Adventure & Travel

Salvation Mountain

October 8, 2014

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Leonard Knight created Salvation Mountain – located just 1.5 hours outside of Palm Springs, California in Niland, Califoria – with what started as a failed attempt to spread his message of God is Love with a giant hand-crafted hot air balloon. The fabric of his fantastic balloon rotted before he could ever successfully launch it. So then with just half a bag of cement he decided to make a little monument in the desert before fleeing from his failure. Well, half a bag of cement and a little bit of paint turned into Salvation Mountain. But not without another failure – this mountain you see here is actually his second attempt after his first mountain collapsed. (source)

So when my family had the opportunity to take a little excursion out to Salvation Mountain after kicking it in Palm Springs for Designer VACA I knew we had to take it. We made the drive out to Salvation Mountain with our friends Star and Jamaica – we chatted about app development and game design – something Jeremy has been interested in doing lately. About 45 minutes into our drive, as we were passing the uninhabitable Salton Sea, Fox started to lose it. When no amount of books, toys, plastic bottles (his favorite thing), or Itsy Bitsy Spider would calm him down I unbuckled myself and contorted my body and managed to reach what felt like an itsy bitsy boobie to his mouth to finally pacify him. The border patrol didn’t seem to mind as they waved us through – surely they have children too. We drove past a man with a long beard and blistering red skin walking barefoot down the road. We stopped at a cash only gas station, complete with a horse-maybe-donkey hitched to a post, with a dirty bathroom tucked behind a meat counter.

And then we finally made it to Salvation Mountain. It felt kind of magical and kind of insane. And perhaps even a little post-apocalyptic. You can’t experience a piece of work like this without being moved. And I was moved but I can’t quite pinpoint how. It’s kind of like a not-quite-scary but very odd dream where you can’t quite remember the narrative but you’re left with a funny feeling all day after you wake up – that’s what Salvation Mountain was like.

The Beach

June 17, 2014

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I haven’t looked forward to a vacation this much in a long time. Every year my family takes a week long vacation in Seaside, Florida. The whole scene is very manicured – especially compared to the kinds of adventures Jeremy and I have been on over the past few years… but we love it. Mostly we love all being together. It’s especially cool that my brother flies down from NYC every year to spend the week with us too.

This year we stumbled upon a recreation area complete with sand volleyball, a small basketball court, shuffleboard, and a croquet set. It felt very Dirty Dancing but we had so much fun. In the mornings Jeremy would wake up early with the baby and make me breakfast while I slept in. We would swim in our salt water pool, ride bikes into town to shop or grab goodies from Modica Market (the best little grocery store and deli ever), and challenge each other to shuffleboard tournaments. Mid-day we would take naps or get cozy with our library books. In the evenings we all pitched in to cook big family dinners and I would make everyone piña coladas or margaritas (my secret talent is that I’m really good at making drinks). I lived in my bikini and barely thought about work. We didn’t even make it out to the beach until three days in – and when we did we boogie boarded with my nephew until the sun got a little too hot on our pasty white skin.

I’ll admit that vacationing with a baby isn’t the most relaxing thing in the whole world. I had a lot of help though – one day I snuck off with Jeremy to pretend like we were Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey while my sister napped with Fox. And my mom, who was born to be a grandma, was always more than willing to take him off our hands. As we were leaving my sister mentioned that this is the only time we’ll ever go on vacation with Fox this age – which was exactly the reminder I needed to remain present to the moment and really be grateful for all the adventures Fox is getting to take at such a young age. I hope this is setting him up for a life of world travel and new experiences.

So what’s next? We’re going to be staying close to home for a while as we make a big move into a new home. That’s right. We’re moving out of our 1920s bungalow and into a 1950s split-level mid-century modern ranch. Stay tuned.

Friends Like This

May 21, 2014

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Friends like this have seen you through it all. New beginnings and dramatic endings. They know exactly when to pour you a glass of wine – and they always know when you’ve had one too many. Friends like this could recite your history like a campfire tale. They were there. They’ll hold your secrets tight, and your babies even tighter. They’ll make space for the details of your dreams and they’ll say “of course” when you watch them come true.

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I’m so grateful for these snaps Liz’s husband (husband!!!) Micah got of the two of us while we were in Asheville, NC together for their elopement

Adventures With Fox

May 15, 2014

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I knew from the moment I decided to get together with Jeremy that I wanted to see the world with him. We started small and easy – with an all-inclusive resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. (Though, I should have known we were game for adventure when we took an overpacked collectivo with the locals to explore Tulum.) From there we tried out a cruise with Jeremy’s mom and grandma that took us around New England and Canada. Our first adventure overseas was to Nepal and a couple years later we backpacked our way through Eastern Europe and the High Tatras. And more recently we spent a couple weeks in Sayulita – Fox was just a bean in my belly. I was under the impression that we needed to get all of our travel out of the way before we had a kid. I’m glad we had our adventures, just the two of us, sure. But having a baby does not mean we’re done.

So just like our world travels, we’re starting small when it comes to our adventures with Fox. At 4 weeks old a walk around the park felt like quite the outing. Even a trip to the grocery store with a baby felt not a lot unlike navigating a foreign country.

So when it came to actually traveling we decided Fox’s first trip would be amongst friends. Something low key and easy. Last week we traveled to Asheville, NC to celebrate my 32nd birthday and the top secret elopement of Liz and Micah. As easy as we were making it on ourselves, it hasn’t been since Jeremy went back to work after a 5-week long paternity leave that we’ve spent so much uninterrupted time together as a family. And Liz and Micah have never spent so much time with a baby, period.

Not only did Fox travel like a pro, I was surprised that taking a vacation with him still felt like well … a vacation. We slept in and had slow conversations over coffee and infamous Micah breakfasts. We went to a couple of restaurants and explored downtown Asheville. We were sure to hit up the grocery store and stay in for dinner a couple nights that week. (Some of my favorite kinds of vacations are the ones that require a trip or two to the grocery store). It felt so right to be sharing a bottle of wine on the back deck of the rented house with my nearest and dearest while Fox fell into his dreams on a bed far from home.

And of course we celebrated the beginning of Liz and Micah’s marriage with an elopement under a waterfall. With me officiating and just Fox and Jeremy in attendance as best man and man of honor it was no big deal when Fox needed to be fed in the middle of the ceremony.

And then on our way back home, Fox got his first taste of true adventure when we had to spend the night in the airport spooning on a cot. By definition, adventures are what happens when the unexpected throws you off course. While normally this kind of inconvenience would be all too irritating it was kind of novel to experience it with Fox. The whole trip made me feel a bit more brave and confident about stepping out into the world with my little baby. Maybe it’s time to get him his first passport.

Flying with Baby

May 9, 2014

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We booked our first family vacation (more on that later) with Fox when he was still going through a fierce phase of witching hour meltdowns. So the idea of boarding a plane with a seemingly emotionally unstable newborn made me more than anxious. I began scouring the internet for articles with numbered lists with pro tips on how to travel with a baby. Aside from breastfeeding during takeoff I couldn’t find much help. It turns out there isn’t much in the way of tips and tricks when it comes to flying with an infant – because really there’s not much you can do beyond just doing your best. So in order to prepare myself for Fox’s first flight I imagined the worst – inconsolable tears, irritated businessmen, and blowouts of epic proportion.

Everyone says to expect the unexpected – I had been so busy preparing for the worst that I didn’t expect to have a chill baby who is a total champ at traveling. Fox loved being carried through the airport in his Sakura Bloom sling. He smiled at strangers. He managed to time his poops perfectly for just after landing. The passengers on our planes couldn’t help but comment on what a sweet, cute baby we have.

I also didn’t expect to have to spend the night at the airport due to inclement weather followed by an available crew unwilling to work a little bit of overtime to get a full plane of passengers from Dallas to Oklahoma City (a 29 minute long flight). Fox and I slept face-to-face together on a cot under a thin fleece blanket. And by sleep I mean closed eyes while trying to ignore the bright lights, bustling cleaning crew, and freezing AC.

But more than anything… I didn’t expect to be so grateful to be traveling with a baby. My baby. I was grateful that I had something a bit more meaningful to focus on than my own self-absorbed and trite travel frustrations. I was grateful that if I had to spend the night in the airport I got to do it with my little family – I was so glad we were all together. I was grateful that my baby seemed to delight the other distressed passengers – he brought a little light, levity, and big toothless grins to an otherwise miserable situation. I was grateful that while it wasn’t the best time ever that we now have a memorable story – that ended with us all home safe – to tell about Fox’s first flight.

But if you’re stumbling upon this page looking for some more than an anecdote here are some tips for traveling with an infant:
• Feed your baby during take off, descent, and as much as possible in between. For as much work as breastfeeding can be it was super convenient for traveling. I wore a scarf which has become a wardrobe staple for a bit of discretion when it comes to feeding Fox in public.
• Wear your baby. I love carrying Fox kangaroo style (facing out with his legs tucked in) in the Sakura Bloom through the airport. You can even wear your baby through security – but I recommend using an Ergo or another carrier without any metal.
• Pack light. At one point I considered packing Fox’s little play gym and maybe a portable high chair. I also thought it might be a good idea to pack my breast pump, just in case. But all the stuff is just not necessary. All he needed, really, were a few diapers, a change of clothes, his swaddle blankets, a pacifier, and us. I did load a few baby apps on the iPad just in case but he’s still a little young to care much about that.

If you have more tips for traveling with babies (by plane, train, or car) please leave them in the comments. 

P.S. All photos taken with an iPhone 5S and edited with the VSCO app. (Another way to travel light is to leave the DSLR at home).

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