outpost - joshua little - South America

“The free exploring mind of the individual is the most valuable thing in the world.”

I’ve heard that sometimes, the beauty of a blog can be the scrambled thoughts and feelings that form when we write with no real direction in our minds. So this blog post is exactly that; snippets from three months of my trip to southern Chile and Argentina. 

This trip became a reality after one of many late night conversations with a friend while I was working remotely in a city that wasn’t Portland, OR (my home). They always came at the perfect time, and involved topics that people in their mid 20’s seem to discuss; he was loving his work, and I was having trouble finding direction within mine. However, I think my struggle was more than just the routine of everyday life in a job I didn’t love. I had spent weeks and months, maybe even a year coming to the realization that I hadn't ever REALLY traveled. I hadn't tested myself in a place foreign to my consciousness. I hadn’t ever been truly uncomfortable with my surroundings, or tested my abilities in those situations. 

With each passing day, the intentions for the trip became clearer. I wanted to understand and get to know the best version of myself, and in my mind, that version is found in the woods, alone with my thoughts.

"And this I believe; that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world. And this I would fight for; the freedom of the mind to take any direction it wishes, undirected. And this I must fight against; any idea, religion, or government which limits or destroys the individual. This is what I am and what I am about. I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for that is one thing which can by inspection destroy such system. Surely I can understand this, and I hate it and I will fight against it to preserver the one thing that separates us from the uncreative beasts. If the glory can be killed, we are lost.”

My situation before Patagonia is hard to describe. It was a clusterfuck of thoughts, feelings and emotions that were difficult to sort through. I had a job that allowed me vacation time, paid well, and provided me with a comfortable life. Sounds great, right? Well I was miserable and unfulfilled. It’s always bothered me, this idea that someone, or some god, or some mythical creature riding a unicorn with a trident in hand created a master plan for our lives. I’ve never accepted this as a reality, and I don’t think I ever will. Writing this now I can only imagine how many people feel just as unfulfilled as I did. But there comes a time, at some point, that we have to take back our lives and own up to our feelings. What it came down to for me, was looking inward at my heart, and outwards to friends and family to validate the feelings I was having. It’s both surprising and comforting to realize the amount of people that have felt similarly, and have gone on their own vision quests to find direction in life. When you’re honest with yourself and the people around you, life becomes more clear.

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

The collection of quotes referenced in this post came from Steinbeck’s “East of Eden.” I, along with three others read it during our travels, and I wanted to end with this;

“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one…Humans are caught - in their loves, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too - in a net of good and evil…there is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: was it good or was it evil? Have I done well - or ill?”

A huge thank you to Josh for this piece. You can view more of his work by clicking here or following along @jd_little.

If you would like to contribute an outpost, be it writing, photos or videos; email us at americayall@gmail.com

outpost - maine year three

“Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.”

- Maya Angelou

For the three of us, it's our third trip to Maine. Three years of three flights to travel Austin to Portland, three full days together in the cabin, and three years to forge traditions that will last at least another thirty years. 

Now, after these three years, Maine means Johnny Cash, questionable kitchen smells, coffee, nertz, reading out loud, boiling pond water, photos, coffee, leaf collecting, distinct lack of moose sightings, platonic bed-sharing, coffee, boulder-sitting, ship-yahd pumpkin beer, and fireside conversation.  

We are genuinely stoked about these simple, haphazard traditions. And really, we can recreate them anywhere. So why are we so crazy about this long weekend? Why are we so in love with Maine?

I think Maine makes routine something special, even magical. It’s now an established pathway in our mind that’s as simple as a habit. Like putting on warm socks in the winter or the open sound of piano keys. Because we know them so well, there’s nothing left to do but enjoy it, anticipate it, tune into it. Let it work its magic on us all over again. We trust those feelings will return, you know? They just do. 

three maine camp camping camp vibes vsco americayall america yall pawlowski chairs
maine americayall america yall
maine americayall america yall canoe

Tradition, established by us three for these three years, is so powerful because it gives us the security to thrive, not just to survive. To rest in the love of it all. It’s not the adventure we crave anymore (although it certainly started that way), it’s the sanctuary. 

Videos: Stringer Productions - www.stringerproductions.com

Photos: Photo by Betsy - www.photobybetsy.com

Author/Writing: Joanie Turner - www.kindergrey.com

Music: Abby Gundersen -  https://abbygundersen.bandcamp.com/

Outpost - Maine Year Two

How lucky am I that I can carry the peace of the forest in my heart.

- Jane Goodall

 The cabin in Maine was built by a wildly charming family. They spent their young summers here. They lit those fireworks stashed in the kitchen drawers, slept next to friends in all angles along the painted wooden floor, told stories of a water monster (“Megladon”) who drowned a swimming deer on the adjacent lake. They laughed and shared and warmly greeted the kayaking neighbors.

There is romanticism in these stories, embedded in the way they were told to me. I met the two brothers while working as a waitress in the Florida panhandle. One brother was engaged to a fearless woman from New York. I used to crush pretty hard on the other one. We all had perpetually sunburned shoulders and an internal compass pointing directly toward the waves.

Romance is the collected understanding that there is beauty and grandeur connecting the intangible inside of a person to the physical and tangible outside of a reality. It explains why we treasure the small, resonant memories when our stories as a whole can feel overwhelmingly dull and uneventful. Romance overflows the heart and seeks out the soul’s open wounds where reality has not met desire.

Years later, the cabin held a new kind of romance. The kind that opens you up and helps you sleep without dreams because the mind has been truly employed during its waking hours. Unlike the previous inhabitants, we didn’t set fireworks or sleep on the floor. Late October only allowed for one stupid-cold jump into the lake. But we made a pie, undercooked breakfast hash and grilled cheese. We read books, took photos, video, notes and nature walks. We stoked coals, dragged canoes, and drove in silence. Steam rose from every coffee pot and every cup of soup. The floor was too cold for our bare feet. 

I think romanticism is something entirely common, rooted in the menial but rarely experienced until days and decades pass, and time erodes the stress that caused us to miss it in the first place.

Jane Goodall said, “how lucky am I that I can carry the peace of the forest in my heart.” I think this statement was made by a person who loves her life, treasures it now. Someone who understands romance. How lucky am I that I carry Maine in my heart.

Videos: Stringer Productions - www.stringerproductions.com

Photos: Photo by Betsy - www.photobybetsy.com

Author/Writing: Joanie Turner - www.kindergrey.com

Outpost - maine Year One

Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.

–Leonardo di Vinci

Occasionally adventure knocks more than once, sometimes over and over before you finally have the guts to open up. I learned this when kind friends, a young married couple, offered their cabin in southern Maine several times before I finally decided to take the time off, buy the ticket and just go.

I spent a summer living with this couple, who migrated to Florida along with a brother and a few close friends. I used to come home from work with salt under my fingernails and sandy ankles, sit on their porch and listen to the brothers talk about Maine summers. They laughed at each other like they were eleven years old. Stepping into their beloved summer home was like stepping into the unhindered wildness of childhood.

We had running water, but no shower. Power, but no heat. Our trip settled in late October, temperatures reaching below freezing on some nights. Seated in a deep hill among about a million golden trees, between the road and the lake, the cabin is barely two stories with painted wooden floors and mismatched dishes. There are fireworks in the kitchen drawers and kayaks by the dock.

We traded warm showers for sun-soaked canoe trips and central heating for a homemade honey pie. Although we managed one massive Wal-Mart run for hearty breakfast ingredients, electric blankets, and extra gloves, we were craving the privacy and freshness of simple cabin life. We stayed close to our temporary home playing heated card games and chatting about dreams and home-based loved ones. No major decisions were made, no deep life-changing moments. Instead, we simply became friends, hiked old traditions like the Appalachian Trail, and fell into an easy rhythm of staying warm, fed and breathing the same wild air as bears, elk, and a quiet culture.

It seems that when I get busy and overwhelmed, regrets tend to surface of adventures not taken and dreams not realized. But sometimes adventure really does wait for you. It could be a few days like our camp in Maine, a new person who’s safe to tell your stories to, or maybe it’s just intentional breathing of the same wild air.

Videos: Stringer Productions- www.stringerproductions.com

Photos: Photo by Betsy- www.photobybetsy.com

Author/Writing: Joanie Turner- www.kindergrey.com


i've kicked around the idea of having those who inspire me contribute their photos and words to the website for a while now. i hear so many stories filled with truth and see so many breathtaking photographs that if i'm any kind of position to share what influences me i need to do so. #outposts will be a way for me to do this, if you'd like to contribute shoot me an email. 

i haven't known @holdenwhatley for more than a year, but he has already become a very close friend; always willing to talk about cameras, dogs, life and everything in between. i'm excited to have him contribute his words and 35mm film snaps to the site.

I’m getting pretty deep into a sweltering Texas afternoon. No a/c and black leather seats means every small town, 30 mph speed limit, and stop light gets me closer to heat exhaustion, I take another swig from the gallon of water I bought at a gas station a few miles back, already halfway gone. Funny how long this 80 some odd mile drive is getting. Then it hits, a hint of destination, or destiny, I don’t know. I get the old Volvo wagon back up to about 75 outside of town, thing weighs a couple tons so once you hit a nice cruising speed you just sort ­of let go and let it carry you, keeps you in this zen state, starting to get a little loopy from the temperature so might as well just ride it out.

Dierks Bentley is blasting on the country radio, only one station out here, but i don’t even hear it, I’m zoned out, lulled, no longer anxious, annoyed, or anything of that sort; just there in my daze, there in an honest Texas summer moment. A quick glance jolts me, a sign casually states “DIP” and the weight of the car follows the road down, along with the temperature. For a split second there, it was a wet cool riverbed, moss and fish nests and all the rest.

I floor it and pop out of that moment like I’m running from a storm on some forgotten plain out in Kansas, but really I’m running at something, I’m chasing that river.

Half an hour goes by and I’m close, it’s back I can smell it, but can’t quite see it yet. I guess this is where you should know that I’m not on a quest for enlightenment or trying to wrestle my soul into some form of purpose, I’m just going to Llano, TX to drink beer in a river with some good friends, and I’m a little bit more than ready to be there. Things get a little tricky because the address that I got sent in the group text invite was wrong, and my Sprint data had given up long ago, I was just kinda out there somewhere on the edge of the Llano uplift, which turns into New Mexico at some point I’m pretty sure. There was this old couple out working in their garden, and they waved me over. After a bit of casual conversation about all the rain we’d been getting, and how the heat is taking its toll on their summer garden, they eagerly point me in the direction of where I should be directed.

Turn into a field, drive a bit sideways around some Mesquite trees and Agarita bushes, put it in park next to some old army bunkers just in time for my dog and I to jump in a Jeep bouncy and two  minutes later I’m running for the waters edge. The sand is hot and the beer is not.

About 24 hours later it's time to get back on that road, time to hold onto every minute since I parked the car. I remember there was ice­ cream cake, blue stars, more laughter than I’ve heard in a while, a few games of threes, maybe a couple hours of sleep; but really it just all got wrapped up in that cool embrace that beckoned and always will.

I can still smell the river.