Desert Sunsets at The Aloha Ranch

We spent last weekend catching up with old friends in a cute Airbnb called the "Aloha Ranch," a fitting name for a group with Hawaii roots and a dog with a Hawaiian name. We explored Joshua Tree National Park, threw burgers and brats on the BBQ, played horseshoes, listened to old vinyl records, and sat around the fire pit laughing about past shenanigans, all as the sky transitioned from dusty desert pinks and purples to a dark canvas of stars with the Big Dipper straight overhead. Is there anything more lovely than the desert at dusk? It's my favorite kind of sunset. 

DSC_1550.jpg

(Anyone know where can I find a floor lamp like that by the way? It's awesome.)

DSC_1628.jpg
DSC_1629.jpg

Hoku enjoyed the serenades of Elton John's greatest hits album spinning on the record player...

"And I think it's gonna be a long long time
'Till touch down brings me round again to find
I'm not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I'm a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone"

We recently discovered that Keys Point (the highest point at Joshua Tree National Park) is actually dog friendly, which was a nice surprise as most of the park is off limits to furry friends. Even at just 5300 ft above sea level, the panoramic lookout offers perfect views of the Salton Sea, as well as two of the highest peaks in Southern California, Mt. San Jacinto and Mt. San Gorgonio (which we summited 2 years ago!)

It was one of the hotter days we've ever experienced in the park and the shade offered by the boulders was a welcome and surprisingly cool retreat. (After a quick check for rattlesnakes hiding in the cracks, that is.)

Back at our Airbnb, which had a strict no pets on furniture policy, this cinderblock + wooden platform in our closet provided the perfect pup perch for resting weary paws. 

Thanks Joshua Tree for more excellent desert memories. We'll be back when the weather cools.

May Gray

This gloomy May weather has been bumming me out. It's almost the perfect metaphor/ pathetic fallacy for the creative block I've been kind of feeling these days. While walking Hoku yesterday, I realized that I couldn't remember the last time I took my camera out on one of our daily walks. It's funny how easily things can become routine, mundane and ordinary when there's so much inspiration in the everyday. I also couldn't remember the last time I wanted to shoot...not to document a trip, not for a job, not because I felt like I needed to update my Instagram feed, but just for the joy of it. So today, I did just that. No headphones, no looking at a screen...just me, my camera and my dog. Just like how this whole crazy journey started.

Anyway, I love how this set of images turned out, and all thanks to the cloudy skies and overcast light I've been hating on. Take that, May Gray. You can't bring me down.  

DSC_1337.jpg

The bandana Hoku's wearing was made by our super talented Insta-friend, Tracy (@chelseatheterrier), mom of two of our favorite scruffy pups, Chelsea and Emma. Check out her Etsy shop, Kawaii Hound, for cute handmade booties, bandanas and accessories.

Finding Fossils In The Desert

For the second year in a row, we've had the pleasure of joining our friends and a wonderful group of paleontology enthusiasts on a trip into the desert to collect fossils for a museum in our community. With the record rainy Winter we've had here in Southern California, it turned out to be an excellent year for fossil hunting!

DSC_0795 copy.jpg

The "documents of life" in this area include the ancient remains of horses and peccaries dating approximately 15 million years old. My attempts to train Hoku to sniff out these fossils were largely unsuccessful.

↑ This is a museum quality horse toe fossil.

One of the most exciting finds of the day was an extremely rare, almost perfectly intact tip of a mammoth or mastodon tusk!  

By lunchtime, the dogs were already all tired out. Chili took a nap under the truck and Hoku curled up into a ball on the floor of the Outback after chasing desert flies for a good hour, too pooped to even jump onto the seat.

↑ The dogs hanging out in our rooftop tent back at the campsite. 

After a BBQ dinner, our group gathered around the bonfire to announce the day's best finds and for a raffle prize drawing. To everyone's amusement, Chili and Hoku's names were pulled for a whiskey glass!   

After a gusty night, we woke up to a brisk 39° F and took Hoku on a little hike exploring the hills around our campsite before breakfast. We couldn't have asked for a better way to end a fun weekend of meeting new friends than with a mug of hot coffee and a plate of bacon and eggs cooked over the campfire!