Awake, wild, secret, free



Awake, Wild, Secret, Free documents the classic American cross-country road trip.

This particular one was taken by Andrew Barton and Sofie Sherman-Burton (author of Flavor, Two Plum Press 001) in May of 2014, motivated by the basic job of returning a 1990 Toyota Camry from Vermont to Oregon. 

On the way, Barton and Sherman-Burton stay with family, college friends, childhood friends, recent friends, and vague acquaintances. They spend several days in Vermont, before heading to upstate New York, through Ontario, into Michigan, on to Illinois, down to Indiana, spend a day in Kentucky, do another part of Indiana, then swoop through Missouri to Nebraska, on to Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and finally home to Oregon. 

Many of America's culinary highlights are explored and revealed (from wild ramps and fiddlehead ferns in Vermont to lawn-side BBQ in Kansas City and spiralized French fries in Eastern Oregon), abandoned barns and town halls near rambling state highways are visited (and photographed), coffee is made on the roof of the car (every day), and cassette tapes are played to match each state's history and vibe. 

You can download a soundtrack to this book (featuring songs from those cassette tapes, in the order they were played, East to West), view the extended photo gallery, and read a less edited version on the original blog page here. 

Like Autumn Wanderers and Visiting The Good Life, this title features 14 color photo plates printed by our friends at Pine Island Press.


VERMONT, day 2:

• drive back up to Johnson in the soft sunlight. i fall asleep in the back, with the windows open and the breeze blowing across my forehead. this is the best kind of sleep after two days of travel and no catch-up rest.

• i make coffee upon arrival and we all move around in silence awhile– reading, working on computers, showering, starting laundry, whatever; as the river rolls outside and the twilight descends. 

• just before true dark, sofie takes me across the street to a giant barn to "see the boat." jen's neighbor, who has an amazing house pretty much sitting in the river across the way, is refurbishing a giant boat. i was expecting to see a boat in the river, so was awed when a cathedral-like structure's door was opened to reveal a massive vessel filling the whole space. 


• we ride through the streets, obeying no traffic laws. in Detroit there is so much space, and so few people around, that it is very easy (and probably even pretty safe) to bike wherever the fuck you want. 

• ham knows about our interest in urban farming and food events, so he takes us to a few lots his friends have turned into small urban farms. we pass one with a silver airstream trailer sitting on the grass nearby. “that’s my friend’s food truck,” he explains. “she’s only open on thursdays.”

• at the next block, we stop to look at another garden. squinting in the sunlight, ham sees people he knows on the other side of the lot. we follow. 


• we leave all jacked up from the light-roast, high caffeine intake.

• the afternoon drive flies by, spent mostly researching what barbeque to eat in kansas city. sofie finds an article from that takes 25 minutes to read (she does the whole thing, out loud) and is extremely compelling. 

• the whole rest of the way in, to get further into the mood, we blast a favorite random tape on repeat: the blues, vol. 1.