Our journey across the United States took us 179 days. Over 12000 Miles. 700 gallons of fuel. 3 gearboxes. Having now spent 3 months enjoying everything Mexico has to offer and with time to reflect on our time there I wanted to take those numbers and reduce them down to a selection of images and memories.
These will not be the best pictures, not the most incredible landscapes or the Land Cruiser off road. They are the more candid shots that I feel represent us, our way of travel and our life while on the road in the United States of America.
One: Arrivals, Maryland.
It was our first full day in the USA. Years of planning and preparation had led us to this moment. Our vehicles were on a ship and imminently about to touch ground. The hound and ourselves were eagerly awaiting their arrival.
After an early start to the day and a good deal of sight seeing, we decided to hit a bar and celebrate our arrival in true British fashion. This image was taken in the bar as we laughed and joked all afternoon, and captures, for me, the memory of pure happiness and excitement that we all felt on that day.
Two: Spontaneity, Virginia
Virginia was the first state that we traveled in properly, our first experience of travel with the vehicles in the US. We stayed in paid campsites for the first few days while we found our feet until one day we were driving through the small town of Harrisonburg. We had liked the look of the town so stopped for lunch in a small cafe on route to our next destination. We Immediately realised that we loved the relaxed and liberal feel of the town, so decided we would like to spend the night. Quickly we managed to find a quiet car park that we felt would be a reasonable place to spend the night and went out to enjoy some great food, some excellent locally brewed beer and to meet some fun and engaging locals.
Stopping here was our first glimpse of the small town America that would come to define the highlights of our trip, but moreover, it was the first taste of the spontaneity and freedom that travel by vehicle can so uniquely afford.
This picture was taken mid afternoon, not long after we had parked the vehicles, when we took a chance the give Follow the Hound some free publicity on a chalk board in the town centre.
Three: Pilgrimage, Tennessee
For myself at least, Tennessee was the culmination of a country music pilgrimage. A journey to the places told to me in the lyrics of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. Nashville was awesome, but the pilgrimage culminated standing on the hallowed ground of Sun Studios, where Johnny Cash (and to a lesser extent, Elvis) recorded their first songs.
Later we visited the live blues bars of the famous Beale Street and whist listening to some incredible music and enjoying a famous local cocktail, we passionately debated the history of music and its greatest influencers.
Four: Night, Louisiana
New Orleans was a highlight of the trip. The vibrance of its culture, food, cuisine and architecture all elevated it to a place high in our memories. It is no secret that amongst its many assets, the nightlife of New Orleans is the stuff of legend. So I chose this image to represent our time there.
Five: Cooking, Louisiana
There are highs and lows in life and these often make for the best stories or the most prevalent memories. In between is the mundane, the day to day ins and outs of life that are vital, and easily forgotten.
Amongst many things, cooking on the road often took a great deal of our time. It is time rarely begrudged, and the meals are often amongst the best ever eaten. I have chosen to include this image of pots cooking atop the wood burning stove in a Louisiana forest to represent this side of our lifestyle.
Six: Exploring, Arkansas.
This life is about exploring. It is about finding your own path through new and exciting places. In some areas this means pushing yourself and your vehicle to the limit, finding out how far, how long and how remote you can go.
In the old spa town of Hot Springs, Arkansas, this meant exploring one of the many abandoned and once grandiose 1920s casinos or hotels.
Seven: Hound, Kansas.
There would be no way to collate images that capture our trip without including one of the eponymous hound. I chose this image of him, shortly after he had came off worse in a fight with a skunk in Dodge City, Kansas. I felt that it captures his unique way of finding a way to get himself and us into the most strange trouble that can be found.
Eight: Road, Colorado.
This is a road trip on a monumental scale. If not cooking, exploring, sleeping or relaxing, we are driving. In the USA this can mean slogging miles on nondescript highways, grinding down long and winding dirt roads, or driving uninterrupted mountain roads with views more spectacular around every turn.
This image was taken after the longest solid drive we had done, crossing the dustbowl of Kansas in a single day. We had finally wound up to the mountains and crossed into Colorado, where we drove a straight and silent road across its first high plain. As thunder clouds rolled in, in the distance, we took a well deserved break to admire our surroundings and capture a few images that represented the solitude and diversity that the road can offer.
Nine: Playing, Colorado.
Seeing new and exciting things on a daily basis is engaging and rewarding and it changes the way that you interact with these destinations. One day you may sit in awe, the next you find a reason to regress to childhood and play amongst your new surroundings.
We were in a windswept plain in the rockies and near where we were camping was the ruins of an old settlement. While we had seen incredible things already, I remember this was the first time I felt we were somewhere truly new and unique. Somewhere totally different to what I had already known. Our reaction to this, was to climb, throw and play amongst this landscape and this image captures the feeling of that day.
Ten: Shelter, Colorado.
Life from the back of a vehicle presents a unique set of challenges. Not least of these involves attempting to stay warm and dry when the weather is not on your side. Whilst having vehicle problems high in the Rocky mountains, we experienced this challenge to its fullest effect.
The mountain wind rushed across the plain, bringing with it heavy rains and biting cold. The wind did its best to destroy our awnings and with that take any shelter we had from the elements. We did our best to use the vehicles to block the wind and string as many tarpaulins as possible into a makeshift wind block and shelter.
Eleven: Breakdown, Colorado.
The other hugely abiding memory of the trip to date has been the days and weeks and money spent repairing and maintaining the vehicle.
This particular time saw us stuck in the same place for the best part of a month as we awaited parts and did the work that we needed.
Twelve: Canyon, Utah.
If there is one memory of America that I will always have, it is of its wild and ever changing landscapes. From the wild coastlines to the snow capped peaks and from the swamps and bayou down to the deserts and canyons.
This is an image from Canyonlands in Utah, where we arrived having spent over a month amongst the cold and wild Rocky Mountains. The river valley below was where Lewis and Clark once passed on their route west and our imagination was captured by the myth of their journey and our own ever changing surroundings.
Thirteen: Tagging, Colorado.
In part we distributed a few Follow The Hound stickers across our route in the hope that a few people may spot them and follow our journey. We only chose to do these at seminal moments, like this one at the top of a mountain pass in the Rockies that marked the highest point that we drove to while in the USA.
I also maintain a little fantasy that one day I will return to some of these places and search out a few of these stickers!
Fourteen: Rodeo, Wyoming.
Part of the allure of travel in the United States is that of the folklore of the American Dream, of the old west and of making your mark.
While so many parts of the trip captured this, there was no more American experience to be had than attending the rodeo in rural Wyoming.
Fifteen: Distance, Wyoming.
It is only occasionally that something really makes you think about the scope of what you are doing and the distances that you travel. Crossing the point half way between the Equator and the North Pole just outside of Yellowstone was the first of these milestones.
The smile on my face in this image represents not excitement at crossing this particular point, it was in the discussion we were having regarding the fact that within the next 18 months, we would be also crossing the Tropics, the Equator, and finally, reaching and crossing the Southern Parallel. Between the day this picture was taken and the day we cross that line we will have covered quarter of the north – south distance around the globe.
Sixteen: Family, Washington.
One of the few disadvantages of the lifestyle is the lack of time that we get to spend with loved ones. From Washington to Oregon, after four months on the road, I was lucky enough to get a visit from my family, who rented an RV and hit the road with us.
This image of my sister was taken on the Northern Oregon coastline, she was picturing the sunset scenery whilst my father and I drank some local I.P.A and fished from the pier.
Seventeen: Coast, Oregon.
The colour version of this shot at least was one of my favorites of the trip so far. The children, shadowed by the huge rocks. The seagulls braving the wind and sea fret blowing in. It captures the contrasts and harshness of this coastline and my memories of it brilliantly.
Seventeen. Splashing, Oregon
This shot is of my brother and myself, splashing each other (as he was trying to convince me to man up and get in) on the shoreline of the stunning Crater Lake in Oregon.
It captures my memory of the magic of the small moments and the unique way that the lifestyle afford these to be set in the most incredible of backdrops.
Eighteen: Egging, California.
The question we are perhaps most often asked is how we manage not to argue when travelling as part of a group. This image is of Reece, whose car we had just egged whilst pulled over during a long drive. It captures our group dynamic, the jokes and the fun, how we take it and give it, remain chill and can laugh at ourselves. It is mostly the reason we manage not to fall out.
These are but a few of the wonderful memories we made in the US. There were good times and bad, incredible and not-so-incredible places. While these photos and memories capture some of the parts of the trip, it is also the people we meet along the way that we will never forget!
You might also like…
“Are you not worried?”, my mum said over Skype. “Not really, it's always fine” I replied, “You talk to people, they tell you not to drive this road, don’t drive after dark, there are bandits with AK47s here on Sundays and so on”. Reflecting later on our conversation,...
If I had to pick one question that I was probably asked most regularly, it would likely be: "wow four of your travel together! Do you not fight!?" My response is usually to laugh and say something non-committal like; "Well, we haven't killed each other yet!" Or "Well,...
We decided to visit Lake Atitlan! The huge and spectacular Lago Atitlan was quickly to become our home away from home. We had been on a quick time limit to reach the town of San Pedro. As we were booked in for a few weeks of Spanish lessons, where we would stay with a...
Guatemala was wonderful, for me, it was a true highlight of the trip, perfect weather, delightful locals and scenery and variety were hard to rival. We spent the best part of 5 weeks of our time here on Lake Atitlan, with two weeks of that time at a homestay,...