Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Curiosity is lying in wait for every secret.” Our romanticized ideas about certain places or things will only be unveiled if we go and experience them ourselves. For New York-based adventure and lifestyle photographer Forest Woodward, this curiosity was fixated on the American West, thriving on the idea of it withholding a preserved way of life.
To test this theory, Forest set out behind the wheel of a ’78 Scout alongside his friend Jessica with no intentions of making a statement, but rather to delve into original pioneer ethos and remnants of Native American culture and to seek what is left of the west. Forest embedded himself as a character in a story, exploring the pockets of mining towns, railroads, reservations, and swimming holes.
Breaking down half a dozen times had its benefits, as it led to stories told by various strangers who stopped to lend their mechanical knowledge. Traveling the back roads made for a more interesting experience. With each new interaction, came a new lesson.
In evaluation of his adventure, Forest shared his discoveries:
“It was a good reminder to be open to what the world offers and to let go of expectations. People are generally good if we let them be. So often we shut off the world around us, trying to create a bubble of security, when really we would be better off acknowledging our co-dependence and cultivating the type of self-sufficiency that recognizes the importance of community.
Forest set out to look for the remaining wild spirit and love of the earth. What he found was a new piece of himself. Or perhaps, that pioneer spirit found him.