The RetroModern Dream

On January 23, 2018 by creativewavemovement

Ask any artist, and you will undoubtedly find that the itch, the need to journey, is ever-present; forever knocking at our door … until finally, we answer it. For the man betwixt the State of Shine and the state of grind, the task to do so came swiftly, and was answered with an immediate, heck yes.

Image courtesy of Dan Florez Photography

(PHOTO: D. Florez)

Photographer, Dan Florez knew that there was something to be found, something to uncover; never mind the exact ‘what,’ he just had to go. CreativeWave Movement took a moment to understand and learn of the mission behind the storied North American adventure, that he calls, “Retromodern Trip.” It’s a story of the journey: a story that reminds us, you may not know what’s going to happen next; but simply, that something incredible will. Here is our conversation:

CreativeWave Movement: You encouraged yourself to travel across North America? What drove and inspired your decision to take this journey?

Dan Florez: It was a slight accident, actually. A friend who was about to retire from the Navy (stationed in San Diego), mentioned that he was looking to drive his car and belongings back to Florida. So immediately, I responded, ‘I’m coming with! Oh wait… is that cool? Yeah, that’s cool.’ So I checked the flights, [and] it was a $130 one way… and I was sold. The trip was supposed to be a straight shot, through the southern states. As it came closer, we realized that this was a fantastic opportunity to see a bit more of the country, so our driving path turned into a more knot-like shape. Inefficient, but very fun.

CWM: Sounds AMAZING- unexpected fun. One of the best ways to do it. Along your travels, what were you hoping to discover? What were you hoping to accomplish? … and did you discover and/or accomplish it?

Image courtesy of Dan Florez Photography

(PHOTO: D. Florez)

DF: I think, personally, I had 2 goals. One, to meet some odd/fun characters in the middle of nowhere. Two, to get lost in the big vastness. (I’d also never previously been to Utah, Arizona, or Nevada. So, all [was] a bonus)

CWM: Incredible. Sometimes, you never know why or what, but you just have to go! In conjunction with the above question, did what you uncover about yourself and your artwork/art-form differ from what you expected to find?

DF: I very rarely go into any situation with a concrete plan. I’ll have an idea, but usually, my goal is to place myself in an interesting situation, and see what I can get out of it.

CWM: Gotta love that.

Image courtesy of Dan Florez Photography

(PHOTO: D. Florez)

DF: First, make an interesting story; document, second. We had some vague ideas about interviewing people across the country, almost doing a “people of NY” kind of vibe, but of the road. As we got going, that didn’t happen at all – as strangely enough, we stayed mostly to ourselves, out in the natural and empty environments. So, long non-answer… the prime goal of having an interesting story was accomplished. Beyond that, having no real expectations. I can’t say there was a “differ from what we expected” . If that makes sense.

CWM: Makes perfect sense. It’s not in the expected that we more often times than not, make the perfect discovery. Why do you think travel and exploration is so imperative to artists and creative types alike? As an artist, what do you think we get out of the ‘Art of Travel?’

DF: I think it’s [in] the challenge. If you’re sitting at home, doing what you’ve done, [then] that’s what you’ll do. Not that there is anything wrong with that; but for some of us, it takes a kick or a challenge to make things happen. If you hand someone a piece of paper, and say “draw an apple” – you’ll get an apple. If you hand someone a piece of paper, and a burnt stick, and tell them the same – it might not be the best apple, but I can guarantee it’ll be interesting. I think when you’re on the road, camping, working on limited funds and food, you’re challenged. You can be uncomfortable. That’s where things get interesting.

Image courtesy of Dan Florez Photograhy

(PHOTO: D. Florez)

CWM: I love that. Evidently so, I think many of us grapple with the challenge of completely stepping out of our comfort zone… but in the end, it is and can be the best thing for us. Where did your North American tour take you? Where did you go?

DF: We started in San Diego. From there, we left around 10PM towards Los Angeles. En route, we had a quick change of plans [for] Long Beach [and] … surfed right outside the Vans surf competition in Huntington Beach. After that, we visited Big Sur up towards San Francisco. At this point, we decided we’d seen too much city, and it was time to get lost. Apparently… our cellphones agreed, and from this point on, we basically had no signal: just vague ideas and a road map.

The entire trip lasted almost a month, driving in a 78 Wagoneer with no AC/radio, and a top speed of 60mph. A proper telling of the story would be at least 3 chapters, so I’ll spare you. We drove through the Sierras, to spend a week near Yosemite … drove [the] vast emptiness of Nevada, the alien landscapes of Arizona and New Mexico (Navajo territory). There was a short visit to Western Colorado. Afterwards, we went through Utah (Zion/Canyonlands!) and Montana, staying in a town a little north of Yellowstone.

From there … we spent a night at Mt. Rushmore … then backtracked Southwest towards Montana- and accidently slept on a private farm- for the totality. It was mostly a straight shot from there back home (Florida), with a few breakdowns and inconveniences along the way.

CWM: Any rough parts about the journey? What obstacles did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?

Image courtesy of Dan Florez Photography

(PHOTO: D. Florez)

DF: The trip itself was fairly rough. We were driving an antique vehicle through crazy environments – comfortable, but not efficient and unreliable for highway drives. … temperatures from 102 Fahrenheit to 42 degrees at 9000 feet. Our vehicle broke down 4 or 5 times- fortunately my Navy friend is an expert mechanic.

I suppose wildlife was a minor concern, as we were constantly in their space. Grizzly droppings, mountain lion tracks, and even listening to a pack of coyotes make a kill – kept us on our toes. Going from sea level to 9000 feet… we had to adjust the carburetor constantly, and I personally had to walk a little slower sometimes. We also regularly went a week without a shower since we were camping only… so finding rivers to clean in, was crucial.

CWM: Wow. So, thus entails the adventure that awaited. What impact did the change in scenery, shift in topography have on your perspective and approach with photography?

DF: Well, for landscape photography, I confirmed what’s been [understood] since cameras have been around: you have to wait. For the best shot, you must be [at the] right place, [at the] right time, or choose your spot, and be there at the right light. Also, move slow and take your time… if you explore a bit further, there’s plenty more interesting landscape to see.

CWM: If there is one or a few key ‘lessons from field’ that you can take away and pass on to another artist on a similar voyage, what would they be?

DF: The Greatest (capitalized for importance) thing I learned on this trip: BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land is the absolute greatest thing about our country. It turns out [that] part of our taxes [goes toward] the maintenance of large parts of our country, in some of the most beautiful areas, to keep them pristine. As a citizen, you’re- you, me, everyone- [are] allowed to camp at most designated spots for up to 14 days! 14 days!!!

CWM: Wow!!

Image courtesy of Dan Florez Photography

(PHOTO: D. Florez)

DF: As a second note, sleep pads. I have an air mattress that fits in my cup holder, capable of keeping me (6’4, 210lbs) comfortably off the ground and able to be blown up by mouth in about a minute. Fantastic device. However! It will not keep you warm in low temperatures. My friend had a similar product, that was insulated with some kind of foam. It doesn’t fold down as compactly, but it’s significantly warmer and takes even less time to blow up. If you see an insulated sleep pad, it’s a fantastic purchase for almost every situation.

CWM: So what you’re advising is that we take full advantage of the BLM treasures, with proper insulation to boot… dutifully noted!


Whether the advice is practical or purposed for the dreamer at heart, Dan Florez’s North American RetroModern Journey provides an in-depth look into how and why it’s critical to dream while we travel; and more importantly, why we ought to travel to dream. To view more of Dan Florez’s work, visit his website, Dan Florez Photography.

Here’s to your next adventure.

–Linds xxo

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