• The house that built me

    The house that built me

    I walked into my Granddaddy's house for the very last time this Summer. The sights, the smells, the memories, they all become so much more powerful when you know that this is it.

    This was the place my enormous family gathered during Holidays, special events and just because, because why not? We opened presents here on Christmas morning. We ate Turkey here on Thanksgiving Day. We played foxes and hounds and Ghosts in the Graveyard and swam in the pool for hours on end on hot Summer days. Family was everything, and no matter how far away we moved, we always came back to this place, to each other. 

    This Summer was supposed to be more of the same.

    Instead, we mourn.

    Home as I know it will never, ever be the same - for a great many reasons I'm not ready to talk about. 

    I've tried to write these words for months now, and I never get very far. The cursor blinks on my screen as I stare in silence at the monitor and try to figure out what to say next. 

    The answer is always the same.

    I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. 

    Even the days and the photos leading up to making it home never make it anywhere, because I see those roads and know exactly where they lead.

    Yet, everything after feels like a lie. 

    Because I can't tell you why I'm really here and I can't tell you how I really feel. Not because I lack the ability to write the words - but because I just don't have any.  

    We lost 2 family members this Summer to Cancer. I nearly lost a third, my Sister. Her story is not mine to tell and even if it was, those things stay private. I will say she's been fighting for her life for months. For a while there, my 2 year old nephew was faced with the prospect of not having a Mother. 

    And then there's beloved 14 year old rescue dog, who began coughing & refused to walk on the 2nd day of our road trip back East this Summer. As soon as we made it to Georgia I took her to the Vet, my childhood friend, where she was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and given a year to live. 

    These are the facts.

    And I still don't have words. 

    So I'm going to pack all of this up, put it in a box, and place it carefully over in a corner.

    I don't know yet what to do with all these shattered pieces; but I can no longer stand here, frozen, staring helplessly at the destruction left from this Summer.

  • Ghosts of Georgia: Perry's Mill

    Ghosts of Georgia: Perry's Mill

    Once upon a time in rural South Georgia there was a town called "Perry's Mill." It was a small town, built around the lumber trade, full of houses and stories and life. Oaks were cut down and used to build warships and masts and oak barrels and so much more. I'm told the mailman used to come through here delivering mail on a donkey....

    All that's left of Perry's Mill today are the ancient live oaks, which used to line the now completely nonexistent streets, a giant magnolia, and a few lonely clumps of Hymenocallis. I'm sure someone planted those there long ago to beautify their home. If it wasn't for the trees (that you must walk into the woods to find lined up into a tree tunnel), you'd never even know Perry's Mill, or the people who lived there, ever existed. Not even the all knowing Google knows - only the people who have lived in this area for generations.

  • Day 1: California Route 66

    Day 1: California Route 66

    Los Angeles was going through a massive heatwave, with actual temperatures reading out 108 on the thermometer. Wildfires were breaking out, and everyone was miserable. So we delayed our start by a few days in hopes of maximizing time in the desert. 

    On the 23rd, we woke up early and headed out on Colorado BLVD. Surprisingly, there wasn't a lot of traffic early in the morning, and we were able to zoom right through to San Bernadino. We passed by the Fish Fire early and watched the helicopters putting out the last of the flames. 

    Soon, we were in the Mojave where things started to get interesting. 

    Shoe trees and bra trees and volcanic craters and old recliners just hanging out on the side of the road....

    There was hardly anyone along this stretch, probably because the temperatures were reading out 118, but the ghosts of travelers past were everywhere around us. 

    We drove further and further into the heat until the sun started setting behind us. We'd been driving all day, but Los Angeles was still only a few hours behind us had we taken the freeway. When my brother asked how far away we were, I didn't have the heart to tell him we really weren't very far. We stopped in Needles, California for the night and watched the sun set over the Mojave Desert. 

  • Roadtrip: Summer 2016

    Roadtrip: Summer 2016

    As we established last Summer, Route 66 runs quite literally right in front of my house here in Los Angeles. As a matter of fact, I'm sitting on my porch as I type this watching Angelenos pass by on their morning commute. There are very few days when I'm not on this stretch of road myself in some way while out handling day to day business. I used to wonder what this highway looked like in other parts of the Nation. So, last year while visiting my sister up in the Chicago area, I decided to take Route 66 home, starting from it's very start in downtown Chicago. 

    Westward Ho! #Chicago #route66 #roadtrip #travelgram #instatravel #summer #ontheroad #Illinois

    A photo posted by Catherine McDonald (@wanderlustography) on

    The time we allocated for this leg of the journey last year wasn't nearly enough.

    So, this year, when trying to choose our Route back East, we decided to take the path of least resistance and take the nearest highway Eastward. It just so happens that this road is Route 66 - or, to locals - Colorado Boulevard. 

  • Eagle Rock Canyon Trail

    Eagle Rock Canyon Trail

    I hate going to the gym, and I despise getting on the treadmill. In our previous life we lived in cold weather climates and there really wasn't much of a choice in the matter. Here in L.A., however, the weather is lovely year round, so you can enjoy the great outdoors whether it's January or June. 

    There's no shortage of hiking trails here, and as I tremendously enjoy walking & hiking, I try to take advantage of them as often as possible. Here in Eagle Rock, we're blessed to have access to the Eagle Rock Canyon trail, which starts at the base of the Eagle Rock, and ends at the top of the Northeastern most high point in the city of Los Angeles. 

    In the daytime, the trail is great exercise and/or a great place to walk your dog. However, at sunset, the experience is just incredible. The sky turns shades of peach and orange - then finally, pink and purple, totally overshadowing the normally distracting 134 freeway below. 

    The city comes alive again in tiny twinkling lights, with views of downtown to the left, Century City off in the distance and Griffith Park, The Observatory & the back of the Hollywood sign straight ahead. Even the 134 freeway becomes eye candy, with the sea of taillights becoming like sparkling Christmas lights.

    The trail is maintained by a group of tireless volunteers at CERB so that people like you & I can access and hike the trail as we please - whether that be at sunrise, sunset, or even midday. 

    CERB hosts a variety of fundraisers to help in the maintence of this public trail. This year, I'm honored to announce that they'll be auctioning off one of my prints from the top of the Eagle Rock Canyon Trail. Proceeds will go to support the maintenance of the trail, as well as keeping it open to the public.  If you're local to L.A. please come out and support our local trail. If you're just a fan of preserving wild, open land for public recreation, you can help by donating here