Meet Josh McNair of California Through My Lens

I discovered Josh McNair’s blog California Through My Lens just over three years ago, as I was beginning to write my own blog. It was the first time I felt like I was part of a greater community of hard working people who wanted to make the most of their weekends. Today I’m proud to call Josh a friend, and his boundless passion for adventure continues to be an inspiration.

Check out the interview below for a few of Josh’s favorite places and his simple advice on how to reinvent your weekend. Then head over to California Through My Lens, and let the planning begin!

Tell us about yourself!

My name is Josh and am a 29 year old passionate adventurer and occasional artist. I love to travel and am obsessed with seeing the world through my own eyes. I am most at home driving anywhere that is not the city I live in with my wife and my bulldog Bob Dylan.

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What inspired you to create CaliforniaThroughMyLens.com?

I was in a place where I was doing a lot of writing, video and photography for other people and I really wanted to create something that I was passionate about and that was mine. I started out creating a generic photo blog but quickly realized I didn’t travel enough nor was I good enough at photography to stick out. This lead me to the idea of a niche site that was just the state I lived in and would allow me to travel easily and cheaply on weekends to see what was close to me. It ended up being a unique enough idea that the blog quickly took off and today I get emails from people all over the world planning their trip to Califonia through my site. It is truly a humbling experience.

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How do you manage to balance a full time job with blogging and adventures?

That is the golden question. I get emails all the time with people saying they wished they had as much time and money as I do so they could travel as well. I love being able to tell them that I currently have two jobs and work over 50 hours a week. The difference is that when I have free time I am not one to sit around, I usually just go somewhere and try and make the most of it.

Literally anyone can do these adventures with a family or on their own if they just decide to give it a try. I am a firm believer in exploring over watching Netflix. Sometimes my wife tells me that I need to relax more, but we only get one life so why wouldn’t you want to see as much as you can? Whether it is an hour hiking in your town, a half day drive to the mountains or a full day trip on the metro to LA, life is too short not to see the things that are around you. I guarantee you will remember those adventures more then a day at home.

I’m sure it’s hard to choose just one, so what are your top 3 favorite adventures in California?

Oh man I don’t know how to pick just 3 but these are the first that come to mind.

  • Hiking Half dome – This iconic rock in Yosemite was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life and the views were amazing.
  • Mojave National Preserve – I love exploring this area and have come back many times. It is so barren but there is so much unique stuff here. I can’t recommend it more.
  • McArthur-Burney Falls – This waterfall will blow your mind. I couldn’t believe it was in California. Its way up in the North part of the state but it is worth the trip.
  • Honorable Mention – Anything on my weird stuff list. I have so much fun trying to find new things to add to this and while none stick out at the moment, there are tons of unique spots on it.

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Since you also blog about places to eat and drink, what’s the strangest thing you’ve ever tried?

I love unique food, that is a soft spot for me. It has definitely left me with a few sick stomachs but you can do anything once, right? In Ethiopia I once at raw beef which I’m glad I survived but in California I would probably say it was Crazee burger in San Diego where I ate kangaroo, alligator and antelope burgers. Neither were particularly good. Surfing Donuts has a maple donut which they use to make a breakfast sandwich (bacon, eggs, cheese, etc), I would say that is unique and good as well.

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Do you have any advice for other 9-5ers who crave adventure?

Like I said above just get out and do something. In Riverside we have Mt Rubidoux which is a beautiful and easy to hike mountain that you can easily do it after work. I still know lots of people that have never done and have lived here for decades. Just don’t be afraid to fill the car up with gas and go on a drive. Make a deal with yourself not to have a weekend end without a unique intstagram picture. Adventure doesn’t have to be expensive, you can hike and explore all over California for free and if you get a few friends to split gas and make a PB & J then you can have an awesome experience for less then 20 bucks.

What is your favorite new piece of gear to take on your adventures?

I am a camera nut so all my gear money is invested in that stuff. I recently got a drone that I can attach my GoPro too and that has been a lot of fun to mess with.

What is one new activity you’ve tried recently that you can’t wait to do again?

Ziplining or star trail photography. I ziplined with Big Pines in Wrightwood, and it was amazing. Here is a video.

I also spent a weekend doing night photography with my buddy Zac and got into taking these star trail photos they take a long time to get right but I can’t wait to do more, here is an example.

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Would you ever want to live somewhere else, domestic or international?

I literally want to go anywhere I haven’t been before. My wife and I try to plan one trip a year that’s more intense. We don’t have a car payment and save all our money for that trip each year. Last year it was India and Nepal and the year before it was Spain and the Camino de Santiago. I don’t even care where it is this year as long as it is somewhere I haven’t been. You can read about those adventures at this blog.

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The perfect s’more:

Graham cracker, marshmallow (not burnt but gently goldened) and a Reese’s, the peanut butter is next level.

Where to next?

Planning my Northern California PCH trip would be the big one but who knows it could be a simple hike up Mt Rubidoux next week.

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For more inspiration, visit CaliforniaThroughMyLens.com, and follow Josh’s adventures on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Photos © 2014 Josh McNair



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