Here are a few of the polaroids I took on the road. Some of my film had been sitting in my camera for the last 8 years, hence some of the craziness.
In no particular order since they all hold a special place in my heart!
*The amazing day of Salton Sea, Slab City, Salvation Mountain, and East Jesus in Southern California. So many amazing and strange things to see. So much weird history packed into one day. And a day that horror movies are made from. When the guy at Salvation Mountain told us to go check out East Jesus, an artist community, and drew us a map in the sand it seemed like a great idea. Once we got there, it was amazing, but there was a moment of wondering if he had sent us to see something awesome or if he was sending us sinners to die.
*Visiting Dead Horse Bay in New York with Mick and Christina. One of the most interesting and beautiful places I have ever seen. Who new that what was once a landfill could turn into a magical beach of treasures. We collected so many bottles and I can't wait to go back and collect more!
*Powering through to Kansas with Noah after a long day only to reach the hotel we were going to stay at and realized it looked like a murder inn. Somehow mustering up the energy at 1am to drive another hour to the next town where the best hotel option was across the street from a feed lot. We spent that entire hour laughing about being on our way to Shit City and repeating the one-liner "Dad's pissed" from the This American Life episode we had just listened to. Proof that when you are really tired, almost anything is funny. P.S. we woke up the next morning to see the feed lot across the street. I am still kicking myself for not getting a photo but imagine hundreds of cows and a giant sign that says "Eat Beef, Stay Thin." Thank you Kansas!
*Donny, my best friend since high school, carrying me on his shoulders into a cornfield at the Valle Drive-In in Newton, Iowa so that could try and get a shot of the operational theater above the corn. The theater sits on a square lot cut out of the cornfield.
*Swimming in Austin with Jenny, James, and Noah. Some of the only swimming that wasn't in a pool that I got on this adventure. Laughing at Noah for freaking out about snapping turtles and enjoying water that was a perfect temperature (meaning not mountain run off). Plus right after this adventure I got to see my friend Will whom I hadn't see in 6 years.
*Staying up with my other best friend April until 4am on her kitchen floor. Talking about everything and nothing at all.
*Pushing a broken down car in New York off to the side of the road while I was in heels and April was in a nude suit. The street fight that almost ensued after was ridiculous but a good story to share none the less. What is life if not a series of amazing stories.
*Pulling up to that first abandoned drive-in theater in Yerington, Nevada. It has been raining and storming and I was still not sure what I was getting myself into on the trip. Before getting there I was feeling lost and unsure of myself. As we pulled up and the rainbow formed behind the screen, all my fears disappeared.
*Arriving in North Carolina to be greeted with togo cups of red wine (by to go I mean in wine glasses but we took them togo) and immediately being taken square dancing. You have to be up for anything when you are on an adventure.
*Crossing back into Oregon after 65 days on the road and having a mini freak out all to myself. Knowing that in 6 more hours I would be back home.
*Partnering with Honda and driving Wonda to all these amazing experience. Which wouldn't have been possible without the support from so many of you!
I have been home for a little over two weeks and my sense of time is still warped. The road seems like a distant memory. Maybe its the sudden change of the season, maybe its the fact that I have gone into overdrive since returning. After two months of living out of a car I got home and had the desire to just purge. Piling up the goodwill bags. Fully reorganizing and painting my garage studio. Letting go of so many things I have held onto but don't need. Maybe there was a larger sense of discovery on my trip. That is what road trips are so often about. I could get really deep here but I won't try and overthink it. Lets just say I am feeling motivated to get all aspects of my life in order!
As for my photographs, I spent the first week home finishing up all the freelance work I did on the road. I wanted to give myself a little space from the drive-in theaters and approach them with a clear mind. I have since added a handful of images up on my website and started getting my first round of Kickstarter enlargements out. So, Kickstarter Backers, if you selected your rewards, keep an eye on the mail! And, if you are interested in ordering prints, frames, or woodblocks I have started putting drive-in images in my
Time to get back to work. A top 10 highlights from the trip will be coming later this week.
As you may remember 6 weeks ago, I announced a milage contest. The person who was able to guess the closest total milage of my trip without going over would win these two 8x12" prints.
And the winner is………@tpa2las from Instagram with a guess of 11,711 miles. That is only 310 miles under the 12,022 miles my trip ended up being! Congratulations! Please email me your address at email@example.com so I can mail you your prize.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the contest!
After 65 days, 32 states, and 12,022 miles it feels really good to say that I have officially made it back home to Portland! I am currently typing this while my dog is sleeping next to/partially on me and it is pretty awesome. A more reflective post of my journey will be coming soon. For now, I am still processing being back home, everything that has happened over the last two months, and going a little crazy realizing that I still have a lot of work ahead of me as I jump back into my regular life. So, I will leave you with a post that updates you on the last few stops on my trip.
After Chicago, I headed to Des Moines, Iowa where I grew up. It was great getting to see friends and lots of family that I hadn't seen in years. Iowa also happened to provide me with one thing I have been searching for this entire trip, the original speakers at the drive-in! It might seem like a strange thing to be so excited about but after visiting nearly 30 theaters (abandoned and operational) and seeing thousands of the poles where the speakers used to be, it seemed like a huge part of the drive-in experience that was missing from my photographs. When I pulled into the Valle Drive-In located in Newton, IA I was more overcome with joy at the sight of the speakers. After what felt like several failed ventures in the past month as I kept hitting rain and loosing models I really needed this final win on my trip.
My best friend from high school assisted me on my trip to Newton and he may have won best assistant of all time. The Valle Drive-In is basically a big square hole cut into the middle of a corn field. I was trying to capture that but the corn was too tall and there wasn't anywhere to drive into it to get a good shot. Donny came up with the master plan of having me hop on his shoulders and carrying me into the field so I could get the perfect picture. He also let me climb on top of his SUV so I could get another shot about the corn.
After I left Iowa, which by the way was raining and cold for most of my trip, I was ready to get home. For the first time in my trip, I was all on my own and that made for long days of driving as well as difficulty when trying to shoot and not having an extra set of hands. I powered through to Idaho where I visited The Spud Drive-In. I was sad to get there mid week and find that they are only showing films on the weekend now that school is back in session but I stopped by and snapped a few photos. This place is pretty adorable with their potato truck in front and potato sculptures all over the place.
All in all, it has been an amazing adventure. I am so thankful to all of you who supported me via Kickstarter, who helped with Charlie while I was gone, and who believed in me and pushed me towards making this dream a reality. I am also so grateful to Honda and their Project Drive-In for loaning me the 2015 Fit for my trip. I can't imagine how this trip would have gone without Wonda the Wonder Honda! So thank you times a million. Now to start working on the book!
*For legal purposes please note that all opinions about the 2015 Fit are my own and my opinion is that I wish I could keep this car forever!
I made it to my hometown of Des Moines, IA last night. When I got here, everyone started asking me all the places I have been. As I started listing off all the states I had gone to, it dawned on me that I hadn't counted them yet. So here is a visual example of all the state I have hit so far. Iowa makes the 29th state that Wonda the Wonder Honda and I have been in over the last 55 days. I am so grateful to Honda for loaning me the new 2015 Fit for this trip. I have said it before, but I really can't imagine how this trip would have gone without it. I am really bummed that I have to give her back in just a few short weeks. (And as stated before, all opinions about the Fit are fully my own)
I just had to reread my last blog post so I could try and remember what has happened in the last week. My sense of time has disappeared. Not in a bad way, more in the I have cramed so many experiences and amazing people into the last 49 days that it feels like a years worth of memories. When people ask me about my trip I don't even know what to say at this point. I need prompts for what city they want to hear about. California, Texas, even New York which I left only a few days ago all feel like far off memories.
So, what really did happen since I updated last...
*Freelance family shoot in Central Park where a turtle bit my toe in the middle of me shooting. There is a new one for the books. Sadly, no picture.
*My best friend April flew into New York, reunited a small portion of our amazing group of lady friends from Portland. We stayed up til the wee hours of the morning more often than not, got dressed up and hit the town, pushed a broken down car in high heels (not Wonda, some random dudes car cus we are nice ladies), roller skated through the subways, had roof top parties, and one pretty epic day of cuddling in bed while drinking champagne.
*April and I left New York and drove to Chicago hitting up two drive-in theaters on the way and also brought along another travel buddy, Tramp the Adventure horse. You can learn more about Tramp by clicking the blue link.
*Got to Chicago, woke up sick the first day. Laid around watching TV and plotting my trip back home.
I'm feeling much better now and I am going to be hitting up another abandoned drive-in tonight. The remainder of the trip I won't be hitting as many drive-in theaters as I did in the beginning. I am focusing more on finding models now and creating scenes which takes more time and planning.
Back on track and about to head back west! This past weekend, I packed up the car with my friends Mick & Christina and we headed up to Portland, Maine. On our way there we hit up an abandoned drive-in located in South Windsor, CT which is now my new favorite theatre. It was so beautiful and overgrown. I found a model with a 64 Grand Prix that I got to drive into the overgrown lot and park in front of the screen. I hate to tell you about the shot and not share it, but some things are worth waiting for. This might be the best shot I have taken so far on this trip. I could have explored for hours but as per usual on this trip, mother nature had a different plan. The sky looked like doom our entire drive there and of course, after about 30 mins of shooting, it started to pour. I managed to protect my gear and shoot through some of the rain before we continued our venture up north.
We got in late and were sitting outside of the house we were staying at when Pippen, Mick & Christina's dog, bolted after something. Turns out it was a skunk and poor Pippen got sprayed in the face. It was horrible but you can either get upset or you can deal with your situation through lots of laughs. We chose the latter. It was strange seeing signs all over for Portland. It was the closest I had felt to home while simultaniously being the farthest I will ever be on this trip from my Portland. By the way Oregon, I hate to break it to you, but I think Maine might be more Portland than you. Portlandia might need to shoot its next season on the other coast.
Saturday night, we hit up the Saco Drive-In, a theater that was saved last year by Honda's Project Drive-In. It is always great getting to meet drive-in owners, especially ones that have been saved by Honda's efforts. I know there is a good chance that my project wouldn't have made it this far without Honda loaning me the 2015 Fit to drive for my trip. I can't even imaging what it must feel like for the theaters to win a digital projector from them, which really can be what makes or breaks their small business.
Sunday we headed back to Brooklyn, making a pit stop in Sutton, MA to shoot one more abandoned theater. This one had some of the most interesting structures I have seen so far. It was a pretty jam packed weekend. Now I am back in Brooklyn for the next few days. I was fortunate enough to book a few portrait gigs while I'm here. I will be doing some freelance work this week while I wait for my best friend April to fly in so she can join me on my drive from New York to Chicago!
The past few weeks I feel like my theatre luck has dwindled. While I was in Maryland, I wasn't able to get ahold of an operational theater early enough so I couldn't get in to take pictures. Then, on our way out, we drove 3 hours to find an abandoned theatre in Ocean Side, MD only to get stuck in so much traffic that we likely would have had to sit for another 3 hours barely moving. My assistant, Noah Dye, and I decided to just chalk it up to a loss and powered through to Connecticut. While I got to visit the Delsea in New Jersey, which was amazing, my attempt to visit and abandoned theatre in Newburgh, NY was sadly met finding a gas station instead. It wasn't all a loss since I found a pretty cool abandoned school to photograph and since these have been my only fails in 37 days I won't complain.
This weekend we are turning our luck around. Tomorrow I am heading out of town with my two friends I have been staying with in New York. We are hitting up two abandoned theaters on our way to the other Portland (Maine) and then visiting the Saco Drive-In which is an operational theater that Honda's Project Drive-In was able to save! I hear the Saco Drive-In has a wall of old speakers that I am really excited about seeing. I am also pretty pumped to visit the other Portland.
At least my bit of free time has allowed me to get Wonda the Wonder Honda the bath she truly deserved and get her oil changed and tires rotated. She is still running like a champ and I am so thankful to Honda for loaning her to me. I can't help but think how hard it will be to go back to my beloved Civic after rocking this brand new Fit for the last few month. I know serious problems I am facing here right. Anyhow, I have also had more time to work on editing so here are a few more shots. Hope you enjoy!
It has been an amazingly refreshing and relaxing week in New York City but I woke up today fully ready to kick it back into gear pretty hard and finish this trip up. I started mapping out the theaters I will be visiting here and making plans for my way back home. Oh, and I got a chance to do some editing, hence the pictures above! It was really nice to take a break and see what I have and what I really feel like I am missing still.
Wonda the Wonder Honda is still doing amazing. I am going to take her in this week for her first oil change and check up. Pretty amazing that I was able to put well over 8,000 miles on her before needing an oil change. I am sure she has been enjoying the break from long days on the road. I know I have been enjoying our space but I am getting the itch to pack her back up. We will be going on a few adventures this week and then off to Maine for the weekend!
Hello, New York! Hello, relaxation and reorganizing!
I have parted ways with my assistant Noah Dye. He will be helping me with a few things while I am still on the east coast but then he stays here to start his new life in his new home. So, if you need your portrait taken in New York City, or you are looking for a detected and hard working assistant look him up!
I made it to New York City Sunday evening and I am so excited to be here. Not only am I staying with two of my very dear friends, New York also marks a changing point in the trip for me. I am taking a few days off to give myself some space from the project. Take some time to think about other things and go through all my images so I can hit the second half of this trip hard knowing exactly what I want out of it.
It was really hard when I was about to leave for the trip. Everyone wanted to know exactly what the book was going to look like and what I was going to be shooting. I had an idea obviously, but it was hard to know how the project was going to progress when I hadn't seen any of the locations in person. I have now photographed 20 theaters, four operational and sixteen abandoned ones. I have a substantial amount of work now that I can look at and process. On my way back, I will be visiting more operational theaters, which I am really excited about. I really have loved the opportunity to talk to the owners and hear their stories. I have learned so much from each of them about the history, the successes and struggles of running this type of business, and a lot about upgrading to digital projectors and what all of that entails.
For now, enjoy my random photos from my New York adventures and more drive-in theaters will be coming soon!
I can't believe I have been on the road for 24 days. Sometimes it feels like months, sometimes it feels like I just left Portland. This first half of the trip has been pretty go, go, go, with few breaks. There has just been so much stuff to capture in the southern part of this adventure and it is all so spread out. I'm really looking forward to setting up my home base in New York for a few weeks and not only spending time with dear friends but having a break in the chaos to really look at what I have been shooting and reevaluate what I want in the second half of my trip.
A good friend suggested that it might be a fun contest to have people guess how many miles I will travel during this venture. I fully agree, so lets give this a go! So far I am in Louisiana and have put 5,264 miles on Wonda the Wonder Honda.
How to enter:
2. Comment on this post or any FB or Instagram posting by Sunday August 10th at midnight with your guess of the total number of miles you think I will travel.
The closest person at the end of the trip, without going over (yes we are getting all Price Is Right style) will win one 8x12" print of each of the below two images:
*****Note, in the event of multiple people picking the same milage that is closest, all the names that guessed closest will be thrown into a hat and the winner will be picked at random.
For anyone catching on late, I am in the process of documenting drive-in theaters across the country. I left from Portland, OR 19 days ago, and just arrived in Louisiana today. I will be on the road until mid to late September before ending up back home in Portland, OR. Here is a rough outline of various locations I hope to stop at. The trip is subject to change but I will be venturing all the way up the east coast and back across the midwest to Portland, OR.
Before getting into my post for today, I have one favor to ask all of you. Everyone was so wonderful at spreading the word and sharing my project on social media during my Kickstarter process. Now that it is in full swing and I am just posting fun updates and images rather than begging for money, I would love if you could share my project again and let you friends know they can follow my blog, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to keep up with the adventure.
So it is nearly 3am and we are in a motel in Garden City, KS as I type this. I looked back thinking I had updated the trip blog days ago. No, it was less than two. It has just been two crazy days. Yesterday we shot an abandoned theatre in Socorro, NM and then headed to Santa Fe to spend the night.
Today, we got rolling around 3pm but only had a 3.5hr drive to our next location in Center, CO. The last few days we have been on a serious battle with mother nature and today she almost beat us...almost. This cloud of doom was surrounding us as we approached the drive-in and just as we saw it, the rain started to hit with no sign of letting up. I couldn't pass up this drive-in, it was the most amazing one I have seen so far. Abandoned church buses and tons of old trailers filled the property. Plus, look at how amazing that sign is.
We sat in the car for at least an hour before we had a break, which really means it was still raining but it wasn't down pouring. I had about 10 mins to run around the property and hope that someone wasn't going to jump out at me from any of the abandoned structures. On a perfect day I would have had more time and pulled out my lights but the sky looks amazing and I am pretty excited about what I got. On a trip like this, you have to roll with the punches and adapt to the situation.
We had a big drive, 10 hrs, to our next location in Kansas. Since we finished up in Colorado a bit early, we planned to drive until midnight and grab a hotel at the first town in Kansas. Enter horror movie scene here. We tried calling ahead of time and no one answered. Trip advisor didn't even register the city. As we pulled in, we gave that place one look and if that didn't look like a murder hotel than I don't know what does. I'm pretty sure we would have had to wake up whoever owned it so that they could give us a room. If there was a huge house on top of a hill in back, I would have thought it was the inspiration for Hitchcock's Psycho. So, we hoped in the car and drove an extra hour.
What do you do after a really long day in the car when you finally get to a motel? Work, obviously. Noah Dye, my amazing assistant and driver is currently taking self portraits in the bathroom and I am editing photos and typing this post. An adventure indeed my friend, and adventure indeed. Good night, or to most of you, good morning!
You guys, I am actually writing this blog post from a fully functional computer! You probably aren't as excited about that as I am but you should be. This hopefully means no more upside down images and, most importantly, it means I can start sharing stuff other than iPhone photos. So enjoy this mostly visual update!
Alright, off to explore New Mexico today!
Four Apple stores, one three hour delay by Obama, a few tears and a few laughs later and I have a working computer...which really means I bought a new computer. An adventure isn't complete without a little chaos and on the road you just have to roll with the punches. I am staying somewhere without internet though so pardon spelling error and upside down photos. I promise those will stop soon but I had so much to report.
So highlights, in Los Angeles, I got to meet all the wonderful people at RPA, Honda's advertising agency. It was nice putting faces to all the people I have been emailing with who helped make getting Wonda the Wonder Honda possible. I also got a short but great first visit to The Getty in.
We made our way into Palm Springs on Wednesday night and went to explore Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, and East Jesus on Thursday. Salton Sea has been on my bucket list for years so I was pretty excited to cross it off. It was an interesting day, the kind of day horror movies are made from but we got some awesome pictures and came out alive!
Finally made it out of California today. Even though we are 10 days in, it feels like the adventure is really starting now that we are leaving the west coast. It is crazy hot here though.
So much to report. First things first, I finally named the 2015 Honda Fit. We are calling her Wonda the Wonder Honda, because well it is pretty damn amazing the amount of stuff we have managed to pack her with and still see out the back window. We are also in California and still haven't gone over $30 to fill her up!
I picked Noah up the other day and we immediately headed to Nevada for our first stop. All through the mountains it was patchy rain and the weather was pretty crappy when we arrived at our camp spot. I was nervous our first stop was going to be a busy but we pushed through and I am so glad we did. Out of nowhere, the sky started turn pink and this rainbow was perfectly framing the abandoned screen.
We are currently back in California heading to two more abandoned theaters and one operational one tomorrow. Still sorting out my computer issues but hoping to have tha figured out soon which should mean more regular posts. A great friends parents kindly put us up for the night. A home cooked meal, a little swimming in the pool, and my own to sleep in for the night is going to be a great replenisher for the full week ahead.
I made it safely to my first destination yesterday! Got the 2015 Honda Fit all packed up. I can even see out my back window still. I was nervous about being able to fit everything into the tiny car but once I had all my stuff loaded up, I honestly considered going back in the house and grabbing a few more cameras. There were a few semi tire blowouts right by me but other than that it was smooth sailing.
I'm hanging out in southern Oregon today. Testing out my mobile office and sound some last minute shopping. Tomorrow morning I will head to San Francisco to pick up my road trip buddy and Saturday we will be heading out to our first theater in Nevada!
Heads up, this is about to get a little sappy so if you want to skip that part, scroll down to the gorgeous sunset. Otherwise, here's some emotional truth. Leaving Portland was a far harder than I had anticipated. I won't lie, I cried like a baby, more than once. Somehow in this whole process I just pushed down the reality that I would be leaving my home for 2.5 months. It hit me like a ton of bricks last night. Not just the leaving part but the reality of everything that has been building up for the last eight or so months.
It is humbling to know the amazing support system I have out there. To know that I have a partner who supports me in a decision that I honestly, mostly made on my own even though it greatly affects him. To know I have such wonderful friends and family who have supported this crazy idea from the beginning. And to know all of you who supported my Kickstarter are out there and believed in me enough to do this.
I am so ready to make the most of this trip. To give it everything I have. I'm ready to grow and see where this adventure takes me. So, day 1 down. Sappy crying done. Adventures and lots of pictures, coming right up!
As you will see on many blog posts on this trip, thank you to Honda for loaning me this amazing brand spankin new 2015 Fit for this trip. All opinions written about the car are my own and in case you missed it, my opinion is that this car is awesome!
P.S. This is my first blog post from my phone. I am in the country with no internet so please excuse any errors.
Eeeeek, I hit the road tomorrow! I have been telling myself for months that I would have everything done so I could spend the last week before I left soaking up time with my boyfriend Justin and our dog Charlie. Of course, now that it is here, I am running around frantically trying to get all the last minute things together and hoping I don't forget something extra important, like my camera.
I did give myself a break over the weekend though so I don't feel as bad. We went to the coast to celebrate two wonderful friends getting married. It also happened to be my 30th birthday, some alone time with Justin at the coast was a great way to celebrate. On Sunday we had a big birthday/going away BBQ at our place. I am so thankful for everyone that was able to make it out. These last few weeks I feel like I have been neglecting friend time as I try and pull everything together so it was great to have everyone all in one place.
Justin and I did hit up one last Oregon drive-in last night, Motor-Vu Drive-In located in Dallas, OR. The owners, Jeff & Robin, were so welcoming. I can only hope that all the owners I meet on the road are as kind as the ones I have had the pleasure of meeting in Oregon so far. They bought the Motor-Vu back in 2007 and did some major updates to the snack bar, including adding an espresso bar to keep you up for the second feature. While they weren't recipients of a digital projector from Honda's Project Drive-In, they found another way to keep their screen lit. A creative game plan where they sold thousands of gift cards to the theater ended up being overly successful and they were able to go digital! If you are in Oregon, I recommend taking a little drive and checking this place out. No light pollution here so you really are watching the movies right under the stars and a huge bonus, they are open 7 days a week!
It was also a great longer test drive of the new 2015 Honda Fit to make sure I am used to driving her. I got my ancient iPod working with the USB port in the car and we figured out how to get Pandora to play too. That with all the mix CD's I have received, I think I will be good to go on music. I won't lie though, I think it is going to be really hard having to give this car back after the trip. I love my little 2006 Honda Civic but it is going to be quite the downgrade.
I wish I could say I was going to have the time to edit all these photos before hitting the road but something tells me that just isn't going to happen so for now here is a sneak peek of the back of my camera.
P.S. As I have stated before, for full disclosure and legal reason, Honda has generously loaned me the 2015 Honda Fit for my road trip. Their kind donation doesn't mean they are telling me what to say. All opinions stated about the car are my own. And the car really is amazing!