Unplugging to Recharge…

Pinch me…

Is it really over? My head and my heart are still in Joshua Tree after the best camping girls trip ever… Also my FIRST girls only camping trip… but certainly not my last. The older I get the more I love to be outside… I think a lot of it comes from how plugged in our world is. Technology is AMAZING. I love it… but so many of us lose ourselves in it, and we forget to just BE… which I think is why I am loving to unplug more and more. I will admit, having absolutely no service on my phone makes me a little anxious. No, not because I need to check in with the Facebook world or my Instagram following… but because I don’t like the feeling of not knowing if everyone I love is ok. I don’t like the thought that if something happens to someone, there’s no way to reach me. That being said, I also LOVE the excuse to turn off my phone completely… I know for a fact that when I don’t have service – there’s nothing to check. As long as my husband, sister and Mom know where to find me… I can let go and dive in… and that’s exactly what I did last weekend.

I have not camped in YEARS…. My cousin Stacey, bestie Annie and I decided on a whim a couple of weeks ago to just go for it. Stacey is what I’d like to call a camping professional. Annie and I are what I’d like to call… camping rejects. We don’t really know what’s up. This trip would never have been as successful or as epic without Stacey. For one thing, between the three of us there were absolute non-stop laughs. Stacey and I were driving in the car yesterday laughing so hard we were crying, just talking about some of the funny moments of our trip… But for another thing, we also did not pack the right clothing and would have probably had to leave to find warmth if not for Stacey bringing extra pairs of the right pants and buffs for our heads. That girl scout is always prepared. These other girl scouts? Not so much.

I’ve heard about Joshua Tree forever. Everyone says it’s amazing. I’ve always wanted to go… and it was finally my chance. I knew it would be amazing but I had no idea what I was really in store for. I still feel like the whole place was fake in the best way. It was so unique, so beautiful, so mind blowing, that I felt like it wasn’t real. We got there early to stake our claim on a camp site. We landed at Jumbo Rock and I couldn’t have asked for better. We set up our camp and hiked out into the boulders… Hike is a generous word. Stacey was running around like an animal basically par-coring, while Annie and I, afraid to slip and break our faces, crawled across them like toddlers. After a few drinks, and the realization that we too, could leap from boulder to boulder with ease… we got more comfortable and jumped around like monkies too. We settled atop some boulders, drank some wine and made jokes, told stories, played silly “getting to know you” games (because we forgot to bring normal people games), and laughed until we cried, and then laughed some more. Below are the silly cell phone photos we took. Please don’t judge me for posting cell phone photos on my professional photography blog… Or whatever – judge me. I can take it. These are a mix of cell phone photos from all of us, as well as photos from my camera. You’ll be able to tell the difference. (side note: yes, my hair is naturally that curly… this is a rare site, I never wear it this way unless I know I wont be able to wash it, haha)

We then headed back to camp, added some layers for sunset, and I grabbed my camera and instantly became mesmerized by every little cactus or desert plant treasure I could find. Annie brought out her new camera and I gave her a photography lesson. While Stacey sat on a boulder contemplating life, Annie and I snapped away. Eventually we settled into the perfect spot to watch the sunset, and set up my tripod to photograph the stars. I was told that the stars would be incredible out there, and they did not disappoint. We also did some yoga poses on some boulders…

That first night Annie and I slept horribly. We were FREEZING cold, our toes were frozen, and we couldn’t get comfortable. I was in a 20 degree sleeping bag so I should have been fine as it only got to about 40, but I wasn’t. Meanwhile Stacey in her 0 degree sleeping bag is bitching about how hot she was. Annie and I wanted to punch her as we shivered in ours. I basically was half or fully awake all night. On Saturday morning as the sun rose the coyote’s started to howl. It was an incredible sound. We got up and decided to go on an “easy hike” that day through Lost Horse Trail. There was a 6.2 mile option or a 4.2 mile option and along the way we would see one of the most successful gold mining camps in California. We packed up our lunches which consisted of Lara bars, with PB&J on corn tortillas… or as I liked to call them, peanut butter and jelly tacos… because I insisted on eating mine like a taco. They taste a lot better than they sound, I promise. We started our hike on the wrong end and didn’t realize it until we were 4 miles deep and ran into some people who told us we went the wrong way. So we ended up on the 6.2 mile hike which was a lot steeper than we had planned, but it turned out to be amazing. The best part for me, was that Stacey is training to summit Mount Rainier so she wanted to do this hike with her backpack as full as possible…. which meant I didn’t have to carry anything. She carried our lunches, our waters, my tripod, my lenses, the rocks I picked up for Adalynn along the way (hahaha), and our outer layers that we took off as the sun beat down on us. I carried my camera, and was not at all sad about letting her carry all of our ish.

After the hike we went into town because we were out of wine… and we couldn’t finish our weekend without more silly juice, obvi. We also stopped by a camping supply shop so that Annie could get a pad to sleep on (the pile of yoga mats wasn’t working for her). I chatted it up with one of the employees about how to keep warm at night and he saved my ass that night!!! And my toes! Again – camping reject here – what he told me made so much sense when I thought about it. I couldn’t warm up the first night because I had too many layers on and was trapping my own body heat preventing the sleeping bag from doing it’s job. He told me to take off my outer layer and put it inside my sleeping back for extra warmth and that my body heat would radiate around the sleeping bag to keep me warm. I didn’t trust him AT ALL. I was not looking forward to going to sleep that night because I was afraid it would be another cold and sleepless experience. He was right. I took of my outer later, and kicked my feet around furiously for about 30 seconds to generate some heat (we all got a good laugh over that) and I slept like a BABY! So toasty warm and comfortable. Thank you mystery employee from Nomad Ventures. You’re my hero.

We also wined up and watched the sunset again that night together in the boulders. We danced and hopped around to keep warm while drinking our wine and playing more silly games before going back to our campsite where Stacey made us dinner…. again. She was our designated campfire cook. She made us baked potatoes both nights and eggs for breakfast all in the fire pit. We probably should have left her a generous tip or something. (these photos start with Saturday’s sunrise, through Saturday’s sunset and into Sunday’s sunrise)

Sunday morning when we woke up we watched the sunrise again. There’s nothing like naturally waking up as dawn breaks without an alarm. It’s so peaceful… After watching the sunrise atop the boulder overlooking Joshua Tree we packed it all in and headed back into town to shower and have breakfast and make the two hour drive out to Aguanga to the Temecula Olive Oil Company so that I could photograph a proposal!! What a gorgeous venue Temecula Olive Oil Company is. I would LOVE to shoot here again, or photograph a wedding there. It is stunning. Take a look at John & Riana’s proposal – it was perfection.

These two were such a joy to work with. I just know they will be laughing through the rest of their lives together. Their smiles, sweetness and laughter were absolutely contagious. I was so fortunate to be asked to photograph their proposal and engagement session. It was an amazing way to end our girls weekend. Congratulations John & Riana! Now on to the wedding planning!


If you’ve made it this far – thank you for sticking it out through this super long blog post ๐Ÿ™‚ For more information on wedding photography, engagement photography, or capturing YOUR proposal – message me through my website: http://www.briannacaster.com

And for the rest of you – I cannot recommend camping in Joshua Tree anymore highly. But bring someone like Stacey unless you’re like Stacey…. ๐Ÿ™‚


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