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We Are Juxt Rewind: this article was originally published July 29, 2013
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Roundabout USA by Bridgette S

What if you had the chance to drop everything and travel the world?  That’s what Joe and Kevin did a month ago when they decided to explore the USA and meet Instagramers across the country.

I was lucky enough to meet them both, thanks to Scott and Susan, over at Gas Works Park here in Seattle last week.  I got word from Scott the day before their arrival that they would be in town.

“Face Off” by Susan – Seattle, WA 

To be honest, I hadn’t been following their #roundaboutusa adventures but once I heard about it, I had to look through the gallery.  I read about their meetups with photographers they met along the way but what really drew me to them was this story by Breanna Mueller:

“Lately I have been following along a journey of two amazing photographers and Instagramers who are making their way across the US. Every day is a beautiful new place, picture and story that leaves me feeling as if I were there along with them. Thank you @sittingingodspalm and @sweatengine for taking the Instagram world and myself along with you thru #roundaboutusa. Following your inspiration, I will attempt the same on my mini 10 day journey up the Chesapeake Bay on board the 52 foot GB3. Although my journey and overnight stays are planned, I hope I still find some adventure along the way just as you have, on my own #roundaBOATusa :] My first instagram video of our wake departing from the Lynnhaven inlet. Hope you’ll come along with me… calm winds and following seas.. xoxo”

So awesome, isn’t it?!

“All American” by Bethany – Seattle, WA

Being from the east coast myself, I found an instant connection between them.  I wanted the world to see and listen to what they had to say so I asked if they would take part in an impromptu interview.  Needless to say I was stoked when they accepted the idea!  

The following is my first video interview so bear with me… I tried to edit it as best as possible ;]

As a special tribute, photographers across the USA were kind enough to send me their favorite image of their meet-up with Joe and Kevin which you’ll see throughout this article – pretty spectacular!

These are for you, guys!  Continue to follow your dreams!

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B: Bridgette // J: Joe // K: Kevin

B:  How has traveling together been so far?

J:  So far, traveling has been very easy for us.  We’ve been able to get along very well, and surprisingly, we still like each other!! The funniest part of this is, we met only 2 weeks before we decided to go on this two month trip together. So, I’m amazed that not only do we not want to strangle each other, but we actually work so well together, that it would seem we’ve been friends for years.

K:  Traveling together has taught me a lot. Every decision on this trip has been a group decision – and this something I had to get used to. Other than that, it has been a major blast since our departure from New York City. The trip has evolved into something way more meaningful and dynamic than had anticipated.

“Joe and Kevin’s first visit to the very small town of Columbia City, Indiana .

From the first day of this groups meeting, long-term friendships began.” by Dave 

B:  What have you learned about each other?

J:  What I’ve learned about Kevin, is that now, he feels free. I’ve been lucky enough to have done a lot of the things we’ve been doing, traveling, jumping out of planes, cliff jumping, etc.. He has not. So to see this new found, childlike, zest for life, it actually is quite endearing. I’ve also noticed how driven, passionate, creative, thoughtful, and sensitive he is. I can see how he is searching for not only the perfect sunset, sunrise, or cityscape, but he is also looking and hoping that he will find the one, who he can call his own. He’s a very sweet guy.

K:  I had only known Joe for 2 weeks prior to this trip. But from his photographs I thought he would be my perfect “partner in crime” for this trip. And I’m glad I was right about that.

During our time together, I’ve gotten to know Joe very well. He’s driven (pun intended), focused, and adventurous. His energy and enthusiasm pushed me to places I would never thought of going. Joe’s very vocal about making the most out of every minute – so that’s definitely a major contribution to this trip’s success.

“J0-bombs-Joe Murray style!” with Jolene – Columbia City, IN // Photo by Kevin

B:  Has this trip been what you’ve expected? What has surprised you the most?

J:  This trip has taken on a life of it’s own. It’s been incredible. I originally was supposed to take this trip alone.  I had an Investor who was willing to give me a lot of money to take a lot of pictures of landscapes, and my bike.  I was going to write a book, and he was going to push it.  When I met Kevin, he told me how much he dreamed of doing what I was about to do, and I said, “come along.”  When I went back to the Investor, he didn’t like the idea of us going together, because we would have a lot of the same shots, which would make images harder to sell. I was sort of forced into an ultimatum. The money, or Kevin.  I took Kevin.  We put our savings together, and decided to live out our dream.  We originally thought this trip was about pictures.  It evolved quickly into something more.  The people.  The people is what made this trip worth while.  The connections, and relationships we have made, are more important than any picture I have, or could have taken.

K:  Absolutely not. This trip is much, much more than anything I had in mind. Initially my plan was to explore and experience some of the most beautiful places this country has to offer. I wanted to go home with unique, refreshing photographs that are worthy of being put in a portfolio or photo album. And I also wanted to meet people and get to know their stories.

“Into The Unknown” by Ryan – Chicago, IL

B:  What cities have you been to so far?

K: We’ve visited many major cities along the way since our departure from New York. Some of the most memorable ones include New Port, Augusta, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Sioux Falls, Jackson Hole, Seattle, and Portland.

“Touch and Go” by Ivan Vega – Chicago, IL 

B:  Where do you plan to go next?

J:  After today, we will head to San Francisco, to hopefully get into the Instagram Headquarters.  What we’ve realized, now a month in, is that this whole trip would be nothing without Instagram.  It’s amazed us each, and every day, how the community that makes up Instagram, has skyrocketed our idea, of living for today, and getting out of your comfort zone, to live that life you’ve always wanted to live.  So, we want the people of Instagram, to know that because of the community they’ve created, they’ve helped in changing our lives. We want to work with them, to push others to do the same.  This way, everyone can just be a little happier!

“In Instagram We Trust” by Jason Peterson – Chicago, IL

B:  Tell us about Skydive Chicago and any other adventurous things you’ve done.

J:  My whole life I’ve been extremely adventurous. This is a trait I attribute to my beautiful Mother Sallie. I was always climbing trees to the highest, most brittle branch, climbing mountains with no ropes or nets, jumping from cliffs into clear and murky waters, skydiving, etc.  I’ve always been that type. So, adventure has always been very important to me as a way of life.  I need it to feel happy.

I thought I had it all figured out until I realized I actually didn’t, back in Chicago.  I was taught a valuable lesson from the crew Skydive Chicago. They made us seem like being there, was just the perfect way of life. I walked through the Hangar, day one, after a long drive, tired, sweaty, probably frowning, while everyone inside had a smile, ear to ear. I quickly realized why. For them, this was heaven.

Skydive Chicago is very unique in the sense that it actually is a community. Not only can you camp there, but the people who work there, live there. What I quickly realized, is that these people, were no different than me. They were chasing something, and that something was happiness. No matter what it was, all they wanted to do was jump. I asked Alex, head of Marketing, what they did in the wintertime so that they can keep that happy grin, and he replied, “we chase the summer.” That quote is going to stick with me forever, and I’ll mold it to make sense for me, and my life. They’re travelers, thrill seekers, but most importantly, they’re ALIVE. I’ve skydived before in New Jersey, but this place was different. This place opened my eyes. It reminded me what I was here for, why I decided to leave everything behind. It’s because in order to really be happy, you need to find that passion, whatever it may be, and fight tooth and nail, to make it your life. I walked out with a better understanding of what I already thought I understood, and it makes me think, now that I’m following my dream, the “sky” is no longer the limit.

“A Skydive Chicago Sunset” by Holly – Ottowa, IL

K:  Skydive Chicago has changed my life in a drastic way that was completely foreign to me. Never before had I imagined jumping off a plane at 13,500 feet above sea level. I was so eager to try yet extremely hesitant about it.

I can’t say I remember much of it to be honest. For the first few seconds after jumping off the plane, my body was in a state of total denial and confusion. I was disoriented, shocked, and overwhelmed by the foreign sensation of free-falling. The sensory overload was an experience I can’t properly describe – yet I’m sure I’ll remember it forever.

There have been many exhilarating moments like this throughout the trip. For example, I went cliff jumping for the first time in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. That was similar to skydiving in terms of free-falling, yet completely different because of the intensity of diving into Phelps Lake at the end.

Photo by Sam Bakshian – Minneapolis, MN

B:  Where do you sleep? How do you find places to stay? Do you pre-book?

J:  The sleeping issue is one that has become a complete different way of life for us.  I was used to sleeping in a nice, comfy queen size bed, waking up to a nice breakfast, and hot cup of coffee.  I miss those days, haha! Now we do a lot of camping, and sleeping out of the car.  Before I met Kevin, my idea for this trip was to live very simply.  I wanted to see how I could survive, living with nothing but the clothes on my back, sort of, and out of my car.  I soon realized that the idea I had, was a better, more glamorous story, than what reality has shown. Kevin still laughs, because I actually am very comfortable sleeping out of my car.  I don’t know why that is, but its true!  We often will pay for a camp site, and he will use his tent, snuggled up cozy in his sleeping bag, and I will very comfortably sleep out of the drivers seat. This has occurred more often than not.  I think it actually really bothers him that we are paying for the site, yet I sleep in the car, but to each his own.  We will also, very often sleep in parking lots of hotels, and thanks to the community of Instagram, we’ve slept in many homes of people we don’t know, and even tented on people’s lawns!  It hasn’t been the Ritz, but who needs the Ritz, when we’re meeting and experiencing all we have thus far. I don’t!

K:  We have a large selection of lodging options – and by that I mean we don’t have any plans at all. Let me explain what I mean.

This unsponsored trip is largely based on serendipity and kindness of others. With the help of Instagram and other social media – we have been invited to people’s homes or backyards where we’d camp. Because our funds are limited and our budget is extremely tight, we have yet to stay at a hotel. I’d say camping in a campground once every few days is what we’ve been able to afford. And there have been times when we slept in our car (mid-size SUV) for 2~3 days in a row.

The way we’d connect to people is that we’d often announce our arrival or plans prior to entering a city or location. We would ask if anyone wants to hang out and show us around, and we’d tell them our stories and about our trip. Quite often people would come forward and offer lodging suggestions after getting to know us. And there have been times when complete strangers opened their doors to us as well.

“CAUTION” by Kevin Kuster – Chicago, IL 

B:  How are you documenting your travels? Where can we find your images and videos?

J:  In order to see our pictures, you can find them on Instagram, by either our names – @sittingingodspalm (me) or @sweatengine (Kevin), or you can find each shot of ours from this trip under the hashtag #ROUNDABOUTUSA.  We both have a passion for pictures, and I have always had a passion for writing.  You can read all about our daily adventures on each post that we show.  What I’ve noticed, and Kevin agrees, is that he is an Outstanding Visionary.  He sees the picture way before he takes it.  That makes him, in my opinion, the better photographer out of the two of us. I learn something new from him every, single day.  When it comes to writing, I find that to be more my passion. Together, we are a great team, because we both bring a different passion to the table, which helps us reach greater heights each day.

“Cheese Balls” by Kevin Kuster – Chicago, IL 

B:  Have you traveled outside of the USA? If so, which was your favorite place to visit?

J:  I have never been out of the country.  My dream though, is to see the world the way it was meant to be seen.  Not through others pictures, or stories (though others’ journeys are what inspire me), but through my own experiences.  I want to live everything first hand.  The world is way to big for me, or for any of us to stay put.  This trip is step one of a thousand. I cant wait for step 2!

K:  I haven’t been out of USA for about 20 years – believe it or not. And this is my first time traveling since entering my adulthood. I would love to spend a lot more time seeing this country if I had another opportunity like this. And also I want to see the rest of the world one day.

“May your travels be safe, and your adventures wild.” by Eric Mueller – Minneapolis, MN

B:  What’s the meaning behind your usernames: @sittingingodspalm & @sweatengine?

J:  A lot of people often have asked me why I chose @sittingingodspalm as my username.  The truth is, @Joe was taken.  So, I went with my second choice.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become very faithful, in the sense that I feel that everything happens for a reason.  I don’t believe things happen by chance, I do feel I’m part of a plan that I will never be able to predict or understand, so I’m going to go with the flow.  The “flow” is the Palm Of God.  It doesn’t matter what God you believe in to me.  It doesn’t matter what higher power you believe in either.  To me its all the same.  God will put me where he wants me, so in the mean time, I’m sitting in his palm, waiting for him to place me.

K:  Prior to this trip, I was a biomedical engineer, designing orthopedics devices. I am also very passionate marathon runner. When I signed up for Twitter, I picked @sweatengine because I’m a sweaty (from running) engineer. Here’s something funny about my username: someone once thought I was “Sweet Eugene”.

“Little Bro Lu” by Kristin – Minneapolis, MN

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“Had the pleasure of meeting up with two inspiring IGers who are living the dream and traveling around these great United States.  I’m still amazed at how @instagram is bringing so many interesting and wonderful people together.

Have a great and safe rest of your trip @sittingingodspalm and @sweatengine!”

by Matt Treiber – East Calhoun Beach, MN

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 “~ lights, camera, action! ~” by Michael – The Badlands, South Dakota

This was a Behind the Scenes look at me getting a shot of Joe setting up his shot of me on that windmill.

Joe’s gallery has the final product.

And Kevin was the consummate DP on the set.

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“Insta Pals” by Bridgette Shima – Seattle, WA

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“Union Station Hangout” by Fayth – Chicago, IL 

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[ Gold Stars, Part 2 ] by Dana Marie – Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, MN

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“Rise Above” by Eric – Toledo, OH

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Joseph D’Amelio 3rd

Bio:

Joe is from NJ, the only boy, and youngest of four, with three older sisters. He currently lives out of a 2013 Ford Edge. While in NJ he was working as a Butcher, trying to be a NYC Police Officer, but decided to leave everything behind to live the “American Dream,” to see the world through his eyes.

A personal message from Joe:

“I’d really like to mention, that the generosity of people has been incredible. The Relationships I’ve made through this trip, has blown my mind. For us, the trip really took off in Ohio. A fellow IGer, Eric (@Littlecoal), let us not only camp on his lawn, not only show us all his favorite spots to shoot, but he also introduced us to a few really good guys. Dave (@Kewiki), Kevin (@KevinKuster) and Jason (@JasonMPeterson). These four guys have pushed this trip so much for us. Eric made us feel like we were a part of his family. He is a very faithful good person, and to me felt like a big brother. Dave took us skydiving with his amazing family, who also made me feel like I was a brother, rather than a stranger he had just met. I wish we could have spent more time with Kevin, who featured us, and our story on his feed, along with giving us a ton of advice. Jason is a powerhouse. He has pushed this trip more than we have, hooking us up with more people to meet, and for me, he’s been a bit of a mentor. These four guys, have made this trip better than it ever possibly could’ve been. My favorite city thus far has been Chicago. They welcomed us with open arms. @Ivanvega, @relaxocat, @brandonexplores, @ryanpostal… these people made us feel like family. I miss them.

What I came to see, is that though I occasionally miss home (always miss my family), I often miss people who I’ve met along the way, and who I only knew for a day, or two. That amazes me more than anything else. This trip for me is just the beginning, I want everyone to live the way Im living, through their own eyes, and experiences. I would never say, “everyone should quit their jobs” to do what we do, but taking a day, or weekend trip, and step out of their comfort zone, to do things they’ve never done before, I feel would make the world a little warmer, a little happier.”

Email // Instagram

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Kevin Lu 

Bio:

Kevin Lu is a biomedical engineer and marathon runner from New Jersey. He loves photography and enjoys outdoors activities. He’s left everything behind and taken a huge leap of faith to be on this road trip around USA, in hopes of inspiring people to see and experience the world differently.

Tel: 201-696-5366 // Email // Twitter // Facebook // Instagram