Hi y’all! In celebration of the release of our band, Dana Falconberry & Medicine Bow’s newest album, From the Forest Came the Fire, and the Centennial Anniversary of our National Parks, this summer Bota Box came along for the ride as we embarked on a musical journey through some of the most beautiful lands in our country.
I’m fresh off the road from our National Parks Tour, which took me through almost a dozen parks in over two months, including Guadalupe Mountains National Park, White Sands National Monument, Saguaro National Park, Sequoia National Park, Crater Lake National Park and Badlands National Park, just to name a few. It’s been a wild adventure, for sure, and I’ve been so happy to have Bota Box along as a partner.
We are very committed to reducing our negative impact on the beautiful lands that we have been traveling through, and Bota Box has been an important part of that. Their eco-friendly packaging is in line with our values, and not only is it 100% recyclable, but we have also found many ways to re-use packaging. We made small planters for succulents, boxes for merch and cds, and even dashboard shades for the tour van!
There is so much beauty in this huge country of ours, and after traveling for months to find as much of it as I could, I feel like I have barely scratched the surface. Here are some highlights of the magic we found out there:
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Our first show of the tour was at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in an old settlement fed by spring water called the Frijole Ranch. Our stage was set under huge shade trees overlooking giant mountains of ancient reef rock. The weather was perfect and our sound glided with the breeze over the desert valley. It’s wild to hear your own sound travel like that, tumbling itself into the landscape instead of bouncing endlessly off the walls of some local bar. It was just as I had hoped.
After the show we packed up and headed back to our house for the night, a Frank Llyod Wright-inspired structure called the Ship on the Desert. We explored around the grounds for a bit with some new friends we had just made at the park. At sundown we came upon two large circular stone tanks full of cool blue water, which we later learned were built to store the extra spring water that fed the house.
The evening air was still hot, so as the nearly full moon rose over the mountains we swam and watched the bats circle overhead. We brought a few Bota Minis along to share with our friends and were very happy to learn that they float (this also became useful on many kayaking excursions later)!
The sky turned from pink to purple to blue to black. We swam until it was peppered with bright white and gold stars, then climbed ourselves out of the tanks and found our way back to the house by moonlight. The house was built to resemble a ship, and therefore had two “decks” for roofs, and so we scurried our way up to one of them, Bota Minis still in hand.
Perched on the bow of the house, we sat for hours telling stories and listening to the coyotes sing their high and crazy songs to the moon. Just before we retired out of pure bodily exhaustion, the brightest orange-yellow-green-blue comet tore across the sky directly over the mountain in plain view. It lasted for many long seconds and we were left silent in awe.
White Sands National Monument
We were lucky enough to be able to spend two nights camping nestled between the dunes of White Sands in a beautiful huge bell tent gifted to us by the amazing Stout Tent. We played our show the first night in the “amphitheater” at the park, which is basically just a semi-flattened space between towering white dunes.
The sun set as we sang our first song, and by the middle of the set a deep orange full moon pulled itself over the distant mountains to the east. Again, our sounds crawled out over the dunes and rolled into their valleys. I can’t imagine a more perfect scene for a show.
We had the next day off, so we explored the Tularosa Basin, which houses White Sands and is bordered by two different mountain ranges. I’ve been visiting this basin at least once a year to write, and it’s one of my favorite places in the world.
We drove up from the moon-like landscape of the white dunes and into the rocky and pine-shaded mountains of the Lincoln National Forest, stopping at a lookout point where I knew there to be a hidden waterfall. We scrambled down the rocks and followed the mountain creek upward until we reached it. The water dove from high and strange rocks above, their formations revealing that this must have been an underground cave at one point. Below was a deep green pool of cold mountain water with large red rocks disappearing towards its center. (Also, an old Fritos bag floating menacingly, which Gina (vocals, banjo, guitar) valiantly plucked to add to our backpack of gathered trail trash.)
After climbing back up the trail and then eating burritos the size of tree trunks at a local mountain pub, we made our way back to White Sands to watch the sunset. I’ve seen many sunsets on these dunes over the past few years and each one, while never the same as the one before, has been among the best shows I’ve ever seen. We climbed up a dune next to our tent and sat still as the sand while the landscape around us turned in an instant from bright oranges and pinks to cool blues and purples. It’s a good thing these Bota Boxes are so portable because we carried them everywhere with us, and it was the perfect drink for a sunset on top of the dunes.
Turning our gaze to the eastward mountains, we watched the dark orange moon rise slowly again. A ranger had told us earlier that we were the only people in the entire park that night, under a billion stars. We took turns running out to distant moonlit dunes and calling back to each other, laughing at how far our calls carried themselves.
Sequoia National Park
One of our favorite shows was at Sequoia National Park. We played in the amphitheater at the main campground in the Park and it was a magical night. The crowd was full of people seated in a semi-circle around us, and the tall pines rose up behind them, acting as an audience themselves. The sky grew dark as we played into the night and the pines became long shadows.
After the show we hung out with some rangers for a while and then headed back to our campsite. Because we were playing, the rangers put us up in a private camping area in the middle of the ancient pines. We had a few friends come out the show and they set up camp with us. After putting up the tent and stuffing everything that could possibly smell like food (gum, incense, soap, actual food...basically everything in the van) into metal boxes to prevent a bear attack we built a fire under the trees. We stayed up late into the night retelling old tour stories and refilling our camp mugs with Bota Box Nighthawk. The stars shone bright through the branches of the pines and we could hear a river rushing below us through the long dark night.
The next morning I hugged my band members goodbye as they set off to go back home. I settled myself into a cabin perched on a mountain lookout in the middle of the Sequoia National Park as their first ever musician-in-residence. I stayed there for two weeks, writing and hiking and soaking in the beauty around me. I hiked up to the tops of many mountains and was surprised to see beautiful clear rushing mountain rivers. I suppose it seemed impossible to me that these rivers still flowed, given the distress we have put our environment under. The sight of them immediately strengthened my conviction to fight for the protection and conservation of these important lands.
This tour has been unbelievable in so many ways. These are just a few of the magical adventures we had! We’ve been really happy to have Bota Box join us as a partner. We have been fans of their delicious wine for some time now!
Not only is Bota Box the perfect travel companion for a tour like this with many different travel stops and outdoor adventures, but they are also committed to creating a more sustainable and clean environment, both of which are huge priorities for us. Thanks for coming with us, Bota Box!
Our country is full of so many distinct and beautiful landscapes, and my eagerness to see it and protect them has done nothing but grow over the past few months. I’m very excited to see what I can do with it in the future.
Thanks for following along, y’all!