Happier Camping

What a weird year. Everything seemed to start out strong with high-hopes and resolutions until a microscopic molotov cocktail made a dumpster fire of a lot of people’s lives. Lockdowns meant a loss of livelihood for many and long-term plans turned into distant daydreams. Any new news of the virus was never good and kind of like seeing a meter reader lurking by your car which is always a guaranteed bum out.

For once, everyone was in the same boat. There were no get out jail free cards and we were all suffering on some level due to uncertainty or just downright fear asking ourselves: What the f*ck is “social distancing” and who came up with the six feet apart rule?! While we all wanted to do our part, we were still plagued with a rollercoaster of emotions cracking the foundations of even the most psychologically stable. Then something beautiful happened.

Happier Camper rolling home photo of man wearing Garrett Leight California Optical sunglasses

We all adapted to life closer to home and foregoing our arduous morning commutes meant more time to take up new and responsible hobbies. Sourdough starters flooded social media feeds and so many people found their green thumbs, especially those lucky to live in legal weed markets. Sloth was finally acceptable for anyone who was never able to find the time to binge watch Tony Soprano be a ruthless mob dude. Travel bans meant more time outside too with surfing and cycling exploding in popularity along with micro adventures closer to home.

That’s one of the reasons we love the golden state. After all, we are an eyewear brand and what better place to fit in than sunny Southern California. Just point yourself north, south, east or west and you’ll likely land in a spot seen in a travel brochure with people adding it to their bucket lists. The extraterrestrial landscape of Joshua Tree is just two hours east of Los Angeles for all the desert trippers with a head full of psychedelics. Waves peel down point breaks from our southern border all the way up to the ragged reefs of Big Sur poetically immortalized by writers like Jack Karouak and Henry Miller. You can also find the longest living things on earth just east of one of the hottest places on the planet. From the desert to the sea, California is bathed in sunshine with welcoming arms as an outdoor sanatorium offering respite from the bummer news cycle and doom scrolling.

To seek and enjoy is one of our greatest attributes and we have an innate urge to explore the unknown. So if the landscape seen from the highway is represented by the cover of a stunning coffee table book then the pages inside most certainly represent the interior. For it’s not until you dive deeper on foot or a capable vehicle that a true paradise unfolds.

sporting goods signs photo of woman wearing Garrett Leight California Optical sunglasses

This summer, loosened restrictions meant that dead-end signs became open invitations to trespass, on public lands of course. Wanderers and seekers took to social media in a never ending scavenger hunt to splash down in some hot springs. Trails were traffic jammed with masked-up hikers and secret off-grid camping spots known only to the locals begged the question: If three’s a crowd, what’s ten more?

To answer that we headed to Alabama Hills, a sort of unintentional movie set made famous over the last century by The Lone Ranger and Tremors starring Kevin Bacon. Picture a mini Joshua Tree without the Yuccas but the looming snow-capped peak of Mt. Whitney towering over the valley like a tidal wave about to crest. Our chosen rolling home was a Happier Camper, a modern take on the classic Boler trailer made famous by Canadian camping culture in the 1960s. I’ve returned to this same spot ever since my family first started coming in the 1980s and not much has changed.

The neighboring town of Lone Pine is as storied in the western aesthetic as the films that were shot just off the dusty road. Signage hasn’t evolved in the last half century and shops are staffed with characters you’d swore never left the town; in fact, I imagine the only change they see are the droves of tourists who might stop over after rolling the dice and winning the lottery to climb Mt. Whitney or to gas up before making a b-line for Mammoth, our version of the Alps.

photo of Alabama Hills photo of man reading book in trailer

Time outside not only saved money on vitamin D supplements but gave me time to reflect, to look at the things I truly like, the things I truly need and those moments that truly make me happy. It’s always been there, the simple things: being outside, good conversation, going for a walk, taking a breath of fresh air or simply being present with someone you care about.

Though unintentional, hopefully recalibrating actually meant a better quality of life for you too as we all weather the sea of emotions together. So wherever you landed or rested your head, we hope a little soul searching also did you well. After all, if nature is the best medicine we’ll happily binge that shit until we’re all able to enjoy it together again.

A special thanks to Happier Camper for making our summer adventures socially responsible.

photo of Alabama Hills