In my previous post I talked about my quarter life crisis and decision to hit the road. That road trip in the fall of 2015 was to test the waters, to see if I could actually live out of my car and be alone for long stretches of time. I considered it to be a success and decided to hit the road full time in the spring. A few things needed to change though, the most important being the vehicle I was towing my little teardrop camper with. As much as I loved the little orange Subaru Crosstrek, it suffered towing the camper, especially up long western mountain passes. So in January I traded in the Crosstrek for a brand spanking new Outback. Although the Outback isn't much more powerful, it has more torque and the engine cooling system is more efficient, both of which are important for towing.
In addition to photographing for Farm to Feet socks I secured another contract with Rumpl, a lightweight outdoor blanket company. They sent me two blankets to shoot, both of which fit perfectly inside the camper!
It was now time. After photographing a big winter wedding and a large assignment for Downeast Magazine, I said goodbye to family and friends and handed in the keys to my apartment. I sold or gave away most of my material possessions. I was officially living in my car. I had no place to return to if I got lonely or decided I didn't want to live on the road.
The first order of business was to put some miles behind me so I could get out of the crowded northeast, day one involved driving to just outside of Philadelphia to visit with my friends Katie and Sean. Fun fact: Driving a trailer over the George Washington bridge outside of NYC costs an arm and a leg. No seriously. It was a $45 toll.
After thanking Katie and Sean for their hospitality and a warm meal I continued south to Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway (also known as Skyline Drive). I'd heard about the Blue Ridge but was not prepared for it's beauty. The weather was getting warm, the leaves were coming out and I had the windows down and the folk music cranked. I was thoroughly enjoying myself. It was in those early miles on the Blue Ridge Parkway that I knew living in my car and heading out on the road had been the right decision.
Further south I hit Smokey Mountain National Park and went for a long run on the Appalachian Trail.
After the Smokies I headed west. Those of you that know me know I'm a huge history buff and although the American South doesn't have the scenic beauty of other places it is steeped in history, so on my way west I decided to stop at Tennessee's Shiloh Battlefield, the scene of one of the bloodiest days in the American Civil War.
After Shiloh, I continued on through Alabama and took the Natchez Trace Parkway most of the way across Mississippi and into Luisiana.
After my first trip to the southwest and realizing I needed a new car, I got in touch with a another great teardrop towing photographer, Mandy Lea, to see what vehicle she was using. If you don't follow Mandy, please do, her story is incredible. While I lived on the road in a teardrop for 6 months, she has been living in hers full time for a couple of years.
I met Mandy for the first time in person in Austin, Texas and we decided to travel together for a couple of weeks, Mandy in her teardrop and me in mine. It was great to have someone to talk to again and even better having another photographer to push me to shoot.
Mandy and I headed to the remote desert of West Texas, specifically Big Bend National Park. Again, I was blown away by a state that I hadn't really thought much about. Big Bend's remote, stark beauty was one highlight of the trip and completely unexpected.
From Big Bend, we headed for yet another National Park, Guadeloupe Mountains, so I could hike to the highest point in Texas. Along the way we stopped in Marfa, a unique town known for its installation art piece, a fake Prada store, meant to be a comment on our consumer society.
On to the Guadelupe Mountains. My goal with hitting this park was to climb the highest point in Texas, Guadelupe Peak!
It is interesting to note that two weeks prior to this moment, I was on assignment in northern Maine at the Canadian border post, and now I find myself looking out into Mexico from the highest point in Texas.
The final stop with Mandy as my traveling companion was in southern New Mexico, White Sands National Monument. White Sands was yet another beautiful surprise, a place you don't hear much about but struck me by its stark and minimalist beauty.
I photographed at White Sands at both sunrise and sunset and I found sunset to be a much better experience. After a couple of days having fun on the Dunes, Mandy left to head back to Austin and I continued north. Next stop, Santa Fe!