road trip to palm springs
Lake Havasu, Arizona
In an attempt to leave behind the cold, wind and snow of winter in Flagstaff, Murphy and I embarked on a mini getaway towards Palm Springs. It was our inaugural trip in the van (name TBD), so our excitement and nerves were both running high.
We pulled out of town late on a Wednesday night. Our first stop was BLM land just outside of Lake Havasu City. In our typical camping fashion, we arrived late, around 11pm. Cold, tired and hungry, we drove off the highway and into the desert looking for a secluded spot to call our own that night. Our first camp meal was rice and leftover beets, red wine and chocolate. We fell asleep to the gentle breeze and full moon.
It was actually on our way to this campsite that we ran into our first big issue with the van. Fully loaded with camping gear, shit for the pop up at the Ace Hotel, and all of our mountain biking gear, the van was sitting much lower than before. Only the worst noises were coming from the wheel wells. We ignored the problem until morning.
The next morning, and after a breakfast of oatmeal and coffee, we make the decision to head into town to attempt to lift the van. Our hope was that this was the only issue, or at least a temporary fix before the fenders completely shaved both rear tires. We found a Walmart, and planned to purchase a car jack, do the lift in their parking lot, and return all the tools within a short hour or so. Things didn’t go quite as planned, and the van was shakily and stressfully resting on two jacks for the better part of the afternoon.
Finally, two old cowboys named Ferguson and Rodney came to the rescue. Up from Quartzite for a grocery trip, they happened to have the world’s largest car jack in the bed of their truck. I wish I had a snap of them. They pulled up to where we were in the way back of the Walmart parking lot, rolled down the window, and asked with a slight country drawl whether or not we needed some help. I desperately nodded, and Murph asked to borrow the jack he had already spotted in the truck bed. The two men were dressed exceptionally well for a Walmart run. Nice straw cowboy hats, on-trend Canadian tuxedos, boots and hand-tooled leather suspenders…
Murphy scrambled to get the lift done while they were inside. We gave them each a bolo tie as a thank you. I am eternally grateful to people like that, helping out strangers so willingly.
Joshua Tree, California
With the van pieced back together, we left the Lake Havasu area for Joshua Tree. Racing daylight, we caught the most beautiful moonrise on the way.
Now we were one whole day into the trip. The relaxed road trip feeling was more apparent with our main car troubles temporarily solved, and we were excited to see what the rest of the trip had in store.
I wore these jeans from Rolla’s and chelsea boots from Nisolo basically the entire trip, with a bright pink beanie and a bear coat, #fashion.
I see the hype of Joshua Tree. The long stretches of road and desert and rocks and shrubs are inspiring in the way they open up to the vast blue sky. Each view is worthy of a pause.
Dates from a small farm-to-market shop in Desert Hot Springs make for a great road snack. This little stand is on the left side heading towards Palm Springs. Lots of local fruits and nuts, each item labeled with the location of the farm.
La Quinta, California
On we ventured. Going south towards a camping spot in La Quinta, California, closer to mountain bike trails. Stiffness of the road and cold nights had started to sink in, so we were seeking nature and warmer weather.
At the next campsite, we arrived just as the sun was setting. Watching the glowing sunset over the distant mountains was a highlight. Twenty minutes later the moon rose over those same mountains, reflecting in the lake right beside us.
Desert Hot Springs, California
We passed through Palm Springs, California for some devastatingly delicious Mexican food to replace every calorie burned on our bike ride, and then some. And we have nothing notable to report from Desert Hot Springs except that the KOA was exceptional. All I wanted that night was food and a hot tub. Upon arrival at our campsite that night, we learned that the pool had three (three!) natural spring hot tubs ranging from 93 degrees to 104 degrees. Heaven.
My only souvenir of Desert Hot Springs was a relaxed state of mind. We woke up early the next morning for the show in Palm Springs, ready for it.
Palm Springs, California
Lake Havasu, Arizona
Another visit far too short. But Palm Springs was great. We only had time for the little pop up with did at the Ace Hotel, and were limited in food and coffee to that area. Our booth neighbors were all great, and I feel like we met a decent number of amazing customers.
We left that same night to get part way home. Stopping before Lake Havasu for the night. The next morning we hit the trails in that area before driving home to Flagstaff.
Overall, it felt so good to be on the road again. Murphy and I used to travel a ton for pop ups all over the country. I love how it reconnects us and allows us so much time to talk and dream and catch up. Knowing that we would be without cell phone service for parts of this trip actually inspired me to not get on social media almost the entire time. I didn’t vocalize my goal, because I hope that social media takes up so little space in my mind that it’s not even worth mentioning that I’m ‘taking a break’. It was pretty easy! And nice to be in nature and on the road and be fully present with Murphy.
xx kisses xx
WEEKEND IN SEDONA, ARIZONA
Sedona. How can I even begin to describe it? One of those utterly magical places that is so otherworldly in its natural beauty – incredible rock formations, sunsets to blow your mind, the quaintness of a small town. It’s such a hot destination right now, so there is a growing scene of amazing resorts, new restaurants and shopping. Even with the bustle of tourism, you can still get away from it all on a long hike or trail ride, allowing you time to recharge and connect with nature. I’m hooked on going to Sedona and can’t wait to experience more! If you’re in need of a unique place to visit this Spring or Summer, you should consider this gorgeous town, and you won’t regret a getaway at the Amara Resort!
The climate in Sedona is moderate year round, but spring and fall are the peak times to visit.
My boyfriend and I absolutely love Sedona. This past visit, I stayed at the Amara Resort and Spa, a beautiful and breathtaking Sedona resort. It’s located in a primo spot – walking distance of uptown Sedona’s shops and restaurants. Despite its central location, it feels tucked away and hidden from the busyness of town and features amazing views of red rock formations and its natural surroundings. The hotel’s two wings perfectly frame this view. Trails for hiking and biking, shopping, restaurants and other excursions are only a few minutes away. The hotel even offers a complimentary transportation service.
The lobby, with its vaulted ceilings and carefully curated decor, leads straight to the killer view of red rocks through a wall of windows facing the courtyard.
The rooms continue the modern / Southwest decor. Pops of aubergine and green mixed with turquoise, yellow and orange are a fresh take on colors on the region. Glass doors open to the outdoors, and each private balcony or patio is furnished with table and chairs. Bathrobes, a too well-stocked mini bar and yoga mat round out the in-room experience.
The Amara Resort features a ton of fun amenities, including an evening wine hour each night, complimentary coffee and tea service each morning, in-room yoga mats, a mountain bike you can borrow at any time, a convenient spa, pet services, a fitness center, heated saltwater pool (infinity-edge, overlooking Oak Creek and the red rocks!!), and hot tub (which we spent wayyyy too much time in the first night).
Here’s a look at the itinerary we (kinda) tried to keep while we were in Sedona. It’s a perfect long weekend schedule, in my opinion!
Start your day at Trailhead Tea. They have over 130 varieties of tea, tisanes, botanicals, and medicinals. I usually get the Matcha Latte with Almond Milk.
The red rock formations in the area, as well as Oak Creek Canyon are the main reasons to come to Sedona. A hike is the best way to really take in the views all around Sedona. A few hikes I really loved are ::
Brins Mesa :: This trail will take you up to a mesa that overlooks Soldiers Pass and Mormon Canyon. It’s a 1.5 mile out-and-back for a total of 3 miles.
Courthouse / Bell Rock :: The Courthouse Butte Loop Trail is so scenic and peaceful. It’s a 4.2 mile loop.
After you burn off some calories, grab lunch at Creekside. They have outdoor seating and great red rock views! The menu changes seasonally, but I love the Organic Cantaloupe Melon with Sea Salt and Lime, the Organic Baby Beets and Goat Cheese Salad, and a shared bottled of white wine.
Because the main attraction is the scenery of Sedona, a Pink Jeep Tour in the afternoon will get you back out into nature. The ‘Touch the Earth Vortex Tour’ give you a real Sedona experience.
Sunset is a major event each evening when the combination of red rocks and fading light continually changes the scene. The resort’s own Saltrock Kitchen is perfect for watching the changing night sky against the red rocks. The fire pit outside keeps away the nighttime chill, which makes this a perfect spot to relax and spend your evening.
The Amara’s Spa offers a yoga class each morning, which I would definitely recommend. It’s a perfect way to start the day.
Heartline Cafe is a great breakfast spot to catch the early morning light on Thunder Mountain. Sit out in the adorable outdoor seating area and share a Sedona Sunrise.
Sedona is a fun shopping experience. Here’s quick rundown of shops I like to hit up with I’m in Sedona –
The Center for the New Age is across the road from Tlaquepaque. Here, you’ll be able to delve into all the New Age culture you desire – photographs of your aura, readings, healers.
For Southwestern and Native American crafts and jewelry, visit the Blue-Eyed Bear.
No trip to Sedona is complete without massages and spa treatments. The Amara’s Spa is perfect for treatments! I recommend the Detox Wrap, the Moon Chasing Sun Facial, the Soleful Traveler Pedicure, and the Rain Dance Massage.
After cleaning up, head next door to L’Auberge de Sedona for a decadent meal overlooking Oak Creek.
A quick coffee at The Secret Garden Cafe to energize you for your last day in red rock country.
This is your last chance to immerse yourself in the beauty of the red rock formations. West Fork is my favorite trail in the Sedona area. Water, views, canyons and cliffs make the 6.4 miles of this hike so amazing.
Refuel at Indian Gardens Cafe and Market with a hearty Sedona Spinach Salad. While you’re there, check out Garland’s Indian Jewelry, which has work by Hopi, Navajo and Zuni craftspeople.
photography | meredith christine + madison nelson
creative direction | meredith christine