photography, portraits, travel

N O M A D // no 4

We enjoy living with less and the tendencies of living in a home are to fill it with stuff, but stuff doesn’t equal happiness; if anything, it can weigh you down.”

We met the Fabers (@followthefabers) this summer in Wyoming, by providence. Ellen and I were having a beer at the local brewpub when Morgan ran up for the local run club that meets at the pub… Marc followed. I mistook Morgan for a waitress (still not sure why?!), and we struck up conversation.

It’s really eerie how much we have in common. They’ve been loosely spending their summers in and around Pinedale, living out of their 1981 Trillium 1300. It’s a molded fiberglass camper with 65 sq. ft. of livable space, if you’re being generous. They hit the road full-time nearly three years ago, when they left their home in Grand Rapids, MI.

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“We do miss is our family and friends and a sense of community, but we don’t have an end {to full-time travel} in sight,” Morgan reflects.

They just purchased a home in Wyoming, but have no plans to stop traveling. “We’re just going to use it as a home base and it’s in one of our favorite places in the country. Plus, now our friends and family can come visit us and have a place to stay instead of the other way around :)  Also, we plan on traveling in different ways.  Once Marc retires, we plan on hiking – a lot!”

They have goals to thru-hike the CDT, AT, PCT and the Arizona Trails, specifically. “We think it’s great to live minimally, and there’s something exciting about carrying all you need to survive (and thrive!) on your back!”

Ellen and I couldn’t agree more…

“We feel that we’re pursuing a life that is really intended for all of us. We want to gather experiences, not things. We want to develop friendships that encompass people from all walks of life. We want to explore this beautiful and crazy world that the Lord has created and revel in the beauty of it,” they said.

We don’t feel that God intended us to live in one spot, in one neighborhood, in one group of the same people, shut up into a routine and sheltered from the rest of the world.  The world is an incredible place filled with incredible people, and until you actually step outside of your comfort zone and experience that, you’re not really living.”

“Unfortunately for most people, ourselves included, ‘living traditionally’ is and was ‘living safely’ and in our minds, after what we’ve seen and experienced, that’s no way to live.”

They travel everywhere with their mascot, “Monkey”, a sock monkey given to the Fabers by a friend on their maiden voyage with their trailer.

“Yeah, we know, super creative. Just like our camper’s name, Trilly. We’re naming geniuses.” Morgan laughs.

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In the short time we’ve spent with the Fabers, we got a glimpse into their laid back, fun personalities. They are deeply caring and open people. They pour into others and the little communities they come across.

This sounds cliche, but traveling has restored our faith in humanity. People are inherently good and kind and that is not what is portrayed in our current society. The media and news paint a picture of fear and hatred and division and when you live ‘traditionally’, you’re constantly bombarded with those images and that fear of others or the unknown can be crippling. We lived in a neighborhood for years and barely knew our neighbors. We’d go to the same church with the same people and the same friends and not really ever try to branch out. Traveling has changed all that.  We are constantly meeting new people and doing new things. Our ‘neighborhood’ changes constantly and we make it a point to meet our neighbors.  I’ve always said, campgrounds are a great equalizer.  You have people from all walks of life and backgrounds and economic statuses. Where else will you find people with half million dollar rigs and others living out of tents because they have to, and everything in between – all within the same ‘neighborhood’ gathered around a campfire together? You won’t. If it weren’t for traveling – for camping – a lot of these people would never cross paths, but now, we call all of those people friends. It’s beautiful. ❤”

— Andrew


Ellen and I hit the road full-time in June of 2016. We are on a mission to inspire and educate everyone on the importance of getting outside. Check out my workshops and my prints, made #ontheroad in my mobile print studio. The revenue will help propel us further on this great adventure. Enrich yourself and others… and feel great about it too as you’re helping to ensure our public lands are cherished and to keep the wild spirit of the American Dream alive. Our goal is to visit all 59 National Parks in 3-5 years. LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE



Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
EVERGLADES // WINTER // LANDSCAPES + WILDLIFE
BIG BEND// LANDSCAPE + THE ART OF SEEING
 
I’m excited to announce my “The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks:
 
Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park
 
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from the road”, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
Andrew Slaton // prints from the road

 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
  
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2018

 

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photography, random thought, travel

INTO THE WINDS (Part 2)

Continued from Into The Winds (Part 1)

We arrived just as our friends were tying up their horses.

They came with gifts. Gifts of glorious food.

One of the things that inevitably occurs when backpacking is that you begin to fantasize about certain foods that you couldn’t possibly take with you into the backcountry. It may sound nuts, but Ellen was dreaming about fresh salad. I know, I know, let me explain. Nothing you take in a backpack with you is fresh. Most of it is high sodium, high protein, processed energy foods. And as we all know, when you know can’t have something, it tends to gnaw at you.

Ellen couldn’t imagine anything better than a fresh salad. Not even pizza.

Spoiler alert. They brought Ellen a huge, fresh salad in tupperware. Me? Oh yeah, they brought me some goodies too. Fried chicken and skittles. No, it’s not autocorrect. You read that right; fried chicken and skittles. And it was glorious. Not together, of course.

Oh, also beer and cookies…

We gorged and laughed with our friends all afternoon, smelly as we were. It was a real treat. In the evening light, our friends saddled up and headed back to town. The next morning, happy and with full stomachs, Ellen and I repacked our packs and hit the trail again. We were energized from all of the calories and conversation, but our packs were the heaviest they’d been that entire week.

And we still had 50 miles to go.

I had resolved that we were going to finish this hike together, come hell or high water. My shin would get to feeling a little better every morning, but by the end of a 10 mile day, it felt as though it were still day 2. We rationed the ibuprofen so I could sleep, and made the decision to keep pressing on.

My shin seared with the pain of a newly 50+ lb. pack. Thankfully, I had peppered in a few “day hike/ rest days” in to the 12 day trek. It was unfortunate, but I really did need to stay put and rest on those days.

It’s funny how difficult it was for us to chose to actually rest on those days. I felt a bit like a failure. I think our culture dictates a “never slow down” work ethic, and it’s done great things for our society’s productivity. But there’s something to say about the fact that even the Lord took a day to rest… just sayin’.

As we continued, we reached the high country. Towering spines of granite surrounded us, majestic and mighty. I spent my mornings and evenings wandering and photographing… not far from camp, just enough to change my perspective of the gray monoliths and reflective lakes. The clouds passed overhead without notice of us or our affairs.

With each day dawning, it was getting a little bit cooler. The mornings brought dew, and then ice to our tent and packs. The willows were fading from bright green to golden yellow.

One of the main things that I took away from this trip is that I’m not getting any younger. It is of utmost importance that I take great care of myself. Gone are the days of eating junk and somehow still feeling great. Gone are the days of taking a fall, and simply brushing myself off, unscathed.

I’m certainly not old by most standards, but as I approach 40, I’m realizing that the lifestyle I love will take more and more work to maintain.

As someone who is always up for a challenge, I welcome this new realization.

I remember sitting at my grandparent’s kitchen table as a young teen. My Papa sitting across from me and Nana making a sandwich for me, on a summer afternoon of mowing the lawn for them. “I can’t wait to be older. How fun will it be to say ‘I remember 20 years ago when X happened. Ah, those were the days!’” I mused. They looked at me smiling, glancing back at each other with a seemingly secret wisdom. At least secret to me.

Well, I may only be pushing 40. And I may be in arguably the best shape of my life. But now, I really can say that I remember 30 years ago, sitting at my grandparents kitchen table, admiring the passage of time. It feels good. Even with the aches and pains, weak shins and sore back.

We arrived at the Green River Lakes trailhead, where our truck had been delivered just days before. We were relieved to be done, but in a strange way, a little sad that it was over. A decade and a half of planning paid off, but all that time was suddenly cashed in. The reward was knowing that we could do something this grand and exciting, and that made us both happy and proud.

Into the Winds also reiterated the point that we would be doing this again. And other treks like it. No matter how many years we have under our belts.

Aches and pains will come and go, but there are few experiences like waking up to a fresh dawn in deep in the wilderness. And that’s worth all the struggle and work.

— Andrew


Ellen and I hit the road full-time in June of 2016. We are on a mission to inspire and educate everyone on the importance of getting outside. Check out my workshops and my prints, made #ontheroad in my mobile print studio. The revenue will help propel us further on this great adventure. Enrich yourself and others… and feel great about it too as you’re helping to ensure our public lands are cherished and to keep the wild spirit of the American Dream alive. Our goal is to visit all 59 National Parks in 3-5 years. LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE



Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
EVERGLADES // WINTER // LANDSCAPES + WILDLIFE
BIG BEND// LANDSCAPE + THE ART OF SEEING
 
I’m excited to announce my “The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks:
 
Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park
 
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from the road”, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
Andrew Slaton // prints from the road
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
  
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2018
 
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photography, random thought, travel

INTO THE WINDS (Part 1)

Nearly 15 years ago on Valentines Day, I rolled into Pinedale, WY on frozen streets. Who knew I would fall head over heels for this area at the time? But I did. In spite of the -40 degree winter temps.

It was my first “real” job after college, working for a small weekly newspaper at the foot of the Wind River Range. It didn’t take long before I met and interviewed a guy in town who had just come back from a pack trip spanning the entire 100 mile long range. I became obsessed with the idea of this trek.

Fast forward 10 or so years, and Ellen and I began seriously discussing the project we were now calling “Into The Winds.” A journey through some of the lower 48’s most spectacular wilderness. At the time, we had almost none of the gear that a hike of this magnitude would require, and our dog, Hunter Trek, a small, 11 year old, city beagle, was not exactly the best canine for an adventure like this. We also lived in Dallas, so we would need to drive 20+ hours, spend a week getting acclimated, and then another two weeks on the trail… it just simply wasn’t practical.

Life on the road has created opportunities for us where before there were only obstacles. In this case, the fact that we tend to base ourselves at the foot of the Winds most summers buried one of our biggest obstacles right away. Likewise, we are in the best shape of our lives because of our healthy lifestyle of eating clean and hiking almost daily. 

The other main road-block was the gear. Since we hit the road, several of the top gear companies have invested in our adventures by trading stuff for photos. I generally don’t like to do that, because let’s face it, gear doesn’t feed us or keep gas in the tank. But if I’m being honest, certain gear is just as good as cash to us.

As for the dog issue, our wonderful Hunter Trek lived a long, happy life, and passed away just 6 months before we hit the road, at which point we brought home our Islay Blue. Skye Blue came along a year later, when we realized that Aussies were the perfect breed for our lifestyle. Energetic and happy, adaptable and strong, and subsequently the best trail dogs a human could ever want.

So in 2018, everything came together to make our Wind River traverse a reality.

We set off on a bright, warm day from Big Sandy, a trailhead of increasing exposure and popularity in recent years, at the southern end of the range. It was late August. The night before brought freezing temps and snow to the mountains, so we were prepared for the worst.

Remarkably, the weather would hold steady for us the entire 12 days. However, on day 2, I fell, landing face first on my camera, busting my lip wide open, and worse, severely bruising my shin. Thankfully, my 5D MK IV with the L series 16-35mm sense attached seemed to still function just fine. I find Canon equipment to be very resistant to my clumsiness.

So from then on, only 16 miles into our 96 mile trek, I would have a persistent sharp pain coursing up my left leg every time I took a step. Honestly, until day 6, I was fearful that I may have to bail out on the whole trip.

Other than the minor injury, the adventure was going wonderfully. We were averaging 8-10 miles a day and seeing incredible country. The girls (our two Aussies) were having a blast, and Ellen was feeling her best ever.

When we weren’t hiking, we spent our days at camp watching the clouds pass, listening to the wind through the trees, and playing fetch in the myriad lakes with the dogs. It was idyllic.

Day 6 was resupply day. And just in case you were wondering, carrying 12 days worth of food and supplies is nearly impossible, unless you are an ultra-light hiker, which we are not. So we split up the supplies into manageable 6 day rations. The day before we set off, we made an 11 mile round trip supply drop to our proposed day 6 camp, hanging the rations high in a lodgepole pine to keep the critters from stealing our lifeline.

Doing a longer trek like this gave us a window into the joy one feels on a resupply day. Before this, the longest hike either of us had done was my week long, 60 mile traverse in Colorado’s Weminuche Wilderness many moons ago. No resupply needed.

So on resupply day, we were especially giddy. Our best friends in Wyoming were planning to ride their horses in to meet us. We were excited to see them and to have a fresh new pantry of food on which to gorge.

To Be Continued…


Ellen and I hit the road full-time in June of 2016. We are on a mission to inspire and educate everyone on the importance of getting outside. Check out my workshops and my prints, made #ontheroad in my mobile print studio. The revenue will help propel us further on this great adventure. Enrich yourself and others… and feel great about it too as you’re helping to ensure our public lands are cherished and to keep the wild spirit of the American Dream alive. Our goal is to visit all 59 National Parks in 3-5 years. LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE



Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
EVERGLADES // WINTER // LANDSCAPES + WILDLIFE
BIG BEND// LANDSCAPE + THE ART OF SEEING
 
I’m excited to announce my “The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks:
 
Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park
 
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from the road”, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
Andrew R. Slaton // prints from the road
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
  
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2018
 
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photography, travel

ONE WILD LIFE // Episode 3: A DAY IN THE LIFE

We get asked all the time, “Sooooo, what do you do all day?” Well, if you’ve ever wondered this, episode 3 answers that question…

ONE WILD LIFE Episode 3 is available to stream now! If you enjoy it, please subscribe and share with friends!


Ellen and I hit the road full-time in June of 2016. We are on a mission to inspire and educate everyone on the importance of getting outside. Check out my workshops and my prints, made #ontheroad in my mobile print studio. The revenue will help propel us further on this great adventure. Enrich yourself and others… and feel great about it too as you’re helping to ensure our public lands are cherished and to keep the wild spirit of the American Dream alive. Our goal is to visit all 59 National Parks in 3-5 years. LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE



Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
EVERGLADES // WINTER // LANDSCAPES + WILDLIFE
BIG BEND// LANDSCAPE + THE ART OF SEEING
 
I’m excited to announce my “The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks:
 
Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park
 
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from the road”, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
Andrew R. Slaton // prints from the road
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
  
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2018
 
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photography, random thought, travel

Our National Parks Odyssey: One Wild Life

Originally posted on August 30 at the Red River Paper Blog.

There’s an ebb and flow on Soda Lake that sounds remarkably like the ocean. I hear the whoosh…. whoosh…. whoosh outside our open trailer windows. The sun is almost down to the horizon as it glows ever redder, splashing magenta across the clouds above. The Wind River Range looms just behind me.

It’s mid-summer here. This is our happy place. Off the grid, with no sounds but the shore birds chirping, the eagles and ospreys calling as they hunt from the skies above, and the gentle lapping of the lake shore.

Wyoming feels like home. Certainly more than Dallas, Texas, at this point in our odyssey. We are just over two years living on the road. In that time, we have seen half the US and its National Parks, but much more, we’ve learned a thing or two.

Things like, “time is not actually money.” And that “just simply moving forward is often half the battle.” “Communication is the key to healthy relationships,” and that “truth spoken without love is useless.”

In the pursuit of our dreams, we have had to take big risks. But we have found a rewarding life along the way. This year things have been on the upswing. I’ve landed some magazine covers and big spreads, people have been responding well to my workshops, we’ve launched a little show about our “One Wild Life” on YouTube, commercial work has been growing, and we’ve had a blast traveling all over this beautiful country of ours. We’ve seen places we used to only dream of seeing.

There is a bittersweet ebb and flow to life. When things seem like they can’t get any better… they do. And then there’s also the reverse. So here we are…still. Stronger. Bolder. More resolute.

I’ve been pretty open about our struggles to get to where we are. It has been a rough road. But the experiences and scenery along the way has made it all worthwhile. The good thing about being on the road is that you don’t rust. It’s nearly impossible to grow stagnant.

We have a lot more that we want to accomplish. Even though we are living our dream, Ellen and I both still have bigger goals. We have a deep seated desire to inspire and help people. That’s part of why we’re doing what we’re doing. The YouTube show will hopefully help us reach larger and larger audiences, inspiring folks to live out their dreams.

It’s also why I decided to start teaching workshops several years ago. I want to share what I’ve learned in almost two decades of professional photography. And it’s why Ellen writes with passion about mental health and is planning to launch yoga retreats for women.

We left off last fall up here in the Tetons. It had been a rough season for us, but circumstances were looking up. We didn’t have the money, but decided to take another leap of faith and head west and then south for the winter. We’d wanted so badly to see Great Basin, Death Valley, and Joshua Tree National Parks… so we went for it! With only a few hundred bucks, we left Wyoming for the unknown, yet again.

It would seem that we were getting pretty good at this whole “faith leaping” thing. We rode into Nevada on fumes and just when we were down to our last pennies, work came in. This enabled us to enjoy some new National Parks and we even found a new favorite. I was dying to see what Great Basin had to offer. The Park is tucked away and is still relatively quiet. We camped out in an open field with the mountains in view from our dining room window. Colonel Bubba (our cat) found his spot in the sunshine and watched the girls (our two Aussie dogs) play in the field as the sun was setting.

Next up were Death Valley and Joshua Tree. Both Ellen and I love the desert, so these parks were just what we wanted, especially in winter. We took our sweet time, soaking up the dry sunshine, warming our bones after the harsh Wyoming fall. You see, our little trailer is not equipped for four seasons. Once the first major snow hits, we chase down the sunshine.

After a stop in LA to see friends, we slowly wound our way through Arizona and New Mexico to the long haul through our home state where we enjoyed the holidays in Dallas and filled up on good food, loving family and our friends. I got a ton of commercial assignments over the holidays so we were funded for the New Year and decided to head for Florida again.  To Be Continued…


Ellen and I hit the road full-time in June of 2016. We are on a mission to inspire and educate everyone on the importance of getting outside. Check out my workshops and my prints, made #ontheroad in my mobile print studio. The revenue will help propel us further on this great adventure. Enrich yourself and others… and feel great about it too as you’re helping to ensure our public lands are cherished and to keep the wild spirit of the American Dream alive. Our goal is to visit all 59 National Parks in 3-5 years. LEARN MORE ABOUT WHAT WE’RE DOING HERE



Want to learn photography and enjoy a guided experience? Check out my exciting, NEW workshop dates:
 
EVERGLADES // WINTER // LANDSCAPES + WILDLIFE
BIG BEND// LANDSCAPE + THE ART OF SEEING
 
I’m excited to announce my “The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks:
 
Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park
 
If you are interested in purchasing a “print from the road”, please check my prints for sale, or email me directly for a custom request:
 
Andrew R. Slaton // prints from the road
 
If you are interested in licensing any of the images/ video from this post, please visit my stock agency:
 
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew R. Slaton
  
For assignment work requests, please email me: andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
 
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com!
 
All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2018
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