A pair of amateur explorers are capturing their travels, one breathtaking photo at a time.
By Arianna Davis
Almost two years ago, British Columbia natives Jillian Mann and Kyla Trethewey had steady jobs, nice homes, serious relationships—and a burning desire for a major life shake-up. "We realized that we'd reached a stalemate," says Trethewey, 27. "We both were unhappy through no one's fault but our own." As the two became closer friends and discovered a shared passion for travel ("Kyla was the only person I'd met who didn't think a 16-hour drive was too long," says Mann, 26), they dreamed of dropping everything (boyfriends included) and hitting the road.
Four months later, their plan started to become a reality when they took a test trip to Salt Lake City. "We needed to make sure we were compatible," Trethewey says. "What if Jill absolutely had to wash her hair every day?" Five months after that, the pair officially set out in a restored 1950s red and white RV they found on Craigslist for $1,600 and named Bobby Jean.
While cruising through California, the Southwest, and the South, the duo began posting pictures through a joint Instagram account, @ourwildabandon. Soon their ethereal snapshots of classic American locales—sprawling white sands in New Mexico; morning fog in Texas; swampland in Louisiana, complete with an alligator—earned them a major fan base (more than 67,000 followers and counting). "There's nothing technical about it," Mann says. "If a moment grabs us, we capture it. Natural or morning light and simple landscapes make the most eye-catching shots."
As they make their way from Alaska to the Northeast, Trethewey and Mann will continue to couch-surf at the homes of friends, friends of friends, and even loyal fans. "We couldn't afford this without the generous people we've met along the way," Trethewey says. "We eat a lot of canned beans, tell bad jokes to amuse ourselves, and constantly search for free Wi-Fi. But there really is nothing like waking up in one place and going to bed in another!"
Trethewey at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico
Mann on horseback in Utah
Bobby Jean, the 1950s RV Trethewey and Mann are driving across the U.S.
A pit stop off Interstate 10 in Texas