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“Joan of Goat (Jeanne d’Chevré)” outfit

“To believe yourself brave is to be brave; it is the only essential thing.” – Mark Twain, Joan of Arc

Sometimes, I feel the undying urge to stoically 1000-yard stare into the distance. I’ve learned that this is a sign to go into The Wilderness.

Because if you don’t stare awestruck at nature, you end up staring at the back of your skull—into the abyss and whatnot.

Insane, misguided wilderness adventures are sort of my specialty. I excel in: Late starts. Night hiking. Specious navigational skills. Getting way, way lost. Strange encounters with wild animals. Going solo everywhere because…I fucking can…and my plan is…very last minute.

This September, the 1000-yard stare urge was breathing down my neck, and so was the end of backpacking season. The where did your summer go again?#$%! I took off every Friday that month, and sojourned alone into the wilderness every long weekend.

Did I completely nail every single one of the idiotic things I excel at? I’m a perfectionist, I guess. Always crossing off those lists. I hiked miles of brutal switchbacks in the dark. I got completely mixed up, directionally. So late in the season, I was actually entirely alone, some places.

In the Seven Devils, after ascending 2,000 brutal, tedious feet, repeating to my Capricorn self as a mantra to just…keep…going: “I am a goat. I am a goat. I am a goat.” I turned the corner to encounter a family of three majestic mountain goats on the trail. Just steps away. *Surprised Pikachu faces* The dad—one horn broken off so that he looked like a unicorn—dashed off (typical male). The mom looked at me with those coal black side eyes—and walked right up to me. I could have reached out to touch her shockingly white, gauzy fur. She looked so magical. A figment from a meditation image I had earlier this year of my spirit animal. “I am a goat,” I whispered to her, holding my breath as she breathed me in, her nostrils flaring. Nodding in anthropomorphized approval, she turned to walk down the trail, the thin black line of her lips turned up like a wry smile. Now, I stood between her and her little tiny baby goat. (Holy $%#!?) Braving up, the baby goat repeated the actions of his mother, toddling over to me, but startling and running quickly to his mom when I softly stated: “I am a goat.”

Then there was the last trip on a weekend forecasting rain statewide. I combed over maps that entire week looking for the least weather-affected place. I landed in The Pioneers, at the second highest lake in Idaho. Goat Lake. The first few days were perfection. Then, on my final night, the only person around for miles, just minutes after this picture was taken, the wind blew in. And never stopped. This wind was a terrifying wind, issuing forth sounds to make your blood run cold. The rush and moans and wails of g-forces gathering all through the cliffs around you—gearing up to rain its fury down. The anticipation of doom in the sound was the most blood-curdling part. Even worse than my tent blown flat into my face the entire night, the stakes barely holding on. I‘ve slogged through a lot of self-inflicted shockingly stupid in my life, so I can usually say, “I’ve been through worse,” when really going through it. So when I couldn’t say that this time, I was truly alarmed. It was real test of mind, and meditation, to keep myself calm, to focus on what mattered, to eventually fall to sleep that night. Then to wake up in three inches of snow. Wondering if I could even see the trail. Wondering how I would make it back home.

unlabeled vintage gold accordion lampshade shirt, ? (I got this a very long time ago; it’s seen some wild times) | black Helly Hansen thermal leggings – gift from parents | cream & black polkadot silk scarf (a backpacking essential IMHO) – $1.99, Idaho Youth Ranch | Maasai red, white & blue beaded bracelet – $2000 Kenyan shillings (about $20) 

Cheep it into the wild.

“Bloom (in the desert) where you were planted” outfit

My pale flesh and potatoey filling were genetically designed for perpetually overcast and infinitely melancholy Irish scapes. Yet here I am, planted in the unblinking desert.

I had two (2) semi-disastrous / semi-humorous Sunday desert sojourns in just the past two (2) weekends. Desert misadventures…ill advised. But for me, constantly attempted. As if I am doomed to be spectacle for scavengers someday.

One misadventure ended up with me fetal-positioned beneath a sliver of sagebrush shade beneath a noontime unrelenting sun, with just 0.7 of an impossible mile to reach the Bonneville Point trailhead, once a wagon-rutted route on the Oregon Trail.

This is the place where, according to legend, the relieved French fur trappers declared “Les bois! Les bois!” pointing at the trees along the Boise River, a sight for sore just-slogged-through-the-most-hopeless-of-Utah eyes.

This is the place where, according to that 99 degree day, I would perish of sunstroke. A member of the Oregon Trail video game generation dying alongside the Oregon Trail IRL. Irony lives…at the very least. My translucent white skin flushed bright red. I ran out of water. I could not take…another….uphill…..blazing……desperate…….step. My friend heroically ran up with the key and bounced down the cow road in my CRV to save me from a rather desiccated end.

The other trip ended up here (pictured), somewhere nowhere near Reynolds Creek Canyon in the Owyhee Desert, in some waterless cliff deadend (shown).

(Disclaimer: I apologize to both of the unfortunate companions on my ill-advised, ill-guided 3 hour tours in the middle of godforsaken desert.)

vintage 80s blue flow-y empire dress with pink flowers, $22.50 – Antique World Mall (half off, going out of business sale) | pale SavageX pink halter bra, $12 (sale) –

Cheep it like an unexpected desert bloom.

“Ice scream” outfit

I scream. You scream. We all scream. (Dead stop.)

This would be the tagline for my nihilistic ice cream store called Waiting for Fro-Yo. (With tortured irony, we would not serve frozen yogurt. But will perpetually imply it’s coming soon.)

The sweet shop’s staff would posit in a monotone Werner Herzog droll: “Yes, we all scream for ice cream. Yet, do we also not all scream for the existential horror of our fleeting, insignificant lives?”

And: “Would you like sprinkles on that?”

For a cherry on top feel, I brought this vintage yellow sunbrella all the way up Squaw Creek (groans: racist nomenclature) for this fashion shoot at the waterfall dead end. (“No exit,” Sarte would say.) I hiked here in the early spring. The creek was ice cold and the trail upstream and underwater. No extremities had to be amputated due to frostbite however. Licked it.

vintage yellow sunbrella with cane handle with the name Candi Miller handwritten on the band, $7 – Antique World Mall | screen-printed polka dot, acid-colored lips ice cream shirt, $5 – ReStyle thrift store | Stella McCartney x Adidas black leggings, $7, Goodwill in Walla Walla, WA | Nike neon mesh trail shoes, $10.99 – Idaho Youth Ranch , (now so beat up, this was their last run)

Cheep it like a soft serve.

“Stewardess for the Galactic Federation” outfit

Put your tray tables in an upright position, and prepare for departure from 2020. On your right, a once-in-a-millennium scene of cosmic proportions and galactic significance. Though a rather shoddy photo of it (as I took it myself, handheld, shaking in the subzero temps of the Utah high desert).

In a spontaneous gambit to witness the Great Conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter, I rented a magically-available yurt in the dark sky preserve of Dead Horse State Park near Moab, Utah.

We could all use a little escape hatch from the universe. A shift into a new alignment. A different perspective entirely.

Tho I imagine on the earth-bound Galactic Federation spaceship, the on-flight entertainment is exclusively limited to 1985’s “Cocoon.” Because we all know that when the aliens land—instead of delving into the timeless secrets of the universe—Boomers will just try to mine them for their next-level Botox and anti-aging secrets.

This shot’s for my cult leader LinkedIn profile.

Victoria’s Secret blue satin jumpsuit, $15 – Antique World Mall | Smithline Exclusive brown knit coat with fur trim, $55 – Antique World Mall | Frye Boots black leather with punk-rock spur straps, $75 – Bombshell & Blokes Salon annual event | Importina blue 60s stewardess-style band hat, $12 – Antique World Mall | Kenyan Maasai beaded blue breastplate – Maasai tribe near the Maasai Mara

Cheep it to end of the world as we know it. (And I feel fine.)

“Out of Africa” outfit

“Perhaps he knew, as I did not, that the Earth was made round so that we would not see too far down the road,” – Karen Blixen, Out of Africa

Before I left for Kenya, I read Karen Blixen’s (nom de plume: Isak Dinesen) book, Out of Africa. Taking place at about this time 100 years ago, the Baroness owned a coffee plantation just outside of Nairobi. Her book is ripe with the soul of the country and its people, with less of the entitled colonialism than I expected.

Karen wanted nothing more than for her bones to lie in rest in Africa. She did not get her wish. Her coffee plantation suffered locusts and other acts of God, and she was forced to leave the land she loved, later dying of malnutrition in her Dutch estate. A minor tragedy of dislocation.

On the day I took this picture, I wanted nothing more than to make it out of Africa. I’ll likely process the full scope of traveling during the outbreak of a worldwide pandemic over time—peeling off the layers of weeping revelation like an onion. The unthinkable happened a million times over daily, and I wasn’t even paying that much attention, until reality forced my hand.

It gradually dawned on me that I was on one of the last planes out of anywhere in the world. That other countries (see: Morocco, Peru) closed borders a week before with less than 24 hours warning. That entire airlines and international routes were shutting down in the blink of an eye. That hundreds of thousands of people were trapped far from home everywhere.

And I was on safari. On the Sunday we came out of the Maasai Mara, the Kenyans in my group arranged to visit a Maasai village, delaying our departure, and eliminating a back-of-the-mind possibility to change my flight out to later that night.

It can’t really put into words, not yet, the sheer soul-expanding magnitude of that Maasai village visit. I inexplicably connected deeply and immediately with the son of the chief. He will always be in my soul, burning like the ember of fire that falls out onto the sword from the friction between human will, cedar wood and the sandpaper tree.

When he slipped off his beaded bracelet and somehow shoved it onto my wrist, still puffy and swollen from sunburn, I knew I’d make it home, transcendentally. The bracelet has no clasps. It’s not meant to be taken off. Even now, it smells like fire and smoke and him. He also gave me (I mean, of course I gave him money before I left for all of these wonderful gifts), the Maasai-made bright pink sheep’s wool wrap he wore. I bury my face in it often, and I’m immediately brought back to Africa. To the night sky of the Maasai Mara. To him, far around the world in his small hut under the stars of the Southern hemisphere. To the time-and-space-defying power of human connection.

Miraculously, I made it on the last Seattle flight out of Dubai before Emirates grounded all planes later that day.  The Maasai Mara is now closed. I am coming to grips with the changed world from inside my Boise home. And I am washed aground here awe-struck by God and humanity and Africa. And this precarious and magical opportunity to be alive. Fully alive. In it all.

handmade African orange, yellow, blue & green print dress – $3700 Kenyan shillings (about $37) – Nairobi market | Maasai red, white & blue beaded bracelet – $2000 Kenyan shillings (about $20) | Maasai armour bijoux blue & gold beaded breastplate – $3000 Kenyan shillings (about $30)

“Safari in the time of Corona” outfit


My safari tent’s name was “Cheeter.”

In Swahili, safari means journey. Less than 8 hours before I departed on a two-day trip through the Maasai Mara, the US declared a level 4 travel advisory, urging all Americans overseas to return home immediately. Borders are closing. The unthinkable is happening everywhere. I could have to shelter in place indefinitely—no matter how far that place is from home. TMI, but I threw up all night from the stress. I had a ticket home through Paris in five days, but a 20-hour layover there (the original reason I bought that particular flight) in a European epicenter of COVID-19 (where even citizens must have a permission slip to wander outside) now sounded like a level of hell. My dad talked me into buying another return ticket through Dubai a day earlier, the best option we could find.

I decided to still go on the safari. I chose the cheapest camp, and while the rest of my crew stayed at a luxury resort up the dirt road, I was the only person at the thatched-roofed, canvas-tented property.

The Maasai Mara deeply impacted my soul. I’ve never experienced such unreal beauty. Such spectacular paragons of divine evolution and creation. Every animal pack had IMG_0901babies. So much new life, yet ancient and eternal and changeless at the same time. The brilliant night African sky—cicadas chirping in surround sound as if emitting from the thousands of glittering stars—rivaled the Mara in its stellar celestial beauty. Mars blazed orange, big and bold like a planetary beacon.

On day two of my safari, my Paris return flight was canceled, never to be rescheduled. On IMG_0989the Sunday I came back, Kenya announced they were suspending all international flights effective Wednesday. My dad saved me. Even in the majesty of Africa, there’s no place like home.

I had an epic Savers shopping spree before my trip. I found this tres chic Nine West cotton white jacket. Perfect to shelter from the African sun. But when I put it on a week into the journey and glanced in the mirror, it looked like nothing more than a medical jacket. A few weeks can change the perspective of everything.


A pack of buffalo are barely visible in the background. Giraffe and zebra wander around, too.

Nine West white cotton trench coat – $7, Savers thrift store | Coldwater Creek abstract burnt orange, black & white animal print dress – $12, Savers thrift store | Frye studded burgundy booties – $75, Bombshell Salon‘s Head to Boots Fall Make-Up Event

Cheep it under African skies. 

“Social distancing in Hell’s Gate” outfit


The view from my banda at Camp Carnelley’s.

As the entire world entered into a certain sort of hell while I am in Kenya on an ill-timed vacation, I decided to go to Hell’s Gate, a national park near Lake Naivasha. I figured the wilderness was the most social distancing I could achieve while on this fated trip.

Hell’s Gate has few predators, so you can bicycle through it alone. I passed by giraffe, zebra, warthogs, gorillas, and so many other extraordinary creatures great and small. Lake Naivasha is populated by hippos and thousands of birds. Paradise on earth. Even when the world goes to hell.


no-label tropical greenery swim top – $3 (came with bottoms, too), ReStyle thrift store | Jones New York bronze silk skirt – $4, Idaho Youth Ranch thrift store | Spense white jacket with gold zip – $5, Savers thrift store (why I didn’t wear this during my bike in Hell’s Gate the next day where I got a wicked sunburn is beyond all comprehension) 

Cheep it in the wilderness.

“Contagion” outfit

5c106120-3bb8-11ea-afdd-fbe168b753ab“Banish the ghost of coronaaaaahhh…”

Before my trip to Kenya, I went to Passport Health, a traveler’s clinic for immunizations and fear needling. There, I was handed a terrifying brochure filled with the potential dangers of my destination. Typhoid. Hepatitis. Yellow fever. And a long list of other shit-inducing diseases borne of filth and mosquitoes and the social nature of human existence. It totaled $1500 to completely mitigate the fear of the unknown. I paid $500 to slightly assuage it, which my Kenyan friend found baffling and idiotic. I also paid dearly for taking the live Typhoid pills that made me vomit for hours on end over the course a week.

I took off into an exponentially panicked world. When I left one week ago, the novel coronavirus drifted in and out of the public consciousness. It still felt like a somewhat foreign concept. Other people’s problems. A few days after I landed, COVID-19 did too. Blessedly not via the conduit of me. Since then, it feels like the entire world has screeched to a terrified halt.

As I hiked through the vast Karura Forest in Nairobi yesterday, I passed a group of 20-something Kenyans, and the guy at the end, smiling wide, sang while staring straight at me, “Banish the ghost of coronaaaaahhh…” I found it hilariously apropos, as I am the whitest person I’ve seen in this entire country. Now a specter of doom and death indeed.


no label multicolored-virus-patterned silk tank top – $3, Idaho Youth Ranch thrift store | ADAY almond Easy Days pants – $119 (discounted as I keep pretending I’m a new customer through alias email addresses to get the promo code) | Nike hot pink, yellow & blue cross-country mesh shoes with hot green laces – $5, Restyle Thrift Store | SavageX natural tiger print chiffon bralette  – $9.99 (during epic site-wide sale) | Quicksilver yellow fanny pack – $2.50, Idaho Youth Ranch thrift store (pick a purse outta a giant bin sale, I had to dig my way to the very bottom to find this) |pink & black multi-striped pink pashmina (the best travel accessory in the entire world) – gift from friend from Turkey

Cheep it while social distancing…

“Rosé-colored glasses” outfit

Wine pairing non-recommendation: A liver-cleanse acupuncture session immediately followed by a wine tasting trip to Walla Walla, Washington.

My time-lapse progression in 6 tiny tasting pours. 1st taste: “Mmmmm.” 3rd taste: As giggly tipsy as I was when 14-years-old cadging cheap boxed pink Franzia at that one backyard wedding after which I was arrested for underage drinking while walking home, therefore losing my driving privileges before I could drive. 6th taste: Splayed slack-jawed on a fancy lobby chair nearly passed out.

So, yeah. I couldn’t really drink, so I spent my time photographing myself at artful wineries. I’ll raise a glass to that.

Scenes from Foundry Vineyards.

Heart-shaped rose-colored glasses – $2.99, Grocery Outlet bargain market | Black cotton jumpsuit with beaded waist band – $40 (this was slightly pre-Cheep but still on sale), Piece Unique & Shoez (I bought this from a “fancy for me” boutique approx. 15 years ago and it immediately popped a stitch on the neckline that I just fixed approx. 15 days ago. It feels good slipping into something you think you’ve lost, like your ability to get toasted on 3 sips of wine.) | red & plaid jacket– $4.99, Idaho Youth Ranch thrift store | Frye ‘Sacha Moto’ black leather shooties – $100 (MSRP: $278), Bombshell Salon‘s Head to Boots Fall Make-Up Event

“My own private Idaho” outfit

“I always know where I am by the way the road looks. Like I just know that I’ve been here before. I just know that I’ve been stuck here. Like this one fucking time before, you know that? Yeah. There’s not another road anywhere that looks like this road. I mean exactly like this road. It’s one kind of place. One of a kind. Like someone’s face. Like a fucked up face.” – River Phoenix, My Own Private Idaho

no label – vintage beach dress $5, ReStyle thrift store.