“The USA Road Trip”
Several years ago, I was sat at the window of my camper van way above the Arctic Circle on the Varanger Peninsula, the most northerly part of Norway. I was camped out on the tundra alongside a partially frozen lake and watching a pair of Red-throated Divers putting the finishing touches to their nest. The word tundra derives from the Finnish word for barren or treeless land and it was certainly that as well as being bitterly cold. I had not seen another person for almost a week but none of this bothered me one bit – as a wildlife photographer I was in paradise!
Sea Eagle in Norway
I stayed on the Varanger for about five weeks and it was during this time that I first conceived of the idea of an extended road trip in the USA, again using a camper van as a mobile home. At the time I was already running several US photo tours every year, mainly to Florida and New Mexico and I loved it out there. However the reality was that it was just a dream. My wife, Angie, had just gone to University to begin a three-year nursing course and financially we were not in a position to do it anyway.
So the idea lay dormant until January 2005 when it finally became a reality. We flew to Tampa, Florida and bought a Winnebago motor home (RV) and a Honda 4WD to tow behind that made our total length 51’ long. I had never driven anything even half this size especially on the wrong side of the road. To say the least it was a daunting prospect!
Angie in Death Valley
During the next 12 months our amazing journey took us from the Atlantic coast of Florida to the Pacific coast of California and included forays over the borders of Mexico and Canada. We passed through 29 states including Alaska and actually drove the infamous 1500 mile Alaskan Highway (both ways)! Angie and I were charged by a Grizzly in Yellowstone and later along with two other photographers I was charged by a Black Bear in Wyoming – both very memorable occasions! We visited 42 National and State parks, drove over 30,000 miles and for much of that time I was taking photographs virtually on a daily basis.
Before leaving for the trip I was fortunate to be commissioned by Practical Photographer Magazine to write a diary of the journey and it was published here in the UK. That was a good break and the monthly fee went some way to mitigate our massive fuel bills. But, when I was taking 1000’s of pictures each month the two pages allocated by PP proved woefully inadequate to do justice to our adventure. Now I can rectify that in the form of this exciting lecture that might just turn out to be one of the highlights in your clubs year – I hope so anyway.
Black Bear Chilling Out, Alaska