On the Road with West Falls: Bear Lake, Utah

by Nina Myers McCammon


Kelly Shea and Brendan Banks of West Falls, a creative studio on wheels, are crisscrossing the country in a restored 1984 VW camper van until approximately Thanksgiving and sharing a weekly diary and gorgeous photography with 50 States of Style readers.

Their fourth weekly check-in takes us to Bear Lake, Utah, where they ran into some familiar faces, happened upon the "Caribbean of the Rockies," and Kelly went to great lengths for a bowl of kale. Enjoy, and don't forget to follow along with Kelly and Brendan all week long on their instagram and tumblr feeds. Have a fantastic Labor Day Weekend!

All photos by West Falls Studio

Who we met...
An old friend, a great couple, and a new human. In another instance of serendipitous geography, Kelly and I found ourselves at the destination of my good, and long-time friend Colin, his wife Jamie, and their 8 month old Ethan.  Seeing familiar faces was a warm welcome after many single-serving encounters -- introducing yourself every day opens you up to new experiences, but can become slightly laborious at other moments.  Warm smiles, baby feet, and hugs from Colin's 6'6" wingspan were a great surprise.

What we ate...
The first night that we arrived, there were several storm fronts rolling in from the north over the buttes and southwest over the lake.  Anticipating the rain and feeling the warning winds, we made a quick soup dinner over the camp stove.  Kelly sautéed some kale as a side, but the gusts were so heavy by the time she started eating that most of the leaves flew out of the bowl!  The things the girl will do for her leafy greens...

In the mornings, we made our go-to camp breakfast with eggs, bacon, and toast fully doused in Cholula.  In the evening, Brendan cooked our meal over the open fire - chicken and corn on the cob with coconut oil, salt, and pepper.  He brought the table and chairs down to the water, next to the fire and we topped off the meal with roasted marshmallows and chocolate chip cookies.

What we saw...
We drove through Wasatch National Forest and saw Bear Lake on the map, naturally gravitating toward the areas indicating water.  Neither one of us had done much research on the area, and were consequently astonished when we drove out of the forest to see the vibrant turquoise blue of the lake.  

On the radio...
This American Life: #518 "Except for that one thing"

Van start time...
3:00pm

Where to next?
Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho

Life lessons...
We set out with a specific campground in mind, but found it to be not quite right.  Instead of settling, we decided to drive onward until we found something we were more into.  We were window-shopping for the right set of dirt off the side of the road, but what we found was the "Caribbean of the Rockies." It was our oasis; we relaxed, we enjoyed, and we recharged.  It may not have always been what we were looking for, but [just like Tig Notaro in that drive's TAL] sometimes you get what you need.