A Californian Odyssey with Caroline Clements and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon
Photography by Serafina LoGiacco & Dillon Seitchik-Reardon
This week on the Journal we’re exploring California with Caroline Clements and her partner Dillon Seitchik-Reardon. In 2018 the couple turned their love of adventure and wild-swimming into a book, ‘Places We Swim’, a guide to the absolute best spots to spend time in the water around Australia. More recently Caroline and Dillon released a second book focused solely on swimming in Sydney and its surrounds, this edition quickly became a trusted companion for many water loving Sydney-siders including us here at IN BED. When Caroline mentioned she was hitting the road again, this time to start compiling stories for a Californian version of Places We Swim, we were thrilled to tag along for the ride and get a glimpse of some of the incredible places the couple have been visiting. Our photographer Serafina LoGiacco spent a morning with Caroline, Dillion, and their adorable son Leo near Santa Barbara and we chatted to them about their travels, family reunions, and their favourite creature comforts away from home.
“At the moment we are exploring waterfalls and river gorges around Big Sur as we slowly make our way north on the PCH. It’s an incredible part of California and it feels like you could spend 30 years just getting to know this small stretch of coast and mountains.
We’ve got six months to explore California in a motor home with our two-year-old son Leo. We’re here researching our third book, Places We Swim California and also trying to catch up with friends and family that we haven’t seen since we were last in the US in 2018.”
Caroline photographed by Dillion at Budd Lake in Yosemite National Park.
“Highlights so far have been San Diego, Santa Cruz Island (off the coast of Ventura), driving through Big Sur and hiking Yosemite back country. We love the diversity that California offers. There is every imaginable kind of landscape – from Mediterranean beaches and southern deserts to temperate rainforests and redwoods, the fertile plains of the Central Valley and pristine high alpine. There is an abundance of different peoples and cultures. The way and pace of life change so drastically from place to place. It feels like a country and is not that big (by Aussie standards), so it’s easy to get to different places in a short amount of time.”
“We bought a 1994 motor home sight unseen on Facebook Marketplace. It was actually in remarkably good shape but we have spent a lot of the first month getting it road trip ready and settling in - installing solar panels, replacing old parts, making it our home, and generally getting it reliable enough that we can spend the next few months living comfortably.”
We bought a 1994 motor home sight unseen on Facebook Marketplace.
Caroline & Dillon’s table is set with an IN BED 100% linen table cloth in Navy Gingham.
“Adjusting to travelling with a two-year-old has been a challenge. Dillon and I have worked on two travel books together and have our systems worked out. We know how much we can do in a day. The biggest wild card with this project was doing it with a toddler, and it has been a big adjustment for all of us. We can’t do nearly as much as we could before. We need to take things at his pace, which has been good for us because it means we slow down a lot more. We don’t drive as much and we meet people everywhere - he engages with people constantly.”
Caroline photographed by Dillion during a trip in 2018.
Caroline: “My background is in writing and editing. I’ve worked as a freelance editor and producer for a few years now and prior to that have worked in and for publications. When I met Dillon, we started travelling together, away for weekends down the coast and further afield and began to document our travels a bit. Quite naturally our focus became about swimming. We’re not crazy swimmers, but we spend a bit of time in the water and are drawn to it. We live near the ocean and most of our travels are coastal. We’d both worked in book publishing before, and Dillon is an excellent writer and photographer. Together we thought we could put something together about swimming and make a fun trip around Australia about it. Turns out we’re not the only ones who like swimming in Australia. Dillon is originally from the US, so after our second book (Places We Swim Sydney) we thought we’d take on California.”
Dillon: “I came from an environmental science background and always worked in environmental adjacent jobs but always had a love for photography and storytelling. Gradually, that took over what I was doing. Even now, for Places We Swim, there is an environmental element – helping people to discover and enjoy new environments so that they can connect with nature and understand why we need to protect these wild places.”
“It makes a difference to have a few nice things with you when you travel a lot. When we are in a van or RV we always bring our beautiful IN BED linen and towels. It’s these quality items that make you excited to get back into your bed in your motorhome. It makes you feel more comfortable and more at home.”
“We’ve noticed that we both sleep better when we are away and living on the road. For one, there is a lot less stimulation than the cities. It’s a simpler life. We also both really enjoy planning our meals and shopping for it in different places. On the road, cooking is a part of the day we look forward to. It’s nice being considerate about your meals. Somehow you don’t always have this time and structure in the city.”
We’ve noticed that we both sleep better when we are away and living on the road. For one, there is a lot less stimulation than the cities. It’s a simpler life.
Caroline photographed by Dillion post-swim with an IN BED Organic Cotton Towel in Khaki Stripe.
“Ultimately, any kind of travel can give you a fresh take on where you live, and often a better perspective. It makes you appreciate your home and what is good about it. Or maybe it makes you realise you don’t like your home anymore and it’s time to move, that’s great too.”
Pt Dume in Malibu photographed by Dillon.
“The next book is all about California! It’s still very much about the best places to swim but it’s also about celebrating the outdoors and adventures and really looking at that uniquely Californian way of experiencing wilderness.”
“Our process begins long before we actually visit our destinations. We’ve been working on our list of places to visit for months before we left Sydney for the US. Our research involves chatting to people who have done similar trips and people who live in places we are visiting. Local knowledge is always so important. Places We Swim is about getting to the crux of what locals are doing, where they swim and have a coffee afterwards, how people travel and where they want to go next. We also do tons of web searches, read other guidebooks and scower Google Earth to find promising places.”
“When we arrive, our job is to visit places, experience them, chat to people we meet along the way, and efficiently decide if they make the PWS cut. They need to be crazy beautiful, safe in most conditions, relatively accessible to most people and make you want to return again and again.”
On their favourite places to swim in California the couple have an affinity for the pristine nature of the Sierra Nevada ranges, pictured above.
“The Sierra Nevadas are so different from what we have in Australia or even anywhere else in the world. Granite mountains and untouched watersheds as far as the eye can see. The water is so clean that we literally find ourselves drinking it as we swim. If you are willing to do a little bit of work to get there than the reward is immense. We can’t wait to share our favourite places with people in our next book, out 2024.”
The Sierra Nevadas are so different from what we have in Australia or even anywhere else in the world.
“The longer you are away, the longer it takes to settle into your new life. We’ve done a lot of logistics at the start of our trip and we’ve got to the point where we all feel comfortable and ready for whatever the road brings. We’re excited to spend Thanksgiving with family. It’s something we celebrate with friends in Australia, but it will be fun to have that experience with family in the US.”
“If all goes well, we are hoping to fit in a little trip down to Mexico at the end of the year. It’s one of our favourite countries in the world and we can’t imagine getting so close and not making the pilgrimage south. A lot to look forward to and we feel super lucky to have this time together.”