3,496 Miles.
11 Days.
7 States.
1 Epic Road Trip.

Hello, La Brisa Friends and Family! As Chris and I are always striving to improve our skills and service, we are also trying to finds ways to improve the La Brisa experience. If it’s okay with all of you, I’m going to start sharing my portrait sessions and life experiences. What do you think?

Day One.
The entire reason for the trip was my BFF Sara, she was making the jump from Nebraska to California. Apparently beaches and 70 degrees year round make San Diego a desirable place to dwell. Who would have known?! Mr. Mussack and I were up for the challenge of following Sara out to the West Coast for two reasons: 1) We wanted to make sure she arrived safely. 2) All of the stuff I’m about to talk about.

We started our journey in Bellevue, NE. Sara said goodbye to her mom, dad and of course, her pup Buddy. Leaving at 7 AM, our first destination was Breckenridge, CO.
Five hours into the drive we stopped for lunch in Paxton, NE at the famous Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse. If you ever find yourself in western Nebraska on I-80, do yourself a favor and at least poke your head in at this joint. It’s pretty incredible.

Before the trip, Sara did her research and made sure we had a few great places to take breaks. Next stop: Tommyknocker’s in Idaho Springs, CO. Tommyknocker’s is known for their quality handcrafted lagers and ales and boy did they stand up to their reputation.

We made it to Breckenridge by 6 PM were able to sample Breck’s finest at the Breckenridge Brewery. At this point in this post I already know how little I really had my camera. So many moments missed. Dang it.

Day Two.
Sara organized two days for us to hit the slopes so she could finally exercise her seriously impressive boarding skills (Nebraska isn’t really known for its killer mountains). Mr. Mussack and I were stoked, the only problem: we had never been. Like, ever. Sara convinced us that we were perfectly capable of teaching ourselves (with her help) and that we’d be pros by the end of the day. After the 200 meter “snowplow” to what looked to be a long line, Sara announced that we were there! That meant that we were third in line for ski lift. HOLY. MOLY. Surprising enough we were able to get on and off the lift just fine. This, of course, gave me a false sense of confidence and before Sara could finish saying “Just keep your skiis V’d!” I was down the hill. Like straight down, skis straight and no knowledge of how to stop. FLUFF! Snow everywhere! Any way, two more looooong trips down the greens and Mr. Mussack and I were done for the day.

We dined at another of Breckenridge’s fine establishments, The Motherloaded where I actually was able to shoot my 52 WOA photo for the week: things you can’t live without.

Day Three.
More snow. More falling on my butt. More fun. We actually made it down peak 8 through three different paths, but unfortunately Mr. Mussack and I will not be qualifying for the next winter X games.

Day Four.
Driving, driving and more driving. The three of us successfully made it in and out of Utah stopping really only twice: at the Utah state sign and the Moab Brewery. Utah is really a beautiful state and I wish we could have stopped more for photos but we were on a deadline, destination: Phoenix, AZ. We made it there by 10 PM and Mr. Mussack and I settled into our hotel room as quickly as possible we both knew the inevitable was happening the next morning.

Day Five.
Sunrise photographs near the Superstition Mountains. This was my first real attempt at sunrise landscape photography, I guess I’ll let you be the judge on what I need to do differently. It was a beautiful experience regardless.

Mr. Mussack and I did a little shopping while Sara picked Alycia up from the airport and we reconvened for the night’s festivities.

Sara’s cousin planned for all of us to ring in the New Year in Old Town. Local establishments team in together to form a block party type of celebration where we took in the fun and hospitality that Phoenix has to offer.

Day Six.
Last leg on the trip out west. I surprised my trip mates with early morning Dunkin Donuts and we were off to San Diego. I-8 was quite a drive. Desert. Cactus. Mountain. Desert. Cactus. Mountain. Desert. Cactus. SAND DUNES!!

We arrived in Pacific Beach, CA at exactly 4:46 PM. That time doesn’t sound incredibly imperative however 4:46 PM happens to be exactly the perfect time to take sunset photos on Ocean front walk. BOOM.

Day Seven.
Bike rides, beaches and acai bowls. Destination found. These are all the vital elements that have made every one of my trips to San Diego amazing and this trip was no different. Sara’s sister Jessica and her brother-in-law Marc always know how to make the visit to SD perfect. Guess what? It worked so well Mr. Mussack wants to live there…I will not object.

We ended the day at the Stone Brewing Company in Escondido. Delicious.

Day Eight.
It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later. After consuming THE BEST breakfast burrito ever made, Mr. Mussack and I left our little Sara Bear and headed into the high desert. 29 Palms, CA may not sound like a highly sought after vacation destination but it did house the most adorable attraction of the trip. Mr. Lincoln Wilson was born only five days before we arrived and I was more than overjoyed to photograph my best friend’s beautiful family.

Day Nine.
It was a short visit but we were headed back home. On Route 66, through the Mojave, with the check engine light on. NBD. We drove what seems like forever that day but made it to Flagstaff, AZ and rested for the night.

Day Ten.
Early start. I mean EARLY start. I was just so darn excited to see THE meteor crater near Winslow, AZ. We came, we saw, we conquered then kept driving.

At this point I wanted to take photos of everything but nothing really jumped out at me…well until WE CROSSED THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE! Turns out, it was just a sign to let you know you passed it…no visitors center or magnet. Dang it.

We stopped in Albuquerque, NM at a Starbucks so I could photograph week 23 of 52 WOA: Habits.

I really wanted to get a photo in New Mexico, something that really signified the entire state. The problem was I didn’t know what that was. Well, until we hit the state line and then it was gone.

I don’t know if I have mentioned how great our friends are yet but they truly are amazing. With three hours notice both Mr. Mussack’s friend Mitchell and another of my bests, Amanda Lock, were able to meet us at the Hornet in Denver for a late night dinner.

Day Eleven.
You didn’t think I could travel the Southwest without running into Chris, did you. Well, I guess we actually intersected each other in Denver but it figures, doesn’t it? Mr. Mussack and I had the honor of dining with Chris Hsieh himself at Lucile’s for breakfast. I still can’t get over how weird that was. The interception, not the restaurant.

We finished our drive heading East on I-70 where we stopped for the state line and little else. We were tired and ready to be back in the Cottage.

For a few more days, b and I will be offering a very special opportunity to you called the 2012 La Brisa Calendar of Awesomeness! We have filled this calendar with some of our absolute favorite images that we have ever created and we want to share them with you. In honor of our desire to give back, 100% of profits will be donated to the ALS Foundation in honor of Robert “Bobby” Rawle.

These 13.5″x19″ beautiful calendars are $35 plus shipping and can be purchased here – 2012 La Brisa Calendar of Awesomeness.

Check out the preview of the calendar!