Okay, so I know I haven’t been posting as often as usual, but I just haven’t had reliable internet! I made it across Arizona and am on my way through New Mexico now. Filming and making friends as usual, but the impending conclusion of the trip is beginning to weigh on me. I am going to have a crazy time readjusting to my life back in NY. I think I permanently have sand in my shoes. In more ways than one…
I am going to be heading straight home from Texas as I have to be back on September 1. I am sorry to miss the South, but I have a lot of driving ahead of me! Hopefully I can find a reason to continue the project later in the year.
Internet and cell service (and time!) have been spotty at best, but don’t let my silence fool you – I’ve been busy!
Filming with an arborist in Oregon was a highlight of the week. He rigged me up to climb high into the tree in order to film him at work. It was a thrill. Later I joined him and his friends for a delicious curry in his electricity-free cabin on a farm above town. We sat up late, drinking homemade Kombucha, chatting by oil lamp about Western medicine and world travel.
Spent a day with a rancher in Northern California – a real traditionalist. Perfect penmanship and a slow drawl, augmented by an impeccable mustache and a penchant for honesty, made for a true pleasure of a day. We sat in the shade of his porch, listening to him talk about ideas, humans and legacy, playing music and reading entries from his rancher’s log. When we heard the meal bell ring, he invited us to stay for “dinner” (lunch) and we joined a bunch of his crew for some hardy grub.
Finally made it to the Pacific coast!
Spent a short day in SF with a few friends and then turned South. I didn’t make enough time for it, but I raced through the Walt Disney Family Museum – it was AMAZING. I can’t wait to go back.
I spent the night on the roof of my car, watching the meteor shower in between the passing fog. I could hear the elephant seals bustling about through the night and in the morning, I hiked along the coast to catch them lounging in the morning mist. I had never noticed how prehensile their flippers were! Astonishing!
In LA, I met with my best friend and we drove back up along the coast a bit, treasure hunting along the beaches and catching up. It was blissful.
Darin arranges our scavenged rainbow of rocks
Will start the trek back to the East Coast tomorrow. Since I’m running out of time, it looks like I will be skipping nearly all of the South. I’m still looking for contacts in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, but past that, I think I will have to wait… Perhaps a second road trip some other time…
Since I last wrote, I’ve had a great time, but not exactly one of fruitful filming. My contacts in Missoula fell through so I didn’t get to shoot anything. But I did get to spend an amazing two days with a few personal heroes. It was a thrill and a great way to be re-inspired.
More spectacular landscapes driving into Idaho. That’s my trusty KIA there in the corner…
Come weekend, it gets harder to find working men, so I let myself have part of that time off to visit a family friend at her gorgeous lake home. I spent some time editing on the balcony as well as some time writing on the pier. But there was much hilarity and gin rummy playing too. Getting to swim in the heat of the day and then cozy up next to the fire when the power went out during a tremendous storm was truly the best of both worlds.
My editing setup, overlooking the lake.
Early morning on the pier.
Into Washington, I got to spend a day filming a barber (dreams do come true). A delicious meal with an old friend and then home cooking with a new one. Just the little moments of this trip are enough to make me never want it to end…
Sitting on the porch watching the sunset over Spokane, with a glass of wine and new friends.
As always, more (and better) photos on my Instagram.
My time in Iowa was full of amazing people like Joe Pyle, the subject of the third installment of This Working Man. Although I only spent a few hours with Joe, it was immediately clear that he excels at everything he puts his mind to — window washing being just one example of his talent and work ethic.
Since I am more than halfway through my trip for This Working Man, I think it is time to focus on getting a few of the working men I really want to capture. Below are a few ideas for the types of work I’m looking for. If you know of a fit man with an interesting face that has one of these as his profession and lives in one of the following states, please let me know!
- Brick Layer
- Fruit Picker
- Glass Blower
- Sheep Shearer
Located somewhere in or very near:
- Northern Idaho
- Eastern Washington
- New Mexico
Today marks the halfway point of my road trip across the US. I can’t believe how fast it has gone. I’m going a little bit slower than planned, though no slower than expected. I may have to skip a rather large portion of the South on my way back to NY, but we’ll see…
I continue to be floored by the landscapes here. Below is the view from a different ranch, farther south in Montana where I spent an afternoon following another cowboy.
From there I drove south over the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway into Wyoming. I had to pull over countless times just to take in the view.
I stayed in Cody, WY for a few days and was fed contacts by the incredibly generous owners of the Proud Cut Saloon. Haying, horse shoeing, and, of course, more rodeo.
On our way to stack giant towers of hay.
Behind the shoots before the bull riding starts at the Cody Nite Rodeo
Also had some down time, sitting in the shade on the deep porch of an old cowboy named Bob, just enjoying the cool breeze, as well as jumping into this breathtaking reservoir.
I am back in north west MT for a day or two before heading further towards the Pacific. I am still looking for working men from Washington down through California and from New Mexico over to Mississippi, so keep those recommendations coming!
Also, don’t forget you can see many more photos on Instagram.
North Dakota was not what I had been warned. I met some wonderful folks. I started the stay with plenty of wild story telling and delicious waffle fries amidst a couple of welders on the oil pipeline. On the drive back to the motel where the guys live semi-permanently, we spotted this gorgeously bright double rainbow whose end actually dipped into the nearby lake.
Next morning up at 4:30 am to get to the site – it was only 44 degrees out but it was a beautiful and misty drive. And once they got going, it was pretty mesmerizing to watch the welding line move down the miles of pipe.
Another night of yet even more wild story telling and waffle fries and then back on the road for me. Checking out of the motel, I noticed this strange little happening. I couldn’t help but snap a photo. This little guy was apparently very intent on something…
A few hours in Williston (which didn’t seem like the lawless wild west town everyone made it out to be – but I didn’t stick around for night fall). My first stop in Montana was the Bison Bar in Miles City. According to one of the welders who used to be a cowboy in MT, this was the spot for me to do some casting. I did get a few contacts, but mostly I just danced to country music, laughed at more tall tales and turned down drinks. All were fast friends. I still can’t believe how incredibly warm and open everyone has been on this trip!
Though, the next morning, trying to blend with the locals at the breakfast joint on Main St. was a bit more challenging…
Regardless, I was invited to join one of the local ranchers at his ranch a little outside of town. We had an incredible afternoon. I shot for a while on horseback – it was challenging, to say the least.
Eventually we switched to a four wheeler and drove over just a small portion of his astonishingly diverse and beautiful ranch.
The rancher’s family also runs a veritable canning factory in the basement of their cozy log cabin. I scored some choke cherry syrup and pickled green beans. I can’t wait to dive into those…
Just two of the many many shelves of treats: peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, pears, tomatoes, pickles, pickled jalapenos and green beans, salsa, spaghetti sauce and more!
Tomorrow, I have no idea!
Though I’ve had a wonderful time everywhere I’ve been, the first few days of my road trip will always hold a special place in my heart. On day three I met Brian Trudell, a dairy farmer and the star of the second (and brand new) episode of This Working Man.
Though I’m currently in North Dakota, this episode really takes me back to Vermont. It’s amazing to think that this was just a few weeks ago — I can’t wait to see what the next five weeks bring!
Finally left Iowa and headed into the soybeans and corn of South Dakota. I can’t believe how much fun I have driving by myself and just taking in the landscape.
About 30 miles into SD, I pulled off the highway for gas and crossed paths with a young man driving a tractor. I explained the project to him and he invited me to a Merle Haggard concert. Not knowing who that was, I agreed. What a kick.
The next day I filmed the tractor-driving farmer-turned-roofer tearing up some wood shakes. A little bat was hiding under one of the shingles and I spent much longer with the bat than the roofers… But who could resist that little face?
During the lunch break, the roofer taught me to shoot a shotgun. The bruises on my shoulder are proof that I was a first timer.
After a hard day of laboring in the sun (that’s right, I hammered nails and laid shingles!) we headed to the Missouri River for a swim and some fireworks. There was beer and football tossing. It was pretty all-American.
From left: Ryan, Tommy, Sean, Logan and Jake
Today I head to North Dakota, parts of which I have been warned are terribly unsafe. I will take all necessary precautions, but, good people of North Dakota, I hope you can prove all these southerners wrong…
Also, my friend Michelle (who joined me early on) has posted about our adventures on the Atlas Obscura “Notes from the Field,” if you want more stories and photos from the beginning of the trip…
From PA I drove to Columbus, OH where I encountered extreme heat and sun for the first time on this trip. It feels like it’s officially summertime now. Landscaping and bread baking are both jobs that can get a little too warm at this time of year…
From Ohio, through Indiana and into Illinois. Stopped in Chicago for a day of editing in the studio of my talented and inspiring friend, Jo Dery.
Jo sketches over our morning coffee
Editing in Jo’s studio
I’ve been in Iowa now for a few days. I have to admit, I’m surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed this state – both its landscape and its population. I continue to be nearly shocked at the generosity of the people I have encountered.
View of the Wapsipinicon
Had some successful planned shoots as well as a few I’ve stumbled into. Spent last evening in the kitchen at Cobble Hill Restaurant where I was not only allowed to film the chef, but also taste a plethora of deliciousness. (Thanks to everyone in the kitchen for feeding me while letting me get in their way.) I should film in restaurants more often…
Both beautiful and delicious: (Left) Pork Belly with pickled rhubarb, poached egg, creamed spinach, olive-sesame crumble and local greens. (Right) Cracker Jack desert with jellied caramel cubes, peanut crumble, cocoa covered popcorn, buttered popcorn ice cream and cinnamon basil.
As usual, more photos on Instragram.
I have no idea where I will go next! Suggestions for South and North Dakota still welcome.