I usually use words to help me paint a story, but right now I’m going to let the photos do the talking. This is the story of a weekend trip to Palm Springs with five hip ladies. Styled by my talented friend Rachel Rockstroh.
Early Monday morning, we began our journey home along I-5. We took the scenic route to catch a glimpse of Silver Falls in Oregon. Just before town, we pulled over to investigate a vintage clothing store. Walking back to the car, I noticed a van parked beside us covered in Barbies! As I pulled out my camera, a woman walked out of the shop next door and invited us in. She introduced herself to us as The Barbie Lady.
LaVonne Salleé, or The Barbie Lady, is a former criminal investigator who recently moved to Marquam, OR to pursue her art full-time. She has a passion for creating art from “junk” that she collects from thrift stores, garage sales and flea markets. Aunt Jojo, an artist too, felt so inspired by The Barbie Lady that she bought a piece called “Goodbye, Cruel World,” which features Barbie being flushed down a giant toilet (sound effects included). Barbie now sits in Jojo’s bathroom at home as a reminder to find inspiration in unexpected places.
After hugs with The Barbie Lady, we drove to Silver Falls State Park. The campground was full, so we ended up at an RV park overnight. We didn’t have a campfire or a waterfall to look at, but we met the nicest people, and the showers were immaculate. One of our neighbors emerged from his luxurious traveling home to say hello. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had a trampoline and a jacuzzi in there, but he told us that his best memories were over forty years ago with a trailer just like ours.
On Tuesday morning, we headed for Valley of the Rogue. We had no particular reason for stopping there, except to give ourselves an afternoon off of driving. We put on our retro polka dot bathing suits, which were purchased for this trip, and found a quiet stretch of beach along the Rogue River to relax. On our way back to the campsite, we had an encounter with an odd gentleman. That night, I slept with a hatchet next to my bunk.
At breakfast the next morning, Jojo asked me about the ax on the floor. I told her I had it under control. We left the rogues behind to enjoy the afternoon at McArthur-Burney Falls State Park. We hiked to Lake Britton, and I laid out like a lazy sea lion on the beach, while Jojo practiced her watercolor stroke. In the evening, we enjoyed our last campfire. Jojo let me eat s’mores for dinner.
On Thursday morning, we took a short hike to the 129-ft Burney Falls before breakfast. From Burney, we drove to Lassen Volcanic National Park for a picnic lunch beside a stream. From one end of the park to the other, we drove by forest, meadows, emerald lakes, steam vents and SNOW! I got to practice my snowball game during the offseason. I will come back to this place and spend a few days exploring the trails.
Our last stop on the journey was to visit my childhood nanny, Harmony, and her family in Angels Camp, CA. She helped raise me and my two sisters. Now she has two amazing kids and runs a highly respected pre-school and daycare. On Friday morning, we all got to go to daycare, including Olivia.
The last time I came to Angels Camp, I was at least a foot shorter, and I panned for gold in the creek by Harmony’s grandparents’ house. After daycare, we visited her parents in the same house.
Harmony comes from a family of very talented artists. We toured her grandfather’s stained glass window workshop and her father’s furniture workshop before heading down to the creek, which looked very inviting on a hot summer’s day.
After lunch and a tour of a local vineyard, we took a scenic drive through the mountains to Lake Union, the perfect setting to celebrate our reunion, where pines grow out of rocks and butterflies flock by the dozen. This was the perfect end to our journey, just sitting on the edge of a beautiful lake with people I love.
On Saturday morning, we packed up our trailer once more and headed back to Los Angeles. Before going our separate ways, we shared our last meal at Jojo’s table and dreamed about our next adventure. And so, the end of one journey marked the beginning of the next.
Dear Aunt Jojo, Thank you for taking this journey with me. Thank you for the long talks about life, love and everything in between. Thank you for helping me write these stories that I will tell to my children someday. You are a special lady, and I can’t wait for the next adventure.