Right before you escape Nevada and enter the border of Arizona, there’s a ridge of mountains that swallows you up and warns you that the upcoming land is about to make you feel really insignificant and small, in the best way possible. The desert. And in this case, Southern Utah. Living in Los Angeles, it appears to be the furthest place one could escape to without really going that far. Those rust, slate, and sand colored mountains reveal jagged rocks that look as if putting your hand on them would treat them as a box grater treats a block of parmesan. The desert is hard. The people that live there are tough. Their expression exhibits an ‘I don’t care what your job title is’ attitude . A special type of person lives in this environment, and it’s in your best interest to respect the land they walk on.

There are things that always stick with me whenever I leave the desert: the smell , the wind, the heat. It’s like mezcal – smoky, spicy, and sweet – and if you’re like me, appreciated at all times. I feel a connection as I move further towards sand and red earth. Whether it stems from my ancestors who once occupied land in the desert or my love for spaghetti westerns, I’ve always felt a slight pull towards those mountains, and welcome the breath of fresh air once I make it through.

These photos focus on the elements found in or near Zion. The underlying softness and delicacy found within a land deemed so dry and tough.

My drive to Zion included a stop in St. George, Utah. After noticing the majority of the town decided masks weren’t needed and receiving weird looks for wearing mine, the quiet hotel bar became home.

Weirdly, a hotel bar in a Mormon retirement town made some of the best drinks I’ve ever had. Not that I’m hard to please when it comes to a good drink, and will always favor a dive bar, but Wood Ash Rye in The Advenire Hotel cultivates cocktails I found myself thinking about long after they were gone. The creator of the cocktail menu, Ricky Lyn, is a person of craft. He creates cocktails using ingredients that come from the region, drinks he uses to tell stories and preserve the history found there. I love you Ricky, and I will always crave your mezcal Negroni and espresso martini.

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