Photos and words by Teva Explorer Kate Rentz.
I grew up listening to all different types of music, but country has always been the genre that makes me feel the most carefree and nostalgic — I grew up on a small pig farm in Ohio and my grandparents are from Appalachia, so I guess that makes sense. When I found out I was going to Stagecoach Music Festival, I was super pumped to see some of my favorite country artists — Garth Brooks and Dwight Yoakam — but I was equally excited to embrace the lifestyle of country music outside the festival.
We rented a small cabin just outside of Palm Springs, California, nestled between the base of the San Jacinto Mountains and the Coachella Valley. We started each morning by eating a hearty breakfast beneath two Chinese Elm trees growing behind our cabin. We took our time afterward to lounge around in the shade, listening to Randy Travis and Colter Wall.
We took time to explore the portion of the Pacific Crest Trail that runs through the mountains nearby, filled with jackrabbits and lizards and wind that whipped around us as we climbed from rock to rock. Before we knew it, it was time to head into the festival, a different kind of landscape filled with pickup trucks and American flags. We had an amazing experience watching sets from Kacey Musgraves and Keith Urban, surrounded by fans who knew every word to every song.
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The next day, we drove to Smoke Tree Stables in Palm Springs to go horseback riding. When I was growing up, riding horses was everything and even though I was never an excellent rider, I always loved to ride on trails and even gave barrel racing a shot. When I saddled up at Smoke Tree I felt strong and confident, and as we rode through the washouts and canyons, I reflected on my life growing up in the country.
I suddenly felt so connected to where I came from — a place where people work hard, life is simple, and family means everything. As we finished our ride and I hopped off my horse, I embraced the nostalgic, carefree, and childlike side that country music pulls out of me and headed into the final night of the festival. I felt right at home.