Rogue Summer with Andy Best: The Unexpected Path to Unbelievable Memories
Follow adventure videographer/photographer Andy Best and his wife, Erica, on an uncharted journey across America on what they call their Rogue Summer.
As the buzz of the heater winds down, the quiet chirp of a bird outside the camper becomes audible. A dull light emanates from the camper windows and into the blue-black sky of a new day in the desert. Eyes bloodshot and heavy, I click send on an email, launching a message from my phone into space, and then finally back down to a computer located about a 12-hour drive from me.
And just like that, my summer begins.
We are settling into Utah rather quickly. A few days ago, we were skiing. Now we are stashing our warm clothes in bins and swapping them out for moisture wicking summer gear. On top of the gear shuffle, we have to prepare the generator to run the air conditioner for the dogs while we’re out shooting photos.
This new corner of the globe allows us to meet up with friends both old and new. Our mission? Mountain bike, hike, and explore as much of Moab as possible. I can’t believe the stark contrast from where we had been a few days earlier; from slashing through powder trying to keep up with some of the world’s best to chasing pro mountain bikers through the boiling desert.
We spend the next few days suffering with a smile. The bugs, the heat, the sun—all relentless. However, we understand that this is part of it, the beautiful struggle that creates memories and character. We know that it’s about the laughs at the end of every day, and the tender moments as the cool breeze rides the plunging sun below the horizon.
We rise each day with a smile, then work the day away. Rinse and repeat, knowing when we leave this place, we’ll have the most unforgettable stories.
The constant hum of the tires on the highway finally brings my mind forward as I am in deep thought about the previous days in the desert. I stare at my computer screen editing as music fills our ears. Erica is driving. The dogs are fast asleep. We’re heading 1,200 miles northwest to Olympic National Park.
And so continues our Rogue Summer on the road from 110-degree weather to rainforests on the coast. Time again to pull out our waterproof gear.
Oh, and pack away the generator.
We meet up with two new friends from Nebraska to explore coast to coast, from rainforest to high mountain peaks. We share stories and life philosophies. We discuss why places and moments around the fire with good company are important for the soul and for progress.
For me, it’s all about coming together with like-minded people in stunning landscapes. Those are the places that truly open the mind creativity.
On the third day of our trip, we take to the skies. At 8,000 feet we circle Mount Olympus. The sound of the plane engine fills our ears, and we are in awe at what is transpiring before us. I click away in the front seat, pumped on what is unfolding. I quickly look back to see the joy on Erica’s face and our new friends kissing. He has just proposed! At 8,000 feet in an airplane over Mount Olympus! What a phenomenal idea. Even our pilot is shocked and gives us all a little bonus acrobatic show in honor of the moment.
The stories continue down the road. From a month-long, 3,000-mile ski project to mountain biking the deserts of Utah, to flying high above the peaks of the Olympic National Park. And it’s not even close to over. We are back in the truck, headed for Alberta. It’s time to fly fish the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies from horseback.
A long and tiresome 1,000 miles later, we arrive at Turner Valley, Alberta. Our friends stand outside their home with outstretched arms, welcoming us to their cute little town. They have prepared a gorgeous dinner in honor of the visit. We spend the evening excitedly plotting countless miles of Banff National Park backcountry in search of pristine waters.
The next morning we arrive at the stables in Banff, shuffle our gear, and saddle up. The effort put in over the next few days leads us to pools of up to 500 fish, gorgeous campsites, amazing food, and stunning mountain views.
I take the time to slow down and look at the bigger picture beyond the guides and even the mountains. I take the time to slow down and realize how far we’ve come along this life on the road, this Rogue Summer, and this path of following our hearts.
What can I take with me I ask? Hopefully, humility.
Erica and I, still in Canada, are about to embark on our final chapter of summer. We’re headed for Alaska. I still can’t believe the miles we’ve covered. I can’t believe the terrain we’ve seen and the amazing humans we have been able to enjoy. Now Alaska! Regardless of how long it takes or the projects that unfold because of the direction in which we now head, I’ll know that because we’ve allowed the winds of the unexpected to fill our sails, I’ll always think of this summer as my Rogue Summer.
And I’ll always be grateful.