Photographer:Vic Garcia
Camera:Leica M7
Film:Kodak Portra 160

Desert Wanderings and Life Lessons

A last-second road trip through California's remote arid landscapes reveals the value of spontaneity

It seems that the older we get the, the easier responsibility can sneak its way into life. Tending not to take responsibility lightly, I usually avoid it in the first place. But the last couple of months have seen a lull in the area of duties. So I’ve tried to make the most of them, opting to head south to Owens Valley, Alabama Hills, Death Valley, Ojai, and a ghost town called Bodie. I had no real mission, other than seeing as much as I could in the time allotted while living out of a truck.

As I was about to enjoy a warming cup of coffee and a plate of steaming huevos rancheros after a night spent outside in the low 20s, a thought was realized—the human spirit thrives on spontaneity. Not a new idea or anything, but it felt good to experience it for myself; to have that epiphany.

"I’d like to think that things turned out so well because we hadn’t planned on anything turning out."

I had no idea where we’d sleep most nights of the trip. I didn’t know we’d end up having dinner with the nicest people in Bridgeport, CA who gladly reopened their kitchen so some city slickers could have a pizza. I didn’t know how gorgeous it would look around us when we pulled up next to a river in the middle of the desert around 1:00 AM. I also did not know I’d be having the best huevos rancheros on planet earth in the morning.

The stars aligned on that first day, and then stayed that way. Things went our way without any effort. I’d like to think that things turned out so well because we hadn’t planned on anything turning out.

I don’t live my life with no idea what’s going to happen day to day. That’s just dumb. But I’ve had plenty of opportunities to get away without much of a plan and let things happen organically. And now, the value in allowing space for spontaneity is especially clear to me. Not because someone told me, but because I experienced it for myself.

Vic Garcia is a photographer and designer based in Portland, Oregon. Follow him on Instagram for more beautiful film photography and spontaneous adventure inspiration

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