“And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul. ” – John Muir
A short hours drive from Los Angeles and I’m cruising 6,000 feet above it. The windows are down and the familiar scent of pine washes over me. The cool mountain air on my face and the change of scenery seem oddly disproportionate to the amount of time spent getting there. Like I’ve managed some sort of time jump out of Harry Potter.
This weekend retreat is relished more intensely, as I suppose most things are since the world turned upside down. Days spent between the trees revolve around food and dog walks, scenic overlooks and board games. Every meal is made with care, every bite is savored. It’s lovely.
When I suddenly realize how present I feel it becomes obvious that being in such a state is a very rare occurrence for me. I get so wrapped up in checking things off my zillion to-do lists that I never pause to take it all in. I’m just constantly in hustle-mode, always onto the next gig, chore, email, engagement. It’s an exhausting way to live and a waste of precious of moments that go by unnoticed. I’m slightly ashamed it took a pandemic for me to see the light but now that I have it’s something I will be much more mindful of and not just when I’m up in the wise, old mountains!
Life lessons aside, a real highlight of the weekend was the slow-smoked pork shoulder our wonderful host made. It was prepped with a mixture of molasses and mustard then generously layered with a homemade BBQ rub. For 12 hours the temperature was meticulously gauged and it was “mopped” with sauce every 60 minutes.
After it was ceremoniously evicted from the smoker it had to have a little rest. So while it sat, covered in foil, taunting us with it’s mouthwatering aroma, we made the remainder of the meal. We kept the sides simple; coleslaw, roasted potatoes and corn on the cob. Once the meat was pulled it was devoured almost immediately. The pork shoulder was tender, full of flavor and some of the best meat I have ever eaten.
If you can manage it, head to the mountains where the air is crisp even when it’s hot. Where you can breathe deeper and move slower. Where everything is wider and for a few days you can escape. And if you can find a friend with a smoker…you’ll really be living your best life. Trust me on that one.
P.S. If you’re looking for some summer fun in Wrightwood, hit up the disc golf course and then grab a locally brewed beer and a pretzel the size of your head at Wrightwood Brewing Company.
For a proper diner-style breakfast the Evergreen Cafe is a must-stop.
Also, be sure to peruse the cute vintage book shop in town and grab a scoop at the ice cream parlor too.
If you’re looking for something more adventurous, there’s a rad zip lining course, I haven’t done it yet but I’ve heard great things!