The Weekend Wanderer

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By Nevin Johnson

   While most of us would jump at the opportunity to sell our worldly possessions and buy a van to travel the US (or the world) in, that sometimes isn’t feasible for everyone. Whether it be a mortgage, a career, or simply family roots- the notion of packing up and setting out just isn’t in the cards. I personally found myself in this situation. I love to travel and experience the outdoors but I found myself not being able or willing to give up my traditional lifestyle. Enter the Weekend Wanderer. I found ways to make “travel/landscape photographer” fit into my lifestyle by maximizing my time spent on weekends.

   Being a Philadelphia resident, there aren’t many towering mountains or rocky shorelines in our backyard, but if you open up maps and look within a 4-6 hour drive, you can find some pretty rad spots. So the weekend hits, what now? I typically decide early in the week if I want to do a day trip or a full weekend. For me, the most I want to feasibly drive for a day trip is 4 hours. I sacrifice my Friday night for an early bedtime to get up before 4AM. A sacrifice well made to watch the sunrise over the mountains or on the coast. Getting up this early has its rewards. For a Saturday, you can truly fit in a good adventure.

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   Every month or so, I like to plan a full weekend trip. This entails packing up the car Thursday night to be ready to leave right after work lets out. My wife and I hop in the car and begin our 10 hour drive. For me personally, this is what I’ve found to be the longest driving distance that makes a weekend trip worth the drive. North or south, east or west, we head out to explore. We pack in a full day Saturday and a half day Sunday before returning. Monday rolls back around and I’m back to my 9-5!

   I wanted to share this facet of my life, because I want others to know that you don’t need to live in California or Oregon to be a landscape/nature photographer. I’ve found that with a little bit of research and a day’s (or weekend’s) drive you can find some pretty amazing spots. I am sure this is true all over the US or even the world.

   Since taking up the Weekend Wanderer philosophy, I’ve been up and down the east coast- Acadia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware Water Gap, Cape May, Shenandoah, Great Smoky Mountains, and countless state parks. This isn’t meant to be a competition of how many places one can visit, but rather motivation for others to get out and exploring the world (quite literally) around them. So to my fellow Weekend Wanderer’s, I’ll see you out there!

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For more from Nevin you can click here or find him on Instagram @stairwaytonevin