Jessie And I

In Jessie and I, Life Is Short, Travel by David259 Comments

Last week I wrote a post about wringing the most from life, and like most of what I write it comes from stuff I’ve got bouncing around in my own head, wrestling with the angels and all that. I invited you to contribute your own thoughts, and many of you did. I’m still inspired by those comments. As for me,  I can’t get Jessie, and our plans together, out of my mind.

This is a long post. I hope you’ll bear with me.

I am changing my life. For the last year I’ve been in a state of massive transition and stress. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been an incredible year for all kinds of reasons, but it’s been juggling more balls than I’ve even had to do in my life. And somewhere in there, amidst personal failures, some amazing travel, the unexpected success of a couple more books and the incredible reception of my eBooks, I just kind of stalled. I lost my vision – not photographically but personally. I stagnated. Started drifting.

I’ve always been a dreamer, always had to have something to aim at on the horizon and the last couple years I lost that. In the face of so much unexpected success – for which I am so grateful – I found myself getting bored. Restless. I know, cry me a river, right? But they say that boredom is the lack of a lack, and recently the lack of something to strive for has become very apparent, sitting in my soul like a lump of undigested funk. It’s not at all a complaint, just the discovery about something in me – a need to move forward that is stronger than I ever knew.

In January 2010 I was on my way to a breakdown. It came for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which was a failure to find balance and take care of myself.  The breakdown, such as it was, happened at the worst of times, in a hut in Senegal not far from the border with The Gambia and I remember saying to my friend and producer, Gary, that I wanted nothing more than to throw my stuff into a truck and travel. As I write this Gary and I just finished another week together, this time in rural Bosnia-Herzegovina for World Vision. We spent several evenings talking about these plans over homemade slivovitz.

So I want to introduce you to Jessie. See the photograph above? She’s the one in blue. Jessie is a 1993 Land Rover Defender. In late February Jessie and I are leaving for a while, setting out on an adventure. I’m selling some of my stuff, putting the rest in storage, packing my cameras into Peli-cases and throwing my laptop, sleeping bag and tripods in the back, and we’re embarking on an adventure. I turn 40 this coming year, December 24, 2011, and before I do that I want to spend a year doing something that scares me, something that simplifies my life, something that forces me to breathe deeply and open my eyes. See what watching Dead Poet’s Society one too many times will do to you? The fact that I am turning 40 isn’t relevant, but it’s convenient.

The plan, so far, is a loose one. I’ll head south down the coast towards San Francisco, then inland across the Sierras, through Death Valley and towards Zion and from there towards the Gulf of Mexico, which Jessie and I will hug as we drive east, eventually stopping in Atlanta. I’ve got workshops in Italy and Croatia in April and May so I’ll park Jessie for a month while I do that, then I’ll come back and head south again to the Florida Keys. After soaking up some sunshine and doing some fishing and underwater photography, I’ll head north, with a brief stop back in NY to fly to Norway for a week. Then across the border and east to Newfoundland, the Canadian Maritime provinces and eventually I’ll point Jessie towards sunset and head clear across Canada before hitting Vancouver. No idea when that might be.  I’ve also got a few chances to give Jessie a break while I fly off to do workshops here and there. All I know is I need to be in Ushuaia, on the tip of  Argentina, to catch a boat to Antarctica in December. Then we’ll see. Drive south again? Head to Alaska? Ship Jessie to Iceland for the summer of 2012?

Along the way I will be photographing, writing, connecting with this community that has formed around my blog, and my books. I’ll meet friends, both new and old. I’ll work on another book. I’ll give ad-hoc lectures and instigate some impromptu meet-ups. I’ll have coffee with people I’ve never met, spend lots of time unplugged and in the open air chasing the thing I’ve chased these last few years; my vision of the beauty of this world we live in and the people that share it with me. I’ll write about the entire adventure and take you with me constantly through this blog and the odd video update.

I sat in Vancouver’s Creative Mix conference a few weeks ago listening to the Head of Creative for Pixar Canada talk about what he called the Challenge:Ability line.  Where challenge is equal to our ability to meet that challenge we are most comfortable. Below that line is where challenge lags behind our ability and there is stagnation and boredom. Above that line is where our ability has to run to keep up with the challenge. It’s scary as hell but it’s what propels us forward. Steven Pressfield in The War of Art, talks about fear being the magnetic needle that points us precisely in the direction in which we most ought to be moving in order to do our best work creatively and personally. Both those voices are part of the larger chorus urging me forward to do this.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey as you have over the last years. I can’t wait to meet some of you. Once in a while I’ll be letting y’all know where I am and I hope we can make a way to meet and to share a meal together. If you have a spare couch I might even be induced to spend the night if you don’t seem too creepy and all Kathy-Bates -in-Misery’ish. I’ll soon be posting some ideas about my route and I’d love your input. Don’t do it now, because I’m trying to come up with a way I can put it all in one place instead of comments on multiple posts, but a little local intel goes a long way and if taking one diversion takes me to something little-known and amazing, then I’d be grateful to know of it. I’m not doing this to get anywhere, per se, but to enjoy the journey. And you’re part of that journey, so if I happen to be where you are and am not already completely peopled-out, I’d love to share a meal or a cup of coffee with you.

I will have no fixed address. I will often have no schedule or plan. It’s already distracting me at the oddest times, and is taking hours and hours of phone calls and prep to get my affairs in order.  I’m kind of nervous about the remaining work it’s going to take to get all the pieces in place, especially as I’ve so little time at home in the few months before I plan to throw my bag onto Jessie’s left-hand passenger seat, climb behind the wheel and start moving. In fact nervous doesn’t even describe it. Some moments it’s excitement. Some moments it’s just plain fear/terror/OMG!!. But that fear points me toward something amazing. It usually does in life, which makes it all the stranger to think we spend so much of our lives running from fear. I do  know, fear or no fear, that some of the happiest times of my life, some of the most enriching ones, have been when I’ve been in motion, when I’ve had fewer possessions, and when the highlight of my day was the people I’ve met.

Life is short and these dreams don’t chase themselves. In the face of the brevity of life and the wonders that await in the short span we’ve got, a little fear standing between us and our dreams – whatever they are – seems a poor reason, for not reaching out for those dreams.

If it all goes to plan, on February 27 I will have a going-away party/thing here in Vancouver at a friend’s studio, Jessie and I will spend the night parked out back, and when the sun comes up on February 28, we’ll grab a coffee and start our journey around this vast incredible continent.

So getting back to the post from last week, and my own response to the question I posed to you:

Life is short and therefore I will spend a year in motion, re-examining what it means to live more simply, meet new friends, photograph new beauty, and live new stories. I will experience the seasons and the geography and people of the continent on which I live and have spent so much time away from lately. I will risk the break-downs and the detours and the flat tires and the learning curve of maintaining a handmade truck when I haven’t the first clue how to do so much as change the oil. I will open myself to new friendships where my own inclination is to keep to myself. I will go to bed when the sun does and greet the dawn from my roof-top tent with a cup of coffee brewed by my own hands on a stove I had to light myself. I will be grateful for each passing day, each mile under the wheels, each unexpected diversion. I will get lost and some days I’ll stay lost. I will learn with an open mind. I will teach with an open heart. And I will share this journey with you. I hope you’ll join me, and along the way I hope you’ll share your adventure with me.


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  4. When the time comes to swing into Hogtown, I’d be more than happy to not only put yourself and Jessie up (condo RIGHT downtown, free underground secured parking for Jessie), but would be more then happy to give you a tour of the place as well!

    A lot of great urban areas in and around Toronto – if you haven’t been, you’ll love it. If you have, it’s ever-changing.

    I’m from Northern Ontario (Thunder Bay), and would be more then happy to give you advice of places to see and things to do on your drive from here all the way to Thunder Bay. Also know a ton of great people on the way that would be more then happy to put you up as well!

    Looking forward to reading all about your travels and discovering everything that this amazing continent has to offer!

  5. Now that’s a cool trip and in a Landy too. There must be a bit of Brit in there somewhere.
    The best of wishes to you, may you stay true to yourself and beautiful images stream from your memory cards. Safe travels and may the Landy gods shine on Jessie.

  6. David, I wrote a blog post about you yesterday, on my little ol’ blog, that I just began breathing life back into a month ago. I had just finished reading The Inspired Eye and was so moved by it, that I am reading everything I can find that has your name on it or associated with it. What an incredibly brave and adventuresome thing to make the choice to do. When I was in my mid 20s, before my children were born, I did a very short 2 week version of this with my girlfriend, travelling from one coast to the other of the United States and it was one of the best experiences of my life.
    I remember sitting in the movie theater while watching Eat, Pray, Love and thinking…what an amazing gift to give yourself. I wish you a whole lot of magic and vision, and self discovery, and I thank you for sharing that journey with us. You inspire me regularly these days. I hope if you ever find yourself in Syracuse, NY…you’ll look up a gal whose home sits on the banks of the Seneca River. She has 3 boys who love stories of adventure, a husband with the greatest respect for both craft and vision, and she makes a mean cup of coffee now that there’s a Keurig machine in the house.
    Godspeed, David duChemin. You’re not just a name to me anymore…

  7. this trip looks amazing. Let me suggest a slight route change though… Since you’re doing an (awesome) massive circle route, don’t skimp on the part to newfoundland. Instead go up through labrador:

    we did this trip ~3 years ago and LOVED the labrador part of the trip. The whole trip was great, but you really get to get out there in labrador. Here’s my gallery of our trip:

    Good Luck!

  8. Wow, David. Not sure you need my input on this but it is going to be an incredible year for you. With my own transitions, I understand the “fear” of not knowing the next step. But step you must or you will never discover what you were meant to find, be, do. Take your time and be present in each moment. Greg Mortenson said, “When your heart speaks, take really good notes. The doors will open and you will find your treasure.

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  10. Best of luck with the trip David. It has been such an inspiration following you over the last few years, I cannot thank you enough for your truthfulness, and honesty in finding your vision. I wish you all the very best for your trip. I can’t wait to follow you along the way. Thanks David

  11. I’m sure everyone is giving you recommendations about the perfect destination. I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer the same advice and represent for our little piece of the heart land that has inspired me. Honestly though, I will admit a small smidgen of self serving intent may be involved. I won’t lie I love coffee and conversation! The chance to sit down with you and just chat would be awesome, I would love to hear about your travels and people that you’ve met. Every time I see an image of someone form a culture that is so different then ours I can’t help but to wonder what that person is like, what is their daily life like. I know they have families, and love ones, good and bad days the same as we do.
    Sorry I know I’m getting off track. Ohio truly is the heart of it all! We have a large cross section of geography from the foot hills of the Appalachians in the south to the beginnings of the plains on the eastern parts of the state. The Ohio river and the riverboat culture to the larger cities of Cincinnati and Columbus offer a great contrast to our rural populations. Of course I can’t leave out Dayton Ohio the birth place of aviation, with National Air Force Museum and large military traditions surrounding Wright Patterson AFB. With that said I look forward to following your journey Thanks.

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    Stanley, that is very much the point, but even so, we value the work of other photographers because they show us what we’d not see ourselves, even when standing right beside them. But ultimately, the point of this adventure is neither – the point is simply for me to see new things, make some photographs, live some new stories. Whether I have an audience – even a much-loved audience such as I have in this community – isn’t the point. We create first for ourselves or the work lacks honesty.

  14. Seeing N. America through your eyes!

    Isn’t your point that we should have the guts to see N. America or wherever through our own eyes?

  15. Best of luck. I look forward to reading your man vs wild excursions. Your are an inspiration to me and if you come to South Florida I would love to come to a lecture or meeting with you.


    Ps. When in South Florida please shout if you need any help with anything, like if you need someone to buy you a cup of tea *_^

  16. When I was in my late teens I told my brother we should get a van and just go, anywhere, travel the country, shoot all knids of beautiful places. Never happened. I’m in my 50’s now and still dream of doing what you are now doing. Best of luck. Enjoy everyday as I know you will. Maybe we’ll bump into each other when you’re in the Miami area. Bon Voyage!

  17. David,

    This is so inspiring, like a dream coming through. It just reminds me of your quote in VisionMonglers: “There is no reward in tiptoeing through life only to make it safely to death”.

    I dream to do such adventure in the middle east and especially in Iran where I was born and grown up and I’m sure I will do it someday.

    Wish you luck and success and hope to see your photos and posts here frequently.

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  20. All the best on your journey – Not only because your a photographer- which I am, not only because your taking off in a Land Rover Defender – which I have, it’s 17 years old but amazing! But because your setting off on this trip….because you can.

    Enjoy, safe driving and happy shooting.

    I also notice your phrase ‘..A Year In Motion’, great title for a book!

  21. If you’ve watched Lost:
    Don’t tell me what I can’t do!

    They’re telling you that you can’t do it only because they don’t think that THEY can do it. If they can’t, surely you can’t… but where there’s a will, there’s a way!

  22. You are such an inspiration to me! I’m 16 right now and would love to do this in my future. People are always telling me that I won’t be able to do it because I wouldn’t be able to just leave everything, pack up my Jeep, and take off but you give me the encouragement to do so (not anytime soon of course). Life is short so while you’re here you better enjoy it right? Thank you for giving me someone to look up to!

  23. hey david, this is more than inspirational, you have no idea how many people you are going to touch and move into action towards pursuing their dreams (including myself) with your journey. There is something about the forty’s that is amazing and includes giving up a lot of unnecessary things and pay attention to experiences and relationships. Good luck, you will be more than fine and we will all grow thanks to you. If you need a place in Fort Lauderdale when you pass trough Florida just let me know

  24. Let me know if you need a place to crash or a meal when you’re passing through PDX. I’d love to do an impromptu photowalk or just meet you for coffee. (Trying not to sound like a stalker, but you inspire me…)

  25. Sounds like a ton of fun. By the way, if you feel like stopping in NYC, I’d totally love to meet up! Lunch or something at one of the diners or delis. Get at me however you can! Have fun!

  26. Best wishes for your adventure!
    I wished I had the means (i.e. time, resources and freedom) to do the same. It’s a dream many have but few can realize. Enjoy it!

  27. Fantastic. I look forward to seeing your photographs and reading your thoughts. Enjoying what you do is a phenomenal way to spend your days.

  28. Not much I can add that hasn’t already had a place above but I still hope to touch base in March or so. Remember, growth only happens when we go beyond the comfort zone – this should be a phenomenal growth year for you! Trust – it will give you what you need. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear! Looking forward to your blogs so that I (and all the rest of us) can vicariously and enviously live it with you. I see many offers for you to stay or for a meal – know that it comes to you because you have given so much to us.

    Take care!

  29. If you need a free place to stay when you pass through Baltimore, please get in touch. I have a spare bedroom and I’ll cook you a nice homemade italian meal!! And we can geek out and chat photography or I can show you around town.

  30. Hi David,

    Just noticed your reply to Howard and I thought you may find this useful. Being a Newfoundlander I have this innate desire to help (or that’s what they say anyway haha)

    Anyways, the first link is a map of all the ferry services offered in the province and the second link is the route that Howard was referring to. Leaving from St. Barbe on the Northern penninsula and arriving on the mainland. I think it’s about a 2 hour cruise.

    I’m sure you have lots of planning and research to do, but I hope this will help in that process 🙂

  31. Wow, that is an incredible adventure. Greatest encouragement to you! I see the route comes close, but not quite to Phoenix. Just lettin’ you know there is a dinner table with food and conversation, washing machine and a couch if needed.

  32. Author

    Howard – It’s like you read my mind. I haven’t had a chance to do any real research but I was hoping there was a ferry to Labrador. My current maps don’t show one but if there’s a chance to get to Labrador I’ll be there. I’ve been to NFLD once, but it was a short one-week trip around Gander so there’s at least a month’s worth of exploring to do. I aim to be there for all of August 2011.

  33. David,
    Awesome Idea! So jealous.
    I do have a suggestion though. On your trip through the maritimes and Newfoundland (I’m sure you’re going to love it over here), you should hop on a ferry from the northern peninsula (northern tip of Newfoundland) and come on up through Labrador. There’s a highway through Labrador that will take you into Quebec (the Labrador towns and landscape and it’s people, the Inuit and Innu, may give you a few photographic gems and the drive through Quebec along the St. Lawrence River is pretty awesome, quiet, quaint, and beautiful). Maybe that would be a little more satisfying/ adverturous than heading back through the Maritimes again. Just a thought. I’m in Labrador, a town called Happy Valley-Goose Bay, if you consider this leg of the journey, and need a place to crash, I’ve got room to spare.
    Anyway, best of luck with this. It’s a great idea. Somewhere down the road, I’ll have to try this out myself.

  34. David
    I did this about ten years ago, not as much travel as you have planned, but jumped in my 1997 Chevy truck, left my life behind and drove to Montana to live awhile in the West. Amazing things happend and 12 years later I find myself living in Belgium and chasing this vision thing you always talk about. When your in Europe you are welcomed to stop by for a taste of Belgium and a nice room. The beer and chocolate are worth the trip.

  35. David,

    May it be a journey of art, soul, and mind … one that grows you … one that God meets you on in more way than one. I am most certain that in the quiet you will find Him waiting for you … just as I am sure that He has called you to this … I can’t wait to share the journey with you via the blog.

    By the way … Arizona is amazing … if you need a sofa just drop by my blog and let me know … my family would love to share a meal and a prayer with you.


  36. David,
    I pray you discover what you alrerady know! What I mean is, sounds like God is doing a new thing in your life. We get stuck in the muck and mire of the world and it’s hard to hear His still quiet voice when He speaks to our heart. Stay in His word daily, i’t’s more important than your maps or gps, it won’t lie to you. Talk to Him often, listen intently,
    and write down what He impresses on you.
    You’ll be amazed at how much He needs you!

  37. Wowwww…it’s so inspiring!! I wish I could do that one day :))) Best of luck to you!! I’m in Bangkok…just in case one day you’ll be passing by 🙂

  38. David,

    What an amazing adventure! I truly hope that we will have a chance to meet with some other photogs here in Central Newfoundland. Who knows, I was planning to try an get a bunch of photographers together for a little camp/photowalk in Gros Morne Park this coming year! It would be amazing for you to join – in the role of a photographer and friend – not so much in the role of a teacher… Although I find it a very difficult concept to not ask questions and absorb every ounce of information from such a creative mind! Good luck in your plans and safe travels! By the way, Jessie is HOT! Very nice Rack 😉

  39. Sometimes dramatic changes are required to get yourself out of a rut. Glad you are on the road to some vision renewal.
    If you ever want to visit the Sawtooth Wilderness in Idaho, feel free to look me up. it is a beautiful area.

  40. nnnoooooo – you’ve been to toronto far too often – you need to do new york up the east coast through maine to new brunwick!!!! the bay of fundy is spectacular and i promise you will have more than a place to stay. you can hit ontario on the way home!! you won’t regret it, i promise!

  41. Wow Lissa, I’m trying to reckon on the tone of your comment. Seems a bit condescending to mine ears. Was it some bad coffee or too much pie from the day before that’s bugging you?

  42. How cool. More power to you, realizing that the step needs to be taken, and then taking it.
    When you come to Alaska, make Fairbanks a stop. It’ll be well worth your while. Amazing light and incredible opportunities.
    I wish you the best trip you can have. Enjoy.

  43. So courageous. That almost breakdown is inciting you to move forward on a journey to self -fulfillment. I never thought of exploiting my own mental health to market what will surely be a book filled with personal reflections but bravo for using your personal problems as justification to purchase ‘just the right’ vehicle. You even managed to solicit some generous offers here. I’m sure you’ll be gracious.

  44. Good luck to you, if you are passing through the okanagan and need you insulin just get in touch.

  45. Wow, this was like reading my own biography. I’m 10 days younger than you, a photographer, and a Defender owner. I’ve also have had one of those years that now has me at breaking point. This has given me the drive I need to punch through the brick wall. I have no idea what or how, but I now want to break through. Thanks for your openness and honesty, it is good to be inspired by those that have faced the same things, and have found a way through. I would love to throw my things in the Land Rover and go, but logistically that cannot take place just yet.

    PS. I know the vehicle well, if you need leave a comment and I will contact you directly.

    Thanks again. Time to undo the bowline…

  46. Seems like i’m not the only one that identifies with your desire to simplify and live in motion. Good for you. I’ll look forward to the stories (and a book?). 🙂

  47. David, I’m so very happy that you have found your way over the next year. Peace.

  48. @David, comment 202: Then I hope that this journey allows you to go deeper into your truest desires, and that you return home more in touch with your “I” than when you left. Because that is the ultimate destination of every journey.

    A traditional New York blessing: May the traffic clear before you, and the potholes rise to meet you! I will look forward to when you swing through the apple. I try to get out on my lunch breaks to roam SoHo and the West Village, camera in hand. Come join me — I can show you some classic New York street scenes, and you could help me hone my vision. But, I am sure that I am not the only one in New York looking to get together with you — have you thought of leading a formal photo walk for your readers in NYC?

  49. WOW! to be a dreamer is obviously the great thing ! Greeting for you and of course for Jessie in blue 🙂

  50. Hi David,

    Since reading vision mongers ive totally changed my photography life. Left my full time job and moved into photography as a career.

    I wish you all the luck and success in the world on your change and I am looking forward to keeping up with it on the web.

    Im based in Scotland and if you and Jesse get lost shipping from Iceland and end up in the UK then there is always a couch for you here.

    Thanks for helping me.


  51. Great idea David! My wife and I are in the final stages of prep for a similar plan. We leave Atlanta Jan 1 or 2 to head out for a year of travelling. Hopefully our paths will cross!

  52. From what I could see
    You don’t risk much for this trip
    And with it publicized, visualized (vaguely as it might) probably you will risk a lot by not doing it

  53. I cannot decide if I would be more scared or excited about such a trip. But I admire your courage to do that, and completely understand your need to do it. And I love your Jessie! Hope she will do a great job of getting you around.

  54. Author

    @DGalalis – Lonely? Are you kidding? Have you seen the offers of hospitality? I’ll be fine. In fact there’s a risk it’s that I don’t get enough alone time. I have plenty of critical voices, thank you. What am I looking for? Didn’t I say so? I’m looking for new stories, to photograph people and places on the continent of my home, and continue to do what I love and dream of. All journeys change us, I’m choosing to follow the path I feel my heart pulling me strongest towards. The road trip is not a distraction from my life, it’s part of my life, in the same way each moment and place is for all of us.

  55. I wish you well. But, won’t you get lonely? I dunno; take it with a grain of salt, but maybe the answer isn’t “out there”, but is instead right where you already are. You said yourself that after all the success, it left you feeling empty and bored. Well, what makes you think that this journey will leave you any differently? I don’t mean to rain on your parade; I admire your photography, and don’t want to see you and your truck head off a cliff, so to speak. That’s not to say that this is per se a bad idea. But what are you looking for? Is it really out there on the road, or is the road just a distraction from your circumstances? I hope that you have some “critical” voices among your closest friends who can really help you judge this.

  56. A text book example of a mid-life crisis! Many men go through it and deal with it in their own way. I went through mine about 11 years ago, and while I didn’t take an extensive journey to find myself, I did it in my own way and I’m pretty sure I”m a better person for. Good for you David! I wish you good luck.

  57. what a fun thing to do and thanks for sharing the adventure! i had to smile, i named my first car Jessie. she although was not nearly as cool as yours, being a 93 cherry red ford tempo! she was faithful as i am sure yours will be too.

  58. David, A most extraordinary and authentic choice for the upcoming year. One notable oversight: You appear to be skipping the “other” culturally and ecologically interesting shore of the Chesapeake! Not to mention what is arguably the most pristine, unmolested, and unique stretch of Atlantic coast line in the U.S. Don’t skip anything else, just add a couple of days for Delmarva. 😉 Would be happy to provide local tips, time, space, food, drink, company, and peace or noise–your choice. Just shout. Or whisper, I guess.–B

  59. What a fun adventure! And, that red line comes awfully close to my teeny little town close to the Texas coast. Our farm would welcome you gladly!

  60. Very inspirational, David. It sounds great, so go for it! Many photogs would welcome you in St. Pete, FL!

  61. Nice David. I can not wait to see where your journey takes you and how it changes the way you look at the world. Congrats on making the decision to spend the time finding “yourself” again.

    I would love to hook up with you somewhere in the Southwest Desert. I have been making tons of pilgrimages there since I moved to Washington. I don’t know what it is about that place all of a sudden…I lived in Colorado for 20 years and never really gave it the attention it deserved.

    Now I am more willing to spend whatever it takes to get down there for even a few days.


    Jay G.

  62. David – For all you have given me (unknowingly), I am sending you this gift – my favorite quotation, which I have experienced numerous times to be true. From “The Scottish Himalayan Expedition” by W. N. Murray…

    “Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.

    Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.

    All sorts of things occur to help one that would otherwise never have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.”

    David, you have now committed yourself to this adventure. “All manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance” are about to come your way. Keep yourself open, and this journey will be bigger and broader and touch your soul in ways impossible for you to fathom today.

    Bon voyage…Leslie

  63. Very inspiring and excellent post David, thanks again also for being so open and honest!

    And welcome to Nomadic Photographers Inc. and WorldNexus 😀 Not that they exist but they will 🙂

    I am presently on year 2 of my Nomadic Photographic adventure and I can tell you that the nomad ride is a tough one but very rewarding. I thought I knew myself and the world before I went nomad – I knew nothing I soon discovered! I manage to both loose and re-find my passion for life and photography and I never regret being a nomad – for a while. The experiences, the lessons, the people, the images are priceless.

    If I make it to the US in 2011 I will make an effort to catch up certainly!

    All the best, look forward to reading much more of the adventures of David and Jessie.

  64. Long after John Steinbeck wrote Travels with Charlie, when he was living in Sag Harbor on Long Island, he returned to his hometown in Salinas, California. He was disappointed to find it had changed from his memories of it in his younger days. “Living is about people, not places,” he later wrote.

    For what it’s worth, I think any circumnavigation of the US of A should include, at least, a stopover in New England. A lot of good things happened here way back when; heck, good stuff’s still happening. Let me know if you change your route; I’ll buy you a beer, maybe dinner. Maybe even a warm place to sleep. Or maybe I’ll see you in Zion next spring; you can buy the beer. In any event, sounds like it’ll be a great trip.

  65. What a great idea.
    And a fantastic choice of companion for your trip, I’m sure you and Jessie will have many extraordinary adventures together. I’m also sure there will be times when you are left waiting at the side of the road for a mechanic to come and rescue you , so for those times can I suggest some reading matter.
    Alistair Cooke was a British journalist who, back in the early 1940’s, undertook a journey just like you are planning, only he went the other way round.
    His book “The American Home Front” is a great read even today.
    Have a great trip David, I’m looking forward to reading all about it.
    By the way, 40 is a good time to make a change. Sixteen years ago, at the age of 42, my left went through a huge change and I havn’t regretted one moment of it.

    Keep safe,

  66. How i wish i can do the same adventure as you. Though,if i were you, i would skip the workshops altogether and just go on with your journey. For sure, you can support yourself without the workshops for a year right?
    But of course, pop in/out of the community, and keep a running blog while youre at it.

    Anyway, good luck on your journey….and always keep safe.


  67. Hi David,

    That sounds like an amazing journey. I don’t know what I would do if I was in your shoes but this trip seems like a neat idea. If you, for some reason, you consider going down to LA, I’d love to meet you!

  68. David, I’ve done a similar route a few times when I played in a band, and it’s a spectacular journey. I encourage you to hit as many couches as possible – those were always the most memorable experiences. That said, when you get to Charleston, SC, you have a comfy couch waiting for you!

  69. Only flaw in the plan I see is that you are missing the coast of Maine (and lobster!). Hope to see you here, but if I don’t, enjoy every moment!

  70. O.K… what I really wanted to do was figure out how to send you a comment with a little picture next to it of Kathy Bates with a message that said, “I’ll be waiting for you…”, but I cannot figure out how some people have a picture of themselves next to their comments. So alas, I cannot send my sick-humored joke but can only say AWESOME about your next year and it’s scary and exciting and doing something like that is what helps make a life a life! I am looking forward to following along with your journey.

  71. Rock on David; I’m genuinely excited for you! I can’t wait to follow you as you document your travels and experiences.

    Beantown would love to have you as a stop on your adventures.

    Save travels!

  72. That’s a great project David. Truly inspiring. I’ve been thinking of doing something similar for quite a long time. Now I think I’ll finally do it and drive around South America for a couple of months next year.
    PS Let me know when you get to Argentina in December. Maybe you’ll need a local guide 🙂

  73. David,
    good on you!
    I kinda did the same, I left to stay away for one year, it turned out that 1 year became 7 instead.
    About a month ago i came back home (Italy) now I’m trying to put together thoughts, experiences and dreams.
    Unfortunately I can’t join you in your Italian workshops as much as i would really want it but if you pass by Milan I would love to share a coffee with you.

  74. Why does this not surprise me David! So fantastic a journey. I am so excited to see what the next year brings. Be sure to get your fill of Jack Kerouac on the travels. If you decide to come around Missouri I will be happy to teach you to change your oil.

  75. Hi David: Your “Life is Short” post seems to have created quite a stir in your part of the blog-a-sphere. And now “Jessie and I” has most of us wanting to do something similar. However it was your former blog that got my juices stirring. I mentioned in my comment on ‘Life is short’ that, inspired by your words, I was determined to fulfill a dream to return to Europe with my wife of 58 years to revisit places we loved and visit places we failed to visit.
    Well the first phase of that plan is well underway. We will be flying to the UK in April. Renting a Campervan and touring England Scotland and Wales for six weeks. The itinerary is, like yours, very loose at this point but will include Cornwall, the Lake District, Central Wales, Bath, Stonehedge, Edinburgh, and Morayshire in Northern Scotland were I was stationed in the 1950’s as an RCAF exchange officer with the RAF.
    But above all and first on my list is a small village in Yorkshire were I was evacuated to as a Canadian caught in England when WW2 broke out. I was only 7 but my memory of this village and of the thatched cottage we stayed in with a Roman bridge on the property and the moors of the Peak district at the doorstep are still very vivid.
    We plan to avoid the big cities, although a night or two in London may happen, and Edinburgh is more like a park. Otherwise we will stay on the sideroads, camp at farmsites and travel no more than 100 miles a day.
    Of course our three cameras , several lenses, tripod, several memory cards, laptop, GPS and rain gear,(this is England in April), will accompany us. ( But no cell phone)
    Now I know this is really tame compared to your planned journey. But this is just the first stage; next in line Germany, Switzerland, and Tuscany. And my wife and I are both pushing 80. It is never too late.
    Thanks for helping to rekindle our dreams and I know this journey of yours will lead you to preform even greater things in your life.
    Regards Dick K.

  76. I just want to add my congrats on your decision David. Alas, living in the UK as I do, I won’t be able to buy you a coffee to say thanks for all the inspiration your candidness has given me. Many times, when I’m standing in front of something, knowing there’s a photograph waiting to be realised, but unable to feel it, knowing that I’m not the only one who struggles sometimes really helps me persevere. I often still don’t get the photograph, but at least I don’t feel so bad 🙂

  77. As someone who turned 40 and just crossed the SIlk Road I can relate. I needed to make that historical trip while I was able to.

    I took 6000 pictures (over 7000 miles) this summer (most of them awful), but everyone of them was rewarding.

    If you’re stopping in San Francisco, feel free to contact me if you need a local guide…

    You will not regret your journey for a second, I speak from experience.

    Happy travels!

  78. What an amazing adventure. Congratulations to you!
    Your map takes you through my neck of the woods. It would be an honor to meet/shoot with you. And I have a couch.

  79. Stock up on oil filters etc, you may not find bits and pieces for Jessie all that easy to come by out there.

    Best of luck and have fun.

  80. Very courageous to make decisions like this! Will be a great experience….

    I made a different decision. Although I also really love to travel I discovered – after a few days of thinking about your last blog – that for me “life is short” means – at the present moment – to stay where I am. To stay with the best family in the (or at least in my) world. To stay with my parents, who are getting older now. And to stay with my patients, who suffer from a severe chronic and currently incurable disease. They need someone they can trust and they need someone who stays, even if sometimes it would be much easier to run away…. And last but not least I want to stay, because there are so many more photographs to catch in my home-area 😉
    I am deeply satisfied with this at the moment. But I am aware of the fact that this is just my decision for now, and maybe life will be a little longer, who knows? I want to be very mindful to notice when things are changing, and if one day there is another call I will make new decisions…

    I wish you all the best for your adventure and a safe journey with many friendly people crossing your path!

    Warm greetings from Austria,

  81. Came across your blog by few degrees of separation. And I am so glad that I did!

    40 is a power number. It’s a real thing, hitting that age. You’re embracing it appropriately. I’ll be following your blog with plenty of interest!

  82. I have dreamed of doing a trip like this for a long time, but at almost 70 I don’t feel I can undertake it alone. I shall travel the country vicariously through you. Bon Voyage David.

  83. Sounds like we will have to have a party in Vermont. let us know when you are in the Green Mountain state for some coffee, hiking skiing etc. If you have the time and inclination, i would love it if you could stop by our school to talk to the 7th and 8th grade photo club. Oh yeah, plenty of room for an overnight – running water and spare bedrooms. About the Misery thing though……

  84. David,

    That sounds awesome. From your map its looks like you will pass right through my home town.

    So when you hit the Gulf Coast and start towards Atlanta you will probably pass through south east AL. Give me a shout and I will buy you some lunch.

  85. if Jessie grows some flippers there’s a couch in Hawaii for you.

    Excited to follow your travels. Aloha!

  86. It’s going to be an exciting year!

    I wish you the best on your walkabout… I’ll be following your story as you go, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to run into you during your adventures!

  87. Way Effing Cool! Am I a little jealous? Yes. Looking forward to hearing some of what you learn.

    I’m in Newfoundland, Corner Brook on the W(B)est coast so I’ll be sending some info your way when you tell us where that one place to put it is. I’ll most likely have a spare room/couch and a hot shower if you’re in need of it, we might even manage some espresso or a dram (there could even bee some Uigeadail left in the bottom of a bottle by then). I might even beg you to let me show you some of the local intel in person.

  88. Do you see what an amazing impact your photos, your words… and your amazingly intentional heart have on ‘the rest of us’? I hope that is an encouragement to you to persevere through the occasional lonely miles that will surely come as you drive the big wide open ‘out there’! Oh… you have me thinking extremely dangerous thoughts about my own near term intentionality! Godspeed, David… and tell us all about it!

  89. Sounds like a great adventure – if your travels take you to the North Shore of Lake Superior this coming summer we have an extra cabin for you to use as long as you want!

    Safe travels….

  90. Sounds like quite the adventure! I will be following your journey and maybe if you’re in South Florida we’ll run in to each other. Your trip reminds me of one I read on This guy traveled from South Beach, Miami to California I believe…on his scooter! Pretty amazing journey. Good luck mate!

  91. Totally jealous of your journey – what can I do to convince you to swing through Memphis? You could head here after New Orleans and still be fairly close to Atlanta for your flight. You know you want the best ribs and bar-b-que in the whole country!

  92. That is one hell of a plan you got ahead of you there, David. I certainly wish you the best for the trip and anything you find along the way.
    Lately I have been considering the whole hitting the road and just looking where it takes me, too. though for now, the many fears we all carry around us every day keep me from it. But this post (and I am sure in the future your road trip news) keeps pushing me forward working on my courage there.
    And until then I keep working on refining my craft and vision closer to home (so enough name-dropping, I really like the work you have been doing with the blog, the books and the whole ebook-thing. Really thanks for that).

    Greetings from Germany,

  93. You are true nomad David, I think that is good way suppress the restless mind. I hope you still think of the return after the year. When you start wonder in this world, it hard to get back into “normal” life again, because after opening the mind is difficult to close it again. Anyway I hope you all the best.

  94. I live in Calgary, AB and your red line looks like you will be coming through here at some point. Keep us posted. I would love to meet up.

    Keith Andrews

  95. Best wishes David. You’re doing the right thing. If you decide to come through Colorado I have a guest room, hot shower, and a warm meal for you (and I’m not a weirdo).

  96. Perhaps irrelevant and definitely not our business, but are you no longer married, then?

  97. Hey! Jessie in Reverse! That’s what I did beginning in June of 2000. I started in Seattle and did almost the same route – even Newfoundland. I had a small RV and loved every minute. I was 53 when I started out, and everyone I met was amazed that I was a female traveling alone. Anyway…

    I know you’ll have it anyway, but be sure to allow yourself plenty of solitude. I found that I went days at times barely uttering a word. I read 56 books, but don’t know what they were.

    I’m very proud of you, David. It takes a lot of courage to do what you’re doing. But the freedom is truly worth it. But be careful…I didn’t buy a house and “settle down” again until 2005!!

    All my best to you and Jessie.

  98. What a sweet ride; a guy I work with has a Defender. If you want to have a drink or walk around taking photographs in Charleston, SC (you know, the coolest city in the States….well, ok, San Francisco is pretty cool too :)), look me up. And I do have a couch (a bed even) you can stay on, though I am married with two kids – 3 year old and 2 year old. Yeah.

    But anyway, that sounds like a terrific (both meanings) experience. Hope you enjoy, learn, converse, experiment, feel and shoot to the fullest. (and maybe a drink or two :))

  99. If you need a place to crash in Connecticut (that includes a yummy South Indian meal or two) please let me know. Would love to see ya again. Drive safe!

  100. David, I am so excited for you, and I will be following your adventures with envious interest. If you need a place to stay near SF, Sabrina and Ray can attest that I am non-creepy. I think it is significant that you start this journey as you reach 40. Those birthdays ending in zero are special. I’m hoping to go on Safari with you when I turn 60 if you are still doing that in 2015. Safe travels!

  101. David: Freakin’ awesome. My family and I are making “dream plans” along similar lines.
    Check out a very small piece of tech gear called The Spot. It’s actually an emergency tracking device BUT if you use the “OK” button it sends and email (say to your Blog) with a Google Maps location link. Then all us who are following you can see where you are by clicking the link. On your end it means remembering to turn it on once in a while and then pushing the “OK” button. It isn’t a two-way device so it would just be up to you when you wanted to push the button. (It also has a “follow” feature that sends emails at specified intervals the same way).
    Anyway, where I live in the Cariboo I carry one when I’m out shooting in the woods so if anything happens… I use the “OK” feature most. Several local outdoor photographers here use them as well. Great device.
    HAVE AN INCREDIBLE TRIP! It will be wonderful.

  102. I’m in Florida on that red line. Keep us up to date so I’ll know when you two { 🙂 } will be passing thru.

  103. David,

    You continue to be an inspiration; not photographically, but an inspiration for life. I hope that by the time I reach forty, I have the zeal for life that you do. You have no idea what you have taught me. I would love to meet you when you are in Atlanta!

    Justen Eason

  104. David: Best of luck to you on your journey. Looking forward to the amazing images (and imagery) you record along the way. We have a couch in Columbus, Ohio, should you ever chance this way.

  105. Hey David, if you head through Baltimore and need a bed, and can deal with my wife and me, 2 girls, a dog and 2 cats, you’re more than welcome to use our basement suite. It even has it’s own entrance, full bath etc. So, let us know! You’re welcome any time.

  106. Wow!!! When I was 40 I had two kids in school and now I’m almost 60 and I have aging parents. I love that you are embracing the freedom to just “be” for a while. The Honey Grove photography club, Honey Grove, Texas wants you. We would love to have you visit us here in North Texas. We can put you up for a long as you want, and, hey, our little town was named by Davy Crockett, and that’s not something you can say about just any old place.

  107. David… What a tremendous opportunity and commendable goal. I have just experienced that go get em experience. I’m a year out of college – just married my college sweetheart. We took this opportunity to go beyond our comfort zone and spent two weeks in Europe exploring places we didn’t expect to be and go for years to come. I must say it was a true eye opener and am now aware how you must grab your dreams and not just chase. Enjoy your adventure.

  108. Sounds like and awesome trip David. Can’t wait to see your travels from the road.

  109. Hey, man, great idea, great fun, great adventure. Envious, naturally. I’m 66 and, partly because of your last post, have definitely decided to quit working full time (my 2nd job after retirement) and just enjoy life with my camera and my tent. As you head north up the East coast, swing into the Blue Ridge Mtns and enjoy a warm shower and cozy bed at my place near Charlottesville, VA.

  110. I wish you well my friend. Find your destiny and sooth your soul. I hope you find answers along the way.

    P.S. If you stop in Colorado (Denver) please don’t hesitate to contact me. Plus….My cousin knows Landrovers like the back of his hand if you run into trouble.

  111. Hey everyone, thanks for the enthusiasm; it buoys me up and gives me the courage to keep dreaming. A few of you asked about the name. It’s not a complicated story, though it’s longer than I’ll recount. Short version: I had two names in mind – Jessie and Maggie. I just like the sound. Female. Adventurous. Fun. And then the seller, now a friend, told me he called her Auld Jessie in honor of a favourite aunt who was loud and seemed to live forever. In seafaring tradition it’s considered bad luck to change the name of a ship, and the coincidence was just perfect. So Jessie she remains.

  112. This is great David…in 1981, I bought a Trek 720 touring bike, all the packs and left Chicago to go around lake Michigan…what liberating feeling that was..

    That path led me to Alta, Utah by way of someone I met who was on there way to Brekenridge, Colorado. Alta, eventually led me back to Chicago where I met my ex who we had a gorgeous daughter who now will be turning 20 and is a sophomore in college.

    It all started with a bike ride with no “plans”…

    I have been shooting this summer in the Venice/Sarasota area in Florida….I have a couple spots you might be interested in if you go by there.

    Good luck with your trip.

  113. Hi David,
    unfortunately I’m very far away from your travelling route, because I live in Germany where I work on photography together with my team partners at
    There would be a lot of coffee for you and a sleeping place as well – no problem.
    I can imagine your feelings and looking at my own life and experiences I strongly recommend you to go ahead and fulfil your dreams. I know pretty well myself, that this will change a lot. And I would like to give you the advice to go over to Alaska with your Jessie as well. I did this about 8 years ago, travelling with a car just on my own and later on with the state ferries and planes and as many having been over there the way I did or similar to this, I can not describe what Alaska is like. No words in no language however can. Alaska is called the last frontier.
    And that’s true. I lost my heart over there.
    And I learned about life, maybe more than ever before. Alaska’s nature tells about silence and magnificy, about nature and human being, you’ll get lost somehow in the universe – you’ll realize and feel an eternity of life having existed already a long time ago and still exists, an overwhelming power, a beauty and also fragility, an adventure and also hostile environment for humans because of the very hard living conditions, contrasts and harmony and all this are just a few and very poor words to try to describe Alaska. You’ll be changed after having seen it – you’ll get another sight of life, of problems and whatever else.
    Spend a night at the Top-of-the-world highway, look at the glaciers from a boat placed in front of them, hear them working and watch the seagulls flying there, look at the endless woods and lakes, sing songs in front of your car in case any bear might appear and this all on your own somewhere on a highway…..
    there is so much over there …
    it is the last frontier.
    Get enough tyres for your Jessie and go up right to Beaufort Sea on the Dempster Highway …
    You won’t ever forget it – Alaska.
    All the best to you by heart

  114. Definitely sounds like a great trip, David!
    I’m in Truro, Nova Scotia. You can’t get to Newfoundland without passing by here.

    Coffee, Dinner, or a real bed for a night, give me a shout, it’d be an honor to meet you.

  115. Stop in New Hampshire and I’ll be happy to show you the top of Mount Monadnock or take you to the summit of Mount Washington.

  116. David, May your journey take you places never dreamt or imagined and visually guide you along this incredible endeavor.

    If you need a place to stay or an oil change when in New Brunswick, look me up.

  117. That’s awesome David. I’m sure you’ll have a good time. I look forward to reading about your journeys and seeing your photography.

    Wishing you the best,


  118. David, I did the same basic trip a couple years ago when I turned 35, spending a full year roaming around in a camper van. I called the trip “Freedom 35”, it was essentially a mini retirement, and hands down the best year of my life. You’ll love every minute of it!

  119. I wish you well on your adventure David – fantastic thing to do – it will probably be one of the most memorable years of your life. Mine was 1986 – I was 35 and my wife and I took a year to travel around Australia slowly – timing the seasons carefully – you do not want to be in the top end in summer! I’m looking forward to a, albeit second hand and at a distance, jaunt around America. Safe travels mate.
    best regards,

  120. I love the Defenders! I am in London currently and I see them all over the place.

    Please drive along the Southern shore of Lake Superior on that section of your journey. Visit the Apostle Islands National Lake Shore in Bayfield, WI & Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the UP of Michigan. You won’t regret it!

  121. “I wanted nothing more than to throw my stuff into a truck and travel.”

    A childhood dream of mine… which I never carried out because I thought it would be impossible. Instead, I travel once each year, sometimes for several weeks, only to fool myself and to suppress my dream.

    Your decision is very inspriring! I wish you all the best and lots of fun on the road!

  122. In between two years in college, I worked in Yellowstone N.P. at a gas station for the summer. Best. Darned. Job. Ever! I spent all of my free time backpacking, photographing and fly-fishing. While there, a fella on a big BMW adventure bike pulled into the station during a thunder storm. I asked him where he was from. “Florida” came the answer. Naturally, I had to ask where he was headed. “Alaska.”

    Now granted, this dude looked like the Marlboro Man, but he was all alone on a bike crossing from one corner of the continent to the other. I have never been so inspired in my life. Now in my mid-30’s, raising a fine family and directing my life-goals in a vocational-photography-centric direction, I find that same rush of inspiration welling up again as I read of your proposed journey. What a fantastic voyage of discovery and soul-searching you will have! I will pray for you and your journey.

    And I should say, I am absolutely in love with Jessie; hope you’re not the jealous type. 😉

  123. What’s to be scared about? There is nothing but good stuff in what you’re doing. I’ve done two 3-week tours around US and loved every minute of it and mind you, it cost a fortune to fly from Europe, rent a car etc. but was worth every penny.
    Anyways, since I see you are visiting my part of the world (Croatia) next year, feel free to get in touch.

  124. Thanks David.
    You’re an inspiration to many of us. I hope one day I’ll build up the courage to do something like that, but I still have too many [probably invalid] reasons to postpone this.

  125. Way to go ……. “May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing views. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” Edward Abbey

  126. Wishing you the best in your adventures David. May you find miracles in your journey – big and small as well as unexpected kindness along the way. May your rediscover your vision for life with vengeance (I mean that in a good way) and continue to enrich us with your inspirations as we ‘travel’ along with you. Most of all, may God be with you and keep you safe.

  127. David, I’m really envious that you really dare doing this. I have a long time wished I had the courage to to what you actually are doing now (Don’t let my wife see this…. 🙂 ). On the other hand, I am honored on my and my countrymen’s behalf that you have chosen to include Norway in your travel plans. There is some coffee waiting for you here….

  128. Woohoo! Awesome plan… I’d love to see you again if you are in need of a second cup of coffee or some lunch by the time you hit Seattle on Feb. 28th. The times I’ve “hit the road” without a limiting plan have resulted in my best memories. I can’t wait to do it again – never come close to a year though… Happy Trails!

  129. How exciting! Good for you – can’t wait to see all that you see, via your photographs and posts. Must say I am green with envy!

  130. David, you mentioned wanting to have a single place to capture and share details of your trip. Have you considered or

    Looking forward to your posts. Best of luck and Bon Voyage!


  131. I love Jessie, classic. So glad it is not a new one. The new LRs seem to have lost the classic look and feel. Might have to take out a loan to cover petrol cost! I am also curios how you came up with the name, for obvious reasons.

  132. David – If your plans have you slowing down in Oregon – let me know. Plenty of places for a coffee, tea, or pint.

  133. Hey David,
    Congrats on taking this leap of faith, sounds like quite the adventure! Looking forward to reading about your travels.

  134. David,

    I pray 1,001 blessings on you in your journey.

    On your way through San Francisco, my wife and I have a spare bedroom in San Jose. We’d be delighted to put you up for a night. Failing that, we’d be happy just to meet you for a cup of coffee made by someone else with a fire you didn’t light. 😀


  135. Long live Land Rovers and the Queen!

    Please let me buy you sushi on your way through Seattle? Would be a treat to see you at the start of your adventure.


  136. That is a heck of an endeavor you are getting into and I wish you the best. I’ve long contemplated something like that as well but having traveled around the U.S. for 20 straight days once, I know my limits.

    Btw, I’m am currently purchasing a home in Pasadena, California so if you’re in the L.A. area let me know and you can crash at my place if I’m not too creepy. 🙂

  137. wow! I love this concept
    I Hope you have an absolutely amazing journey,
    best of luck,


  138. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” Goethe
    Happy travels David

  139. I am looking forward to hearing/seeing more about about your journey. Really looking forward to it. I wish I could join you in Newfoundland for that part of the trip. It is a beautiful place… full of wonderful people.

    Safe travels, David!

  140. Supercool stuff. Glad you’ve decided to do something like this, you won’t regret it. My husband and I quit our jobs a few years ago to travel around the world for the better part of a year. Definitely the best experience of our lives!

    Good luck and Enjoy!

  141. Oh my gosh I wish…it’s amazing though. Life is short, but decisions we make early enough in our lives change and shape the course of our future selves. What do you do when life keeps throwing you road blocks? Some days it’s so hard not to just stay in bed and give up. Wave the red flag. There are days when I spend so much of my time giving to other people, I forget about myself. And now that my life has been shaped the way that it has, things get “complicated”. And it’s nice to think that “people make life more complicated than it should be” – and that statement may be true – and most certainly other people complicate life enough for me – but it’s a tough road we all travel, that’s for sure. I’ve had my own family (siblings, father in law, dog) losses in a matter of months, and tragic events happen to me over the past year, they say that time heals, and maybe it does, but it is a long road before you start to feel the healing. And just when I thought my train was on track, I was having surgery on Wednesday for my back, my health insurance company threw me a wicked curve ball this morning and denied my claim. I rearranged my whole life for the next few months to recuperate, and with a 5 minute phone call, the whole course of my future 12 months was changed. Life isn’t fair. Not fair at all. So I guess when it’s possible to take a journey like this, scary as it is, you have to grab the bull by the horns and do it.
    So – David, have fun on your journey. I’m envious! This is a fantastic and needed opportunity for you, and what a great way to grow as a person, to connect with new people, and have some major soul searching time, without interference. I can’t wait to watch your journey, just like I look forward to the new books, e-books, and new blogs. I wish you safe travels – it’s too bad you aren’t stopping anywhere really in WI! (I’m practically on the IL border, sheesh, way off your path!). You will have a most amazing journey for sure, and emerge from the experience with so many new perspectives, I’m sure.

  142. I look at that map and I think “there’s more to the USA than coastline”! I’ll have to drive all day to meet you! Waahhh!

    Meh, I’m just jealous. I’d do the same trip if I could. What a fabulous trip! I hope it fulfills your expectations and hopes, and more.

    Looks like New Mexico will be the closest to me, so I hope you aren’t sick of meeting people by the time you cross the southwest.

    I can’t believe you’re gonna pass up Colorado without even a “hi”. I’m emotionally scarred now. 😉

  143. You’re doing a book out of it, man, and I don’t mean an ebook. I mean a Barnes and Noble for-real book. You’ll need to get in some fights and stuff, like in Texas.

  144. If you get so inspired by the Mississippi in New Orleans that you just have to follow it North, feel free to stop in St. Louis. We’ve a cozy futon or a big yard (and depending on your stance on cats!) and a great photography community here.

    Best of luck on your trip – it sounds wonderful.

  145. Awesome David. Even for all your world travels this might just be your trip of a lifetime. My wife and I rode our bicycles across the country and back in 1986 (10k miles in all) and our map looked a lot like yours. It was a journey we’ll never forget and it was all the amazing generous people we met along the way that really made it memorable. Looks like you won’t be passing through So Cal, but if you do you’ve got a place to stay in Ventura.

  146. I am looking forward to your visit to Florida’s Nature Coast where I will make it my business to buy you a cup of coffee.-Hank

  147. David__

    If you’re coming through Scottsdale, AZ you guys are welcome in my guest rooms (if you wanna take advantage of beds and a roof) while you can! –there’s more of us who might take you lead, than not. Kudos–

    __Best wishes for safe travels__

  148. I have a feeling that when the year is over you will be far from done and your adventure may last much longer than you initially intended. Well, that is what I hope for you. Good luck David. It will be like Zen and the art of Land Rover maintenance 🙂

  149. You are doing everything I would love to do. I want to see this vast country of mine as well. I just dont have the gonads you do. I also have a family that needs me here. I will live vicariously through you as you travel. I have all of your Vision books and all of your ebooks. I follow you closely on your blog and cannot wait to hear of your adventures. Gods speed.

  150. I realize that Hawaii isn’t on your itinerary, but if you ever get over here I’ll be there to give you a warm “aloha”. I think you are making the right decision. Best to you, and stay safe.

  151. Dave,

    if you find yourself near Albuquerque, New Mexico, please feel free to use my house. I may or not be there, but a comfortable bed, a semi-stocked frig, and a decent sized house filled with photos of my own attempts at giving voice to my vision. All only a garage code away.

    Why, you ask? For the furtherance of your quest. Paulo Coelho wrote about the personal dream, that Pressfield-like magnetic needle pushing you in the direction you need to go, and of the Universe’s complicity in making your dream real. You have provided so much to so many through your books, your photos, and your blog, that it’s nothing to provide a knight a place to rest.

    Again, if Albuquerque, New Mexico comes over the horizon, smile. There’s a place for you, and a driveway for Jessie.

  152. Bravo to you. We are homeless itinerants as well, living full-time in an RV for the last 2.5 years. It is GREAT. I know it’ll be enjoyable reading your blog (I’ve only been on here for a few days and already I like your style.)

  153. You know, I’ve just dome something very similar. Not quite on the same scale, but just this month I packed up a 4WD campervan with every piece of photography gear I own and spent 10 days driving halfway across Australia.
    It was one of the best things I’ve ever done and really allowed me to refocus on what’s important and what I love. I’ve spent the last year or two developing my skills in people and event photography (portraits, music, etc). But on this trip I rediscovered that what I really love is landscape and nature photography. I need to do more of it even now that I’m back home and back at work.

  154. I know exactly what you mean. I started my year-long sabbatical in May. Seven months in, I traveled to places I’ve been meaning to visit (including two great trips to Iceland), honed my photography skills, and now writing a novel that I’ve been thinking about writing for at least three years… This ‘sabbatical’ has been a wonderful opportunity to excavate those passions inside that have long played second fiddle to the “professional life”.

    Best wishes on your journey, David. If a visit to Seattle is in order on your route, please let us know! 🙂

  155. I am picturing a forest gump in his running days part of the movie with a couple of dozen volkswagon vans with “vision quest” bumper stickers, and bmw motorcycles with the metal rear boxes attached following you around. Where’s he going now? What’s he taking a picture of? Really, that’s his vision?

    Seriously though, I am jealous.

  156. From your blog posts and tweets I had a feeling this was coming, perhaps because I have a similar plan in the incubation stages. My time line is tied into my son’s plans to move out, though, so I’ll likely be embarking on my journey about the time you are heading back here. In many ways I wish I was heading out as soon as you are, as I fear I will feel like I am in limbo for the next 16 months or so, not wanting to start anything new in case I am unable to see them through.
    But I know that everything that comes is part of the journey. The main thing is to be an active participant and not just a passenger.
    I would offer you my spare bed, but I am pretty sure you want to get farther than Burnaby on your first day. 😀
    I’m looking forward to vicariously sharing your journey with you.

  157. “Do not go where the path might lead go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” You are an inspiration David. Looking forward to meeting you in Kenya.

  158. A great plan. Your route leaves out the middle of the US but if you find yourself near Kansas City we have plenty of room (empty nesters). All the best.

  159. David, I get it. I know what you are going thru. So much to say , so much emotion. I will follow you, I will contact you. I will think of you while I sip my coffee and I will be there for you. I will meet you on your journey and connect with you. I just turned 50 and have had major changes in my life. If you are in New England you will have a warm place, a cup of coffee and a friend. anything you need.
    Until then…. Mike L.

  160. So excited for ya! You should have a gps tracker so we can find ya! Muwahahahaha! 🙂 actually it’s probably not a bad idea no? 🙂 or we’ll look on google maps and see you on te top of a mounain somewhere! Lol! Can’t wait to see your Interpretation of our beautiful continent! And a winch wouldn’t be a bad idea either 🙂 and maybe a gun. Ok I’ll stop now. Can you tell I’m a mom? Blessings my friend!

  161. Sounds like a stellar plan. I have to say that I’m disappointed you won’t be hitting Colorado. I would love to see your captures of the beauty here.

    When I was on my honeymoon, my husband & I had a 22′ motorhome loaned to us by his company and we traveled around Colorado for 10 days. While nothing compared to most of a year, it was glorious. The best part? No plans. If we were hungry, we ate. If we were tired, we slept. No clocks, no alarms. no calendars (this was long before cell phones, laptops, and the like). We camped when we found someplace to stay. We left if we wanted to move on. Or not. It was the best vacation I’ve ever had in my life.

    I look forward to following your journey on this side of the screen. 🙂

  162. Feel free to give me a shout should you find your way to Kings County, NS. I’d love to meet you.

  163. Excellent. My husband and I did the storage and travel thing a few years ago and it was awesome. Wish I knew then what I know now and I would never have stopped. Just an aside, I would love to this on my own, but as a woman, the fear/terror/OMG seems a bit higher than it does for a man. Even though I am incredibly self-sufficient, the reality is there is a huge difference in traveling alone on a pure safety level for men and women. Sad but true. Enjoy your freedom, David. Live it!!

  164. oh my how wonderful!!! I am jealous of you and so happy for you. I can’t wait to follow your journey’s and hope that some how the wind will blow us into the same path along the way.

  165. I can offer a guest room and the possibility of a talk at a nonprofit gallery I’m part of in Sacramento, CA. Always happy to offer travel advice for California…My goal is a year on the rails in India…

  166. Awesome Plan! I wish you the best adventures and many twists and turns. Looking forward to following along…. Good Luck!

  167. Hi David,

    I’ve spent the last week in Mexico, reading your books and using photography as a way to help remind myself that happiness is understanding your path.

    I turned 30 this year, I recently quit my job and will be moving from seattle to NYC – after spending a few months traveling in south america.

    Reading your blog just now made me feel both inspired and weirdly comforted. You take such beautiful pictures and capture such perfect moments. It’s a relief and an inspiration to remember that it’s a human being (and all it entails) taking those photographs.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    – Karen

  168. I sit here in front of my monitor smiling for you. My wife and I have talked about doing the same thing for the last few years now. We are still here. Now to watch you go off and chase your dreams is truly inspiring. Luckily, you can earn a living while in motion. You don’t just talk the talk… you walk the walk.

    One time, I met an Australian guy who was 28 years old at the time. His only possessions were two back packs on is body. Anyways, he worked as a heavy duty mechanic 4 months a year or whenever he needed the dollars to travel. He had been to over 70 countries, at the time, since he began his nomadic life style 5 years previously. He was truly living. At such a young age, he had done what many people never do in a whole life time.

    Way to go, David!

  169. David,
    We are in Oregon, Corvallis to be exact. We have a guest bedroom and would love to host you when you come through Oregon.

    Joe Murray

  170. If/when you are in my neighborhood (just North of the Adirondacks) you are welcome to crash on my sofa and I can show you around the Adirondacks a bit if you want.

  171. It’s scary but I think it goes without saying that we’re all excited with you. Best of luck on this adventure and may it fulfill everything you set out to find. As stated before, if you detour away from that rough red outline, I’ll accommodate as much as possible if you find yourself on the island. You gave me a small tour of Vancouver and it might be time to return that favor.

  172. All I can say is Fantastic! Make sure you stop in Toronto!
    I am just starting a humble beginning of a photography career at a young age of 56.
    Good luck and drive safe.

  173. Wow! Awesome David! Hope it’s all your hoping and more. Whenever a dream is close it’s when it’s at its scariest. Keep it up! God be with you! :c)

  174. David, you will have the best time of your life! I can relate to your story on so many levels. Early this year I sold all my possessions, packed a bag, grabbed my camera and set off overseas on a journey to experience life and be free. It has been nothing short of amazing. Another of my dreams is to experience Australia in the same way you are travelling around North America. Looking forward to your journey. P.S. I turn 40 eight days before you, maybe it’s a before you’re 40 thing 🙂

  175. What a fantastic adventure! Why does everyone skip the plains? Looking forward to reading about your travels along the coasts.

  176. Way to go David! You are my hero. If you stop in Las Vegas I would be thrilled to host a meetup here. Could even show you some of Vegas that most don’t see.

  177. Great plans. A source of envy for all others who can’t do this. I will be with you en-blog.
    If you pass through Baltimore, give us a shout and I will organize a welcome party/meal/talk/drink or what ever with some likely souls who share your spirit.

  178. Have a blast! I’m envious – always wanted to do this. I am looking forward to your posts along the road.

  179. WOW David – I’ve hardly read any posts of yours until now but how so exciting!!!!!!!!! You best look Elvis and I up and you have a place in VT for as long as needed. Perhaps Geoffrey will come this way too? Anytime David – an open door for you and Jessie. Take good care.

  180. You are a true inspiration to me. I do NOT use the word “inspire” or “inspiration” lightly either chasing down any “famous” photographer on Twitter to say so. I mean this honestly and truthfully. I appreciate your candor, honesty and willingness to be introspective.

    I was nodding my head from the start of your post and though our experiences differ, from what your wrote our emotions seem very similar. Thanks for sharing this post and I wish you lots of adventure, fun, reflection and safety on your voyage.

    God bless and I hope to get to meet you in FL or Cali.

    Godspeed. 🙂

  181. Great plans, David. I’m envious and staggered by the breadth, detail, and daring involved in the whole endeavor. I’ll keep tabs on you and hope you pass-by close enough on the trip for us to meet.

  182. Awesome plan! Wish you the best and I look forward to all your posts along the way. Looks like you won’t be too far from Minnesota and the BWCA… Maybe we can talk about organizing a lecture or something if you’re not in too big of a hurry to get back to Vacouver at that point of your trip. Take care of yourself and Jessie!

  183. Interesting… I’m looking forwards to watching you move around the US with “Jessie…”

    Its an interesting journey that I’d love to take myself, but I guess for now I will stick to the “journey” at hand and see what this life of photography can offer me…

    Maybe I can buy a coffee for you in Virginia somewhere… I’d love to meet you.


  184. Safe travels to you David. Watch out for the bears, I hear photographers as tasty. I will be looking forward to the book this will inspire. 🙂 Remember you have hundreds of us cheering you on.

  185. It’s been about 20 minutes or so that your post has been up…I’m post #31+ (I’m sure others will finish before I’m done with mine). Amazing and scary the impact that your life and adventures help us to live our vicariously through you. Thanks for that!!

    Quite a conquest, “Into The Wild” in reverse. Be safe, be careful, have fun, turn inward and discover or re-discover what you are seeking. If I read you correctly, finding what’s lacing is the goal…camera or no camera. Make it happen. I’ll be praying for your safety and that you fan your gifts into flame during this journey.

    Starbucks wireless along the way will become a friend to all of us.

    Blessings David and make the most of it! BTW, don’t wait until February to begin, start the journey now. Why not? NZ is just a place. Your real journey is internal.

  186. What an adventure.. I may need to wait for retirement to do the same. If you make your way to the Williamsburg VA (hampton roads area) count on a home cooked meal and personal tour guide if needed. Will follow your adventures, be safe and have fun!

  187. i’ve been hooked on you since i saw you on Creative Live…love your work and everything you speak….if you need a place to crash while travelling, i am Aulac, is on your way as you travel the maritimes..HAVE A GREAT TRIP AND LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING ABOUT IT VIA BLOG…:)

  188. David,

    This is a breath of fresh air that I wish I was taking with you. I’ll be praying for you as you make this mind clearing journey in hope you find what you are looking for. When you cut through Alabama on your way to Atlanta. You are welcome to home cooked meal and hot shower. Also, I have an in at all the State Parks in Alabama… I should be able to set you up.

    Be safe!

  189. We did this last year, for 7 months. I hope you have a wonderful time and that you get some great stories out of it as well as more astonishing photographs. We are just south of you in Mount Vernon, WA – if you have any questions about this area, let me know 🙂

  190. Hi David,

    I see you are planning to come down south… All the way South.. Yep, that’s right, you’ll be passing pretty much next to my house on the way to the Florida Keys… If you would like a nice warm home cooked meal and maybe a hot shower on the way… Reach out, I’m sure we can also improvise a Meet-Up around that as well!

  191. You ARE an inspiration. Have a great trip. There’s nothing like a road trip to clear one’s head. I hope you will make your presence known when you’re in the Bay Area.

  192. When you’re between Calgary and Banff you’ll always be welcome to stay with us (in the house), pitch your tent with the wildlife if you prefer, or have a place to leave Jessie for a while.

    I’ll follow your travels with interest. I’ve done a couple of cross country drives but never for so long. Have a great adventure.

  193. My best to you, David, I totally know how you feel! Enjoy this trip and feed your heart with every little moment of it.
    If I happen to be somewhere close to your itinerary, I’ll give you a holler! Aloha :o)

  194. I love your adventurous spirit! Your journey reminds me of a book I read many years ago “A Walk Across America” by Peter Jenkins and his many adventures. I look forward to join with you as you share your journey. Last July I went to Alaska for my first solo three-week adventure travel. Wow… I really had amazing time! Also, I was telling my friend today about going to Iceland in 2011. Life is short so enjoy and celebrate!

  195. Beautiful! Let the journey begin, the intention is set. Look forward to potential “meet-ups”, the cup of coffee, and conversation.

  196. David, I can’t begin to tell you how much this resonates. I turned 30 a few weeks ago, and while I wasn’t too upset about it, it did turn out to be a big milestone mentally. As like you said, life is short and I’ve spent most of my life doing the right thing according to everyone else. Time to do the right thing by myself.

    It’s been a dream of mine to tour the great tracks of this country (Australia) with my husband before I turn 31, and we have been working on this for months now. Our plans sound a helluva lot like yours. Living simply, giving up most of what the anasthesia of city living convinces you, you want. Getting out there and experiencing things without tether. And really, really taking the time to see this beautiful country in a way it needs to be seen, away from the tourist routes, feeling the wild.

    Hoping to see it come to fruition soon, although this does depend on economic factors etc. It’s good to feel the wheels turning though, and the self in motion.

    Looking forward to reading about your journey, and hopefully I’ll be on mine while I’m at it 🙂

    Journey well.

    P.S. Jessie is a beautiful girl. She looks like she knows a thing or 2 about looking after you 🙂

  197. Go for it David, you’ve got nothing to lose. What’s the worst thing that could happen really 😉
    Just don’t make too many plans. It’s not about the destination. It’s all about the Journey.
    Poor Jessie. Guess she will get to hear them soon. I’ll send you a mix-CD at David duChemin, No Fixed Address, North America? Some quality tunes for the road.
    Am looking forward to seeing what you learn!

  198. you know, it’s really pretty in Oklahoma that time of year. we’ve got a couch here with your name on it if you should choose to head this way. we’ll have you saying y’all in no time (unless that scares you.) have a great trip! i’ll say to you what i used to say to my athletes when i coached at the university: enjoy the experience. wade into it and soak it up!


  199. The best adventures start with that fine line between excitement and OMG!!! terror (and repeatedly going back and forth across that line). I’m so glad you’re doing this and taking us along with you. You’ll be alone and not alone the whole darned way. Just think of all the adventures you’re setting in motion out here as well! Plans… I’m making plans now.

  200. Congratulations David, that really sounds awesome! Embrace the fear and let it guide you into new things. I can’t wait to hear what you get into!

  201. “…throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
    Vicariously excited for you!

  202. David, This is just an awesome idea and I a wish you the best on your journey. Jessie looks awesome! I will gladly give you some input on locales once you have a process setup to do that. Hope to meet you along the way!

  203. When in SF don’t be a stranger. Would be great to show you a great lookout or two… or just talk shop. I’m envious of your trip. Plan well and travel safe!

  204. Thank you, David, for doing this for all of us ! For those who have and will re-live it through you. For those who someday may – your courage will inspire. For those who can’t – they’ll live the experience through you. For those who won’t – you may change their minds !

  205. I’m in New Orleans and you are always welcome for a home cooked meal- I make fantastic jambalaya by the way. Seriously, if you ever want to discover the local’s New Orleans, or if you want tickets to the National World War II Museum (several of my close friends work there) let me know.

  206. This will be a life changing journey as there is nothing like an overland trip. I drove from Kathmandu to Cairo when I was 21 and it made me grow up. Hey, maybe you will grow up on this trip…hope you won’t.

  207. Best of luck to you in following your dream! You should take some time to look at the website and blog of some great friends and photographers, Pat and Cindy Bonish,, who traveled for three years across the US and kept a wonderful blog documenting their travels. They now have a small motel, RV park and tiki bar in Cedar Key, FL, The Low-Key Hideaway. If you go that direction when you are in the Keys, I have a feeling you and Pat would have a fabulous time! Safe travels, and I will be following along on your adventure!

  208. Umm.. so … is “Jessie” a girl truck or boy truck? 🙂

    And… I’ll say it before Mike S. does. You gonna put a winch on that wench?

    HAHAHAHAHA(sinister laughter)

    5 days left until NZ!!!

  209. Wow!

    Of course, we won’t all be driving behind you in our own Land Rovers. But, I do hope that in some way we can move together as a convoy during 2011, each chasing our dreams and facing our own fears and maybe helping each other lighten the load.

    all the very best for your journey!

  210. Conquistador of the Americas!
    I admire that drive and determination to do the things right away. I always think about it, sleep on it and wait some more…I sure hope to hear from your travels and maybe even see you.

  211. David, I’m insanely jealous, but far to bound up with kids and job and the expectations of others to do something like you are doing. But I can relate….oh, can I relate!! I’m also on the other side of 50, and though I refuse to allow that to be an excuse, I know that we all must take our own journeys. I am looking forward to traveling with you vicariously. I do, however, wish you would consider traveling our majestic Midwest (Iowa, to be specific.) I took a very brief journey of my own this weekend to the funeral of an uncle, and captured these.!/album.php?aid=250822&id=635940247&fbid=463653120247

    I can only imagine what images you could create from these ancient structures.
    Blessings to you!

  212. Spending the last 9 months backpacking through Africa and Asia with my camera has only intensified my desire for big overland trips like you are talking about. Jealous. Best of luck man.

  213. David,
    I wish the red line went through the Central U.S., you may have inspired me to leave the boys with the grandparents, jump on my motorcycle and stalk, uh, er….I mean try to meet up with you.


  214. I can’t WAIT to see N. America through your eyes. The adventures you will have! (gotta be material for at least a couple more books awaiting you out there!). Safe travels!

    And lack of a lack… I love that. Never heard it before.

  215. Amazing! This is something I’ve dreamed about doing, as well. I wish you all the best and a safe trip, and I look forward to hearing about your adventures. Should you find your way to/near Vermont, we have a spare room and a heck of a view to enjoy a cup of coffee and stare at right here on the Canadian border.

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