Ready, Set, Go!

A few days before departure I finally started to get a bit “excited” about the trip. I know that sounds strange, as we had been planning for months! But maybe because we HAD been planning for months, “working on the trip plans” became almost “routine,” and I didn’t allow myself the luxury of getting really excited about it until now.

We were pretty well prepared for departure with a solid and detailed “roadmap.” Actually we had lots and lots of road maps–one for almost every state we would be driving through, plus a detailed street atlas of the USA, plus the specific Route 66 map set, plus topo maps of the deserts, plus two briefing books with turn by turn directions– and I was trying to decide if i should bring my GPS (though it is actually for aviation, and I would have to buy some kind of road map update, so was not sure it was worth taking–I mean how lost can we really get with all those maps, right!!!!!)

And in addition to all the maps, we had a program outline, a timeline (which I hesitate to call a “schedule” because that sounds like we were locked into it, and we did our best to leave enough flexibility while still creating a plan that would get us there and back again in the allotted timeframe), and a resource list. We had all our backcountry permits, and everything that needed to be reserved, was. In terms of supplies and equipment, we had most of what we need in our staging area here in the dining room. With the arrival of Cactus Killer and Silly Squirrel from Paris, we were finally ready to ride freedom’s road!


The trip was already having a profound impact on me — and we hadn’t even left NY yet!

I always knew that this trip would be about more than just re-discovering America, it would also be about re-discovering ourselves. For me, personally, I think that was tied up with my relation to the image–as an artist, a photographer, a videographer, a filmmaker–defining reality thru imagery has always been central to my personal and professional evolution.

Over the years I adapted to changes in technology, changes in economic realities, and changes in my own view of the impact I could make thru imagery. It was roughly ten years ago that I stopped making photographs (well, anything beyond the odd snapshot with my phone or a throw-away camera on family occasions), replacing my Nikons with a Sony video camera, and following the superior storytelling opportunities offered by the documentary film format. That choice was influenced by many things, and I remained pleased with the work I continued to do as a filmmaker. But… The siren song of the still image had never truly dissipated. And the potential for imagery offered by this trip was too powerful. So I took the leap, purchasing a new Nikon digital SLR, so I could treat myself to a rediscovery of this old companion, while we roamed the backroads of America.


Our bon voyage sendoff was a giant fourth-of-july Fireworks show, complete with BBQ and drinks on the terrace.

The next day NY was hit with a rare heatwave, and It felt like we were practicing for Death Valley! The morning seemed innocent enough–warm and sunny–a typical July day. We practiced putting up the tent (it wasn’t yet QUITE that hot). But by late afternoon the heat was so bad that even I went into the pool (an extremely rare occurrence). It was 106 degrees on Long Island!

We were hot! The Jeep was hot! Everyone and everything was hot! Time to go…


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