Stories from the road: Traveling from Washington State to North Carolina
Traveling by bus across the country is something not everyone gets to experience. When we first saw Brighton Kilgore’s instant photos on Instagram, we knew we wanted to share his story about an upcoming trip from Spokane, Washington to Asheville, North Carolina through the lens of his Polaroid 600 and digital camera. When it comes to traveling, Brighton really gets it. He knows it isn’t just about the destination, but also about the journey you take getting there.
Traveling from Washington State to North Carolina is a long trip, why did you wanted to do this?
I love traveling! There are so many places to explore, but there are also so many different forms of transportation and means of getting around. Each form of getting around, from walking to riding a bicycle, to riding on a bus, offers a unique perspective on what surrounds you.
What was it like traveling this far?
The trip was an experience unlike any other. It felt immense and huge – one side of the country to another. Three days of riding a bus. That seems like quite a trek, and it definitely was. Being able to drive straight through filled me with a sort of thrill reminiscent to that of the Beat Generation and the Jack Kerouac type of up and go. The simplicity of bus travel, and being able to get a ticket, pick a seat and ride provides an added calmness and a flavor of contemplation.
Did you meet any new people along the way or hear interesting stories?
You meet a great number of people riding the bus! Especially when you’re on the same bus with people for a day or so. It’s always eye opening sitting next to someone new and picking up bits and pieces of who they are and their life stories. I met an older man who after a few hours of sitting next to me, revealed that he had cancer for over seven years. He was generous with
his words and his silence, as well as the rest stop french fries that he shared with me.
I met a woman who told me to call her ‘Chocolate’. She had a sweet voice and a kind laugh, as she smoked her cigarette. We sat and talked about music and photography, and she told me stories of being a hair stylist as we waited for our next bus. From the shared conversation it was refreshingly obvious that we all have more in common than just our destinations.
Did anything surprise you?
The quickness of the trip! You’d expect multiple days and nights on a bus to be long and endless. However, I was surprised at how quickly and efficiently I made it across the country.
How did you pass the time on this trip?
I listen to music endlessly. Long road trips are my favorite excuse to have time to listen to as much music as I can. Anything from old grungy blues to indie alternative albums.
Standup comedy and podcasts are also a brilliant way to pass the time while feeling more engaged in a way music doesn’t always provide. I also read Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey whose eloquent and sharp thoughts are almost music for your eyes.
You’ve said that traveling isn’t always about the destination but instead about the journey. Why do you feel this way?
As humans we can become caught up in the idea of getting something or getting to something. We arrive somewhere and then what? We start planning for where we’re going next. We can focus our eyes and attention on the destination so intensely that sometimes we lose sense of what happens on the way. Whenever you’re wanting to go somewhere, I think deep down you’re really wanting to see what you’ll experience on the way there and back and there again.
Of the photos you took, which are some of your favorites?
I love the Polaroid photo of the Greyhound bus – it feels familiar despite how most of the buses look pretty similar. After riding on one bus for long enough the other ones you see seem foreign! I also love the photos in the city, seeing different stations and places and how they all suit their own unique locations.
You’ve taken both instant photos and digital images – why is that? What inspired you to break out your Polaroid camera to take photos again?
I love the tangibility of film. Being able to look at a moment just a second longer before taking a photo and being able to hold it just a few seconds later is remarkable. You have a deeper connection to a moment when you take the time to be in it longer. Digital film is easy and quick and wonderfully efficient. But in a world of instant gratification it’s meaningful to slow down for a moment.
These images are very inspiring – what inspires you?
I’m inspired by perspective shifts. Being able to go somewhere unfamiliar and new and see the shift as you spend more time there – seeing how it can change and morph into something familiar.