Photos & Words: Molly Steele

I woke up on New Year’s Eve in a grocery store parking lot sleeping in the back of a truck with my friend Kevin. We were somewhere near San Clemente. The day prior, Kevin was up North and I was home in LA mulling around a few ideas about where to drive for a little NYE adventure that didn’t involve sequins, Ubers, or anything close to regret. Next thing I know it’s 2:30AM and we were driving towards the border. Once Kevin got to LA and we couldn’t get over how goddamn cold it was everywhere. So we went to a bar, took a shot of whiskey, and flipped a coin. It landed on heads and within an hour we were on our way to Mexico, where I was hoping it would be warm…because well, it’s Mexico? If you know me, and you probably don’t, but if you did, you’d know I tend to do a lot of trips you wouldn’t really wanna tell Mom about until after the fact. But for some reason, I’d never made it down to Mexico and it was finally happening.

Purple sunset blasting across the desert, I'm driving us like Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the victory lap of the Daytona 500.

So here we are on a couple of hours sleep, driving through TJ and up in to the mountains where, just that morning, the second blizzard in 64 years had hit. Good thing I brought my bikini? Fast forward to the other side of the mountain range and we find ourselves descending into what looks like Death Valley and we are now in a desert where there are no paved roads, no houses or buildings of any sort, and certainly no people. I mean…the right thing to do, obviously, is to take two shots of tequila as we head into the home stretch. Kevin asks if I want to drive. Up until this point, I’d never really driven stick before. So, two shots under my belt, purple sunset blasting across the desert and Neil Young’s more metal phase in the speakers, I’m driving us like I’m Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the victory lap of the Daytona500. We got to splash around in the hot springs for a few hours until it was too cold to be in and too cold to get out. By 10:30 we were going to sleep…

The next day we did some exploring which involved drinking beer, climbing rocks, looking for petroglyphs, that sort of stuff. OH and making friends with a bunch of wild burros (donkeys), no big deal. One wouldn’t leave us alone and wanted to kiss and cuddle constantly. More hot springs, more tequila, the camp host giving us a bunch of veggies to cook for dinner because we forgot to bring food, etc. There were some other things that happened in Mexico, too. Like when on the second night we slept on the floor of a hut made of palm fronds next to a fire and the hot spring. Or like on the third day when we went into the muddy hillside shanties of Tijuana and got a reality check of how people live just on the other side of the border. Mexico was really something. I’ll be back soon.

We got a reality check of the other side of the border. Mexico was really something.