The following is the first article in a recurring series featuring Kevin Lu and Joe D’Amelio’s cross country roadtrip, #RoundaboutUSA. The series will run every Monday and will tell the story of their journey from each explorer’s perspective.
The question I get the most is: Why?
Why the interest in going on a road trip around the USA?
The answer is simple: The world is way too big for me to stay in one place.
Prior to setting off on this adventure, I was working as a butcher in New York City. I was frustrated with my job and often wondered why I was not out exploring the world as other people seemed to be. I felt restless.
About a half-hour drive away, Kevin was sitting in his room feeling the exact same way.
Kevin and I met through Instagram. One Sunday night, two weeks before we set off on #RoundAboutUSA, we came across each other’s feeds. We sent a few comments back and forth to one another and agreed to meet the next morning to photograph the George Washington Bridge.
“We had no idea what we’d see along the way; we just hoped it would be more exciting than the mundane of our every day in New York.”
We watched the sunrise and spent the day running around the city. It felt like we had been friends forever. I shared some of my frustrations about life and work with Kevin and told him about my plan to drive across and around the country on my own; to go off and explore; to use the time to reflect on my life and decide how to move forward.
Then Kevin did something that surprised me. He asked if he could come with me.
I hesitated. The trip was supposed to be about me; about self-discovery; about changing directions. Would Kevin get in the way? So many of my other friends – friends I had known for years – had expressed interest in joining me and I had said no to each and every one of them. I didn’t think anyone would understand what I was hoping to achieve by venturing out the road.
And yet, to Kevin’s request I simply replied, “Sure.”
We decided not to plan a route, only a direction. We had no idea what we’d see along the way; we just hoped it would be more exciting than the mundane of our every day in New York.
It became clear quite early on that the trip would change our lives forever.
I had never traveled in adulthood; yet, somehow, on a whim, I decided to leave everything behind and embark on a 2-month road trip around the United States.
In 2009, after the tumultuous end of a long-term relationship, I decided to become more physically active. I became obsessed with running marathons and started a blog, where I documented all things running-related. I purchased my first DSLR camera to take high-quality photos that I could feature on the site.
I quickly realized that I was a terrible photographer.
Wanting to strengthen my skills, I tried to learn everything I could about photography and looked online for inspiration. During that process, I discovered Instagram.
Through Instagram, I began to develop and nourish my artistic side; a side that had been lying dormant while I worked hard at advancing my career in engineering. Through Instagram, I also met many creative, passionate, adventure-seeking friends – one of whom was Joe.
“And then, on June 27th, I found myself sitting beside him. We were off.”
One day, in early June of 2013, Joe and I decided that it would be fun to meet and photograph the sunrise over the George Washington Bridge. We ended up spending the entire day taking pictures and the synergy we shared was unlike anything I had experienced with other photographers.
As we explored the city, Joe told me about his plans for a 2-month cross country road trip.
I asked Joe if he had an empty seat in his car.
And then, on June 27th, I found myself sitting beside him. We were off.