Wednesday, July 14, 2021

10th Year Update


10th Year Update.

The last couple of years made many of us think and appreciate the journey of life.  This made me think about what has happened over the past 10 years and so I put together one of my random musings as a 10-year update.

With life changes in the year 2007, I decided as soon as my daughter was out of high school that I wanted to travel and photograph the National Parks.  I didn’t take this decision lightly and wanted to be better photographer, so I found a mentor with a little help from a good friend that said, “Do you want to take a photography class with me?”  In 2011, another good friend convinced me to fly to Washington State to help my son drive back to Texas.  We had a rushed 4-day trip, but we spent some time in Grand Teton National Park on the way, and the hook was set. Later that year, I was able to “volunteer” for a layoff to pursue my passion.  Everyone (friends, family, kids, co-workers and just about everyone else) thought I was crazy to give up a good career, to have no income, and travel in a truck camper to photograph the Parks. Many of them still think I am crazy, but at the 10-year mark some of them are starting to think I was serious about the journey.

So… 10 years later I still get many of the same questions.  The main one is “Have you thought about going back to work or contracting?  Something to bring in decent money again.”  The answer: Not even for a minute have I wanted to go back to the corporate world.  For 10 years we have had the freedom to travel whenever and wherever we want to go.  The freedom of a “non-corporate” job has also allowed us to be there for family as they need help along the way. But most of all it has given us a chance to spend a lot of time with family and friends and just enjoy the journey of life a little more.  I have been fortunate enough to have my son, daughter, wife and a number of friends join me in the camper or on our travels. This may not have been possible if we were still working “regular” jobs.

Here are some of the things we have accomplished over the past 10 years:

·       Driven over 100,000 miles in the US and Canada to photograph the National Parks and the places in between.  (I stopped counting when we reached 100K in the truck and camper).

·       Driven through (not necessarily to) all of the 50 states in the US and 5 providences in Canada.  Many states and provinces were visited multiple times (see the map below).  Although we did not drive to Hawaii and Alaska, we drove all around those states once we arrived.

·       So far, we have photographed 61 of the 63 National Parks.  We will visit Glacier Bay, Alaska this year, and hopefully America Samoa within the next couple of years as worldwide travel opens up again.  When we started this journey there were only 58 National Parks.  

·       We have photographed about 300 of the 423 National Park Service (NPS) Units/Parks.  A list of the NPS unit designations is included after the maps below.

·       We are still using the same Lance truck camper purchased in 2010, however there have been a lot of modifications and upgrades.

·       We are on our 2nd Toyota Tundra.  The original purchased in 2010 was a 4x2.  In 2015, after losing traction on steep dirt road in Colorado, we upgraded to a 4x4.   I had no idea how many times that 4x4 would actually be helpful or even necessary!

·       Flown an unknown number of flights. I never bothered to count all of them, although I did hire 11 different planes during one trip to Alaska.

·       Volunteered in a number of NPS locations.

·       Lived in the Parks for over 30 months.

·       Published a book and have sold over 2000 copies.

·       Presented the Parks to over 10,000 people through lectures and workshops.

·       Presented the Parks to over 3,500 elementary school children.

·       Honored to have a solo museum exhibit that originated as part of the 100 Year Anniversary of the National Park Service.

·       Worked with a gallery on San Juan Island to display and sell our photographs and books.

·       Partnered with Pottery Barn in Fort Worth to display and sell our work during the holidays.

·       Met and shared the journey with incredible people along the way. 

·       Started 3 companies:

o - A photography company

o  - A publishing company

o - An exhibit company

In 2015, we put together a consolidated map for the book and the museum exhibit.  At this point we had only covered about 40,000 miles.


 I have been thinking about created a year by year consolidated map for some time and thought at the 10 year mark, that maybe it was time.  This new map shows our Park to Park route for each of the 10 years so far. It is not necessarily a driving map, but more of a NPS park location direction in order each year.   Those who travel the parks know all too well that the roads taken to the NPS locations are definitely NOT straight lines.  has been a valuable asset for determining our routes and for information about each park. 

The National Parks Service (NPS) contain the following designations for the Units/Parks they manage:   National Battlefields (11), National Battlefield Parks (4)National Battlefield Sites (1),  National Military Parks (9)National Historical Parks (61)National Historic Sites (74)International Historic Sites (1), National Lakeshores (3)National Memorials (31)National Monuments (84)National Parks (63), National Parkways (4)National Preserves (19)National Reserves (2)National Recreation Areas (18), National Rivers (4)National Wild and Scenic Rivers and Riverways (10)National Scenic Trails (3), National Seashores (10), and Other Designations (11)


Thanks to everyone that has supported, encouraged, and followed us electronically over the past 10 years.  Stay tuned, there is much more to come.  We are not done yet!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The 20-Minute Stop

Time for a random musing... I haven't done one of these for a while.
It has been interesting to see all the people jumping on and off the busses at the various locations in the Canadian National parks. They rush into a place like Emerald lake in Yoho, bus pulls up, they jump off, buzz around like a mass of bees, take pictures and back to the bus all in about 20 minutes.  The bus must also make them all very hard of hearing because they all talk very loudly and at the same time. The other thing we have become better at is dodging selfie-sticks... you never know what direction they will be coming from. So for 20 minutes the calm and peaceful place turns into an amusement attraction with no concern for the other people there or the rules and posted signs.  
We talked with a bus driver at one of the stops. He said that his was a 4-day tour. They start in Vancouver drive thru 5 of the Canadian National Parks, with 20 minute stops all along the way. And then back to Vancouver all in 4 days. We are on day 15 of enjoying these parks and have not yet seen all of the stops they make... 
We have found that it is best to sit back, watch, smile and get out of there way and just wait until they get back on the bus and the peace and quiet returns....until the next bus shows up.