Since 2014 is the year of the micro-adventure, I thought it would be a great idea to ask a “pro” for some tips on how to maximize adventure in your own backyard. I came across Alyx’s site, Shoestring Adventures, a handful of times before I realized that she is my Los Angeles-adventure-spirit-animal and was thrilled when she became a part of a Google+ group I’m in. I knew Alyx would be one of my favorite people ever when she canceled her weekend plans at 9:00 p.m. Friday night to go camping with strangers…she didn’t hesitate at all! And she brought photo props…a true blogger!
More about Alyx: Alyx Schwarz is a traveler, storyteller and photographer based in Los Angeles, California. She devotes her weekends to hiking, road tripping, waterfalling and exploring the unbeaten path. She hopes to inspire weekend warriors by sharing her stories at ShoestringAdventures.com. Follow along on Instagram @shoestringadventures, or if you live in Los Angeles, join her on Meetup!
How to be a Hometown Tourist
Alyx, can you tell readers more about your site, Shoestring Adventures? What types of adventures do you share?
Two years ago, I discovered my impulse for adventure while recovering from back surgery. Pain-free at last, I devote my weekends to exploring my hometown of Los Angeles and beyond. I can travel from the beach to the desert or the mountains in less than two hours and satisfy my wanderlust on a small budget. Some of my favorite adventures include road tripping up the Pacific Coast Highway, sledding down the Kelso Dunes, and summiting Mount Baldy. This summer I’m looking forward to conquering Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in 48 states!
My blog is a combination of candid photography, storytelling and travel detail, which are intended to awaken the wanderlust in all of us.
What three tips do you have for those wishing to become Hometown Tourists?
1. Go back in time. Every place has an energy that resonates long after its been abandoned and covered in layers of graffiti. Exploring ruins is my favorite way to experience the history of my state. I’ve hiked to a Nazi ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains, crawled through Big Horn gold mine in Wrightwood and walked along Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea. Time travel is possible. You just have to hit “rewind” and watch the reel play out in your imagination.
2. Bring a camera. When I started my blog, I took photos to share my adventures with family and friends. Looking back at my photos from two years ago in comparison to some recent work is so rewarding because practice really has made me a better photographer. So instead of letting that nice camera collect dust, take a hike and experiment! It’s much easier to practice when you can tell a story with beautiful scenery.
3. Work up an appetite. Usually, I don’t have to look far from the trail head to find a satisfying post-hike meal. My hunger cravings have led me to some unexpected local gems, like the Sunday Pot Roast special at Mountain Top Cafe after a hike to Big Horn Mine, BBQ ribs for breakfast at Lookout Roadhouse after a hike to Los Pinos summit, or more pot roast at Big Sur Bakery & Cafe after a 3-day backpacking trip to Sykes Hot Springs. Are you starting to notice a comfort food trend here?
What is the biggest piece of advice do you have for aspiring weekend warriors?
Be spontaneous. You’re not planning a trip to Iceland with six months to prepare. It’s Saturday morning, and your friend just invited you on a weekend road trip to Joshua Tree! You have no camping reservations, no expectations, and the open road is calling. What are you waiting for?
What is one piece of non-essential gear you insist you have at the ready for your adventures?
My USA-made IGNOBLE backpack comes with me on all of my adventures. I received it in exchange for my first photo story for any brand ever, so I wear it proudly. I’ve begun to decorate it with pieces of flare from places I’ve been, including pins from Joshua Tree and Yellowstone National Parks.
What tips would you add to this list?
What micro-adventures are you planning?