Trust me, I’m not one for sweltering heat or a dependence on forced air just to make it through the day, but there’s something about this little oasis in the Sonoran desert that keeps us coming back.
Maybe it’s the fact that its close to Mt. San Jacinto, where u can climb 10,000 feet up to a cooler, pine tree-laden eden–a place far more recognizable to my desires. Maybe it’s the mid-century overkill that I’m a sucker for. Perhaps its the reliance on a pool and the elated reaction of our little nugget gets splashing the day away. Or maybe it’s simply a place that transports us into another time and place; one that feels like a far away land we can get lost in.
This time I scooped up my rambunctious little adventurer and my wife–battling a pesky sinus infection–and journeyed south with our long time friends and their little one. Here are a few snaps from the trip.
A lot can be said for solo adventuring even if you aren’t technically a solo adventurer. The solitude of silence is a deafening rhythm welcomed by all those who set out to undress from society’s hammer and nails. The road is that escape.
My mom taught me that exploration has no wrong turns. For me it’s oxygen. Solo travel is essential to staying grounded, open and interested in life. It’s the vehicle to inflection and expansion. I used to do this a lot. I’d get the urge to see the sea, climb a mountain or get lost in the desert and each time I’d simply head out and hit the road.
I remember the wildness of spontaneity; the intrigue of the unknown that lie ahead with each trip. I remember feeling free and open as if I too could pen a great American novel solely from that which crossed my eye-line. But I also remember feeling lost. You set out to brave the world alone and all the while you’re wishing you had someone to share it with; the conflict of yearning perhaps leading to more exploration.
That dueling narrative within every traveler doesn’t go away when you fall in love or become a parent. For me, these feelings exist not out of yearning for what I don’t have, but instead for what I do.
The solo trip is still wild; it’s still spontaneous and it’s still life-changing. But the anchor of companionship settles the soul allowing for more meaningful adventures.
A little late, but never too late to post about one of the world’s most iconic scenic drives. I’ve been traveling to Big Sur since I was 22 and I’ve made the trip nearly every year since. If you haven’t been… you need to.
Unlimited face shots in 4 feet of fresh at Mt. Baker. Riding with best buds. Camping with the most hardcore ski bums in the country. No phones. No computers. No outside world. We need more of this in our lives. Honestly one of the best weekends of my life. Thanks to Pat for pulling this together.
Arches National Park — where arid wilds run with the wind.
If you’ve never been to Arches National Park, then it might be hard to imagine the scope of such a place. Its massive sandstone arches tower above the horizon–a horizon that seemingly melts into infinity across the desert landscape. The winds slither through the red and carmel rock walls while scarce vegetation dots the ground beneath. It’s as if a sorcerer, armed with geological witchcraft, transformed the spiraling arches and red rock sand overnight as you look on in complete perplexity. And it never gets old.
I’ve been here before… several times, yet each visit brings with it a new perspective. This was my perspective during a recent journey into one of America’s best National Parks.
Arches National Park. Photographs & Words by Aaron Lyles
Grand Cayman Island is all too often swallowed up in the same breath as the mega-cruise ships and overdevelopment it’s grouped with, but what’s lost about this beautiful Caribbean getaway are all the reasons we fly south in the first place.
Here the water is gorgeous, warm and unparalleled to those of its more famous Caribbean neighbors, the culinary scene has abruptly graduated from tourist-driven dishes to international acclaim and the flora and fauna of this small island (21 miles around) is as impressive as it’s always been.
Yes, there are spas, submarine rides, sunset cruises, trinket shops and some of the best dive sites in the entire world, but as I showcase in my images below, Grand Cayman Island is best enjoyed for all the colorful wonders that are constantly in view. If you are looking to lay back on the beach, adventure out to explore and enjoy the company of others over a great meal or strong drink, then I highly recommend Grand Cayman.
Look for my 10 Best highlights with links at the bottom of the post.
10 Best Highlights of the Trip
Everyone wants their own private beach, right? Well I’ve found that if you start with some of the well-known but not easy to find beaches and then look left and right, you find your private beach. Here are two to start from– Starfish Point near Kaibo and Cemetery Beach on 7-Mile Beach.
Watch the sunset and have a drink in one of the cabanas at The Westin on 7-Mile Beach.
Splurge on fresh local seafood as you hover over the sea at Grand Old House in Georgetown.
Want a reason to drive nearly half the island to get a cup of coffee? Yeah, me too. Kaibo Beach Espresso is a must.
Looking to stay healthy during your stay in on Grand Cayman Island? Then head to Jessies Juice Bar in the beautifully thought out new-urban oasis of Caymana Bay.
If waterside drinks, live music, volleyball and beach parties are on your agenda, then Rum Point is a must. Since several bars and restaurants are located directly on the water, there are several others I could list as runner-ups.
If you are looking to shoot some underwater photography while you’re snorkeling or diving around the reefs of the Caymans, then you would be remiss to pass up a stop into Cathy Church’s Photo Centre.
Craft F&B Co. is a pub that delivers on hearty American fare with a wide selection of craft brews and picklebacks to boot.
Restaurant Pappagallo. It’s almost strange that this Polynesian-inspired hideaway is an Italian restaurant, but don’t be fooled by the rather ordinary menu, the food is spectacular and the setting is unrivaled.
Close spot to dive, snorkel or sit on the sand and take in a breathtaking caribbean cove– Smith’s Cove is your place and it’s right next door to Georgetown.
Bonus – The Mastic Trail with tour guide, Stuart Mailer. A truly insightful walking tour through the dense canopy of the Mastic Trees.