Journal Three: Diary of the Open Road

Diary of the Open Road

Diary of the Open Road // Day One



It seems like two years makes for a significant difference when you’re a child. Morgan was always the cool, older girl in the neighbourhood we all wanted to be. If we were holding the “Annual Kierstead’s Backyard Rink Figure Skating Competition,” Morgan was the judge. She was the one who decided who were the cops and who were the robbers on those late summer evenings. Every once in a while, her mom would leave a garbage bag full of Morgan’s hand-me-downs on my front door step. I would always smuggle them up to my room and make sure I could rummage through the selection before my little sisters had a chance. Even just wearing her floral capris pants made my eight-year-old self feel like I reached a new level of cool.

To this day, I’m still finding articles of Morgan’s early 2000’s clothing floating around the house, often worn by my nine year-old sister, Esther. 


Morgan and I grew up literally 20 meters from each other, directly across the street, but our families were just about as different as you could possibly imagine.

Just picture an adorable, picture perfect family, a boy and a girl. The cutest little house with a stone walkway and a lovely garden that always seemed to be the first to bloom every year. Everything always in place, always clean, while across the street, resided my family, those awkward, loud, low-key crazy Kiersteads. With our rickety old porch and a house that was never big enough to fit the nine of us, we constantly left our neighbours on edge thinking, “what are they going to do next?”. While Morgan’s mom would be vacuuming her driveway as if it wasn’t already clean enough, my mother would be frantically running out the door in her fluffy white house coat and neon orange crocks holding a brown paper bag over her head and yelling, “you forgot your lunch again!”


An old photo of my house taken in May, 2000, Morgan's house in the background. 

An old photo of my house taken in May, 2000, Morgan's house in the background. 

The kids of Byng Street, July, 2000. 

The kids of Byng Street, July, 2000. 


Despite the fact that we share an encyclopedia of childhood memories on good ole’ Byng Street, it wasn’t until Morgan and I accidentally ran into each other at Read’s Coffee Shop two summers ago, our friendship truly began. 

Morgan had just finished a “semester abroad” in Singapore while I had taken a gap year and was in the midst of my first wedding season and preparing to move to New Zealand for five months. All of the sudden, we had far more in common than our postal code. Our thinking, values, and ideologies had significantly shifted with our recent, individual experiences and we found ourselves understanding one another in a way we hadn’t growing up. A friendship began that day. One I am very thankful for.

A friendship that has left a '95 Chevy Astro parked on Byng Street. I don’t remember the first time the idea of a cross-continental road trip came up, but it seems like it has been something we have been dreaming up together since our friendship began, and it’s surreal that we have somehow found ourselves here in March 2017, ready to embark on what was simply nice thought a year ago. 

You got it. Your girls on Byng are moving out, in a matter of minutes actually. Leaving the hood to begin a journey neither of us are remotely prepared for. As in, we have no idea what we are getting ourself into. We don’t know anything about vans, or road-life. Not in the least.

From an early morning back in October, I made Morgan late for class for the sake of running around in the fog. 

From an early morning back in October, I made Morgan late for class for the sake of running around in the fog. 



Our plan? 



Our plan is that we really have no plan. 

Our goal is to book it for California as quickly as possible, the west coast, between California and British Columbia, being our target travel area for the next three months. We want to meet people. We want to create things. We want to see, do, explore, document. That's our plan. 

With the help of two incredibly gifted men by the name of Paul Vatour and Matt Lewis, we have been able to reconstruct our van into a moving home. Hundreds of hours have been put into the mechanics and accessibility of it, and we could not be more excited over how it has turned out. We're pretty in love. I already talk to it like it's a human. In fact, it has a name. 

Vincent, Vincent Van Go

But you can call him Vince. 

From the beginning, we have been tossing around ideas of how best to document this journey. Originally, we had thought of setting up a youtube channel and vlogging it all, as we have both been greatly inspired by the incredible work of the legend, Andrew Kearns, but as we considered it more deeply, we realized the importance of balance for this particular trip. As much as we want to create interesting and meaningful content, our number one priority is to first, experience, and to second, capture and share those experiences in a way that requires reflection, intention, and thought. 

With that in mind, my goal is to be putting out a daily journal post that captures each day in words and thoughtful photographs. In the last few months, I have cultivated a true love for both a documentary approach to photography and expressing my experiences, thoughts, hardships, and joys through writing. And I'm sure this trip will hold a great measure of all of those things. 

This trip is more than just another "travel experience". It's a lot of things. Many of which, we have yet to discover. But right now, I know it's an opportunity to make meaningful connections and relationships that go beyond apps. It's an opportunity to grow my craft and skill as I will have freedom to exclusively create personal work and potentially meet and collaborate with other artists. Not to mention the life experience that comes with a journey of this nature, so much unknown. But most importantly, I want this trip, like every other facet of my life, to be about falling more in love with Jesus. It's about learning to trust and lean on Him when things get hard.

I don't know what to say beyond that. Leading up to this day, there has been anxiety, questioning,  set-backs, doubts, flat-tires, engine issues, delays, more questioning, but in the midst of it all, we have been able to keep walking forward. And if you're reading this, Mom, Dad, Bev, Paul, our neighbours and friends and siblings and grandparents who have been backing us up and supporting us through this process even when you had a hard time understanding it, thank you for everything. We love you a whole lot and appreciate you standing behind us in this more than we can say. 

We don't know what these next months hold, but our hands and hearts are open. 





sarah kierstead