What It's Like to Drive 6000 Miles Across the West in Summer
Photographer Colton Jacobs reflects on a season unexpectedly spent on the road touring the West
I’ve found my limit. Or so it feels in this moment pulled over on the side somewhere far from my new home in Bend Oregon (where I moved early this year to get out of the city). It wasn't my intention going into summer to spend the entire season on the road, it’s just how it happened. Though exhausted as I am now I truly do love a life on the move.
My vehicle of choice is a 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser, kitted out to take me anywhere the pavement stops with enough room in the back to fit all my adventure belongings, and my dog.
From the North Cascades and the great Rocky Mountains to Oregon forests and Wyoming country sides, down the west coast and everywhere in between—this has been my summer of 6000 miles. What follows is a few favorite highlights.
Rooftop camping alongside a small alpine lake in Central Oregon. Bend still feels like a vacation at times, as I still haven't spent any extended amount of time there. Drive around town and you’ll quickly realize sleeping on the roof is a popular activity in this neck of the woods, thanks in part to hometown manufacture CVT. The rest of the blame goes to the region’s incredible terrain.
Twinning with my good friend Alex Willis (you may know his dog) has become a humorous road trip spectacle and running joke among friends. We both sport the same model Land Cruiser, we both have the same breed of dog (Shiba Inu), and both take lots of photographs. To be honest I did most of the plagiarizing in the relationship… but who’s counting.
In July we took a two week road trip from Bend, Oregon to Stanley, Idaho for a friends wedding, then, because we were so close, we decided to keep it rolling and head to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Needless to say, it was one for the books.
The road trip lifestyle isn't for everyone—it can be hard to feel comfortable away from home for that long. When on day eight, nine, or ten of any given trip it’s easy to start to long for a hot shower, king size bed, and normal life, whatever that means.
It is a privilege to be able to call this work, and I don't take it for granted, but like all professions, it has its ups and downs. Thankfully for my wife and I, its been mostly ups. From seeing baby black bears from 20 feet away and photographing a dear friend’s wedding, to watching Moon Taxi live in concert (one of my new favorite bands BTW), the memories we created this summer will not soon be forgotten.
No matter where I go I always look to see where the nearest National Monument or Park is. Being a photographer by profession, I always have my camera with me, whether it's a long road trip, quick business trip to a trade show, or personal vacation.
On a work trip to Salt Lake City for Outdoor Retailer trade show I was invited to join my friend Lars and some of his friends fly fishing. He was there with Tenkara Rod Co and I was there with UCO Gear, so we put our gear together and got the heck out of SLC and the headache that is OR for a great evening on the river.
Good thing we brought headlamps because the fishing blew up after the sun went down and carried on well into the night. The last fish I caught was under the moon and stars. What a way to wind down one of the more memorable seasons of recent.