The Weekenders | Canvas + Cosmos

4/25/2015 | Amy Tibbals
Jess Downer & Renata Stone, Big Bear Photo Co.


Story & Photos by: Jess Downer, Renata Stone

We live in the wonderful and terrifying age of online social connection. Our newfound digital entanglement has improved millions of lives in ways both big and small, from renewing that long-lost, high school friendship to catalyzing nations of people in revolution against political oppression. But it also has the power to dim our lives and divide us. You know what we're talking about. John and Heidi posting another infuriating round of pictures from their annual dream vacation; this time to Machu Pichu. Another high-and-to-the-left photo of Anna, who has cheekbones like Gisele f-ing Bundchen and ages slower than a vampire. Oh, and look at Marianne's latest crafting session with the kids -- this time it's a seven foot long pirate ship made out of cardboard?!? And it didn't even make a mess?!? How wonderful.

Selfies. Humble brags. #winning. #blessed.

Everyday we're confronted with the best parts of each other's lives. All of the highlights. None of the garbage. We feel inadequate, like we never make enough money, we're not thin enough, we don't do enough cool shit. It's always been this way, but now we have a vibrant, high-volume feed of it straight to our person at all times. Is this story supposed to be about some trip to Moab? Yes, it is. But it's also more than that. What we're about to show you encapsulates what this COLLECTIVE is about, but is easily misunderstood: affordable luxury. Beauty is the object of our COLLECTIVE desire; in all her forms. But beauty and luxury don't have to be exclusive domains of the elite. We seek to present to you through this very blog a ceaseless stream of beauty to soak in. We do this not to instill jealousy, but to enrapture you with inspiration. You can afford an amazing space on your budget. It is possible to create that successful, custom-motorcycle business in this beehive state. There are top-notch meals and craft cocktails to be had right here in our lovely city. You can have a dream vacay within a few hours of home.

But make no mistake: beauty, like all good things, requires hard work. The Weekenders presented below was no exception. The research, the preparation, the cooking, and cleaning…at times as exhausting as it was soul-quenching. We do not shy away from describing it as beautiful, but we can also proudly present it as a shining example of beauty that is affordable, accessible, and very real. We sincerely hope this edition of the Weekenders inspires you. We hope that this feature, as well as every feature you see on our website, leaves you with no room in your heart for anything but a raw lust to create beautiful things. And a renewed spirit to fulfill it.


MOAB, UT, 4 hours: Tucked in a breathtaking pocket of Utah (what pocket isn't?), Moab is the gateway to some of the most spectacular desert marvels this country has to offer. It's just a handful of miles from two national Parks (Arches and Canyonlands), each of which could require weeks to adequately explore. What's more, a brief drive in any direction from Moab will have you lounging on the beach of a river, weaving your way through fields of boulders, or perched on a cliffside soaking up desert vistas. Spring is the perfect time to enjoy it. Wake up to brisk mornings, but strip down the bare essentials by lunch time. Then huddle 'round a toasty campfire in the dark.

Check In: Moab Under Canvas13784 US-191, Moab, UT -- This is the epitome of affordable luxury right here. With tipis at $89 per night and Deluxe Safari Tents at $289, such a unique experience is rarely so accessible. Tipis come stocked with cots, bedding, and charm, and the range of amenities goes up from there: beds, wood-burning stoves, a private in-tent restroom, or your own deck with a front-row view of Arches…you pick. Available for everyone, regardless of tent choice: access to outdoor cooking facilities, a fire ring, well-kept restrooms, a hot cup of coffee in the morning, and the friendliest and most helpful staff on the planet.

Eat Out: The only "out" you'll be eating at is under them stars. You could drive 10 minutes into Moab and have an array of options available to you…but why would you do that when you have an open fire, a cast-iron skillet, and a firestorm of afternoon light reflecting off the sandstone cliffs around you? Just pack up old, green Coleman nice and tight with plenty of ice, meat, snacks, and beer. Instructions: open, prepare, enjoy.

Spend Pesos: No need, friends. If you're going to spend some extra pesos, spend them on the details to make your stay one to remember. In our case that was home-sewn napkins with fabric sourced from, metal mugs from Amazon, and plates made from small, used pizza tins. God is in the details.

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