In June of 2013 I created a KickStarter Project called: Thousand Mile Drive. I drove the West Coast of the United States for one month. Camping along the way, and photographing the beautiful scenery I came across. In this post you will see my pictures, and you will read my stories. You won’t see every image I published in my book, you wont hear every story I experienced, but you will get an idea of what Thousand Mile Drive was. So here it is, Thousand Mile Drive, through my eyes. I started my journey on June 22nd, 2013. Leaving home in my beautiful 2002 Honda Accord, I was anxious to hit the road and get the trip under way.
I slept about 10 yards away from where this picture was shot. Sleeping so close to the sound of the ocean is an awesome feeling. Plus, I have allergies so the salty air really helps me breathe!
During my trip, I drove a total of 4,600 miles. If you assume I averaged 60 mph throughout the trip, that’s roughly 77 hours spent driving. I saw a lot of the West Coast through the windshield of my car. Because of this, there were many many moments where I would be driving, see a scene that I wanted to shoot, slam on the breaks, flip the car around, and go shoot it. I actually got pulled over for doing this at one point in my trip, but that’s another story.
This is McWay Falls, in Big Sur, California. It’s a pretty iconic landmark in Big Sur, and for good reason! It’s a stunning sight to see. What’s extra cool about it is the waterfall running down, and the water having that green/turquoise color that looks almost tropical. A tropical scene, yet the water is about 50 degrees!
While Santa Cruz wasn’t my favorite place for reasons better left unexplained, this picture of the boardwalk makes me remember my time there a little more fondly.
This picture is very special to me. First off, San Francisco is so cool. The feeling you get in that city is just awesome. As well as the city being so great, there’s the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s an world renowned landmark. Just like the Great Wall Of China, or the Eiffel Tower, it stands up there with the other worldly landmarks. So when I set off on this trip, I knew I needed to nail a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge. Only thing was, I was only going to be in San Francisco for one night. No pressure, right? I pulled up to the first Vista Point on the Northwest side of the bridge about 30 minutes before sunset. I headed up the small hill to view the bridge, my hopes were high. All it took was a couple seconds for my hopes to take a swan dive off the cliffs I was standing on. Since it was sunset, half of the bridge was in shadow because of all the rolling hills on the Northwest side of the bridge. To add to this, there was a hideous black fence at the end of the vista point. I was bummed. I then decided that I would try and shoot it after the sun set. To deal with the fence issue, I saw that if I hopped it, I could walk very carefully down this 18 inch trail, on the side of the cliff, to get about 80 yards away from the bridge. Very illegal, but hey, I went on this trip to take cool photos, not follow laws. I waited until the sun set, hopped the fence, and walked along a narrow trail-all the while being one slip away from sudden death. Once I got out on to the point of this cliff, a rush of stoke entered my veins, and I shot this image. While I was shooting, I had to cover my camera with my body so the camera wouldn’t fall over, because the winds coming in off the Pacific were really intense. I got the shot, and then sat on this cliff for some time, just appreciating the scenery I was seeing. I could’ve thrown a baseball and hit the bridge, that’s how close I was. It blew my mind that I was sitting on the edge of a cliff, a thousand feet above the icy Pacific Ocean, watching cars drive across a mile long bridge, with the San Francisco skyline in the background. A very special experience to say the least, and when I see this photo, that’s what I remember.
I don’t know what town I took this photograph in. All I know is that it was in the middle of California, it was over 100 degrees outside, and I picked up about 30 thorn-things in my shoes to get this image.
I haven’t had many jaw dropping moments in my life. When I popped out of the long dark tunnel that precedes Yosemite Valley, my jaw literally dropped. Enormous slabs of granite rock stand tall throughout the park, with beautiful waterfalls running down them. It’s truly a special place, and I’m already planning a backpacking trip there for next summer. I was in such awe of Yosemite, that when I was driving through the valley, I was pulled over because the Forest Ranger thought I was drunk driving. Apparently I was crossing over every line on the road multiple times since I was looking at the scenery more than the road. I had to explain to him multiple times that I’m 18 years old, so I don’t drink, and that I don’t posses a medical marijuana card. He eventually let me go, but it still cracks me up that my awe of Yosemite could be translated in to me driving like a drunk person. Classic.
In Humboldt Redwoods State Park, there is a narrow road called The Avenue Of Giants. It’s a 31 mile stretch of Highway 101 that runs through massive Redwood Trees. If you have never seen a Redwood Tree in person, I highly recommend getting around to it in your lifetime. They are enormous. Words can’t properly express it, you just have to see them. Here’s an image I shot along the Avenue Of Giants. Also, I received about 5 mosquito bites to get this shot.
Yosemite was so cool. It was huge and astounding. Fish Lake was a different kind of amazing. It was a subtle, quiet amazing. Fish Lake is located in Six Rivers National Forrest, 9 miles off Highway 96 up a one lane winding road. Fifty miles South of the Oregon border, it’s very isolated. And that’s what made it so special. I spent 4 days here, seeing very few people, and with no connection to the outside world. Every time I got hungry, I rowed out on this rickety boat, and caught trout to eat. The fish were almost too easy to catch, and they tasted incredible. I felt like Ryan Gosling from The Notebook, going out for a row on the lake while the golden sun set behind the trees. The feeling I got at Fish Lake isn’t something I could have experienced in any form of civilization. To be truly disconnected from society, enjoying nature without any of our modern distractions. The only scary thing about Fish Lake, if you walk 2 miles in any direction, you have a high chance of running in to either a growing operation for the Drug Cartels, or Big Foot. Trust me, stay at the lake, enjoy the tender trout, mosquitos, and perfect serenity and you’ll be a happy camper. No pun intended.
I was making my way along a trail that runs parallel to this river you see. It stems from the waterfall you’ll see in the next picture. Anyways, I saw these overhanging trees, and they were being lit from the setting sun that was behind them. I knew the rocks and river would just look really smooth and that the trees would tie it all together. I really like the smooth tranquil feeling this image gives off.
Burney Falls is the coolest waterfall I’ve ever seen. It’s so cool because not only does the waterfall come down from a river at the top of the falls, but ground water seeps out of the side off the cliff making water come down from all parts of the rock. It’s incredible! I was so stoked on Burney Falls, that I hung out there for seven hours straight in order to get an even light across all the water. I wrote some poetry, cooked lunch, and relaxed on the rocks down at the base of the falls, waiting for the light to get just right. I’m more than glad that I did.
I pulled up to the rim of Crater Lake just before 8:30 am on a Wednesday morning, stepped out of my car, and said three words about 10 times over. “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God…” There wasn’t another soul in sight, the light was creating a perfect reflection, and the lake was so blue I thought I was dreaming. It looked surreal, almost as if I was on a different planet. I remember that initial sighting of Crater Lake so vividly because it was absolutely incredible. It looked fake to me. I shot this image rather quickly, (it’s hard to take a bad shot of a scene like Crater Lake). I got a gnarly mosquito bite, and saw a fox. Crater Lake is awesome.
Proxy Falls is a waterfall located about 70 miles East of Eugene, Oregon. I drove here, and hauled ass for a mile and a half, racing against the sun to get this shot. The terrain getting to the waterfall is pretty gnarly, but I braved it out in order to get the shot. It was the last destination that I photographed. After I finished, I stood there and realized what I was doing. I was 1,000 miles away from home, holding my camera, and looking at a beautiful waterfall. Life is good.
I hoped you enjoyed those photographs and stories. Now, here’s some self-portraits I took!
Me and my beautiful Honda Accord about 10 minutes before I left my house.
This is the morning of my first day on the trip. On the coastline of Malibu, California.
Here I am on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. So cool!
Me being silly in Yosemite.
When I was waiting for the light to get right, I’d read a book. It’s also an awesome way to spend a morning overlooking Fish Lake in Northern California.
A very nice lady I met at Burney Falls in Northern California took this photo of me.
This photo still looks fake to me… Like some sort of backdrop… Oh yeah, I was on crutches during Thousand Mile Drive. Just in case I failed to mention that earlier!
Thousand Mile Drive–shirtless. I would like to thank everyone that supported me, and this project. Specifically, David Manning. Without you, this project and these images would not have been a possibility. To my friends and family, your support kept me motivated. And to all of my backers, thank you so much for helping me. I was able to eat dinner every night because of you guys! Thank you so much to everyone that supported me in any way!