this time, last month...

August 22nd, 3:30am; Louisville, Kentucky:

Exactly one month ago, my life changed a little bit.  Instead of getting up and starting another week of work, I woke up, showered, and got into my car full of all my things. At 4:00am EST, I pulled out of the driveway in Prospect (east of Louisville), Kentucky and started driving...west. 

As many of you know, or knew, I had dreamt of seeing "the west" for a long time. Growing up in the midwest, I had never seen mountains, the Pacific Ocean, or anything west of St. Louis, MO. 

When I looked at the display in the rear view mirror, with my destination, Seattle, in my mind and saw that it read "W", I honestly got the craziest, adventure-driven, feeling I have ever experienced. I was finally going west (trip hashtag: #iamgoingwest). Honestly, as I sit here writing this, I am getting so nostalgic just thinking about it...and it was only one month ago. One month. Whew. 

Here's what's happened since that morning one month ago...the short version:

Day One: Start - Louisville, KY ... End - the Badlands of South Dakota

1,145 miles of driving; 19.5 hours in the car; uncountable number of cornfields. 

My original destination for the night was a small town south of Sioux Falls, SD; but when I arrived in that town, I re-evaluated and changed my destination to The Badlands, deciding I would camp there overnight. Best choice I made all trip. 

Here are a few photos from when I arrived in the Badlands:

the badlands - through my dirty windshield 

the badlands - sunset black and white

the badlands - layers of the land i

After photographing different aspects of the Badlands during sunset, I drove to the campsite on the western border of the park and set up camp at around 11pm...nearly 21 hours after leaving Kentucky.

The wind that night was insane. My tent would have blown away if I wasn't holding it down. Because I set it up in the dark, it wasn't set up to it's fullest potential, hence the almost blowing away. 

Day Two: Start - the Badlands of South Dakota ... End - Billings, Montana

398 miles of driving; 7 ish hours in the car; lots of cattle ranches and Montana things.

Photographers do crazy things for good light. One of those things includes getting up before sunrise, in order to catch those first rays of light. I decided to get up and grab some photos (second best decision I made on the trip) before I kept driving. 

the badlands - first light of a new day

the badlands - easing into daylight

the badlands - hey, good morning!

the badlands - alpenglow in the morning

After taking these photos and others and sitting in awe of where I was, and what I was experiencing, I started driving. 

Here are a few photos (that I took while driving through Montana...I was safe no worries

montana - from the highway i

montana - from the highway ii

montana - from the highway iii

montana - from the highway iv

Spent the night in Billings, Montana thanks to the great Emarie Skelton! (Shoutout to Emarie and her crew that were so hospitable. Thanks for singing some songs, feeding me, and being such great hosts!)

Day Three:  Start - Billings, Montana ... End - Idaho Falls, Idaho ... by way of Yellowstone :D!!!

400ish miles, kinda lost count; hours: unknown because I stopped in Yellowstone for a long time to explore.

Again, I have this thing about waking up way to early, because the photos are always worth it. So I woke up and drove two hours in the dark to catch sunrise in Norther Yellowstone. Yellowstone National Park had been another huge dream of mine. I knew it was theory...but really didn't know what to expect. I was in for a big surprise:

north of yellowstone somewhere - sunrise

north of yellowstone somewhere - black and white

north of yellowstone somewhere - morning

north yellowstone - layers of the land i

north yellowstone - layers of the land ii

driving through yellowstone - wildlife

north yellowstone - layers of the land iii

yellowstone - morning mist

Ok. So, I could probably just keep uploading photo, after photo, after photo at this point from Yellowstone. I took a lot. But, In attempts to keep this short (ha, ha, ha) I'm going to keep the story rolling. 

I saw a lake:

yellowstone lake

I saw a "grand canyon" that isn't the "grandest canyon":

yellowstone - grand canyon

I saw a big waterfall: 

yellowstone - waterfall

and I saw a river and things: 

yellowstone - river and plains

Cool. That was Yellowstone. It was the raddest. Originally, I was going to drive down to Grand Teton National Park, but due to a major wildfire that closed the roads and portion of the park, I drove to Idaho Falls, Idaho and stayed the night with my great aunt and uncle (shoutout to them, they're rad and I got to take a shower...which was probably good because it had been a while)

Day Four: Start - Idaho Falls, ID ... End - Portland, Oregon.

708 miles; 12 hours ish; coffee and chick-fil-a in Boise with Ben Steiner!!!!

Drove a lot. Stopped in Boise. Learned how to say it correctly. Hung out with @benjaminsteiner (follow him). Drove some more. Took less photos. Exhaustion set in a little. Here are a few though from the drive. Columbia River Gorge is...gorgeous...I had to, sorry:

columbia river gorge - oregon

multnomah falls - horizontal edition

Due to the waterfalls being so tall, I took a bunch of portrait oriented yeah, go see those on my Instagram (@iambencalhoun)

Stayed the night at Nicole Mason's apartment because she is rad and let me stay (shoutout to her: follower her and tell her I sent you -> @neekmason <-  also, here's her website:  Also, Caleb Gaskins was staying there too, he's a cool dude (shoutout to Caleb -> @calebgaskins <- follow him, tell him I sent you. Also, Caleb, if you're reading this, let's hang out sometime!)

Day Five:  Start - Portland, Oregon ... End - Seattle, Washington ... my new home!

Spent the morning in Portland exploring some places and looking for Joe Greer...kidding. But I was thinking, where are all these photographers that I follow that live here? So, I ate some donuts, drank some coffee, and then started driving up I-5 to Seattle. 

Don't have any photos of that drive. The end of my trip...move. It didn't feel like moving because, honestly it felt like a vacation. But this vacation ended somewhere different than where it began. 

To this day, one month later, I am still adjusting to my current reality. I love this city, it's people, it's landscape, it's coffee...there are a few good places around here. 

So, Seattle. My new home. If you ever find yourself in this city, let me know, and I can show you the good spots and places...once I find them all. Until then, I am accepting friend applications currently, so, if you want to be friends and go hiking, and exploring with me, just say so and we will make it happen!

This is where I live now: 

seattle skyline - from gas works park

Great! We did it! If you read this far, I just want to say thank you and you win! This was by far the longest blog post i've ever written. I am going to try to make blogging something I do more regularly to keep you up to date with places I visit, things I do, and photos I take.

Special thanks to those of you who supported me financially, with your help packing and preparing, those of you who prayed and encouraged me with your words, and those of you who keep checking up on me. Your care and support means the world to me. 

Thank you all for your support this past month as I transition into life here in this city. Your thoughts and prayers and support are so so so appreciated.  

P.S. my birthday is coming up in like a week or so, and if you want to mail me a letter, just message/text/or contact me through my site if you want my address...I like letters. 


- Ben