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  • Writer's pictureBranwen Defren


Updated: Aug 29, 2018

This weeks #friendfeaturefriday is from one of the smartest & sweetest ginger boy-scouts I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting, Justin Ramberger.

Justin got these amazing shots while driving on his spur of the moment solo road trip this summer. He drove from Pennsylvania to the Michigan/Canadian border over a two week period!

What made you decide to do this road trip?

I wanted to go on a trip to visit potential graduate schools, and this seemed like a good way to do it. Also, the northern Midwest is fantastic in the summer, so it made sense to go up there. I also wanted to visit some of my friends that live around the country. Finally, I needed to see the total solar eclipse and this seemed like a good excuse to do that.

How’d you feel starting off on the road? Nervous? Excited?

I felt a little nervous, but I was mainly excited. I had been living at home while on co-op*, so I was excited to go out on my own for a while.

What did you listen to (if any) while on the road?

I mainly listened to Audiobooks. I listened to Devil in the White City (about the 1893 World Colombian Exhibition), The Big Short (about the 2008 housing market crash), and The Windup Bird Chronicle (about...I'm not exactly sure, but it was interesting!)

Out of all the cool things you did, what was your favorite?

It's hard to pick a favorite, but it was probably my trip to Isle Royale National Park up in Lake Superior. It was a really cool experience because it was very remote and empty. It was hard (and expensive) to get to, but it was totally worth it. Also, witnessing the solar eclipse was absolutely incredible, but overall the experiences were so different from each other that it's hard to pick just one.

First thought that comes to your head when you think of this trip?

Driving. I did SO MUCH driving (3702 miles). I also think about 70 degree sunny weather

What was it like traveling alone? Did you ever get lonely? Were there any times you were scared that you were alone? Did anyone bother you?

It was actually really nice. I always had things to do and I visited several people, so I never got lonely and I had a lot of time to think. I never had any issues with other people or car trouble or anything, but it did feel a little sketchy when I slept in my car in random Walmart parking lots..

Would you do this again in the future? Would you do it alone again or bring a friend?

I would definitely go again! I would probably try to take someone with me because it would be great to share the experience with someone, but being alone gave me a lot of freedom in terms of being able to change my plans on a whim.

Did any sights surprise you while you were traveling?

Just how crazy the solar eclipse was blew my mind. I expected it to be cool, but I did not expect those 2 minutes and 38 seconds to be so exciting and fun. The Sleeping Bear Dunes in western Michigan were also insane. I didn't know Sand Dunes could get that large.

What was the coolest thing you saw?

The total eclipse. I can't even describe how weird of an experience it was.

What was the most valuable tool you brought?

A good pair of shoes. I did a ton of walking, and my feet would have been destroyed if I hadn't.

Do you think your experience as a boy scout helped you during this trip?

For sure. I would not have been comfortable enough with my backpacking/camping skills to solo 25 miles on a remote island if I hadn't done much more intense backpacking trips before. Also, my ability to tie knots was useful to make a tent inside my car to sleep under.

Why did you choose to travel around the US instead of traveling abroad?

Mainly because I wanted to see potential grad schools and the eclipse but also because I only had two weeks. Next summer, I'm hoping to go abroad for much longer.

Big thank you shout out to Justin for sharing his photos & adventures with me. Don't forget to follow me on Instagram to keep up with features every Friday! & DM or email me if you're interested in being featured.

*NOTE: At Northeastern University students do 1-3 work experiences for 6 months called "co-op" in order to have work experiences before they graduate.


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