Hipcamper of the Week: Ritzelle Cayabyab

Each week we’re highlighting you—our Hipcamp community members who make time for nature and inspire us to get outside. Ritzelle—but you can call her Ritz—is a creative designer and art director based in Los Angeles who find boundless inspiration in nature. It’s no wonder she was drawn to two of the most unique and design-oriented campsites on Hipcamp! Thanks for sharing your creative energies with us, Ritz!

Share your adventures with #Hipcamp to be featured next! (Plus, win spontaneous Hipcamp swag.)

You’ve been to two really unique Hipcamps, Blue Sky Center and Private Beach Farm. What drew you to these places?

I’ve only camped in the mountains so both Hipcamp spots were different types of camping experiences I wanted to try out. The Shelton Huts and the overall concept and mission of the Blue Sky Center is what drew me to that site. The huts are just really fun and unique—I’ve never stayed in anything like it before and I really appreciated how they’re both simple yet architectural in design. As for the Private Beach Farm, I have a little obsession with plants so that was a no-brainer. How do you say no to a greenhouse and beach all to yourself, plus the company of a llama and a wood-fired pizza oven? I’d have to say it was one of the best and unexpected finds.

Private Beach Farm, Goleta, CA

As a designer, how are you inspired by nature? What about nature sparks your creative energy?
Nature is the source of endless inspiration—it’s where I look to for color, texture, shape, symmetry, and pattern. Being physically present in nature is like a reset button, which is what we all need time to time. Sometimes you feel stuck or get caught up in a mundane routine, so being outside and away from time to time helps break that feeling.

You’ve once said, “nature can be grotesque and exquisite at the same time.” Can you explain more about what you mean here? How does that juxtaposition play into your work and life?
At the Private Beach Farm my boyfriend and I walked down to the beach and there were these rock formations covered in clusters of mussels. The dark color and sharp shapes felt ominous and alien-like. But once you take a step back and look at it in the right light you appreciate the beautiful quality of the texture and its coexistence with other elements around it. I feel like this juxtaposition plays well into almost anything–relationships, planning a dinner, working on an art piece—the details of all those things may not always be pretty but if you appreciate the journey, process, or result as a whole in the right light it can be something quite exquisite.

What’s important to you about decompressing? When do you know it’s time to decompress and get into nature?
Being mindful and present. These days, being a professional and an adult (yes–two, separate, not-so-easy things) requires a lot of physical and mental energy, especially if one (like myself) has the tendencies to multi-task, overthink, and be a perfectionist. It’s very easy to get caught up in the chaos so decompressing helps me slow down, think about what’s truly important, and recognize the beauty of what’s in front of me. As an art director/designer, I’m stuck inside at my desk for most of the day and as much as I love being around my friends and family I also value time to myself. So I know I need to decompress and get into nature when I’ve had a marathon of projects or social engagements.

Tell us about your trip to the Biosphere 2 in Arizona. (Give some background to folks who may not be familiar with this place, too!)

The Biopshere 2 is a massive, science facility that houses several replicated ecosystems such as a rainforest, a desert, and an ocean. The original intention of its use was to test if we could live in a self-sustaining environment that would thrive not just on Earth but other planets as well. The scientists who took part of this enclosed, 2-year experiment completed the mission but was considered unsuccessful due to the low oxygen levels and food production. Now it’s currently being used for controlled scientific research and educational purposes.

My interest in environmental stewardship has grown over the last few years–and what has particularly piqued my interest are self-sustaining environments and communities–which is what brought me to visiting Biosphere 2. I was overwhelmed (in a good way!) at the size of the structure and campus and was thoroughly impressed by how it’s been maintained over the past few decades. One minute you’re walking in a humid rainforest, and the next you’re in a windy desert. Then, you’re in the basement–called the Technosphere–where all the magic happens to help run the Biosphere 2. Our guide was excellent and dropped major knowledge bombs–for example–did you know if Earth was a business and monetized her resources, each human would have to pay $1.5 million per year to live on the planet? It puts a lot into perspective of how much we’ve been taking advantage of our “free” resources and hopefully encourages everyone to help sustain and protect the place we breathe and live in.

What’s your absolute favorite thing about camping?
Besides the beauty of the outdoors and the adventure aspect, what I absolutely love about camping is the simplicity of it. You are stripped down to very basic shelter, limited supplies and resources, and (hopefully) someone or a few people you care to spend a lot of time with for the next few days. It gives you a sense of what you truly need and how to appreciate the things we take for granted. It’s definitely a nice change of scenery when you’re watching the stars at night vs. watching tv, or hearing all the animals at night vs. the white noise of city life.

Blue Sky Center, New Cuyama, CA

Camp where Ritz has camped:

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