Wilton resident and 2013 Wilton High School graduate Justin Hawk will be embarking on an incredible cross country adventure next month. Hawk is a sophomore at Boston University and is double majoring in journalism and environmental analysis and policy. In May, he and his roommate, Jeremie Go, will be packing up Hawk’s VW car and hitting the wide open road, traveling from Boston through all 48 contiguous U.S. states and back again. They’ll be aiming to complete the trip in just 30 days.
But that’s not all–Hawk and Go are taking the opportunity of the trip to create a documentary project, seeking to uncover how people across the country view happiness and what they believe is the secret to a fulfilled life. This compilation of profiles will be combined with photographs, videos and time-lapses from their trip across the country, in a project they’ve dubbed ‘Boston and Back.’ They will be interviewing various people, documenting America’s landscapes and maybe even skydiving.
“We developed the idea of Boston and Back last year,” Hawk explains. “It started with one goal–to pack up a car and film a documentary. From there we refined the project to focus on telling the stories of people to create a narrative about happiness in America. I have always loved photography and travel and this was a perfect opportunity to combine these two passions.”
Justin is very familiar with photography and adventure travel having gone on photo trips with his father, Wilton documentary photographer Daryl Hawk. He has received several awards in photo contests and participated for two years in the Wilton Up Close photography project sponsored by the Wilton Library. He is also a sports associate photographer for BU’s Daily Free Press and his photographs have appeared in the magazine Shutterbug twice.
Traveling through all 48 contiguous states in about 30 days will definitely be a challenge, Hawk says, but he and Go are not daunted. They’ve based their route on Randy Olson’s model for the most efficient tour of the U.S.. And they’ve got a game plan.
“Some of the 48 states we are merely driving through for an hour or so in order to save time. Driving so many miles will definitely test the limits of the car. Luckily, we will have AAA to help us if anything goes wrong on the road. Most of the time we will be eating on the road–we’ll also stop to eat at some restaurants in order to fully experience the culture and uniqueness of a region. I’m probably most excited to eat some good BBQ in the South.”
He added they plan on camping most of the time or visiting friends along the route, for the occasional warm shower and a real bed.
But to make the trip possible, the two friends have to raise enough funds for their trip through a Kickstarter campaign and hope people will support their efforts. They also have a website where supporters can learn more and follow their journey.
Hawk says that one thing about that journey is certain: it was influenced in great part by his own dad.
“Having a dad who produces travel documentaries has definitely had a big influence on Boston and Back. Ever since I was very little he has inspired to love travel and world cultures. He first gave me a camera when I was three and ever since I have worked to capture the world through photography. He has also taught me various lessons about travel. He has told me the secret to approaching people is to smile, a universal symbol. He has also told me the importance of traveling slow and stopping to look at the little things in the world that others merely overlook,” says Justin.
Visit Hawk and Go’s Kickstarter campaign to help the two young men make this dream come true.