When I draw underwater scenes, I use what's around me as inspiration. I'm on the east coast of Florida, so my ocean is the Atlantic. Sure, other oceans might be more colorful or exciting, but one of my mottos is to be happy with what you have and make the most of it. So you won't catch me dreaming about far away seas, you're more likely to find me chasing all there is to see in the one that's right here. When I need to know what seaweed or a coral looks like, I run off somewhere nearby to see what that thing looks like when it grows here.
I was out on one of the local reefs and felt like sharing some of the shots. This reef is only in about 20 feet of water, so the light is usually pretty good and it makes things look nice.
Being underwater is like being at a party where no one wants to talk to you. Except instead of being uncomfortable it feels totally right. Fish just swim around doing their thing. When they pass each other they don't make awkward comments to each other about the weather or their outfits, they keep on swimming. There's a flow to it all and once you get used to it, it's really relaxing. Actually, the only times I've ever been uncomfortable underwater were because there were big fish that were overly interested in me. That was a little strange.
Anyways, here are some things you'll see on the reefs in Florida.
That's me, swimming around over the reef. I am not native to the reefs of Florida.
This is Puffs. In my world all puffers are named Puffs. He's my favorite fish and most of my dives are spent just looking for him. He has the best eyes and smile. This is what Puffs looks like when he's small.
This is what Puffs looks like when he gets old. The big ones are always very shy.
This guy was on the largish side. I liked him because he was a pretty brown color.
Oh, look, it's another puffer. This one is just napping.
Some corals and fans and such. I draw that yellow one on the left a lot.
I spent a really beautiful evening at the beach last week. Winter is finally over and Florida is getting back to that topical heat that I love when I'm in the ocean. Hot sun above, turquoise water all around, on my board - one of the best feelings ever. The water here in south Florida is often so clear you can see everything on the bottom too and well, it's just amazing. I love it.
So on this really mellow night last week I went out as the sun was setting and everything was beautiful. The waves were really small, but me and my longboard are good with that, and I got back that happy feeling I've been missing all winter.
Since that feeling is directly responsible for a lot of my drawings and style and such, I thought it might be worth sharing. When I'm stuck on something or can't draw a thing, spending some time in the ocean clears it up pretty well. Looking forward to a long summer, full of art and surf and warm sea.
I used to live in an airstream. It was a 1973 Sovereign, mostly original and I got into it completely by accident. My husband and I were living near Asheville, NC and he had a job to do in South Florida. Months in a hotel sounded like not the most fun ever, so we got the Airstream and, having never camped before, decided it was going to be home. And it turned out that for about a year it was the coziest, most fun home we'd ever had.
It's been about 10 months since we came off the road and I was just sitting here remembering the good times. Yes, it's small. Sure, there are a few inconveniences. But assuming you're with someone who's company you enjoy it's actually really, really wonderful. The feeling of freedom is something you can't get any other way, you're in places you couldn't be otherwise, and you spend so much more time outside in the fresh air. It feels really great. And, since you're not actually in a tent you can have your vintage dishes and such, which make all those picnics a little extra special.
Another benefit to airstream travel, easy pet transport. We lived with our cat Reef and dog Silas. They adapted just fine, as you can see, and snugged right in.
One summer we took our vacation in Melbourne Beach. It was nice because the water was fairly close. A good hotel is always nice, but it doesn't come close to the relaxed & casual feeling of this kind of living.
Cooking tikka masala over the coals outside. Some interior shots.
Trailer Trash. Stopped by the side of the road, somewhere in the middle of nowhere Florida, waiting for some friends.
So that's enough reminiscing for one day. It was a good time tho, an adventure, and I like to think I keep the same spirit with me even now that I have some roots down.