A Spontaneous Road Trip To Owens Valley & Alabama Hills on 35mm
Aimless exploration of California's remote arid landscapes reveals the value of letting the cosmos call the shots
Kodak Portra 160
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 with a friend to the Califronia desert—a landscape the opposite of what lay back home in Oregon.
Owens Valley, Alabama Hills, Death Valley, Ojai, and a ghost town called Bodie, is where we wound up. I had no real mission, other than seeing as much as I could in the time allotted, while living out of my truck.
"I’d like to think that things turned out so well because we hadn’t planned on anything turning out."
On the first morning in the desert, as I was about to enjoy a warming cup of coffee and a plate of steaming huevos rancheros after a harsh 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 had no idea where I’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 when we pulled up to a river in the middle of the desert at 1:00 AM. I also did not know I’d be having the best huevos rancheros on planet earth that following morning.
The stars aligned on day one, 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.
"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."