Our National Parks Odyssey: One Wild Life
This is the fourth of an ongoing series about Red River Pro Andrew Slaton and his wife Ellen who, along with two dogs, Islay and Skye and Colonel Bubba, the cat, left the comforts of Dallas to hit the road full time in a travel trailer, with the goal of photographing all 59 U. S. National Parks.
By Andrew Slaton–
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…
About Andrew Slaton
Andrew Slaton is an award-winning photographer who has done assignments for more than 50 clients and specializes in lifestyle and outdoor images.
You can help Andrew and Ellen achieve their goal by adding one or more of Andrew’s beautiful prints to your collection. You can also subscribe to a collector’s edition of prints from each of the 59 National Parks he plans to photograph.
Visit Andrew’s web site, view his work, learn about upcoming workshops and order prints here.
Catch Andrew and Ellen’s YouTube videos here.