Matt & Janet's Existential Journey

Starting in May 22nd, 2016 Janet and I will be spending 10 weeks traveling to national parks across the western US and driving up the California coas. Check here to follow our journey.

So, how did this come about? Well, Janet and I were driving across Michigan on our way to a photo shoot, when the passing scenery and relaxing drive got it in my head that it would be great to be able to drive cross country from place to place taking photos of the countryside as we went. We'd drive for a while until we found someplace beautiful, then move on to the next place a few days later. Imagine the freedom of the road, breaking free from the day to day monotony so many of us call our lives.

For a long time that dream was just that, a dream. We have jobs, a house, pets, responsibilities, and no reasonable means to walk away from any of it. So the dream became a fantasy to occupy my time, and give me something fun to think about. I did research, scoured the internet, joined online forums, followed blogs, plotted routes across the country, crunched numbers and planned out the trip of a lifetime as if all of those things that were holding us back didn't exist.

I learned that many people are out there living that dream, living on the road out of their cars. Some are full-timers, while others travel a few months at a time, save up for a few months then hit the road again. And I'm not talking about people who are homeless or destitute, these are people willingly breaking free from the bonds of how society says we should live, and they are living happier lives as a result. It's really inspiring. I started to think, "Maybe we can do this after all."

So I hunkered down and tried to figure out how we could manage this through using our savings, working remotely and being frugal. I had a 12 month trip planned out. As financial realities kicked in, that trip went down 6 months, then 5 months, and is now down to 10 weeks. It's not the grand adventure we were aiming for, but we hope that it will be enough to open our lives to a whole new world, and present us with opportunities to change our lives. With any luck, it will better our lives and take my photography to a level that will allow me to make a living doing what I love.

Here is our route.

We'll be traveling across the country in our 2008 Hyundai Elantra, staying at low cost hotels, AirBnBs, campgrounds, and with generous friends like you. The entire trip will take us about 10,000 miles round trip with an estimated price tag of about $6,200.

Here is a list of where we will be going and the parks and attractions we will be photographing:

We will be focusing on photographing National Parks and the California coast, but we will also be photographing many spectacular waterfalls along the way, and may offer a fifth set of postcards and a second calendar focused on those waterfalls.

Colorado The first leg of our trip will take us to Colorado where we will be visiting the Garden of the Gods, then driving to the 14,114' summit of Pikes Peak – the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. From there will will be visiting Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park which gets it's name because it is so deep and narrow the sun rarely reaches the bottom. At it's deepest point you could stack the Empire State Building and the Sears Tower on top of each other and they would not reach the rim. From there we visit Mesa Verde National Park which has some of the best preserved Ancestral Puebloan archeological sites in the United States.

Utah The second leg of the trip takes us through the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument to five of our nations most beautiful national parks: Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and then Zion National Park. These 5 parks make up some of the most beautiful landscape in the United States.

Arizona Stage 3 of our trip will take us to the Grand Canyon where we will be exploring and photographing the south rim of the park. From there, we go south into Sedona where I will be taking advantage of their lack of light pollution to take some beautiful photos of the night sky. We will also be visiting such natural wonders as Tuzigoot National Monument, Montezuma Castle National Monument and Montezuma Well. We will also be hiking to Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock.

California Then we head west to California where we'll spend our first few days exploring Hollywood and the surrounding hills. The it's off to the coast where we will spend nearly 3 weeks driving up route 1, photographing the Big Sur Coast, numerous waterfalls, Point Lobos, 17-Mile Drive, Samual P Tayor State Park, Alamere Falls, Bodega Bay (where The Birds was filmed), the Sonoma Coast, Hearst Castle, Bowling Ball Beach, Glass Beach, Avenue of the Giantsredwood forest, Trees of Mystery and Jedediah Smith Redwoods to name just the highlights.

Oregon From there we will wrap up the photography leg of the trip in Oregon where we will spend a week photographing the spectacular waterfalls along the North Umpqua river and the waterfalls along the Columbia river east of Portland. From there we head east into Montana to visit friends and possibly take a short excursion into Glacier National Park.

We have hundreds of photo opportunities mapped out that are far to many to mention, but here are some snapshot of our Community Walk Map that shows all of the places we are visiting.

Here are a few maps that show where we will be stopping. I might post the full interactive map at some point, but right now it has a lot of extra stuff on it along with some personal information of friends and family, so you will have to settle for these for now.

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