Wednesday, May 20, 2009

May 20th, 2009

Women's Adventure Magazine

Rachel En Fuego!
Article in a national magazine dream comes true….

At last, my goal of writing for a national adventure magazine has come true! Just in time for Mother’s Day, I’ve recently had a story about Mama Chihuahua’s and my notoriously soggy, humbling trek on the Routeburn in New Zealand published in Women’s Adventure Magazine. I’ve just received advance copies from the arts editor (Krisan Christensen…thanks, Krisan!). If you’ve never checked the magazine out before, you’re in for a treat! It’s hip, fun, and edgy covering all types of adventures from house-swapping around the world (hopefully involving a house you actually own) to crushes and camping to a Green Action Superhero Comic Strip and interviews of incredible adventure divas. It’s the only travel, sports, and outdoor-related magazine dedicated solely to women. I was also tickled to death that I made the contributors’ page alongside the letter from the editor.

My boyfriend often asks me why I go to the trouble of spending countless hours during and after trips to write my travel blogs and sometimes I ask myself the same question. The first answer that comes to mind is that I just have to! Some unknown and obsessive force drives me to do it. It doesn’t feel like an adventure or a real journey unless I’m able to share it with friends. The second reason is that I love the feedback and dialogue I have with my friends, family, and fellow kindred spirits that is inspired by these blogs.

Lastly, every now and then, I actually get a really cool cosmic return from them like from this one. Just a little after I sent out my trekking blog from the South Island of New Zealand, I received an email from the editor (Michelle Theall, a cool, adventurous woman in her own right who I’ve come to know through the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference over the years) at Women’s Adventure telling me she thought I should write a cool short story for the mag based on the blog.

So there it is, blogging does pay-off. Not a lot, but every now and then you never know how it may come back to you.

You can pick the June Issue of the magazine up at Border’s, REI, Whole Foods, and Barnes and Noble. You can also order subscriptions directly through the magazine’s website at
I’ll give you a quick glimpse of the article, “The Amnesia of Adventure: Lest we forget we're in this together:”
Since the mag has first dibs by contract on the story for the next six months, I can’t print the whole thing here quite yet. You’ll have to grab a copy at your local bookstore to read the whole story. Here's an excerpt:

“The Amnesia Of Adventure”

By Rachel S. Thurston
For Women’s Adventure Magazine
Appearing in the June 2009 Issue on pages 46-47.

Why my sixty-two year old Mum and I choose to shoulder forty pound backpacks across mountains in bad weather, lather ourselves in bug spray, subsist for days on dehydrated pasta, and sleep in bunkhouses with snoring, equally smelly strangers baffles me. It’s rare in our many years of travels to come across other mother and daughters, let alone women my mother’s age attempting to trek where we do. There’s probably good reason for this. We suffer from what I refer to as "Trekking Amnesia," in which a year usually passes by and memories of our agony are replaced with blissful nostalgia.

We’ve crossed the world’s highest pass in mid-winter only to have our lunch frozen solid in our chest pockets by noon, battled hypoxia and AMS with copious loads of garlic and diamox, and trekked the rice fields of Vietnam during the beginning of monsoon, yet it’s these experiences which keep us booking our tickets again and again.

This past year we’ve chosen to do the Routeburn Track, one of the Great Walks of New Zealand, an area which we’ve recently learned receives over two-hundred inches of rain a year. As we stop in for our permits, a park ranger informs us that a late spring storm is coming through for the length of our trek. I look over at my mother hoping that she’ll be the one to say, “Let’s just scrap this whole trekking thing and stay in town and eat chocolate.” But she doesn’t and my competitive spirit maintains its silence.

To read more, you can check out the Women's Adventure Magazine website (they'll post it when the next issue comes out) in a few months for a digital download or you can buy a copy at your local Borders.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May 19th, 2009
Destination Wine Country Article
"Free-Wheelin: A Romantic Bike Trip Through Santa Ynez Valley"

For the past year or so, I've had the opportunity to write for the Santa Barbara-based Destination Wine Country Magazine. It's been a joy working with the editor, Laura Sanchez, whom I also have known as a friend through my band King Bee, for many years now. I can't tell you what it means as a writer to be able to write stories I'm passionate about and to have such incredible communication with the editor. We've started a tradition of having coffee a few times a year to talk about new story ideas and our own love of travel, Spanish, and literature.

The most recent summer issue (the most gorgeous cover I've seen them have yet!) features an article I wrote about a romantic bike trip through Santa Ynez Valley with my Baby Love. The only downer is that they replaced every reference I made to my "Baby Love" with either "boyfriend" or "Steve." Can you imagine?! ;)

"Steve" and I had great fun doing "research" for this article...research which included several glasses of wine, a very leisurely downhill bike ride, strolling through a lavendar farm, and stuffing ourselves with deli sandwiches and strawberries. After finishing the book The Beautiful Santa Ynez Valley with photographer Chuck Place in 2007, it was pure joy to go up to the Valley just for fun and to write a short piece. By design, Chuck was hired to do the photography for the piece so the four of us (including his wife Ger) made a fun day of it....a lot of it involving Chuck getting in our faces with a big lens telling us to look at each other longingly and to stop drinking all our wine before he had taken his fill of photos.

I'm stoked with how the article came out and pleased once again to have the opportunity to work with a good friend (Chuck), go biking with my Baby Love (Steve), and continue working with a wonderful editor (Laura).

You can check out issues of Destination Wine Country at wineries throughout the Valley and at various bookstores in Santa Barbara.

Just for fun, I'm going to include some of Chuck's photos from the shoot that weren't included in the article. You can check out his gorgeous website at

Saturday, May 02, 2009

High School Graduation and Mother's Day
Photo Shoot with Ian Miller and his beloved Mama, Brenda Miller

"The best conversations with mothers always take place in silence, when only the heart speaks."
~Carrie Latet

I recently had the honor of photographing a friend's son for his graduation photos, Ventura-based Brenda Miller. Brenda and I envisioned images of Ian which would be classy, timeless, and hip but not traditional, cliche, or cheezy (i.e. those prepackaged backgrounds with the fake swirls in photography studios).

Although I've spent time with Brenda over this past winter and spring, I didn't get the chance to meet Ian until the day of the shoot. He turned out to be a warm, kind, and genuinely mellow lad who slowly opened up about his love of Borat, Zoolander, and Hip Hop. He was shy at first but after the first hour I could see that he began relaxing and trusting was a joy to see multiple sides of him surfacing...from the initial uncomfortable smile to the caught-off-guard laughter to a very relaxed and confident-looking James Dean sultry brood.

It warmed my heart to see Brenda and Ian's interactions throughout the shoot. While I'm close with my own mother, the bond between a mother and son is uniquely different and shooting them both on their own and together really made me excited to do more creative work with mothers and daughters, mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, and fathers and sons. My mother and I were photographed years ago and I still remember it as a magical and euphoric experience during which we celebrated ourselves and our friendship. I would love to do one together with her every five years or so to mark the arch of our lives and our relationship.

After the James Dean/Poetry Man brooding looks (he wasn't posing, it came out completely naturally!) we took a few more before the sun finally fell behind the pepper trees. I hope to shoot them again sometime in the future and am manifesting more work with men and women and their beloved sons and daughers!

In a special ode to my own mother and to Brenda, here is one last parting quote I recently came across about the beauty of motherhood:

"The sweetest sounds to mortals given
Are heard in Mother, Home, and Heaven."
~William Goldsmith Brown

Here is the slideshow I created for them both. Once you start playing the slideshow, an "HQ" symbol will appear directly beneath the Youtube icon, make sure to click on it so you can watch the video and photos in High Definition. It will only appear once you've begun watching the video.