About a year and a half ago, Peter West Carey, a former Senior Systems Adminstrator from Seattle, decided to give up his job to follow his dreams out onto the open road. Those dreams have allowed him to combine two other great loves in his life, photography and travel writing, into a lifestyle that most people would be envious of. Peter has graciously offered to share some of his travel tales with us today and tell us a little bit about what this life transition has meant to him.
MSW: Before we begin, I’d like to mention that Peter and I met through the Travel Blog Exchange. He was kind enough to offer me a guest slot on his site, The Carey Adventures. Shortly after my photos went up, Peter wrote to me asking if he could submit one of my photos to Digital Photography School. Peter talks a bit more about these sites in his interview. I urge you to check them out as well.
Hi Peter. It’s really nice to have you here on My Several Worlds. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
PWC: In my former life I was a Senior Systems Administrator for an Internet company in downtown Seattle. But the call of the open road was too loud in my ears to continue that life of steady income and covered heath care costs. Photography has been a passion of mine from my first days out of high school and I’ve turned to it recently to make ends meet. I’ve decided to combine those two passions, travel and photography, and have been giving it a go for over 1.5 years now. While not as stable as computer work, it’s opened doors I never even imagined.
MSW: This has been a really busy year for you. You’ve been to Peru and Mexico in the last twelve months, you’ve been on some very special road trips, you attended TBEX, and now you’re in Australia. Could you tell us a little about how all these travel plans and events transpired?
PWC: This summer was a BLAST!! But also a lot of work. Some trips, like Mexico and the first off-road road trip in Oregon were vacations with my daughter, who is seven. Well, not completely. Oregon had some spectacular scenery when we visited the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and I did bring along the ‘big camera’ to capture the 4×4 action.
I had three days at home before hitting the open road with Pam, from Nerd’s Eye View, and Kelly, from Travellious, after we had concocted the crazy idea of road tripping to Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX)2009 on that event’s website. The trip was a hoot and I got to know my two companions quite well as we bombed across the US from Seattle to Chicago. We were blessed to have some great backing on that trip including a last minute offer to borrow a Routan minivan from the nice folks at VW, camping gear to test for REI and accommodations in a high rise in downtown Chicago from HomeAway.com. This trip was a real eye opener for both the scenery (I had never driven East of the Rockies) and how well PR professionals and travel bloggers can work together.
Australia came right on the heels of TBEX and was something of a last minute idea. I had some time on my hands and wanted to visit friends and see new sights. Tickets to Europe were MORE expensive than tickets to Australia from Chicago. I emailed a few friends and settled on my first stop, Brisbane. After spending a few days in town, astonished at how much cities with rivers running through them have a common feel, I headed out on my own in a rented campervan. Each day I’d wake up and eat breakfast at a local diner, taking time to ask the owner or wait staff where I should go next. It really was a ‘with the wind’ type of trip and I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I met some wonderful Australians while camping (highlighted in my post The Day I Met Other Non-Axe Murdering Campers In Australia) who took me in and convinced me to extend my rental and join them for what turned out to be my best night in the country. The hospitality I encountered, from the barber who told me to never part my hair to the waitress who didn’t bat an eye when I asked for a double breakfast, has me longing to head back. But the problem is the country is so HUGE! It’ll be hard to narrow down another trip but I believe I’d explore more of North New South Wales as well as the Outback.
MSW: Could you tell us a little about the projects you’re working on at the moment? What’s next for Peter Carey?
PWC: As I write this I’m mentally packing for a road trip to Canada with Pam and Kelly. And I really should be ‘actually’ packing! We leave in the morning to pick up a 30′ RV and head out on BC Ferries to points on islands. We’re still not sure of the whole itinerary and none of us would pick a RV as our primary mode of transport, but we’re all excited for the challenge that comes with it! Other travel plans for the next couple of months include Cape Disappointment on the Washington Coast, Ocean Shores, WA and a possible trip to Hawaii.
I’m also ramping up the promotion for my imaging business; Hidden Creek Photography. As mentioned before, it was more of a hobby that has turned to a lifestyle. And that lifestyle usually involved promoting myself, which is new for me. I’m excited now that I’ve started getting traction booking wedding shoots, portraits, products and a number of other small projects. I really like working with creative people and I seem to be meeting a LOT of them in this line of work!
MSW: You’re also a very active member of Digital Photography School. How does that fit in with your busy schedule?
PWC: Digital Photography School (DPS) has been a fabulous opportunity for me. Darren Rouse, who runs the site, put out a request for bloggers in 2008 and after making the cut, I’ve enjoyed work with him to deliver quality content to an ever increasing readership. He’s grown the site from 30K subscribers to over 315K today. I write one post a week on any number of photography topics. The great part about it is I can be anywhere in the world! I have posted from Seattle, California, Australia, Chicago, Peru and many other points. For me it’s a natural fit because I LOVE helping others learn about photography. The tag line I have on my website and business cards is “Explore-Inspire-Educate” and it’s a motto I live by. DPS has been the best outlet for the ‘Educate’ aspect and I look forward to continuing with a quality group of writers.
MSW: Can you tell us a little about your traveling companions this summer?
PWC: Pam, Kelly and I first met at a Tweetup for travel bloggers in Seattle. I was brand new to the group then and about a dozen people showed up. I had seen both of them online and we chatted for only a minute or two before group discussions started. Then, when the idea for a road trip to TBEX came up they both jumped on board (actually Kelly suggested the idea of live blogging/tweeting the trip). I thought, “Great! Company!”. It wasn’t until friends started asking me about who I was traveling with that I realized I really didn’t have a clue!
Pam has been in the travel blogging game for over three years running Nerds Eye View. She has a strong following and reputation as being up front and honest. And I’m glad to report that’s how she is in real life! She wakes early and likes to get her posts done first thing (we all took turns blogging for our combined site TBEXRoadTrip.com). I really appreciated her take on events we all experienced together. She has a much more descriptive writing style I’ve enjoyed attempting to emulate. And I love her sense of humor as she’s quick to pick up on my subtle jokes….most of the time.
Kelly was a wild card to me when we first met to discuss the trip. I hadn’t read much of her blog, Travellious.com (pronounced as in combining ‘travel’ & ‘rebellious’) so I got to know her solely through the trip. Like Pam she was game for the goofy antics of the trip (jumping out to film ourselves in front of signs, etc…) but unlike Pam, she’s a night owl. She’d also never camped and this trip was an eye opener for her. I’m happy to say by the end of the trip, you wouldn’t know she’d never pitched a tent before in her life. She took to the challenges and opportunities with aplomb and a gusto that can only be described as “gusty”.
MSW: In your eight day trip, was there one moment that stood out as a defining moment for the three of you?