near

ALAMERE FALLS

In the darkness of Northern California, the fog slithered through the trees as we made our way to Stinson Beach. The head lights split through the night as we lost ourselves in the curves of the tree line. We arrived at the Palomarin Trailhead at 6am with our feet burning to cover some ground. Anthony and I looked at each other as we swung open the car doors in the gravel parking lot. Our feet crunched against the cold hard ground as we packed our bags in the red glow of the break lights. I inhaled the salty breeze as I laced up my hiking boots. The cold air filled my lungs as I tugged the laces until my knuckles gave a light shade of pink. We stuffed our bags to the brim with food, water, and our camera gear, each weighing about fifty pounds. We began our journey and headed towards the dark treelike, our hearts pounding with the same power and stride as the ocean the crashed against the cliffs below us. With every step we would come closer to the anticipated 13 mile hike to Alamere Falls and back. 

My fingers grew swollen from exertion and the change in temperature.

The muddy path led us through a hollow coastal forest, cliff sides, and up steep rocky slopes. As the day progressed and the sun rose higher in the sky, we shed our layers one by one. My fingers grew swollen from exertion and the change in temperature. Off came the beanie, the vest, and the jacket, and into my backpack they went. I noticed the dew disappear from the tall grass with each mile further we trekked. From time to time, we stopped to gawk at the endless seascape to our left. We continued on and after about 3 bananas, 2 granola bars, and 5.5 miles, we finally made it to the Wildcat Campground.

Alamere_Falls_148.jpg

We emerged from the never-ending forest and were greeted by the cool breeze of the ocean. I felt completely ridiculous trudging through the white sand in my massive hiking boots. Yet at the same time I thought about how just a couple hours prior, we were traipsing through the damp woods, and how incredible it was to endure different climates on the hike. We had 1 mile of shoreline ahead of us. 

[IT was] a place that could only be witnessed by those with an adventurous soul and the luck of the low tide.

We saw the mist exploding from around the coastal bend and in no time we came upon the waterfall. I had never seen anything like it. I had never seen a waterfall gushing fresh water off a cliff and into the ocean. It made me think about how far that water had traveled to make it's final decent, and how we had hiked through various terrain to meet up there - a place that could only be witnessed by those with an adventurous soul and the luck of the low tide. 

We stood at the foot of the waterfall and listened to the rush of the cold water for a short while. The cool mist rejuvenated our flushed faces. The tide was making its way in quick as when we noticed a route up alongside the waterfall. (In the end, this shortcut saved us 2.5 miles) We wedged our feet into the rocks and pulled ourselves up about forty feet. Famished, we dug out our PB&J sandwiches and our Sufferfest tall boys and relaxed next to the calm water at the top of the falls. The view was surreal - being in a place where the fresh water and salt water collided. We wiped the sweat from our brows and wrung out our socks and said farewell to that magical place.

Hand and foot up another few steep gradients and we were back on the main trail. We trekked another 4 miles before reaching the car. We kicked off our boots and and plopped down on the back of the car. A huge sense of accomplishment filled our lungs as we recounted our journey. We felt lucky and appreciative to have hiked this beautiful trail. How could this wonder exist just an hour outside the Golden Gate Bridge? 

Photos + Video: True O'Neill, Anthony Garito

Words: True O'Neill

Special thanks to our friends at Millican for keeping us inspired!

Death Valley

I've always admired those who lead nomadic lifestyles. It's a life that I've romanticized in my mind since I was young, and for a weekend, we got an ephemeral taste of life on the road. 

We hightailed it to the desert in Victor and Lisa's RV. The hula dancer and maneki-neko on the dashboard caught my eye as we were bouncing down the freeway. I thought about all the different backdrops these dashboard dancers had stood in front of over the years and how they'd been to more states than many Americans themselves. Victor and Lisa are the creatives behind Greetings Tour and have spent the past three years traveling from city to city across the US. They have painted 24 "greetings" murals in 14 different states across the US. 

Victor sat behind the wheel of the big rig and Lisa sat co-pilot and navigated us Northeast to Death Valley. Anthony and I kicked back on the couch and traced every inch of the RV with our eyes. We admired the banner above the door from Yosemite, the collection of polaroids that documented their murals on the fridge, and the railroad calendar from 1990 that matched the dates of a 2018 calendar. 

IT WAS A RELIEF TO BE IN THE PRESENCE OF PEOPLE WHO of people who pointed and pulled over at anything that looked intriguing, like we do constantly.

About halfway to Death Valley we found ourselves on a two-lane road in the middle of the desert. In the distance, we saw the sand lifting into the air and swirling into beautiful shapes. We pulled over and jumped out of the RV, anxious to gallop in the sandstorm that had formed. We ran with the wind and tested our weight against it too. It was a relief to be in the presence of people who pointed and pulled over at anything that looked intriguing, like we do constantly.

Around dusk, we pulled into Furnace Creek Campground and pitched our tent next the RV. I've never thought pitching a tent was a chore, but seeing how Victor and Lisa put the RV in park and called it done made me think about how this notion was a turn of a key for them. As the sun dove under the horizon line, we struck up a fire. The firewood popped beneath the flames as we enjoyed our baked salmon and rice. One of the perks of an RV...having a refrigeratorand oven. Feeding yourself is definitely more convenient when you have miniature conventional appliances at your disposal. The wind began to pick up and we decided to call it a night. Victor and Lisa climbed into the RV asking us, “are you sure you don’t want to crash in the RV tonight?” Determined to camp in the desert, we laid our heads down with only a thin layer of polyester separating the earth from our bodies. We zipped into our sleeping bags awaiting the windy night ahead of us. 

By morning we found out the winds blew 20 miles an hour. It was definitely the windiest night of camping that I had ever endured. The side of the tent blew flat over our bodies with the weight of what felt like another human collapsing on top of us. Victor and Lisa already had the coffee brewing and the park map pulled out. We made a rough plan for the day and set off in the RV. 

We hiked under the Natural bridge and in the crevice of sharp rock formations. There was no sign of any wildlife which wasn't surprising. What could possibly survive in those harsh conditions? For a while it seemed as though we were the only souls around for miles. We couldn't hear anything except for the crunching of rocks under our boots with every step we took. It felt like we were attempting to make wine out of marbles. We took in all the shades of the red rock that surrounded us and headed back to the RV in search of our next wonder. 

To be standing in the middle of the desert, some several hundred feet below sea level, looking out at a blanket of white was surreal.

I had never seen salt flats in person before. To be standing in the middle of the desert, some several hundred feet below sea level, looking out at a blanket of white was surreal. It reminded me of seeing snow on the beach for the very first time. The salt was moist and spread like chunky peanut butter between my fingers. We walked about a half mile out and gawked at the horizon where the white salt met the purple mountains. When we looked back over our shoulders, the mighty RV looked nothing more than a white speck along the road side. 

Next up on the queue was Artist's Palette. We drove up to a point that overlooked mountains tainted with minerals of green and purple and blue. They looked like massive mounds of play-dough planted around each other. Some of the colors bled into the neighboring slopes and suddenly I felt like I was on the game board of candy land. Browns bled into maroons, as maroons turned to beige, and as soon as we thought the beige had finished it turned into an earthy mixture of all three. 

The afternoon crept up on us and we had time to catch the sunset at Zabriskie Point. We hiked up the winding road to the peak and on the other side was a scene out of the Lion King. To the right was a huge rock that perched out and conquered over all the other rocks. Views of muted brown and yellow and off white colors flooded our eyes.

The sun shone bright behind the peak in the distance. There we waited until the warmth of the sun left our cheeks.

The sun shone bright behind the peak in the distance. There we waited until the warmth of the sun left our cheeks. The warm colors fell to a hue of blue and with more firewood to burn, we headed back to the campsite and reunited with our tent. Another night under the stars and the fire burning at our feet, we recounted all the wonders that we had seen all day. 

We hit the road back to Los Angeles the next morning. I still hadn't had enough of the RV. We'd spent several hours driving, and I wondered how it might have changed over the years; how nic-nacs and souvenirs made their way in and out. Very seldom are we ever able to experience “life on the road” with our friends first hand. On this trip we were blessed with delicious food and delightful music, and enjoyable conversation. As I sit here writing I can still feel the grit of the sand between my teeth, the sun at my back, and the dry breeze against my cheeks. 

Thank you Victor and Lisa for this unforgettable trip!

Photos +Video: True O'Neill, Anthony Garito

Words: True O'Neill

* Keep up with Victor and Lisa @greetingstour

 

East to West

Day 1. Massillon, Ohio

The streets were uncomfortably quiet as we began piling the last of our belongings into the car. The residents of our Brooklyn neighborhood were sound asleep and cozy in their beds as the sun still laid beneath the horizon. In a few hours they would awake for work. They would grab $1 coffee at the local bodega, climb on the L train, and with the sand still in their eyes they would enter Manhattan. 

We were leaving them and our neighborhood behind. Along with it, our careers, our amazing apartment, an awesome neighborhood, and most of all, a group of friends that felt like family. This flooded our minds as we packed our entire life into my Caliber that would take us clear across the Country. With full hearts and wet eyes we said our goodbyes to our friend and roommate, Dani. I slid the key into the ignition, and with a turn, the car fired its pistons. We were two explorers ready for take off. The radio came on and "I'm on Fire" by Bruce Springsteen filled our ears drums. As the tires of the car spun away from our apartment, we were unsure of the decision we were making. We were not about to embark on a whole new chapter of our lives, but a whole new book. We drove through Manhattan past all the skyscrapers that seemed to reach the clouds. We crossed over bridges, underpasses and through tunnels. Soon enough the architectural giants built by man turned into golden fields and lush orchards of trees created by time. We were on our way to the California coast, unsure of what laid ahead. 

We traveled on through Pennsylvania and landed in the suburbs of Massillon, Ohio. There, Anthony's cousin Angie put us up for the night. For a day, we lived a cultured suburban life of steaks, beer, and children playing in the front yard. We laid our heads down for the night and knew there was not a $1 bodega coffee waiting for us in the morning. The future seemed uncertain but full of adventure.

Day 2. Berrien springs, Michigan

We drove along the Michigan and Indiana border for about 5 hours. We were at the start of middle of America. We continued on as explorers, lost in a sea of corn and cow fields with no life in site. Somehow in our minds, it felt like this was just another weekend trip, and we would return to Brooklyn. The thought of how awful it would be to unload everything from the car and back up into the apartment made our skin crawl. The local stations became the soundtrack to our movie, changing with every mile we drove. Sometimes a station would go out and the static of the radio would fill the car, as the endless corn fields entranced us. 

Finally we made it to our island of refuge. We bumped down a dirt road and watched trees dotted with apples pass by us. We drove over the little hill, our camp laid at the foot of three huge trees that towered at the top of a small valley. It was there, nestled in the greenery and among the apple trees where we would sleep for the night. After a few minutes our hosts came rolling down the slope on a tractor bearing firewood and a watermelon. There were three men, sun-beaten and sweaty from their long day of work. They wished us happy camping and disappeared back into the trees. We walked up and down several rows of apple tress as the the sunset began to light the tree tops on fire with a vibrant orange. 

The sun disappeared, and the night took its hold on the temperature. We stoked our fire hot and cooked soup over the red flames. The stars filled the sky and the whisky warmed our bones. We nestled into our tent as the temperature dropped to 35 degrees that night. Cold from the air and warm from the whisky, we were happy to be under the stars. We were exactly where we were supposed to be. 

Day 3. South Bend, Indiana

Every weekend Notre Dame was the topic of conversation between me and my grandfather, Johnny Wonderful. Maybe it was his Irish guilt or Irish pride, but either way, he was a life long fan. My grandfather has been watching and following The Fighting Irish closely since the 40's. Now at 87 years old he has never made it to a home game. Maybe it was a bit of Irish luck, but we just so happened to be driving through South Bend on the first day of the season. As an ambassador of Irish luck and my beloved grandfather we went to see a truly breathtaking experience. 

Our seats were in the end zone, opposite the famous tunnel. The energy in that stadium was unlike any other I've experienced. I'm a Notre Dame fan by default, but these people live and breathe it. Indiana is a state that hangs the flag of Notre Dame football high and proud. The energy and roar of the crowd was contagious. Their passion and motivation filled our lungs with shouts of encouragement. I phoned my grandfather during the game so that he could hear the roar of the crowd. He could not be there physically but in spirt, he filled the stands. Notre Dame was no match for Temple. We extinguished the air from our lungs until there was no air left. In celebration we followed the green mob of drunken college students over to a local pub down the street. A few beers down and an uber back to our La Quinta, we were ready to put a little more distance between us and the home we left behind. 

Day 4. Mt. Morris, Wisconsin

It was 4:30pm when we pulled up to our next campsite, an animal sanctuary in the midwest. We pulled up to the 20' x 40' gate in the forest far away from any sign of civilization. Scared and confused as it opened like the gates of Jurassic Park I stared at True with a look of disapproval. We passed through a first and a second gate, of the same size. As both doors closed behind us, I looked at True and said, "just so you know we are locked in here for the night." We pulled further in and were told to pull over. Our camping gear needed to be shuttled down to where we were staying. I soon realized we were not in an animal sanctuary, but a game ranch. 

A game ranch is a place where animals are raised for hunting, like cattle. Our road trip took a turn. We had landed in a place we would normally never be conformable in. We had confused feelings of what hunting should be or was supposed to be. What eating meat meant or should mean. Tony was our "concierge" of the game ranch and gave us a tour. He spoke so highly of the animals, the land, and what it meant to him to be part of it all. He was young, and full of wisdom beyond his years. We shared whisky by the fire and talked for hours until the embers burned out. 

Feelings aside Tony was one of my favorite people I met along the road. I'm almost certain he could see two confused individuals in the midst of a moral dilemma. Either way he took us under his wing and showed us something we have never seen and almost certainly will never see again. 

Day 5. Eau Claire, Wisconsin

People from Wisconsin love Wisconsin. To be born and bred in Wisconsin is to have the love of the State in your veins. It is probably what keeps Green Bay Packers fans alive in -23 degree weather. If Wisconsians love anything more then being 55 degrees below the freezing point of water, it is summer on the lake. We were lucky enough to spend our one day of summer on the lake with our our good friend Spencer Wells. His parents live at the water's edge on Lake Altoona. 

When we arrived Spencer greeted us under a warm mid-western sun wearing a silky Packers Hawaiian shirt. He welcomed us with open arms, fine Wisconsin cheese, and cold beer. We threw our bags down on the futon and headed straight for the boathouse. We jumped onto the boat with gleeful anticipation and headed out to open water. We tore up the Lake with an inner-tube and a rope. We rode three at a time, and held on to each other with a death grip as the inertia of the turns tried to rip us off the rubber tube. Soon our arms became weak, and we sounded the alarm to head back to shore. Upon our landing, Spencer wanted to show us the epitome of a Wisconsin summer...rope swings. We took off in his parents' car like sophomores on summer break and headed to the local rope swing hang out. 

We turned onto a residential street and parked at a cal de sac. We followed a pathway through the woods that led us to some cliffs that hung out over a lake. We didn't expect to see anyone, but we surely we weren't alone. There were twenty or so high school kids all crowded around the rope swings. They all screamed and hollered as 15 year old kids front flipped off 20 foot cliffs into the water. We stood there intimidated by the gathering of the lord of the flies. Our fearless leader, Spencer, would not be out done by a gang of young kids, who legally could not drive a car after 9pm without the presence of an adult. We walked around to the other side where we could feel we weren't being judged by a gaggle of middle schoolers. Feeling old and outshone by the young group we found the perfect rope hanging from a tree that sprawled out into the calm water. To us, the rope was a time machine, and with one swing we were propelled into the past as our bodies hit the ice cold water. With our stomaches full again, our descent into summer's past had a little gas left in the tank of the DeLorean. 

Our next stop along the time line was a house show produced by Spencer's brother, Eric. The fee for this projection into the past was $5 at the door. We walked up the stairs to a small neon-lit apartment that, for one night served as a music venue. It had been a long time since either of us had been to a house party. We listened to Eric's set and as he rapped and rhymed, his fans danced and drank along with every beat. After the set we made our way down the street to the local dive "The Joynt", where you could get a miller high life for $1.50. Glowing beer signs and old dusty black and white photos covered the walls. The musty smell of years of college students binge drinking saturated the air. There we played pool until our eyes could no longer bare to stay open. We took a cab back to the house. Our skin was tender from a day in the summer sun, and our bodies fell tired from a life on the lake. That night, we slept better than any other night on the road. Our eyes closed and our minds drifted as soon as our heads hit the pillows. 

Day 6. Palisades State Park, South Dakota

We drove by seas of soys bean fields on our way to Palisades State Park in South Dakota. The vibrant green of the soy beans met the bright radiant blue of the sky. It seemed if you set out into the field you would never return and be lost for the rest of time. Our long drive eventually led us to the small town of Garretson, South Dakota. The town boasted a population of just a little over 1,000 people. We were officially in the middle of nowhere. Nestled next to this small town was the perfect little camping spot that hugged the rivers edge. We pitched our 4’x6’ nylon home and decided to go for small hike. We followed a rocky path along the river. We walked under the shade from the canopy of the trees that towered over our heads. Soon we found ourselves in open air. The sunlight warmed our faces and we took it with admiration. The green trees that surrounded us were replaced with three feet of lavish golden grass that swayed in the fresh breeze. Across the water we could see beautiful red red rock boulders. They protruded from the earth, and hung over the water like prehistoric creatures ready to take dip in fresh water of the rolling stream. 

Our stomachs roared with hunger so we headed back to camp. We lit the fire as the sun began to hide behind the tree line. We threw the cast irons over the fire and prepared a hot and hearty chili accompanied by rich buttery toast sprinkled with garlic powder. It was a full moon that night, the stars seemed so bright that they lit the forest beneath them. We sat by the flames until they turned to coals. We drank whiskey to fight off the frigid air and listened to the rushing water thought the trees. We connected with the environment that surrounded us and bettered from it.

Day 7. Spearfish, South Dakota

Still in South Dakota, we set off to cross the state to Spearfish. We continued on through the endless ocean of soy bean fields. These strange and uncharted lands became stranger as we witnessed a palace made of corn, and life sized sculpture of a titanosaurus. After around 200 billboards told us Wall Drug was coming, we were longing to see what all the excessive advertisements were all about. There we stared in astonishment watching retirees “ooo” and “ahh” at the stuffed buffalo and cheap western paraphernalia the lined the store windows. That day, we were one of the tourists mindlessly heading from one tourist trap to the next. Our road led us from the Crazy Horse monument to Mount Rushmore. We looked, took some photos, and raced out as fast as we came in. 

Finally we made it to our end destination. In true South Dakota fashion we would be laying under the stars in a tipi. This tipi was outfitted with all the luxuries of the modern world. Complete with warm blankets, a mattress, and a comforter. Our hosts Brad and Lynn greeted us with open arms. They were two people who truly enjoyed the company of strangers. It was a nice change from the almost seven years of trying to avoid the eight million people that flooded the streets of NYC. We were far away from the noise and bustle of the city. We were half way through and slowly realizing that this was now our reality. As the sounds of crickets soothed us to sleep we drifted off staring at the moonlit canvas of the tipi.

Day 8/9. Bozeman, Montana

We continued west to Big Sky, Montana. Well into the heart of the mountains, we had forgotten the images of infinite stretches of green soy. We found ourselves in astonishment of mountain  peaks that touched the clouds. With our backs stiff from the ground, our finger nails dirty, and our minds exhausted, we treated ourselves to two nights in a modern guest house. The warm shower seemed to rejuvenate our tired spirits while cleaning off soot and dirt from nights of sleeping outside. We settled into our soft bed that wrapped around us like a mother swaddling a newborn. 

The next day was spent biking to town and weaving through windy roads as mountains in the distance slowly crawled by. The rest of our day was spent hiking the trails behind our guest house. The trail gave us an infinite number of views while it snaked its way through the trees and fields of our hypothetical backyard. One could not simply be there and not entertain the idea of living out the rest of your days there. To sip coffee every morning and watch the sun rise beyond the mountains seemed simple enough. But alas it was time to continue on to our West Coast dream. After all there was more to see, more to experience, and a lot of ground to cover.

Day 10. Victor, Idaho

Yellowstone was one of our biggest stops. Being there connects you to something greater and bigger than you have ever experienced. It is a land forgotten in time, unscathed by man and our need for destruction. We felt it in our bodies when we looked out at its bubbling gysers, grazing bison, and raging streams filled to the brim with trout. The evergreen trees in the distance bled into the brilliant blues, oranges, and browns created from the sulfur springs. At some point, we had to rip ourselves away from the vast and alluring landscape and continue on with Yellowstone at our backs. 

We soon noticed the Grand Tetons to our right. The Grand Tetons are living breathing giants frozen into the horizon. They took all the air from our lungs, which made us realize how truly small we were in the shadows of their enormity. We remained speechless as we drove past these natural wonders and headed to our next bed for the night. 

We ended up on a cattle ranch in Idaho, a small town called Victor. The nicest couple lived there with their three sons. We weren't the only guests though. Our neighbors were four young people from Thailand. So there we sat for the night drinking beer next to the fire, with a cattle rancher and his son, and four people from Thailand, in the middle of Idaho. As the sky turned black and the sparks of the flames blended in with stars, our new Thai friends picked up the guitar. They began entertaining us with traditional Thai songs. There are moments in life when you are in a moment and think, “this is special”. That was with out a doubt one of those moments. We laughed and sung our way through the night and couldn’t imagine what was in store for us next on the road. 

Day 11. Salt Lake City, Utah

That morning we zipped up our toasty glamping tent and set out into the misty morning. Come noon time, we approached valley where a crystal blue lake laid. We were at the foot of purple mountains, yet for a moment I was back on the beaches of The Bahamas. We stumbled upon a Caribbean oasis. In no time we threw on our bathing suits and took a dip in the chilly water. I wrestled with the pebbles between my toes beneath the water. I felt the sun warming up my back and shoulders. We floated on the water's surface, thankful for experiencing this gem of a lake. With our suits drying out in the back of the car, we drove straight to Salt Lake City where we were due for dinner with Pete and Kelley, our family friends. 

We pulled our bug-bombed car into their driveway alongside a handful of other cars. We could hear chatter and laughter inside the house and were excited to be around people again. We swung open the door and walked into what smelled like a Thanksgiving dinner. Sure enough Kelley had a turkey roasting in the oven and we couldn't wait to dive into a home cooked meal. The afternoon was filled with full plates, football, then full bellies, and more full plates. My system must have been shocked by all the fixings when, for the last ten days, we'd been eating like scavengers. Our food comas led us into a deep sleep that night. At an early rise the next morning, we jumped in the car with Pete, surfboards hanging out the back. We cruised through more red rock to a reservoir. there wasn't a sole on the water, which was a first for me. The water looked like glass and the wind hadn't picked up for the day yet. According to Pete, this made for perfect surfing conditions. His boat was waiting for us at the dock, begging to go out. At the a precise speed, the boat curled up the perfect waves. Anthony and I traded our sweatshirts for life jackets and took turns surfing the wake of the boat. The wave created by the boat pushed us along the water, creating a feeling of freedom like no other. Not too fast, not too slow, just the perfect formula to surf that wave until our legs gave out. 

Day 12. Beaver, Utah

Several people along the trip mentioned a place called the Valley of Goblins. It was made out to be a must see. Without thinking too long about it, we marked it as a pit stop on our route. With the windows down we cruised further south. I watched the land scape become more and more rocky. We climbed mountainous roads to find desert wastelands on the other side. The freeway became a two-lane road where we'd only see a car every half hour or so. In the near distance, I could see mushroom-shaped towers of all heights impaling the horizon line. 

At last we were inside the state park and pulled up to a look out point. We hopped out of the car and breathed in the dry heat. At the edge of the look out point, were thousands of red rock pinnacles. It looked like the underbelly of Mars. The sunlight hit them harshly which created sharp shadows and shapes that we got lost in. I climbed to the top of a shard rock formation and gazed over the smaller rock formations. To the west I could see the Caliber and dreamed of seeing all the way past it to the California Coast. I thought about how I had once stood beneath the skyscrapers of New York and that in that moment, I was standing taller than the desert's towers. 

Day 13. Zion, Utah

It was Tuesday morning and the last adventure day of this two week journey. We sped down to Zion National Park with every intention to hike the Narrows. We had been dreaming of this upriver trek even back in Brooklyn. At the base of the national park we found little shop where we ordered some sandwiches for the big hike. The young girl behind the counter handed over gallon sized ziplock bags that incased our pastrami and chips. I appreciated their effort to aid against soggy sandwiches. Out the door and up the road, we entered an overcrowded parking lot. 

Navigating through there was like playing real life Tetris. When we had driven so far, the last thing we wanted to do was battle for a parking spot. Eventually with a little luck, we pulled into a spot and got our backpacks and cameras organized. Map in hand, we found our way to the shuttle. Shuttles have never thrilled us, but if we wanted to get the hike, we had to endure a cattle ride up the canyon. For the duration of the ride, we looked up and out the windows at the sharp rocks towering over us. We took note of all the other hiking trails and thought that next time we would try some of the other more difficult trails. Maybe when we didn't have half our life waiting for us in the car. Delighted to be rid of the shuttle crowd, we hopped off and headed straight for the trail. It took us about 15 minutes to reach the river. The water level was up to our thighs, yet still we sloshed our way up the river for about two hours. The current felt stronger at times and what seemed to be shallow ground suddenly plummeted one or two feet deeper. Luckily neither of our camera's were submerged. We came to a sharp curve in the river where golden light poured from around the corner. We stopped there to have our lunch and watched the other hikers pass by. We admired how agile some of the hikers were and hope one day we would be as experienced and geared up as they were. We turned back after lunch for we wanted to get to our friend Dallin's family cabin before nightfall. It was about an hour outside of Zion. 

The cabin rested at the top of a birch tree forest with views of white and dark green. We stood on the balcony and looked down the valley and smirked when we heard the occasional holler of the cows down below. We grilled up some Italian sausages quickly and washed it all down with ice cold beers as the sun set over the ridge. The cabin didn't have any electricity, so as the skies grew darker, we pulled out the lanterns and spent the evening playing monopoly in front of the fireplace. The flames danced until they didn't and by that time, we were fast asleep on the eve of our arrival to California. 

Day 14. California at last

It’s difficult to write this and not feel like it’s a break up letter with New York. The lives we lived in New York gave us both so much. It gave us our relationship, our amazing friends, our careers, and of course this journal, Pine and Palm. As we sit here writing this story outside of a coffee shop in the California sunshine it’s hard not to love where we are. But deep down there will always be a place for New York in our hearts and we will always crave its electric energy. For now it’s the coast we crave, along with our passion to always be outdoors. We started Pine and Palm a little over a year ago. I think it’s pretty safe to say we never new our adventure would take us clear across the country. But with a smile on both of our faces we are sure glad it did. 

With love from California,

Pine and Palm

Photos + Video + Words: True O'Neill, Anthony Garito

Cedar Creek

Anthony and I have recently upped our camp game, so we turned to Hipcamp in search of a nearby private gem to test out all of our gear. Hipcamp is kind of like Airbnb except for campers. Within a few clicks, we came across Cedar Creek

It was only two-ish hours away, which was perfect for a quick overnight trip. We skipped on down to Medford, New Jersey to a crossroads. We recounted an email from Tim the land owner: “Take Jackson Rd. South til you hit the dirt road. Follow dirt road 2miles. Stay to your left at fork in the road. You will see split rail fence and a brown gate. Wild Boy rd. That's us.”

HC-CedarCreek-5735.jpg

With the windows down and sunroof pulled back, we filed down the forest-lined dirt road.

With the windows down and sunroof pulled back, we filed down the forest-lined dirt road. On our left we finally reached the gate. It hung crooked yet displayed the hand painted letters proudly, "Wild Boy Road". We took a sharp left and Anthony hopped out of the car and swung open the gate. 

Weaving through the woods for five minutes we reached the mouth of the road. It spit us out into a wide open field drenched with sunlight, nestled next to a brilliant lake. There was a weathered dock that reached out over the water. I thought, for a moment, about how many people have dove off it, impaling the perfectly still water. We parked the Caliber alongside the forest’s edge and began to set up camp. Cedar Creek was definitely primitive. We were surrounded by trees, land, and the lake. It made for a perfect real camping trip. 

We dug out our fire pit and Anthony got to hacking up some dead trees. This seems to be the unwritten agenda when we camp. I get the hammock and chairs set up while Anthony gets the fire prepped. The skies were clear, and the sun shone bright. We regrouped after a short time to pitch the tent together. Luckily the forecast predicted a clear night, so no need to break out the tarp. Although the heat that day was brutal and a summer rain storm might have been refreshing. Inside the tent, I laid out our sleeping bags and pillows. I hung the lantern at the peak of the tent, and zipped it up real tight with every effort to keep any creepy-crawly bugs out. I wouldn’t be so bothered by bugs if every time they bit my legs I didn’t swell up to a size borderline calling for an epipen. 

Side by side we watched the flames dance and ate our fire cooked meal with such satisfaction.

On our way down from Brooklyn, we stopped and stocked up our cooler with some franks, some fixins, and some beers of course. As we approached the late afternoon we oiled up our 60 year old cast iron pan and tossed in some sliced onions and peppers. Once those cooked down a bit, we threw down the franks and let it all sizzle.

Side by side we watched the flames dance and ate our fire-cooked meal with such satisfaction. There’s something nice about hearing the crackle of the toasted baguette between your fingers and then wiping your greasy hands clean on your jeans. 

As the evening wound down, the stars began to pierce through the night sky. The coals turned from a radiant orange to a dark black and our eye lids felt heavy. We wandered a few paces over to our tent, ready to collapse from our outdoor activities. We both laid on our backs and just listened. The nightlife at the lake that evening (and probably every evening) was extremely chatty. I thought about how the frogs, crickets, and ducks had gone unnoticed during today, but at last they'd come to life. Soon enough we both drifted off to sleep thinking about that special oasis and wondering where we'd venture to next. 

Photos + Video: True O'Neill, Anthony Garito

Words: True O'Neill

Road to Montauk

"I would be riding my fixed gear 100 miles across the land of Ralph Lauren, bagels, and thick cut deli meat."

As I sat in our two story ocean front room sipping on an ice cold Montauk IPA surrounded by good friends, I couldn't help but think of the adventure that got us here. It had taken us nine hours of travel: seven and half hours on a bike, one hour and a half on a train. We consumed a whole loaf of bread smothered in peanut butter and overcame flat tires. We weren’t a proper team, just three guys with little to no training who blazed across Long Island. 

We managed to lay out a semi concrete plan. I would be riding my fixed gear 100 miles across the land of Ralph Lauren, bagels, and thick cut deli meat. I was anxious and doubtful. I woke from my cozy bed in Bushwick and found Andrew sprawled out on my couch. I was in what might be compared to a drunken state. It was dark, I was confused, and I was wondering what in this world had propelled me to wake up at 4am on a Saturday. 

First things first, I made a pot of rich, dark, and extremely caffeinated coffee. Andrew had the same look of skepticism as I had on my face. Now that we had some coffee in our system it was time to slide our bodies into our kits. Cycling kits are made of tight body-shaming lycra that shows every curve and bump of your body. It leaves very little to the imagination. Feeling slightly foolish and slightly naked, we took off into the night, as one does wearing a scantily clad bicycle outfit. 

2V5A2465.jpg

As we peddled our way to our first destination, the wet Brooklyn streets reflected the lights of the New York City night. The greens and reds of the traffic lights crashed with with yellows illuminating from the street lamps above. The buildings remained dark while residents slept warmly in their beds, wrapped up in blankets of cotton. Andrew and I on the other hand were treading through damp streets toward the train station. There was no time to sleep, no time to rest. There was a journey to complete, and it wouldn't start unless we made our train. 

We arrived to our rendezvous point, Atlantic terminal, at 5:30am. David was there waiting for us. We boarded the train stalking the perfect territory to post up. It was a short trip to Jamaica, Queens where we transferred to Babylon. Once we made our transfer, it was vital to find the perfect spot store our bikes while traveling in comfort. My anticipation boiled as we sat on that train. I felt like a child on Christmas day ready to crack open that first gift. The uncertainty was all I needed to push me forward. 

As we exited the train in Babylon I could smell the moisture in the air. The sky above was looming with grey clouds of rain. The air was cool and refreshing to the touch. It was, to me, the perfect weather to start our ride. We dropped our extra gear off with True in Sylvia, who drove our support car. We were lycra-wearing pilgrims cycling into the abyss to the promise land: the most eastern part of New York State, the Montauk Point Light.

"We were far from home. Still yet we pressed on, because we knew for a fact the grass may not be greener on the other side, but it sure was less pretentious."

We peddled our way across many towns of unfamiliar locations as the clouds parted and the sun warmed our fatigued bodies. We crossed through towns of Long Island that were not featured in the magazines of rich and elitist Hamptonites. By car these neighborhoods exist in a blur, yet by the speed of a bike, every ounce of them is consumed. We rested our weary bodies in their grass, and hid our sore skin from the sun beneath the shade of their trees. The locals gazed in amazement as three grown men sped on past them dressed as lycra-wearing, heat-seeking missiles destined for open ocean.

We trekked on long and hard with zero complaints from our group. As our legs made rotation upon rotation our minds stayed in high spirits. We made it to the Hamptons in what seemed like little to no time. We could see the environment change with every stroke of our legs. Cracked streets became newly paved roads. Beat up Pontiacs and Hondas became Land Rovers and BMWs. Acres of farmland became private and exclusive acres of golf courses. We were far from home. Still yet we pressed on, because we knew for a fact the grass may not be greener on the other side, but it sure was less pretentious. 

GO3A5699.jpg

"Hill after hill, my legs ached and screamed out as I peddled with one gear at my disposal."

We made it to Montauk with our hearts beating like the drums of warriors, if warriors road bikes, wore foam helmets, and mounted their steeds wearing lastic polyurethane fiber instead of body armor. This was it, the last push for 18 miles and we would make it to the light house, where we could most likely buy an overpriced commemorative t-shirt.  We strived on as the weather worsened. The skies became foreboding, as the waves to the very right of us shattered against the rocks. The hills gradually became longer and steeper as we reached our near end. Hill after hill, my legs ached and screamed out as I peddled with one gear at my disposal. This was by far the most rigorous part of the journey. 

After the last 1,500 foot incline, it was a downhill coast to the lighthouse. As we descended to our finish line, I felt euphoria fill my lungs and I exerted it by hollering out pure hysteria. As I turned the last corner I was met by muffled screams of ecstatic supporters who were nice enough to meet three weary souls at the end of our pilgrimage. We hugged and laughed lavishing in our accomplishments. Finally looking out into the vast unforgivable ocean, it made me realize that this small journey was the beginning of many larger ones to come. So in a hotel in Montauk with sore thighs and a heavy heart, I sat with friends laughing and drinking and speaking of days of past and days to come. I don’t know how I got here but I enjoy the journey that brought me here. 

Photos + Video: True O'Neill, Anthony Garito

Words: Anthony Garito

Manasquan

"NO RULES, NO LEASHES, NO COMPLAINTs"

On the third Saturday of September, Anthony and I packed up our photo gear at 5am and beat it an hour and a half south to Manasquan Beach, New Jersey - a first for all of us. Paul was competing in the Men's division of the Manasquan 24th Annual Classic Longboard Contest. The rules are this: NO RULES, NO LEASHES, NO COMPLAINTS and surfers must ride a pre-1967 longboard. Paul checked in with his late 60's single fin David Nuuhiwa Bing Noseriding Model at 7:30am on the north side of the inlet. Throughout the morning, contenders trickled in from the parking lot and started stretching and waxing their boards. Some even jumped in for a quick dip to warm up.

Mia, Anthony, and I laid out our blankets and set up camp for the day. We crunched down some granola bars and got ourselves all caffeinated up with some cold brew iced coffee from one of the beach concession stands. The day was spent jumping through waves in between surf heats, snacking, and catching way too much sun. The sets rolling in spewed out 3 foot waves right up against the jetty. It was a special site, watching surfers on one side of the jetty, and humongous fishing ships heading out to sea on the other. Each heat was 11 minutes of who could catch the best waves. Paul surfed his way through three heats, dancing and sliding along his board, and into the finals. All in all we had a wonderful last day of summer and headed straight for the famous and frankly well deserved Surf Taco.  

Photos + Video: True O'Neill, Anthony Garito

Words: True O'Neill