VI. The Eastern Sierras and Nevada

VI. The Eastern Sierras and Nevada


Apologies Las Vegas, but we had to get back on schedule after spending too many days in St. George and blew right through town in a single afternoon. We were so glad to see so many independent health food stores and herb shops keeping their game up though. One of them, Stay Healthy, is the oldest independent nutrition shop in all of Las Vegas, and one of the few health food stores in the country to still broadcast a live radio show (hosted by Dr. Jeffrey Burke). They even knew about one of our biggest Arizona retailers Healthy Habit Health Foods and their own popular radio show hosted by Dan Koontz!

Local health powerhouse Herbally Grounded was a total surprise. We hadn't found them in our research for the Retailer Tour, and only thanks to an off-hand search on Google Maps did we stumble upon this holistic treasure trove. They've got a massive selection of premium natural body care products, nutritional supplements, and herbal formulations from some great companies you don't see everyday - plus a whole line they produce themselves that is awesome! They even have classes there on everything from fermentation to yoga, many of them taught by the founder of the company - so cool!

The hippest find was Saj Natural Beauty on the west side of town in Downtown Summerlin. Saj specializes exclusively in high-end natural body care products and essential oils. They have a beautiful space that just opened this year with an awesome crew that really know their stuff - lots of awesomeness to come from Saj for sure!


One last stop we had to make before leaving town was at Whole Foods. Even though we love independents, Whole Foods is still a really valuable resource for natural products and stock plenty of things you just can't get anywhere else. 

We mentioned a few posts ago that we'd be sharing our on-the-road recycling secrets. There are basically only two places you can count on to have recycling, one of them is at city and county parks, the other is at Whole Foods. We keep a recycling box or bag in our car that we deposit nearly all our packaging waste into (it's almost all recyclable, take another look at your trash and you'll find it can almost all be recycled or composted - depending on the area you're in), saving it until we're in a city big enough to have a Whole Foods, or a town environmentally friendly enough to have commingled recycling at their parks.

It's easy to slack on stuff like recycling when you're on the road, but there's really no excuse for it. Just be diligent and patient and you can keep up with a low-impact lifestyle even while you're traveling. 

After spending the day in Vegas we still had a daunting drive ahead of us that went right through Death Valley en route to Lone Pine in the Owens Valley. Heading down into the valley of death we watched the temperature go up a full 20 degrees from the mid-90's of Las Vegas to a solid 118 at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. What you've heard is true - it's like entering a furnace, but it's amazing. The funny thing is that since it's so dry, you sweat a lot less, so even though it's blazing hot, our Probiotic Deodorant (using the new Lavender scent lately) had a lot less work to do.

death-valley-escapeSomething we hadn't realized about entering and escaping Death Valley is the radical shifts in elevation you experience. We entered at about 5000 feet, reached a low of about 100 feet above sea level, and left through another 5500 foot pass. It's definitely a workout for your car (the signs telling you to turn off your air conditioning to avoid overheating your engine read like a cruel joke when it's 118 outside), and if your ears are pressure sensitive... oh boy, have fun. 

eastern-sierras-sunrise-owens-valleyWe found a great BLM-managed campground just West of Lone Pine named Tuttle Creek Campground that may not be free, but is extremely cheap and reasonable considering it's a 'normal' campground with 'facilities' and all that jazz. It's also sort of at the seat of the Eastern Sierras and is therefore absolutely gorgeous. Plus, it has a rushing creek going through the middle of it, which by this point you probably know we're big fans of. There's a whole string of these cheap BLM spots up the Owens Valley that all seem pretty solid. We only stayed at this one, but the others seem worth checking out if you're in the area.

The biggest news of the past year if you're a health foodie in the Owens Valley is the opening of the Owens Valley Growers Co-op, which makes huge strides in fighting back the food desert that otherwise stretches between the last BJ's of Barstow and the resources farther north in Bishop. OVGC isn't a big fancy health food store or anything yet, but they've got all the bare essentials at shockingly good prices considering their location, some darn good produce (much of which is grown nearby), and a deli that uses clean ingredients. We can't wait to come back and see how their first year has been!

The folks at OVGC kindly recommended we stop by a couple places in Bishop while we were passing through. Manor Market was a great surprise as it masquerades as a regular mini-mart/gas station but actually houses all kinds of fantastic finds. From a small supply of natural body care, to organic chocolates and kombucha, to even a tiny supplement section! Blue Lupine specializes more in natural products, with a really nice open space decked out with lots of nutritional supplements, natural foods, and body care too. They took over the space of a health food store that had been in Bishop for decades, so they're carrying on the natural legacy there!

mammoth-lakes-sunset-eastern-sierraUp at Mammoth Lakes we visited Sierra Sundance Whole Foods to pick up some food staples including a few of their own prepared offerings which were super tasty. They had the best produce we'd seen since Utah too, with some local organic cherries and other local fruits and veggies that all looked really healthy and fresh.

We made a rare stop at the Vons just up the street to round out our kombucha selection too. If you haven't been there lately, Vons/Safeway have a range of kombuchas to rival many health food stores at this point. They even vary by location which is interesting and kind of fun. We've seen G.T. (including the classic black label ones), Humm, The Bu, KeVita Master Brew, Health-Ade, Búcha, and even some smaller local companies, not to mention their own private label kombucha too! 

A PCT through-hiker outside Vons referred us to some amazingly convenient and excellent dispersed camping nearby. The area doesn't have a name that we could find, so the best we can do is offer directions. When you're coming from the South, you exit for Mammoth Lakes and take the 203 West. To get to this camping area, instead of going West when you exit the highway, go East, and make that immediate first left. Follow that for a minute up to the next road which will be on your right, take that road (Antelope Springs Road if you have a map) and you're now following a route that has all kinds of offshoots and camping possibilities. The areas close to the electric plants are not Forest Service lands, so steer clear of those, but if you use your common sense you shouldn't have much trouble finding some place nice to set up camp.convict-lake-mountainsLess popular highlights to check out while you're in Mammoth are Convict Lake and the Hot Creek Geological Area. Convict Lake is a gorgeous alpine lake with an awesome hiking trail and picnic-able shore areas. The mountains surrounding it are breathtaking, and some of them have unbelievably complex layers of rock that pictures don't do justice.

hot-creek-geological-areaHot Creek Geological Area is a super strange spot, mostly because half of it is haphazardly blocked off due to the ground revealing itself to be too unstable, or scalding hot water being too close by. Other than that it's beautiful and not too crowded. The colors in some of the pools are glacial lake turquoise, and there's sections of the creek that aren't hot at all where we saw a fellow fishing!  

On the way to Reno we stopped in at Grass Roots Natural Market in South Lake Tahoe, and holy cow! This is a great health food store from all angles. Huge produce section with great prices and tons of local stuff, lots of independents in body care and supplements, and even a little 'lifestyle' section with clothes, hats, books, etc. The staff is so friendly, we got tips on some great hikes (Cascade Falls overlooking Emerald Bay, pictured below) and places to eat nearby, plus what some of their favorite products in the store were.

In Truckee on the other side of Lake Tahoe we visited New Moon Natural Foods, and holy cow again! This part of California/Nevada has some really exceptional health food stores, no joke. New Moon is right on par with Grass Roots, plus they've got a big deli and a fridge full of prepared foods (which are ever so important when you're on the road) plus they have a second location on the West shore of Lake Tahoe too!

lake-tahoe-emerald-bayReno may not be the first place you'd think about finding some of the country's best health food stores, but this blog is full of surprises, isn't it? In fact it isn't so strange when you realize that Reno is basically the staging area for Burning Man. Once the owner of Green Rush (a great little eco-lifestyle boutique in Reno) tipped us off to that fact, everything started to make sense. Green Rush is the place to go for all kinds of killer threads made from hemp and recycled materials, by the way.

Yep – in keeping with the quality we saw around Lake Tahoe, Reno keeps the stakes high with a broad enough selection of stores that we can only feature two for the sake of brevity: Great Basin Community Food Co-op and Truckee Meadow Herbs. These two stores have an interesting history together that you wouldn't know without talking to Tom, the owner of Truckee Meadow Herbs, who's seen a lot of change in Reno over the last 30 years, including in the health food scene. Great Basin Community Food Co-op used to be located right across from Truckee Meadow Herbs, way before Wild Oats, and then Whole Foods moved into town.

The co-op shut down for a while after Wild Oats sucked up all the business in the area, but was reborn in their current location and have been thriving ever since. It's no wonder; they've got an amazing two-story building with all kinds of awesome products, lots of local produce, kombucha from Tahoe on tap, and an upstairs that is loaded with some of the best natural beauty products and body care that you'll find anywhere in the country! 

On an unrelated note, Reno was one of the few places we didn't camp and actually got a hotel room, and even though we keep up on skincare on the road, it's hard to go through a full facial routine everyday. It felt amazing after weeks of camping to take a long hot bath and do a full Simply by Nature style facial routine: initial cleansing with our Face Wash to clear off dirt and oils, then a deep pore cleanse + mild exfoliation with Detox Face Mask, toning with Silver Rose Tonerwhile the toner is still moist adding C + E Serumthen once that's absorbed sealing the deal with Turmeric Daily Moisturizerso good.


From Reno it was over towards Mt. Shasta via a winding mountain route which took us through Portola, Quincy, and Greenville - all of which have great little health food stores themselves, though the one in Greenville (which is truly amazing on so many levels) is closing because the locals drive over an hour to the nearest supermarkets instead of shopping there! Support your local health food stores - and all your awesome local businesses! Without you they cannot survive, and it's only once they're gone that we often appreciate how incredibly valuable they were.

The route also took us by the Southern shores of Lake Almanor, which provided a great view of Mount Burney in the distance. This a beautiful and under-appreciated part of California. There is so much great nature here, as well as so many awesome co-ops and health food stores that it's dizzying. It's comforting to know you can go so far out from a major city and not have to resort to eating junk!  

Thanks for following our adventures! Make sure to pay some of these great places we mention a visit, both the nature and the shops, and stop by our list of retailers to see where you can find our products near you. Next up, we'll be reporting from Mt. Shasta, and the Northern California/Southern Oregon area - otherwise known as Jefferson. 

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