Wiltonian completes cross-country road trip

[metaslider id=51246]
More photos at bostonandback.com
Wiltonian Justin Hawk and his Boston University roommate Jeremie Go successfully completed their Boston and Back venture project, a month-long road trip across the United States, on June 20.
From Boston, the duo embarked on their trip on May 13. Driving more than 12,500 miles, they were able to hit all 48 contiguous states.
“The trip was inspired by a thirst to create a project that combined visuals and travel,” said Hawk, a 2013 Wilton High School graduate.
“Originally, my roommate Jeremie and I began with the goal of producing a documentary that focused on the stories of people. We developed this idea into Boston and Back.”
Hawk said they wanted to share the opinions and ideas of people across the United States and felt a 48-state road trip was the best way to do that.
“We met fascinating people along the way and took photographs and videos of the amazingly diverse American landscape,” he said.
“A major focus of the project was happiness, and we asked people we met along the way their opinions on the subject and for tips about how to live a more fulfilled life.”
Hawk said many people mentioned the need for freedom and control of one’s own life.
“Another popular opinion was the importance of doing what makes you happy in life and not letting other people tell you what you can or can’t do,” he said.
Hawk said the most unusual answer came from a traveling monk in Seattle named Ananda, who described “a deer that secretes a scent from a sack underneath its neck [and] spends its entire life trying to figure out where this beautiful scent comes from, but is never able to discover its source.”
“The deer eventually dies not knowing where the scent came from. The monk compared this deer to a person’s pursuit of happiness,” he said.
“We spend our entire lives seeking happiness, often through material, short-lived means, yet what we often are looking for is actually within us.”


The cross-country road trip came with its fair share of challenges.
“Many times, we found ourselves without cell service and having no idea where we were, relying on our paper road atlas to guide us. Some days we would be driving until midnight and then would need to find a place to spend the night,” said Hawk.
“Sometimes we got lucky and found a campsite that we would pay for in the morning. Sometimes, we were not so lucky and spent the night sleeping in the car.”


Despite the difficulties, Hawk said, the experience made it all worth it.
“In nearly every part of the country, there were amazing moments that will stay with me forever. I have a love for the natural world and many of my memories from the trip reflect this,” he said.
“Whether it was a sunset over the Midwest’s flat landscape, a road winding through the mountains of Colorado, or finally seeing the Pacific Ocean in California, the trip was filled with many beautiful sights.”
Hawk said the most enjoyable night for him was spent in Zion National Park in Utah.
“We had gotten a permit to camp in the back-country and after hiking a few miles with our equipment, we stumbled upon a barren area that looked directly on the canyon walls of Zion. We set up camp that night and cooked many hot dogs until it got dark,” he said.
“That night was the most spectacular night sky of the trip. The park eventually became pitch black and an uncountable amount of stars and the Milky Way rose above us.”
Hawk said the trip not only allowed him to live a life of travel for 40 straight days, but taught him to “value new experiences — whether it was visiting a new place, talking to a stranger for a few minutes or appreciating the fact that I was able to take this amazing road trip.”
“The trip definitely taught me the importance of being carefree and to not let the opinions of other people or events outside your control affect your happiness and well-being,” said Hawk.
“I don’t think a single day passed on the trip where I would say I was unhappy.”


After returning, Hawk and Go — who funded their trip through a Kickstarter campaign — spent weeks editing their photographs, organizing video files and planning a photo book of their trip.
“I have spent the rest of my summer working as a counselor at Woodcock Nature Center, and Jeremie returned to Boston to take classes and for an internship,” said Hawk, who is double majoring in journalism and environmental analysis and policy.
“When we return to BU together we will begin work on editing the film documentary of the trip featuring beautiful videos and photographs [of] nearly every corner of America.”
The son of photographer Daryl Hawk, Justin is a sports associate photographer for Boston University’s Daily Free Press and his photographs have appeared in the magazine Shutterbug.

To learn more about the Boston and Back project and view more photos, visit bostonandback.com.