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Over two years ago, after a handful of drinks and a few wistful conversations, a pair of best friends decided to slap a "for sale" sign on everything they owned.
Kyla Trethewey, 28, and Jill Mann, 27, got rid of it all in a matter of months, and used the cash to buy a trailer. Then they packed up the bare essentials they needed for everyday life inside a box on wheels.
"'Hey mom, I just broke up with my boyfriend and I'm quitting my job to move into a trailer,' is a tough sell," said Trethewey.
But they did it anyway — so they could explore the Pacific West Coast and parts of the U.S. full time.
"Getting to travel and meet incredible people from different towns, cities, lifestyles, histories — those are the moments and memories that change your life," Mann told The Huffington Post B.C. in October from the duo's home base in Vancouver.
"The reality of the way we live is not for everyone. It’s cramped. It’s dirty. It’s uncomfortable," she added. "[But] we are doing exactly what we want to be doing and not a lot of people have that luxury. Our awareness of that is constant."
Together, the pair chronicle their travels on Instagram, though their joint account appropriately called "Our Wild Abandon."
As our HuffPost B.C. Photographers of the Month, Trethewey and Mann tell us about the days they've spent chasing lightning, the convicts they've met along the way, and what kept them moving even when bad luck pushed them to go home.
Q: Is the lifestyle as great as you'd envisioned?
A: It is, but for reasons that surprised us. You’d think it was because of the beautiful places we get to see, which are many and always great — but the real takeaway for us is the people. We were not happy [before.] We were too young to be so unsatisfied and working too much with nothing to show for it at the end of the day. If anything, our only regret is not leaving sooner.
Q: What kind of people do you cross paths with?
A: We’ve met all sorts: from fellow photographers to prisoners serving life sentences, and a trucker that lives with six rescue dogs in his truck. Being constantly on the road keeps you out of your comfort zone and pushes you into the lives of other people.
As far as most memorable, our friend Penni Guidry in Louisiana would be the winner. Penni is a light brighter than the sun. She built herself her own private trailer park in her yard, and represents exactly what it means to live.... She knew what she wanted and scratched it out of life. She is a hero and a second mother to us.
Q: Speaking of people, you two are together 24 hours a day, seven days a week. How do you maintain your friendship?
A: What we are doing is all-encompassing. We’ve spent six days apart in the last two years. We always treat each other with respect and communicate openly; we don’t have time to not say exactly what we are thinking, and this nips most potential arguments in the bud. We also just really like each other... We’re best friends and it’s comforting to not have to go through all this alone.
Q: Can you tell us the story of your lowest low that you've been through together?
A: Our engine seizing because of a shoddy mechanic and having to live in a junkyard in Utah. It was pretty early on — it felt like everything was moving against us. We didn’t feel ready to give up, but damn, we were close. We had put everything into this, and with no car and very little money, we didn't see an easy way out of it.
Maybe it was pride, or a fear of failure, or not wanting to have that horrible conversation with our parents, I don’t know. But we stayed. That was a turning point for us.
Q: On the flip side, what about your biggest travel high?
A: Chasing lightning in Utah. This storm rolled in quickly and violently — it was like all of a sudden we were a metal plate in a microwave. Flashes were coming down too fast to count, and the thunder was shaking the car. We had to pull over and just watch for a while, even though that was probably the worst thing we could do.
We ended up running through this field and you could feel the electricity in the air; hair standing up on end, huge flashes of blinding light in your path, and the ground shaking at your feet.
Q: Those moments are such rich experiences, but social media can feel a little fabricated. How have you managed to stay authentic while sharing your adventures on Instagram?
A: Originally we created our Instagram account so we would have a single channel to funnel our photos through for safekeeping, and to share with our friends and families. I think in sticking with that original intention kept it honest and close to our hearts. When you start wondering, ‘What do my followers want? What gets the most likes?’ you lose what you brought to the table in the first place: your own voice.
Q: Can you explain the concept of all your photo stories?
A: Our personal work is a combination of idiosyncratic self-portraits, vignettes of escapism, and surreal landscapes that communicate the feeling of fleeting youth, exploration, and a content displacement. Because the majority of our work features portraits of one or both of us, our likenesses and the story of our journey and friendship are integral to the narrative of the images. Those images tell the story of a state of constant motion, travel and discovery.
Q: And, finally: You're leaving on your next trip in five minutes. What five things do you grab between the two of you?
A: Cameras [Canon 5D Mark 3s], road atlas, sunflower seeds, an iPod, and two big coffees. Chances are we’ll be driving all night.
Our Wild Abandon have travelled Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, 11 U.S. states, and much of the Pacific West Coast. Follow their work online:
Interested in being HuffPost B.C.'s Photographer of the Month? Email us and we can chat!