vacation

Los Angeles, to the Grand Canyon, to Holbrook, Arizona by Julia Walck

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If you know me, you know I love road trips. I jam-pack them full of quirky roadside stop offs, exploring, and all around fun. 

When Jackson told me he had never been to the Grand Canyon, I knew we had to take this opportunity to go and make the most of every moment along the way. I had been once before when I was four years old so this was kind of like my first time too. 

On this trip from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon, to Holbrook, Arizona, we traveled more than 1,200 miles, ate way too much diner food and stopped off at some really amazing Route 66 landmarks. 

We left Los Angeles around 7am on a Wednesday, grabbed coffee and hit the road. Our first stop was about an hour and fifty minutes in, at Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch.

ELMER'S BOTTLE TREE RANCH

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Elmer's Bottle Tree Ranch is off of Route 66 in Oro Grande, CA. Thousands of glass bottles turned sculptures create a reflective forest in the front yard of the artist's house. 

Pictured here is me with Elmer Long himself. The man, the beard, the legend.

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I spoke with Elmer about his art, and he said "I've been doing this for over thirteen years now. I kind of let things get out of control". I chimed in with, "in a good way though!"

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He gets visitors from all around the world stopping by, taking photos and chatting. Mainly people on their way to Las Vegas or The Grand Canyon. He even gets some usuals, too; they'll drop off used glass bottles for Elmer to repurpose into art. Maybe next time we're on the road, we'll leave him something, too.

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We drove on until we got hungry for lunch, and stopped at The Wagon Wheel Restaurant (and gift shop) in Needles, CA. I got an omelette and a Route 66 enamel pin. 

DELGADILLO'S SNOW CAP DRIVE-IN

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Our next stop was Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In in Seligman, AZ to get some ice cream. Unfortunately it was closed for the holiday season, the only notice being a sign on their door. But all of the decorations and retro signage around still made the stop worth it. 

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Here's a photo of me daydreaming about ice cream...

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This little peace sign road mural was at a vintage store up the street.

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And apparently you can never have too many toilet planters. 

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THE GRAND CANYON

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Then it was the home stretch to the Grand Canyon! 

We arrived just past sunset and headed to the Yavapai Lodge where we stayed for the night. Before heading to bed, Jack and I made sure to star gaze for a bit. The sky was way different than the four stars we can see here in Los Angeles at night. The blackness was filled with speckles of light, and we could actually make out most of the constellations.

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The next morning at Yaki Point on the South Rim, we watched the canyon reveal itself from a shroud of darkness into a beautiful sun-beam-filled labyrinth. 

The sunrise over the Grand Canyon made the 6am wake-up call and 16 degree weather 100% worth it.

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Here are some photos I snapped during the stages of the sunrise, focusing on the Vishnu temple on the mountaintop. 

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Once we finished soaking in the sunrise, we went to Yavapai Point and Geology Museum to take in more views. 

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Not to sound cliché, but the Grand Canyon was too beautiful for words. And the photos definitely do not do this beauty justice. 

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As we were driving out of the Grand Canyon around noon, the line to get in was insanely long. I think we did it right by showing up late, staying the night and making an early morning of it. 

FLINTSTONE'S BEDROCK CITY

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Down the hill from the Grand Canyon is Flintstone's Bedrock City: a diner, "theme park", gift shop and camping spot. 

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It's $5 per person to go explore the "theme park" in the back. It's basically a life-sized Bedrock City. There is one 'ride' you can go on in a cart through the plaster volcano. Other than that it's exploring the large props everywhere. 

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You can even slide down the dinosaur just like Fred! I slid down it. Twice!

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Bedrock City is filled with fun colors and little nooks and crannies with the most random things. Like giant teeth!

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There's also Fred's Diner inside where you can grab a bite on your way out from (or into) the Grand Canyon.

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METEOR CRATER NATURAL LANDMARK

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The next stop on the way to Holbrook was the meteor crater natural landmark in Winslow, AZ. Honestly, it was a bit underwhelming after just having seen the Grand Canyon. Maybe we should've come here first for a "warm up".

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There was an Apollo test capsule, a couple of cool lookout points, and some facts and figures on the crater in a little museum on site. It was an... okay stop off. Unless you're really into meteors, I'd suggest saving the $18 per person entry fee and using it towards your parking permit at the Grand Canyon. 

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BUCKET OF BLOOD STREET

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Yep, just a street named "Bucket of Blood St." This is a real thing, and is the most metal street name I've ever seen. It's just over the railroad tracks in Holbrook, AZ on a fairly empty street. Not really much to do here other than snap a photo, blast some Lamb of God and start a mosh pit. 

WIGWAM MOTEL

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Our final stop of the day was at the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, AZ on Route 66. 

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For $69 a night and the pure nostalgia of it all, why wouldn't you pull off and sleep in a wigwam? "It's freezing out there at night!" you might say. But don't worry: the wigwams aren't made from cloth, they're concrete and have comfy beds and heaters inside!

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Fun fact: the Disney-Pixar movie, Cars, used the Wigwam Motel as inspiration for the Cozy Cone Motel. 

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For you Los Angeles folk who don't want to make the trek out to Holbrook, AZ, but still want to sleep in a wigwam I've got good news! There's a closer Wigwam Motel in San Bernadino, CA

A little illustration I did of the Wigwam Motel

A little illustration I did of the Wigwam Motel

POW WOW TRADING POST

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The Pow Wow Trading Post in Holbrook, AZ once was a motel turned geological rock shop. Now it merely acts as a waymark along the Route 66 road.

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We stopped off here to check out the massive totem and cool signage on the building before heading to Tom & Suzie's Diner in Holbrook for breakfast.

JACKRABBIT TRADING POST

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Jackrabbit Trading Post has been on Route 66 since the 1940s. It's a souvenir shop known for it's strange "HERE IT IS" billboard, and a fiberglass rabbit you can ride. 

Make sure you follow the signs for this stop off. We missed it a day prior when we were headed eastbound on the I-40 because our maps were routing us to the wrong location. Luckily headed westbound on the I-40 the next day there were loads of signs for it. If you're headed eastbound, keep your eyes peeled for the "HERE IT IS" sign from afar. I believe it's close to the Jackrabbit Road exit.

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When in the gift shop, I bought a cheesy Route 66 beer cozy and another enamel pin. 

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Now it was time for the long home-stretch. We stopped off in Kingman, AZ for lunch at Rutherford's 66 Family Diner, and did a bit of antiquing where I found a cute wicker plant stand  at Gracie's Vintage.

We arrived back in Los Angeles around 7:30pm on Friday. This road trip was loads of fun, and a much needed little getaway. And we did all of this in three days!  

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I’m not sure where our next road trip will take us, but I’m excited for the ride!

Exploring Manchester by Julia Walck

After Festival Number 6 (how was that already almost 3 months ago?!), Emily and I stayed a few days in Manchester to wind down. It mainly consisted of drinking and thrift shopping. No complaints here.

DAY 1

Give me a moment while I re-live getting from point A (Festival Number 6 in Portmeirion, Wales) to point B (Manchester):

It was raining when we woke up. We were pretty tired due to the night before. We had watched Noel Gallagher in the rain while eating chips and I convinced Emily to go to a DJ set for Maribou State, which resulted in a late night. 

We had pre-packed most of our things the afternoon prior to make it easy getting out. I gathered up the last of the glitter and we said goodbye to our yurt. 

Then came the mud. I mentioned it was raining right? Somehow my suitcase seemed much heavier, and I now had to hoist it over an ocean of mud while simultaneously not falling in said ocean. We made it to the shuttle filled with fellow groggy, wet festival goers, (a very different scene than when we were going TO the festival), and were off.

When passing the car park, Em and I were both very happy we didn't have a car at this festival. All the mud from the rain was like quicksand to the cars and multiple people were stuck. 

We got to Bangor for our train a bit early so I got Em and myself some flat whites and pastries while we waited. A Virgin train worker came up to us with trash bags and asked if we wanted them for our wellies. I can't tell you how amazing that moment was. I removed my mud soaked (now crusted on) rain boots, managed to shove them in my suitcase, and changed into tennis shoes. 

The train ride was alright. People had taken our seats and they put up a fuss about moving and then continued to be quite loud all the way to Crewe, our connecting train. When getting off this crowded train, I had to lift my suitcase off in a way that wouldn't hit people. Funny thing though: when flying in, the side handle completely broke off my (borrowed) suitcase while in the baggage claim. Broken handle side was towards me when I lifted this suitcase off of the train, and it got caught in my pants. It ripped and slid it's full weight down a few inches while I cringed and we ran to our next train.

The second train ride was much smoother. Once we got to Manchester Picadilly we walked about a mile with our suitcases to our AirBNB down the road. 

We instantly threw ourselves onto the bed and let out a big sigh. There was a debate whether to nap or actually go out and celebrate. It was my birthday after all. 

It was decided that we first get some lunch. We ate at Gorilla Bar and Kitchen which we actually had twice on our trip because it was so good. Not to mention basically just down the stairs from our AirBNB.

After lunch we slipped into a food coma and took a nap. We rested up, got ready, and then went out for the night.

Our first stop was Guilty by Association. It's a basement bar in the Northern Quarter which drew us in with a pinball machine and a neon sign. The bartender kept trying to perfect a lemon in the shape of a rose for me in my drinks, which was nice. And funny.

We ended up at a ping pong bar next. Twenty Twenty Two was tucked away in an alley and down some stairs. Sounds sketchy, but trust me it's not. It's a very artsy, underground space where you can watch people get smashed and be terrible at ping pong. AKA it's awesome. 

I ordered a bees knees (as usual). Gin, honey and lemon. Up. For some reason I thought to myself, "They love gin over here, they must make a good bees knees." The bartender had no clue what that was and this was their first time making it. It wasn't good so he made me something else that was. Let's just say I got quite a few drinks on the house this way.

Just around the corner was a bar called Allotment. They had at least fifty different types of gin, so I figured why not try one I've never had? I ordered a gin and tonic with Forest Gin (because the packaging was so pretty) and it was really good. The atmosphere in Allotment had an open floor plan, and was good for drinks or dinner. Nice quiet spot. 

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We walked past this bar called FAB which was covered in comic books and playing cards. I was drawn in by the nerdiness of it so we went up to the door. In a British accent, the bouncer asked us, "Do you ladies know whats on tonight?" We each shook our heads and he said, "Wrestling match". Haha. Thinking that might be too rowdy we continued on.

The next spot was The Temple. It's a pub that's a renovated public toilet turned bar. 

It's really little in there but quite charming. The fact that we were out so late on a Monday night meant there wasn't a ton of people inside and we had full reign on the jukebox. 

"Grounds for Divorce" by Elbow and "Blue Orchid" by The White Stripes were two of my picks. Manchester is a very musical town which you could really see by all the band posters wallpapered all over the pub.

By this point we had each switched to beer. We chugged and went on to the next bar, because this night had somehow turned into a pub crawl of sorts. 

Our final stop was Rain Bar. This was a minute walk from our AirBNB so it felt like the proper spot to wrap our night up. (You can even see it from our window).

I think I had like 7-8 drinks in total that night? We did good for just having done a 3-day festival and endured so much travel. 

DAY 2

Surprisingly neither of us were hungover from the night before. We got some brunch at Moose Coffee, and then went vintage shopping for most of the day. 

We started at Afflecks. A fellow festival-goer actually told us about this spot. It was a lot bigger than we anticipated. I think there was about 4 stories to this labyrinth of shops. Punk stores, record shops, condom factory? This place had a bit of everything. We wandered around for a long time here checking out all the little shops. 

Down the road we saw Cow Vintage. What a cute shop! Two stories of glorious vintage clothing. I found three dresses here and each were like 10 pounds. The dressing room was awesome too: floor to ceiling carpet. It was a pattern lovers dream! 

When we were checking out, the cashier noticed our accents and asked where we were from and what brought us to Manchester. She mentioned she had gone to Festival Number 6 a few years back and thought it was awesome we came all the way from LA for it. She took out a notepad and started writing a list of great bars and other vintage shops in the area for us to check out. Her name was Melissa and she was super helpful and awesome to us! We already had a lot of the same spots on our list, but some new ones were Blue Rinse Vintage, American Graffiti, and Junk. Melissa also told us about a speakeasy bar where you enter through a washing machine. Her words were "Google 'hidden bars in Manchester'". If only we had more time in the city! 

Pop Boutique was next. This vintage shop had two stories as well, but the lower story had a lot of furniture and decor. 

I got the most awesome retro pillow here – which was a little hard to travel home with but worth it. 

We took a break from thrifting and got some coffee at Foundation Coffee House. Really clever branding and good design here. And good coffee. And good sense of community. Basically good everything. That next night (Wednesday) they were doing a screening of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to honor Gene Wilder's passing. They told us there would be candy galore! And drink specials (because it was also a bar). They had movie nights every Wednesday. It seemed like there was always something to do in this city.

Walking down the street a window display with a disco ball, confetti and cake in a shopping cart drew me in to a bakery called Milk Jam. I ordered a slice of cake since I never had any on my birthday. 

This cake was chocolate with shimmer dust topping and gummy bears, bubble gum, Cheetos, sour straws and cookies. It definitely filled my sweet tooth craving.

That night Emily and I went bowling at a spot called Dog Bowl down the street from our AirBNB. The bowling ball returns were dog butts and there was a massive disco ball. I lost, but those two things definitely made up for it.

Day 3

Federal Cafe was our spot for brunch on our final day in Manchester. I got the smashed avocado on sourdough toast with a poached egg on top and a bloody Mary. I'm still drooling about this meal to this day.

After brunch we stopped at Primark and TopShop. I bought entirely too many things but I just kept finding great items! I literally had to sit on my suitcase to fit everything in before coming home.

The Manchester Art Gallery was on our walk back to the apartment and we figured we should stop and get some culture while we were here. 

One of my favorite rooms was an interactive art piece where you got to play dress up with plastic neon shapes, oddly pieced together scarves and weird tube things. 

There was also a Vogue exhibit happening. Vogue 100: A Century of Style. You entered into a room where a video projected onto two walls, and a mirror was on the other reflecting the videos. Behind the scenes of photoshoots, moody music and photographs plastered the walls.

Walking further into the exhibit, large scale framed famous portraits hung stacked floor to ceiling. There were also cases with every single issue of Vogue laid out cover by cover; the progression was really cool to see design-wise and fashion-wise. 

The rest of the museum was filled with renaissance style art. Here's two of my favorite eclectic pieces below.

We went to a trivia night at Common. It was Flight of the Conchords themed and I embarrassingly did terrible. I blame the gin and bottle of wine Emily and I split.

Despite the letdown on the trivia, this spot was really cool. I grabbed a "grab bag" filled with little flyers and things to do around town for that month. It made me a little sad that I was leaving and wouldn't be able to go to any of the things like a Nicolas Cage movie marathon, more trivia nights, or one of the fifty some odd concerts happening. Lots of great print design in there though and nice little souvenier. 

By the time we got out of trivia all food spots were closed and we decided to just walk back to the apartment. On the way, we saw a sign from God that said "late night food"! 

It ended up being Black Dog Ballroom, which was associated with Dog Bowl where we'd gone bowling. I got a hot dog some fries and a beer and was happy.

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We got a good night's sleep and headed to the airport in the morning to go back to LA. Manchester was great and I wish we had even more time to explore.

Bill Murray 

Street art

Neon legs

Locks above the canal

Joshua Tree | Places to Go by Julia Walck

Camping is in-tents. (Did you catch that pun?) 

We stayed at Indian Cove Campground at Joshua Tree National Park Friday night. My friend Denise and I were the last campers of the night to show up (around 12am I think?), and the first to leave in the morning to embark on our JT adventures. 

After setting up our campsite, using an ice cream cone nightlight, candles and a flashlight to guide us in what we were doing, we laid on our picnic table covered in blankets and stargazed. I saw two shooting stars. I won't tell you any more, because if I do then obviously my wishes wouldn't come true. 

We woke up at sunrise and walked around the campgrounds to find the sky painted with a Pantone-esque palette. 

After making breakfast and having a much needed coffee, we were about to pack up our tent and get on the road when a fox stumbled into our campsite. Denise and I stood by the car watching him; he was pretty disappointed upon realizing we had no food (I don't think foxes like oatmeal packets), and left quietly. 

After leaving the campgrounds, we headed to Hidden Valley Trail for some hiking. We ended up "bouldering" (aka climbing on rocks but not as intensely as rock climbers) on pretty much anything we could find. There were lots of hidden valleys we discovered climbing through rocks and into little secret spots. 

It was really interesting climbing with only one hand, while making sure not to smash my lens on a rock. I can gladly say no cameras were harmed.

Our next stops were The Hall of Horrors, and Jumbo Rocks. We also stopped off to see Skull Rock, but it really wasn't anything to write home about. 

We found a nice flat rock to eat lunch on, and then walked around the giant rocks that was The Hall of Horrors. The name is pretty much aimed at rock climbers and how tough the walls are to scale; I guess some might say they're horrifying. 

Over at Jumbo Rocks, I found myself a nice jumbo rock to fall asleep on. The weather was around 64 all day and was pretty cold, but I found this rock to be surprisingly warm. 

How cute is this lil' Airstream I spotted from atop a rock? It'd be so rad to own one, or at least rent one to take adventuring.

Oh hey, this is Denise. I took a lot of photos of her during this day trip. Mainly of the back of her head.

OKAY. So this was my FAVORITE part of the park. The Cholla Cactus Garden... I think I found heaven. All you could see in each direction was a cactus field that went on for days. 

The chollas have little prickly ball shaped bits that fall off of them. DO NOT step on them, or try to kick them off of the path. Some guy in a group behind us tried to be a good samaritan and get it off of the walkway and instantly regretted his kindness. The ball got stuck to his foot and it didn't look fun to get rid of. He made it out alright though. 

The backlighting was perfect. I think we rolled up to the garden around 3:30 or 4pm, which seems like a great time to catch a glimpse of this place. 

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Now it was time for sunset. We finished driving through Joshua Tree National Park, and headed to the Salton Sea and literally made it just in the nick of time to watch the sun go down.

The amount of birds there was ridiculous. And you know me, I love birds; I must've taken around 100 photos of the birds alone, but I've narrowed it down to a few favorites. 

Once the sun fully went down, it was time for the 2.5 hour drive back to LA. I love that a trip like this is so close to home! Until next time, Joshua Tree. 

Palm Springs Bound | Designer VACA by Julia Walck

I'm BEYOND ready for Designer VACA right now! Espresso shots down, did some last minute packing and about to head out to Palm Springs! ☀️🌴 👓 Not super excited for that 102 degree weather, but super excited for everyone I get to meet and share this experience with. 

I'm comin' for you, Ace Hotel! 

Portlandia by Julia Walck

It was my birthday, (whoa, already a month ago), so Jackson and I went to Portland.

Let me tell you, it was a much needed vacation. Vintage shopping, brew-cycling (highly recommended), hiking, zoo-going, aimless walking, and lots of eating/drinking. 

Here's my trip via photos in a nutshell. 

There.

There.

Signage.

Signage.

ACE.

ACE.

Happy bird.

Happy bird.

Super stoked on life bird. 

Super stoked on life bird. 

Schizophrenic bird.

Schizophrenic bird.

Fall is here.

Fall is here.

Dig these colors

Dig these colors

Left some love for other hikers.

Left some love for other hikers.

Purple wildflowers, 1.

Purple wildflowers, 1.

Purple wildflowers, 2. 

Purple wildflowers, 2. 

Purple Wildflowers, 3. 

Purple Wildflowers, 3. 

Branching out.

Branching out.

Yellow wildflowers.

Yellow wildflowers.

Cactus in the aviary.

Cactus in the aviary.

Give me a J!

Give me a J!

Neon pom-pommed eagle rug I snagged at house of vintage.

Neon pom-pommed eagle rug I snagged at house of vintage.

Instax against our hotel wall. 

Instax against our hotel wall. 

Awesome window display. 

Awesome window display. 

Awesome patterned rug, 1.

Awesome patterned rug, 1.

Awesome patterned rug, 2.

Awesome patterned rug, 2.

Brewcycle on a 90 degree day. 

Brewcycle on a 90 degree day. 

Did I tell you I got a tattoo? And lots of craft cocktails in PDX, too.

Did I tell you I got a tattoo? And lots of craft cocktails in PDX, too.

Ground Control Barcade. Yes, an arcade with alcohol. 

Ground Control Barcade. Yes, an arcade with alcohol. 

Stumptown. 

Stumptown. 

And back again.

And back again.

Birthday mail was awaiting at home <3. 

Birthday mail was awaiting at home <3.