Road Trip

Venice Beach | California

We wrapped up our west coast road trip with a final day at the Los Angeles area beaches. Growing up, the Santa Monica/ Venice Beach area was the Irons family´s go-to spot for holiday getaways, so with our time constraint in mind, I knew that we had to start our day with one of the best breakfast burritos in America, at the Candle Cafe on Venice Beach. I was pleased to discover that my memory did not disappoint and we both left feeling full and satisfied. While we were voraciously devouring our breakfast, I noticed that a homeless woman was hanging around outside the patio area. Unlike most restaurants, which would have shooed her away, the server from our table invited her in and paid for her breakfast out of his own salary.

We continued our beach day by parking near the Santa Monica Pier, renting bikes and riding the length of the beach and back before, for the first time in my life, going for a ride on the ferris wheel. Since January is not optimal beach-going time in the northern hemisphere, there were minimal crowds present which made for a lovely view from the top.

Our day finished with a late afternoon meal at Paradise Cove in Malibu, one of Haley´s favorites. Though we discovered that the breakfast is more worth the journey up the coast than later day savory eats, the view was still pleasant and peaceful. Our day concluded with a spectacular view of the sun vanishing behind the coastline.

What a whirlwind trip! We essentially made a round-trip drive the length from Canada to Mexico. We drove approximately 3,000+ miles in our sturdy little Saturn. We saw three different states, two National Parks, and made some lovely memories. Stay tuned for our Carnaval road trip upon our return to Brazil!

Salvation Mountain | Niland | California

Located in the desert a few miles from the Mexican border (which we learned the hard way, see below), Salvation Mountain springs from the sandy landscape in a bright burst of whimsy. We decided to give up a day in Los Angeles in order to be able to drive through Joshua Tree National Park and make it to Salvation Mountain. It was indeed worth the trade off! In essence, this "mountain" was created from locally donated hay bales, locally harvested adobe clay, and gifted paint from enthusiasts. To understand why this is such a special place, not just for its artistic quality, take a look at these video portraits of the artist, Leonard Knight (you can view them here and here).

As I said, we learned the hard way that we were near the Mexican border. While we were driving down the two-lane road towards Niland, California, we passed a Border Patrol roadblock, which we would encounter on our way back to LA. As soon as we saw it, Felipe and I shared a brief (or not-so-brief) moment of panic because we realized that his passport was not in the car but three hours behind us in a Los Angeles hotel. 

We approached the roadblock around dusk. Though I've had a large gun pointed in my general direction in other countries and not thought twice about it, it has never happened on my home turf. This experience coupled with the feisty canine eagerly sniffing each vehicle that passed definitely got our adrenaline pumping. 

Of course, out of all of the cars slowly creeping through the checkpoint, we were the ones that got stopped. After staring at us for what felt like eternity, the border patrol guy asked some simple questions in a rather accusatory manner before asking if we were both citizens. Having played games enough to realize that my poker face is almost non-existent, I calmly stated that Felipe was a Brazilian citizen. At that point, the officer ceased the not-so-friendly chit chat and with furrowed brow, intently considered what to do with us after examining Felipe's Brazilian identification and promptly declaring "All that does is prove that you don't belong here". After minutes of deliberation, we left with a stern warning and a lesson learned to always carry your passport abroad. Meanwhile, I was immensely relieved to have avoided a nine hour round trip to retrieve the passport and return to the desert in the dark to bail Felipe out of border jail!

Joshua Tree National Park

Just before we left on our trip, I saw some photos from a shoot in Joshua Tree National Park from The Manchiks. They were so dreamy that I knew we had to go! These trees are otherworldly. Luckily, it was right on the way to Salvation Mountain, thus justifying a day trip. We did a simple drive through the park but camping would definitely be the way to go if time allowed!

The cacti below weren't at all like the ones I saw in Mexico last summer. At one point during our drive, I got out to examine them closer and finding one on the ground, I took it back to the car for Felipe to take a look at. I placed it near the windshield where it stuck on the dashboard. The road got rather windy after that and at some point, the cactus started to fall at which point, my reflexes kicked in and I rather stupidly tried to catch the falling object, which of course got stuck into my right palm, in two places.

I laughed so hard that I cried. Felipe freaked out. In an attempt to liberate my right hand, I used my left, which subsequently got stuck as well. Somehow, after a lot of tugging from just the right direction, I freed both hands and Felipe, hands wrapped in his leather jacket, removed the offending plant from the car. The moral of the story: no matter how pretty something looks, follow the park rules and leave the nature outside!

Seattle | Washington

After Portland, we made a quick stop in Seattle. An intense amount of fog was present for the majority of our stay, which compounded with our exhaustion at the halfway point in our trip, left us feeling lazy and quite content to simply follow the touring masses for the day.

Portland | Oregon

Since we had a total of two weeks allotted for our trip, we had to sacrifice some time up north in order to make it to a few additional destinations down south, which meant that sadly, we only had one day in Portland. This was my first time visiting, but I definitely plan on going back for more! Here's a brief snapshot of what we saw during our day.