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The Modern Caravan

Stay Wild

Story by Brooke Jackson

Photos by Matt Alberts | Caravan Outpost

Historically speaking, a caravan has been a group of people, especially traders or pilgrims, who travel together across wild spaces such as deserts and trails. Modern travelers have transformed the definition into a vehicle equipped for living that is often towed by a car. In reality, the idea of freedom presented by caravan life has not been lost but merely adapted to present day. The Caravan Outpost of Ojai, CA embodies the nomad lifestyle in all aspects of its culture. Opened in July 2016, Caravan Outpost is the modern gathering of adventurers and travelers from all walks of life. An outpost is normally associated with a small camp at some distance from any main force. Ojai is roughly an hour northeast of mighty Los Angeles downtown and is hidden amongst the Topatopa Mountains. Known as the Valley of the Moon, Ojai is a spiritually magical and earthy oasis. However, it isn’t just the funky style or old school fashion that makes the place a paradise; rather it’s the smiles, eyes, genuineness and energy of everyone which makes it wholeheartedly beautiful. 

Created by the chance meeting of several diverse characters, Caravan Outpost has six founders. Originally, the concept was to be a campground yet red tape and political obstacles pushed back. Eventually, the community of connections joined two paths; one with an idea and one with the experiences and connections to make it happen. Nowadays, the concept is still evolving but is designed around being a community for nomads and wanderers who are seeking genuine experiences in the magical Moon Valley. When asked what would be the definition of a successful experience at Caravan Outpost, founder and owner Brad Steward replied “having a magic moment; Whatever that means to you”. Ultimately, the goal of the outpost is to have a little place where you connected whether with your surroundings, the people or with yourself. 

Genuine connection is a beautiful thing that many travelers crave and is something that keeps most of us on the road. Personally, my moment of connection at Caravan Outpost was sitting in my airstream trailer listening to Rod Stewart vinyl. As a child, my family blasted Rod Stewart at our lake cabin while grilling burgers and shooting guns (yes, I am a bit of a backcountry girl). Having not listened to Rod in years, hearing the old school rock music sing songs of my childhood brought me to a special place of comfort and contentedness. Caravan Outpost and its founders pride themselves in creating a brand you can live and building something for everyone. If one was to ask any of the other girls I was on the trip with, I am sure they each would have a different “magic moment” to remember. Perhaps it was hiking in the Topatopa Mountains with rolling lush green hills and trickling creeks soaking through our SmartWool socks, or maybe it was exchanging stories around the bonfire while making s’mores or perhaps it was during the daily morning yoga practices while in downward dog and laughing ourselves silly at each other’s inflexibility. Whatever the moment, everyone has one in Ojai. What will be yours? 

A Beginner with the Bug

Stay Wild

Story & Photos by Meredith McEntee

My legs drape over the sides of the board, body restful and waiting in warm waters. At the 11th parallel north, I look out at the Pacific Ocean, eyes scanning for dark lines on the horizon. It’s calm now, but the sets are coming.

I learned to surf barely six months ago, on those warm-ish summer days on the Oregon coast. There the waves are rough and freezing and they teach you to mind your ego. But with some coaching (from the ocean and friends) you take each wave in stride, one paddle at a time, and enjoy the immersive beauty around you. This kind of adventure had it all—the thrill, the challenge, the opportunity—and I was instantly hooked. I bought a used board after that first time out, pumped to practice.

Not long after that and before I knew what I was doing, I had booked a ticket to Nicaragua with a bunch of strangers on an All Good expedition to kick it in the surf for a few days. And why not? I had no ambitious goals in surfing—I wasn’t delusional. Just grateful for an opportunity to spend more time in the water and on a board. I was a beginner with the bug.

So this past December, in the intimate cove of Playa Maderas, Nicaragua I found my home for the week. The small shorefront was sprinkled with relaxed beach bars jockeying for position. Scores of palm fronds added the classic tropical touch. A low cliff protected the cove to the south and, to the north, a shark fin-like monolith sat off the coast. The ocean horizon went on and on.

I met my eight new (mostly) skater-folk comrades there and we dove into the itinerary of surf and sand. That first day we selected our boards. My trusted steed for the week was an 8’10 triple fin longboard decked out in rasta-colored stripes. I felt my cool factor bump up a few points.

Each morning we would come to the beach by way of an it’s-too-early-for-this-shit mini mountain trek, our surfboards in tow. We’d start with yoga to limber up our novice surfing muscles. Alex gracefully led us in down dog, cobra, plank. Then we pried ourselves off our mats as the tide came up. We strapped on our leashes to hit the water, feeling fresh and excited. It was time to surf.

Since I was still learning the motions of the sport, I took cues from the more experienced surfers around me. Jason seemed to know what he was doing. Ben, too. I felt no need to be competitive, but was intent on learning as much as I could. All of us were in it for the fun. Board at my side in waist-deep water, I sloshed through the whitewash, then paddled out just past the break. Our crew spread out like a game of Red Rover, welcoming, teasing the arriving waves. I sat up straight and scanned for my first wave. Which would it be?

A dark line appeared on the horizon and my heart fluttered in my chest. This one, maybe? I swung my board around 90 degrees in preparation and waited, watching the wave grow, trying to gage my position and timing. I turned another 90 degrees and laid prone, deciding to go for it. I paddled, digging in and checking the wave behind me. I popped up to my feet, but I was too early and the wave swallowed me whole. I launched sideways off my board and plunged into the surf.  

Back at the break and taking a breather, I surveyed the scene around me. Hannah was riding off to the left, a huge smile on her face. Mark waited patiently and poised, eyes intent on his chosen oncoming wave. There was a friendly and eager buzz in the air, all surfers at play.

On the next wave I deemed suitable, I positioned myself and paddled hard. The wave was small, but speedy and I felt it slipping away. I paddled harder and, remembering some recent advice, I pushed my board down in front of me as a last-ditch effort, for a bit of oomph. My board—and me along with it—locked into the wave and accelerated, as if I had dropped onto a submerged conveyor belt. I popped to my feet before I could fall again and centered my weight, surprised that I was staying upright. It worked?? Woooo!! I stayed low and headed straight for shore. It was a kook move, but that was plenty fun. My body and spirit were riding high.

The week’s surf sessions churned with moments like these. You miss a wave, you catch one, you catch part of another, you take a break. Surfing is this wonderful and frustrating mix of stops and starts. I struggled most often with reading the waves. Is that the right one? Or is the one behind it better? It’s important to observe, then just give it a go. Forget about the looming water giants. How else will you learn?

When our arms wore out, we broke for tacos and ceviche and beer. I dozed on the beach. I read Barbarian Days. We hit the surf again. Repeat on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday... The sun barely showed its face that week, but that didn’t stop us. The rain came, and came again, but what’s the difference in surfing? You’re wet anyway.

When we weren’t surfing, our crew toured the town by quad and tore up neighboring beaches with donuts. We leapt off gritty rock cliffs and guzzled spirits aboard a catamaran. We rode as cargo into San Juan del Sur, bumping along dirt roads in the back of a pickup. We cozied up by a beach bonfire, more tacos in hand.

The final morning of our trip, I woke early and trekked up and over the big hill to the waves. I was the first in the ocean at low tide. I knew the conditions weren’t great, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to be in the water and on my board, soaking up the last minutes of it all. The sun stretched through the clouds, the gentle waves rolled through, dolphins--no joke--swam nearby. It was lovely, just sitting there in the cove, but I eagerly waited for waves to come. A week on the western shores of Nicaragua had me begging for even more.


This adventure was made with our friends at All Good.
They have other trips planned. Check it out >>>

The Wild Ones

Stay Wild

Four Babes. Four Motorcycles. Six Countries. One Month.

Story by Becky Goebel

Photos by Lanakila MacNaughton

 

Adri: “I think we’re in Switzerland now.” 

Liz: “Yeah, I think I saw a sign.”

Lana: “Okay, so we won’t have to stop for gas until Germany then.”

Becky: “Cool.”  

Today we are riding 600 km, which is about 400 miles. Our 2016 Husqvarna Supermotos have over 3,000 km on them from the past two weeks of riding through the European Alps; we’re halfway through the trip. 

We just hit a major storm riding through northern Italy. I noticed the storm from a long ways away but hoped the road would lead us in between some other mountain passes and away from the black clouds. But nope, we rode straight into it. The air got really warm and we rode into the storm like it was a wall. Lightning was striking the flagpoles on the tops of the castles off the road. A strike hit the semi truck we passed just an arm’s length away from me. I was instantly soaked through and totally scared, but realized that it was one of the most beautifully amazing and dangerously perfect moments of my life. The downpour, the warm air, the bright green-covered hills, and the castles being struck by lightning over and over was like nothing I will ever experience again in my life. 

We pull over at a gas station and I hit my saddlebag on the side of the gas pump, which drops my tall-ass Supermoto into a puddle. Within seconds I have three ladies helping me to pick it up and push it under some shelter. No one is fazed by anything. We look at each other, but don’t need to say anything. Time for some espresso.

Within 24 hours I am alone, standing in the middle of a cathedral in the middle of Germany being stared at by 40,000 human skulls. I realize I have never seen a human skull before and that a lot of the things I’ve been doing recently I have never done before. I have never rode over 9,000 feet up and than 9,000 feet down in one day, never travelled this long with four women who I care about and respect so much, never been looked at so much like I was a total alien, and I have never eaten tortellini everyday for two weeks in a row. I have never ridden a Supermoto and I have never been to Europe. The list goes on, but with the companionship of Lanakila MacNaughton, Adri Law, and Liz Horton, it felt like I could do anything. 

We met up with women motorcyclists from all over on our route. Sandra with the ‘38 Harley Davidson Flathead that she rebuilt and restored herself taught us that the coolest women are the most humble. Sandy taught us that you don’t need a big bike to ride 700 km in a day: You actually can do it on a 250cc. And Lisa Looser taught us how to ride our motorcycles onto a train to save time and experience the Matterhorn Mountain in a simpler way. We rode with Austria’s first woman Skeleton World Cup holder, Berlin’s largest women’s-only motorcycle group, and met up with old friends at Germany’s first women’s-only motorcycle camp out.

We only took one day off from riding over 100 km every day. On that day we rented an eight horse power boat at Lake Lungano. We crossed the border between Switzerland and Italy on water going about two kilometers an hour, and I think Lana probably even swam through it. We smoked cigarettes and putzed beside cathedrals and old Italian brick apartments hanging over the lake. The water was room temperature and the air was warm. A boat full of Italian dudes followed us around until we let them come onto our boat and gave us beers. The locals have such positive and helpful vibes about them in Europe. It feels very safe everywhere you go and almost like you’re not so far away from home.

Through Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, and (accidently) Slovakia, we rode in the same formation on the same bikes and got to know each other’s riding like the backs of our gloved hands.