Lennon + Calihan’s West US Adventure [Foto]

A photo diary to talk about the glorious time Lennon and I had dirtbagging around the Western United States.

The trip was officially kicked off in San Diego, California. Neither Lennon nor I had ever been to San Diego before, but the surf community, sand, and sea were all calling our names. I’m quite positive I only wore a wetsuit or bikini the entirety of the time we spent here.

We began heading East, driving through and staying in Palm Springs with family. There’s just something about mountains being the backdrop for palm trees that really tickled our fancy.

We started off Phoenix, Arizona with a not-so-Arizona landmark. Despite being desert, we first visited the biggest body of water in Phoenix, Bartlett Lake, a reservoir in the backcountry.

It’s not the Arizona experience without a trip to the Grand Canyon. I had been there before, but this was the first time Lennon saw it. When we neared the canyon edge she dropped to her knees and pretended to weep.

As promised, the trusty hammocks were with us the entire time. Although Phoenix is a desert, upper Arizona is a bit colder, especially at night. We had to wear four pairs of socks, beanies, and use thick blankets at night.

Before going to bed, we made one last trip back over to the rim to watch the sunset. It turned out we were there on the night of a full moon also, so we got the sunset and the full moon over the canyon. We may or may not have been lost for 10 minutes in the dark after this excursion. Since there’s no light pollution in this area, we truly were trying to find our way back in the pitch black.

The next morning I arose early with the overwhelming need to pee. I was on the top hammock and Lennon was still asleep. I didn’t want to wake her so I successfully swung my hammock, and crawled down the tree. It wasn’t until after I was on the ground I noticed a man in the camp over watching me. When I came back from the bathroom five minutes later, Lennon was awake holding the peanut butter jar.

From there, we drove through Utah to Grand Junction. At our ‘campsite’ we realized there were no trees, simply a large field of grass next to a river. Although we knew this would be a possibility, we did not plan for it. We laid out our hammocks on the ground and truly slept under the stars. It’s a good thing there was nobody else around, and the rain held off until 7am when we made a cinematic dash to the car as the thunder roared.

Although Lennon and I are big mountain girls, I suppose I didn’t realize that this meant I would be driving up, down, and through mountains. Our hour-long trek on the side of a cliff overlooking a major river was a white-knuckle time for me, who had not driven a car in six months.

From Grand Junction, we went onto Crested Butte, also known as the ‘wildflower capital of the world’ and for good reason. We spent a majority of our time in Crested Butte and Gunnison, and unashamedly slept in some pretty illegal spots (which then meant running away from park services), but it was worth it for views like this.

One Sunday morning when Lennon was attending church virtually at a picnic table in a public park, I decided to go on a quick run I had read about online – Green Lake Path. It’s four miles to the top, which houses a lake, and then four miles back down. When I got to the top I couldn’t help myself, I took off my clothes and jumped right in. It was freezing cold, but the four-mile run up, up, and more up made it feel perfect.

My favorite thing about Colorado was the aspen trees. Lennon, a flora and fauna guru, told me that aspens all share the same roots, so every single aspen in the forest that went on for miles was interconnected somehow. There are countless ways to turn that into a deep, philosophical metaphor, so I’ll leave you to determine your favorite.

For one of our last nights, we splurged and treated ourselves to a real campsite ($14) and bought frozen hotdogs from the grocery store ($8). We made a quick fire in the pit and roasted them up using trigs to eat on some leftover wheat bread. Although neither of us really like hotdogs, it was probably best that we put something substantial in our bodies after all the hiking we had done.

Garden of the Gods was our last big trip. We hiked and rock climbed here for two days and met some really cool people doing the same who showed us new routes to try.

We spent the rest of our trip driving out of Colorado and back through the midwest, home. We did manage to get stuck on a highway in Kansas in the middle of nowhere, beneath an underpass, during a severe thunderstorm with gold ball-sized hail at 2 a.m. It was an eventful time, to say the least (and, if we’re being honest, I may have shed a tear or two), but we were in it together, just like the aspen trees.

Yours truly,


(I know I said you could come up with your own metaphor, but you had to see that coming.)


One response to “Lennon + Calihan’s West US Adventure [Foto]”

  1. […] was also the first person I asked to embark on a two-week-long dirtbagging trip around the United States with me last summer. You can’t be much closer than driving for hours, hammocking on free BLM […]


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