Dave Lehl is an Action, Lifestyle and other type stuff photographer. While we’re all sitting inside our cramped apartments wondering about subways, rent, and toaster ovens David get’s to go on the adventures. Dave brings every bit of enjoyment out of each image, it just makes you want to do something, anything, but you won’t because you’re lazy so just sit and enjoy. He’ll be our resident photojournalist for a while throwing us incredible images of shit we’ll never get to see. Also, he kind of kills it on the whole photography thing. For more adventures, and great photography and if you can’t wait for next weeks post, check out his website. He’s our newest member of the team and honestly I can’t wait to see more.
A few months ago I noticed my friend Andy start putting up a bunch of photos of a VW van with a Westfalia conversion kit on instagram. At first I thought he might just have a thing for these vans, but then started noticing his wife and him in the photos. The two of them were driving, relaxing, and camping with reckless abandon.
Bastards! I want that too! Within 2 seconds I had a scheme to get ME into the mix. Granted, it was a benevolent scheme with the promise of booze and hijinx, but a scheme nonetheless. ”Hey Andy, whaddya say we take a road trip somewhere, I don’t care where, and I’ll shoot photos the whole way and we’ll have a shitload of fun?” Andy’s a big sucker and chomped on my bait without a second’s hesitation. Dummy.
A few weeks later after Andy had quit his job we finally had a week’s window to make this epic adventure happen. Andy’s friend Casey was the third, which was a no brainer because they’re pretty much already life partners. I didn’t know Casey that well but from the few interactions I’d had with him, I kind of wondered why we weren’t already good friends. After a failed campaign to find a fourth, it looked like it was just going to be the three of us.
A couple days before we were set to hit the road, I got the bright idea to try and get this trip a beer sponsor! I called up my friend Steve who is the Lifestyle Marketing Manager for Pabst Blue Ribbon and pitched the idea to him. ”Basically it’ll be three idiots in a van driving around making bad decisions for a week,” I told him. ”What’s not to like?” was his general sentiment and he agreed to load us up with far more than enough PBR to kick our poor judgment into overdrive.
Early-ish on a Sunday morning in May we packed up our stuff and hit the road. ”Where are we going,” was the first question. ”Southwest.” ”Okay.” ”Okay.” And that was it. We made a left (because West is to the left) and headed towards Utah. After driving all day, we ended up at a little known state park called Goblin Valley. We pulled up to the ranger’s station right at sunset ready to find a campsite and spend the night. ”Sorry guys, the campsites are all full.” Shit.
We just drove all the way here and now we weren’t even going to be able to pop the top next to some sand sculpture looking things. ”But you can go back down the road and take a left and park anywhere along there.” This little bit of information ended up being the best thing we’d hear the whole trip. As we soon discovered, camping in actual campsites is for families, old people, and other types that we wanted absolutely nothing to do with. Within a mile or two of dusty side road exploring we found our perfect spot. A huge open spot with huge sandstone walls on three sides and no one for miles. Wilding out was going to happen, hard.
After pounding a few beers and a few Jagermeister shots just to be safe, it was adventuretime. Everywhere there were skinny caverns shooting off in all directions into the rocks that needed to be explored. The first one we went up ended up winding about 70 yards into the rocks where we ended up in the most epic little amphitheatre that was about 12 feet in diameter and about 50 feet tall.
Within about 2 seconds Andy and Casey and devised the most genius game I’ve ever seen. It consisted of throwing rocks up onto the shelves above us and then screaming like little girls and scrambling out of the way when they came hurdling back off towards our faces from 40 feet up.
Once that game got old it was getting dark. Instead of eating, it was decided that it was definitely a better idea to drag our firewood, camp chairs, and beers back up into the canyon and party our faces off up there. And it was a seriously awesome decision.
After shooting, and getting our fire started and the shit while M83 played on Andy’s portable speakers, I had a realization. There aren’t too many times when I can sit back in the moment and realize “Holy shit. It really just does NOT get any better than this,” but this was exactly one of those times.
The first night in the van turned out to be pretty darn comfy. Andy and Casey slept upstairs in the pop-up portion, and I got nice and cozy downstairs with the bags and gear.