Who are we? We’re nobody really. Just explorers full of curiosity. We’re Shelby and Averi, a pair of cousins inspired since childhood by our dads, who were in turn inspired by the fascinating world around them. That world happens to be the Great Basin–the vast, sparsely inhabited desert landscape spanning Nevada and western Utah, home to endless hidden treasures and historical relics. And we still live here with these expansive outdoor adventures right at out fingertips! Now we are grown, and have taken it upon ourselves to document our memories and present travels of the Great Basin in a way that others can experience each encounter in intimate detail, almost like being on the adventure too.
Shelby (Crockett) Aston:
An adventurer at heart, whenever my dad, Dave, would pack up for a camping trip somewhere down the road to nowhere, I’d beg to go with. Sometimes I got to. Sometimes it was too dangerous, or a guys-only thing–you know, open mine shafts, rattlesnakes. Scouts, and men wishing to be boys again…Understandable. I was a little girl with a bold heart and a fragile young body. But I still felt like I had missed out every time.
Those feelings didn’t fade, either. So here I am, 24 years old, resident of southern Utah, recent graduate with my BFA in Illustration and Biology. And is it a relevant job that I desire most of all? No!…I mean, it wouldn’t hurt anything, but I believe it would still be only a means to meet my real desire: Adventure! At this point in life, many people my age would drop everything, spend their life savings, and go backpacking through Europe. I’m not saying that doesn’t sound amazing, but what about the opportunities here? So much I haven’t yet seen, so much I want to see again before it fades away, all right here in the Great Basin. How can I aspire to something as big as circumnavigating the globe, or space travel, when I’ve barely tasted the adventure of right here, right now?
Now I have a husband, Richard, to adventure alongside me, as well as my sister and brothers, parent, cousins, and more nearby. Together, we can share in the recreation of memories of Exploring the Great Basin. The resulting experiences will be posted here. My future posts will tell our stories through illustrations, accompanied by written narratives, old and new photos, and finds from the adventures. Look for my future posts for real adventure storytelling as you’ve never seen before.”
“My favorite photo of myself was taken when I was about one year old. I am sitting on the lawn in a frilly dress, looking like a china doll with my red curls and impossibly chubby cheeks. I’ll admit that I’m adorable, but what makes this my favorite photo is not the cute factor, but rather the juxtaposition of a huge gopher snake which I clutch in one fist as it wraps itself around my chunky baby thighs. The gopher snake was a present from my dad, Ryan, and while some people may find the thought of a father handing his baby daughter a live snake bigger than herself unsettling, I see it as an illustration of the way my dad has taught me to find the beauty in things misunderstood. He always encouraged me to keep an open mind and to look below the surface of popular opinion, and just as he taught me to love a misunderstood reptile, he also taught me to love a misunderstood landscape—the Great Basin. On our camping trips with my Uncle Dave and my cousins we found beauty and adventure in a place that many people see as nothing but a boring stretch of sagebrush on the way to California. Some of my most significant childhood memories are of exploring the mountains, springs, caves, and ghost towns of the Great Basin, oases in a desert landscape that I have come to find beautiful. My philosophy in life is that every person, place, and creature can be interesting and beautiful if looked at from the right angle, and art in its various forms can be one of the best ways to view and communicate this beauty. As a recent graduate with a BA in English, the art form that comes most naturally to me is the written word, and as I explore and re-explore the Great Basin with the cousin I shared my adventures with as a child, I hope to communicate through my writing the beauty of this place that is often misunderstood.”