Sandi Wheaton's photographic journey from Chicago to LA with a Jeep, an Aliner trailer and a bunch of cameras

Babe, I’m leavin’

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

launching, with the Jeep and the Aliner

launching, with the Jeep and the Aliner

Today I leave Canada and head to Chicago to begin the mother of all road trips: Route 66.  2400+ miles from Chicago to Los Angeles, roughly 85% of it still on original Route 66 roads.  I figure this would be a good time to describe this project, and my reasons for doing it.

Recently, I lost the nice corporate broadcasting job I had held for almost 12 years at General Motors.  Economic downturn, automotive industry collapse, etc. etc…  I was shocked, and terrified.  I grew up with a Maritime Canada work ethic – never have I not worked, ever.  Around here in the car cities of Windsor/Detroit however, this has become disturbingly commonplace.  Devastated as I was at the news, one positive thought glimmered through the fear: at least now I’ll have time to shoot all of Route 66.

I’ve already enjoyed a few photography trips along the desert stretch of California’s Route 66, and I exhibited a collection of those images at this year’s CONTACT: Toronto Photography Festival.  The show went over very well, and many people asked about my shooting the entire Route.  Of course I always wanted to – but until now, my full-time job limited my travel time.  Faced now with the prospect of finding another job in a depressed area during a terrible recession, I find myself thinking that this is the time in my life to do what I love, to do what I do whether someone pays me money to do it or not: explore and take pictures.  After all, that’s where most of my earnings from the job went, anyway!  If there is any way a living can be made doing what I love, this is the time to find out.  Before jumping into the scary world of self-employment and business planning, it makes sense to hit the road.  Open the horizons, clear the head, make space for a new future.

I’ll be documenting this trip in a few different ways: black and white infrared film, time-lapse digital stills, and video (as well as running the occasional roll of film through a good old-fashioned Holga).  More on all that in a later post.

For now, raise a glass to toast my insanity of doing this alone (while camping in a small trailer no less… what, no motels?!?), wish me luck, and join me on this journey.  I will attempt to post daily updates here on my progress, provided I have reliable internet on the road of course.

Also, please feel free to pass this blog on to any of your friends who are into Route 66, photography, camping/RVing… or just anyone who loves the adventure of a bigass, kickass road trip.




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