Tommy Penick Photo

Commercial and Outdoor Adventure Photographer


 In December of 2012 while I was moving out of Boone, NC, my dad was kind enough to bring me a 5x10 utility box trailer to throw all my junk into. Bikes, boats, skis, poles, seemingly hundreds of hiking shoes, office supplies, cameras, and about everything else you could imagine got heaped into this beast. It was just a metal box with an axle, two wheels, and an unintentional hole in the floor--but it was awesome for moving. While putting all my stuff in it, we all kinda joked around, "haha, Tommy you could just live in it!" It was just a joke at the time; but I think subconsciously, some wheels started turning.

Seasons come and go, and consequently areas become more and less active. And when the snow started melting in Truckee, that's when the people started leaving. While I know this place is awesome in the summer, I too, have been feeling the urge to cast off my lines and sail out of the harbor in my proverbial boat. In Boone, my season had ended and it was time to move on; now, my season has ended here in Truckee. I gave myself a deadline by ending my lease, and started pulling out maps and plotting my course for the next few months.

In addition to the logistics of moving, over the past year I've become more and more infatuated with simplistic living--just having what you need, and not a whole bunch of other junk. "Do I need 30 tee shirts? I only wear eight of them...", I'd often think. I'm tired of spending three days to pack up a house I've only been in for three months, only to move it all, unpack it for three days, and then pack it back up in three months. Most of the stuff I don't need, but manage to still tug around the continent in that same trailer I ended up purchasing from the asphalt company a few months ago.

So began the perfect storm. My frustrations of constantly moving, yet never really becoming grounded, mixed with my longing for a simpler life, hit a catalyst--a desire to keep moving, to chase good stories, good light, rivers full of water, and good folks. I could see the writing on the wall well before this post, and back in late January, I found myself doodling van-inspired interior designs for a very familiar 5x10 space. While the winter progressed, so did the drawings. As the drawings became more polished, so did the thought: I'm going to build this trailer out to live in, and hit the road to better my photography and push my business to a new level. Worst case scenario, I see some cool stuff and find out what and where makes me happiest.

Over the past two months, I've put down the camera a little bit more, and found my deep-rooted high school passion back behind the table saw. Taking a tin can and making it into a livable home takes some time, especially when you want solar power, hardwood floors, mortise and tenon cabinets, self contained water system, a full size bed, and not to mention, the current state of the structure was already questionable. I've had more cuts, more splinters, and made more sketchy solo cuts of full 4x8 sheets of plywood on a saw in the past month than anyone should probably ever have. I've listened to countless hours of Pandora, and my gracious sponsor of Pabst Blue Ribbon has kept me sane in moments where I would want to bag the whole thing (they don't sponsor me, but if you know someone...send them my email). There's nothing like spending days wiring lights for the moment of truth--hooking up the battery to the whole system to test it out! One of six lights came on. One. Of. Six. That's a mere 16%. Ask any teacher if a 16% on a test is failure.

But with the ever-present deadline of my ending lease, there wasn't much time to wallow in my sorrow, although I made time for it once or twice. Namely, after the trailer decided to go for a ride on its own; that's a whole different blog post that will probably have some (now) hilarious excerpts from my road journal. Nevertheless, the trailer has finally come to a resting point; not at all a point of completion, but a good-for-now, lets-hit-the-road point.

I couldn't write this post without some heart-filled thank-you's. Without the help and support of so many people this wouldn't have come together, nor would I have dreamt it up. First of all, thanks to Trevor Clark and his lovely girlfriend Laurel Winterbourne for taking me in and let me fill their house with sawdust over the past few weeks. The constant motivation and inspiration from the two of y'all has been a game changer. Thanks to anyone who ever held the other end of a piece of wood I was struggling with on my own. And thanks to every person who didn't balk at the idea of the whole thing; just having a few people say, "dude, that's kinda rad" was enough to keep my motivation up.

Tomorrow, I'll be loading up the trailer, saying my farewells to Truckee, and heading north. My first stop will be in the Hood River, OR area, where I'll be lucky enough to meet up with some good buddies and finally get to hop on some whitewater. Who knows where the road will lead from there, but the adventure has to being somewhere.