On the Road – The Home Stretch

Santa Fe was spicy.  The flavors, the colors, the temperatures… everything was hot!

After a few days of taking in the city, we got back to the tour.  Outside Magazine hosted us at their headquarters in Santa Fe.  The people there are amazing, and it was the perfect way to get reignited for the second half of the tour.

We were sad to leave Santa Fe, but excited to get back on the road.  We headed toward Flagstaff for a screening at the local climbing gym.  Then on to the Grand Canyon where we showed at the Recreation Center.  Our amazing hosts took us around to show us the area, and we even squeezed in a climb.

The brakes on the truck needed some attention, so we had them fixed in Las Vegas, then left in the wee hours of the early morning to beat the heat, heading for Idyllwild, CA.  This show was very special to us because it was organized entirely by someone we had never met before, but who had backed us on Kickstarter.  When Allie put the question out there of, “Where should we bring the film?” it was Idyllwild that we landed on.  All we knew about the town was that it was near Joshua Tree and between Vegas and LA.  We set things up on a public plot of land surrounded by towering pine and fir trees.  The view above was made up of the tree canopy and the dark sky filled with thousands of twinkling stars.

We left Idyllwild in the evening and caught the sunset on our way down the sinuous mountain road.  The contrast of the dry golden grass against the lush green hills and blue sky was breathtaking.

Just as breathtaking of a contrast was leaving the quiet mountains and landing in Los Angeles.  Coming from Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, and Idyllwild, LA felt like a completely unknown land.  We had forgotten what city life felt like.  We stayed with family of mine there, which offered the perfect refuge to the buzzing city around us.  We spent the Fourth of July on Catalina Island.  Renting a kayak, we paddled out and did some free diving before watching the firework show.  Allie and I share a strong love for fireworks, so this was the perfect ending to an already perfect day.

We had a small screening in Bolsa Chica, our first show on the beach nonetheless!  We got friends and family out to watch the film.  It was there that we realized Roma was missing something… a window!  Somewhere along I-5, the pane fell out.  Sadly, it was the only window that we hadn’t been worried about – it didn’t leak, it had all of its screws – but the towel that has now replaced the plexi-glass is doing a fine job.  We woke up to the sound of the waves the next morning and headed north.

Driving through LA with a 23-foot soft aluminum trailer in tow was hectic to say the least.  We reached Santa Barbara by the early afternoon and said hello to the folks at Horny Toad, one of our amazing sponsors.  They hosted the screening the following night.  Roma looked so good under the palm trees!

Saying goodbye to our friends in Santa Barbara, we continued north and sought refuge in Big Sur.  Here we caught up on many things – editing, writing, rest.  Winding along Highway 1 was an unforgettable drive.  The hillsides were covered in a soft blanket of wild flowers.  Their rolling features quickly turned into cliffs that dropped abruptly into the sea below.  With such a beautiful and inspiring coastline, our entertainment came in the form of photography.  Swapping the camera back and forth, we took turns snapping photos and would excitedly share the outcomes with one another.

It was difficult to put the beauty of Big Sur in our rear view, but feeling rested, we headed up to Santa Cruz.  We had a showing at Swanton Berry Farm, hosted by Slow Coast, a collective of artists, artisans, and farmers alike selling their goods out of an… AIRSTREAM!  Roma was happy to have a friend.  We had met the North Pacific String Band on the road, and as luck would have it, they came to the screening to play an acoustic set before the film.  It was an incredible night filled with good people, good conversations, and… strawberries!

Another amazing sponsor of our’s, Alite Designs, hosted us in San Francisco at the Sports Basement.  We brought the outdoors inside for this one with tents and mock-campfires filling the room.  Raffles, giveaways, and the Love Letter made this a special show.

We love San Francisco!  There’s something special about the mix of salty air and tall skyscrapers.  The colorful street art and smiling faces makes it feel like a friendly and approachable city.  Sailboats in the bay, clam chowder on the pier, public transportation – I love the BART!  We crossed the Golden Gate into Mill Valley for our next screening.  This one was at Proof Lab – a local surf shop, skate ramp, art collective.

From there we pointed the Airstream toward Yosemite.  Tuolumne Meadows to be exact.  Wow!  Absolutely gorgeous!  We had a show at the campground there, which was incredible.  Two of the people from the film were there – Katie Lambert and Ron Kauk.  Seeing them watch the film in the exact place where we interviewed them last summer was unforgettable.  Our friend John Swift came out, which added to the already immaculate ambiance.  His music is so beautiful and inspiring, and hearing him play outside under the stars made the night that much more special.

We stayed in Tuolumne for the next few days, giving ourselves some time off – we climbed, we slacklined, we read, we swam, we were lizards on rocks.  I don’t know if it was the trees, the river, or the amazing conversations that we had by the campfire, but Yosemite was powerful.  Allie and I left Tuolumne feeling refreshed and re-energized.

From Yosemite, we headed toward Salt Lake, but not without stopping at the Salt Flats first.  I have never experienced anything like that before!  The top layer was gritty, but once our feet broke through the salt, our toes wiggled in thick, moist clay.  It felt so good on our feet!  We both stood there digging our feet in as deep as we could, staring at each other with big grins on our faces.  A ceramists dream, Allie was in heaven!  We slept on the side of the road and woke up to the salty white vastness, and drove out the next morning.

Next up, Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer Tradeshow.  We had two screenings there.  The first was put on by Horny ToadOsprey Packs, and Telluride MountainFilm.  This was an exciting night for us – 23 Feet will be part of the Telluride MountainFilm tour!  The second screening was hosted by an amazing sponsor of our’s, Nemo Equipment!  All of our sponsors contributed to the giveaway, so lucky audience members left the show with some big winnings!

The tradeshow was an absolute whirlwind that seemed to flash by in 5 seconds!  It was my first OR, and I’ve got to say, I loved it!    I loved the hugeness of it.  I loved the people and the intensity of walking the halls.  I loved seeing all the new products.  I loved dancing at the All Star Industry Jam!  But above all else, I loved our Red Reel stamp that we had made for the event.  With a transient business that moves from city to city, it only made sense to make business cards out of shipping labels.  By Sunday, the stamp made for a fun way to make new friends (and check in on old ones, like Gareth Martins of Osprey!).

Following the tradeshow, we had a screening at the local climbing gym, The Front.  It was hosted by SheJumps, an organization striving to increase female participation in outdoor activities.  We were really excited to work with them in bringing 23 Feet to the Salt Lake community!  We had a great turnout with more amazing giveaways!

We’re now back up in the northwest with the last shows of the tour happening within this next week.  It’s a crazy feeling to be wrapping it up.  It seems like we only just started, but in the same turn, April feels like a lifetime ago.  We’ve met so many incredible people and stopped in such amazing places!  Thank you to each and every person who has supported us along the way!  From our stellar sponsors (Osprey Packs, Alite Designs, Horny Toad, Nemo Equipment, and Sterling Rope) to the backers on Kickstarter, and anyone who fed us or let us sleep on their couch along the way, this tour would not have been possible without you.  Thank you!