Mary & Me: Mexico City Part 2

If you're making a trek to Mexico City you're going to see a lot of Mexico's patron saint, Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is literally everywhere you look. On the sides of buildings, on shopping bags, in small altars hanging from low roofs, in massive churches, on tee-shirts, & adorning bumper stickers. You can't go more than 5 feet without seeing her on something

The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most visited Catholic pilgrimage sites in the world. Why is she such a big deal around here? Well, in 1531 she appeared to a indigenous man named Juan Diego on several occasions beginning 9 December (her official feast day is 12 December, the date of another of her appearances) on the, now infamous, Tepeyac Hill. 

In the 1500's Tepeyac was outside Mexico City, but now it's a northern suburb, & home to one of the most impressive Catholic compounds I think I've ever seen. The Old Basilica, finished in 1709, was a major place of Mexican Cathol…

Tree Town: Wandering Coyoacán & Museo Frida Kahlo (Mexico City Part 1)

If you've been following my instagram, you know I've been in Mexico City recently. I totally fell in love with the place! There is no way to talk about this sprawling metropolis in a single blog post, so I'll be breaking up my Mexico City chronicles into parts. Part one? The reason I've wanted to visit Mexico City for years, Museo Frida Kahlo & the stunning surrounding neighborhood Coyoacán.

Coyoacán is a former independent village & now one of the boroughs of Mexico City. It was used by Cortes as his base of operations during the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs in the area, as the villagers were largely Tepanec & not friendly with the Aztec people. The village was then the capital of New Spain from 1521-1523. Coyoacán was actually completely independent of Mexico City until 1857, when the federal district's sprawl swallowed up the neighbourhood. When, in 1928, Mexico City was divided into boroughs, Coyoacán the district as we see it today was formed. As…

So you wanna do a crazy road trip?

You may have noticed, over the past several weeks, that I am quite the aficionado of epic road trips that lean a little bit toward the crazy & follow routes tending toward the unexplored. I've been a road trip fan since my youth, when my mom & I would set off on adventures around the West Coast. We drove from our home in Portland, Oregon, to the Grand Canyon; Los Angeles; Sedona, AZ; Las Vegas; Vancouver BC; Seattle; New Orleans, LA; & just about everywhere in between. Once we flew to the East Coast & road tripped around Massachusetts & New York from Salem to Utica!

The open road is a friend of mine, & I especially love driving through & to the otherwise forgotten strange side towns no longer on the main highways. Especially in the desert. I love the creepy lost towns of the desert. My mom & I have been to ghost towns & old mines, exploring whatever we could find close-ish to home. That love of driving has stuck with me to this day.

Now I am a c…

Bright Dead Things: The Lost World of The Salton Sea

I first stumbled upon Salton Sea while en-route to the famous Salvation Mountain, which is relatively nearby. Its weird whitewashed landscape is absolutely covered in the bleached bones of fish & birds, & the salty stench of decay & drainage runoff haunted me for months until I made a second trek out to explore the strange beach of this once thriving resort lake.

Salton Sea is a saline lake in the California desert south of Palm Springs. Surrounded by artificially irrigated farmland, abandoned structures, & a small handful of trailer dwelling locals, Salton Sea was intended to be a destination resort town in the 50's but its popularity waned as the lake increased in salinity & pollution. If you know anything about me by now, you've probably noticed that I am a sucker for the decaying weirdness of once thriving places, & Salton Sea is as weird a wasteland at they come.

The lake itself is what's called an Endorheic Rift Lake, which basically means it&…

Hunkering Down with Rolling Mountain Thunder: Nevada's Thunder Mountain Monument

As part of my great Lime Oregon Eclipse adventure, I found myself driving the flat stretch of I80 between Lovelock & Winnmuecca in the western Nevada desert. At first I thought sleep deprivation was causing me to see strange shapes just off the highway, but upon closer inspection (& a quick google search at the next gas station) I learned this was no weird vision brought on by exhaustion. What I'd seen towering in the desert sun was actually the Thunder Mountain Monument.

Doubling back to catch a close up glimpse of this radically strange structure was well worth the scary Google maps detour (somehow we were initially  led along a literal desert wash, which my little Scion didn't handle particularly well), & the $2 donation suggested for entry.

The story of Thunder Mountain is almost as strange as the structure itself. Frank Van Zant began construction on his masterpiece in 1969, shortly after relocating to Imlay, Nevada with his wife & children. He claimed to …

Mirror in the Sky: Walker Lake Nevada

En-route to my adventure in Lime, Oregon this past August, we stopped at the absolutely stunning Walker Lake.

A natural lake located in western Nevada along SR 95, Walker Lake is a gorgeous & placid reflection of the surrounding desert, but it also has a long & fascinating history. The lake is actually all that is left of a gigantic inland sea, which, during the last ice age, covered most of the state of Nevada. (If you know me, you know how much I love an ice age inland sea). The area around the lake has been the longtime home of the Paiute, & the Walker River Reservation is just a bit north along SR 95. The town of Walker Lake, bisected by the highway, has a rough population of 275 (as of the 2010 census). The handful of small sun bleached homes have the feel of being in a dystopian dreamscape.

There are plenty of places to pull off the highway to pause for a bit to bask in the beauty of the lake & take a few pictures. Keep an eye out for large trucks traveling up th…

Weird Old Days of Yore: Under the Eclipse in Lime, Oregon

The Great American Eclipse may be a few months gone by now, but I'm still thinking about my crazy adventure under totality at the old Lime cement factory in Lime, Oregon. After my visit I put together a short documentary about the factory. Watch it below!

Lime is an unincorporated community on the eastern edge of the state of Oregon, just a few miles west of Idaho. It was once home to a cement factory, but when the nearby lime deposits dried up the factory closed. It has now been abandoned since 1980. If you love ruins & abandoned places as much as I do, Lime is a must see!

Though the property is technically private & closed to the public, there was a smattering of eclipse viewers there this summer. The Oregon Department of Transportation drove by several times before & after the eclipse's totality to check on viewers without asking any of us to leave.

Lime was a perfect spot to view the eclipse. Watching the sun go out over the ruins of a factory was a once in a l…