Web Only

27 States in 14 Days


Photo of the New York City skyline from a bridge.
New York City skyline. Photo by Bradley Slade.

“I’m built for road trips,” says Bradley H. Slade (BFA ’94). When BYU Magazine turned to the photographer last summer for help with the magazine’s special-issue article “50 Going Forth”—highlighting one alum in each state—the assignment had all the markings of an epic road trip.

4,700 miles, 27 states, 110 hours behind the wheel, and 1 hurricane later, the trip delivered—as did Slade, who in two stints snapped more than 16,000 photos of alumni from Maine to Virginia to the Midwest to the deep South.

With the help of Google Maps and the meticulous scheduling of editor Amanda K. Fronk (BA ’10, MA ’14), Slade took a serpentine route that led him to Yale (“holy cow—the buildings”), through New York City, over the rolling hills of Appalachia, and into the winds of oncoming Hurricane Irma—opposite the endless line of traffic evacuating the area.

St. Nicholas Catholic church in Zanesville, Ohio.
St. Nicholas Catholic church in Zanesville, Ohio. Photo by Bradley Slade.

As he noshed sardines and dark chocolate (not together), listened to podcasts, and accompanied the radio on his harmonica (“Aw, man, I jammed”), Slade wasn’t a slave to his digital map. And so, to the consternation of his virtual GPS assistant, Slade veered onto byways whenever possible.

Below see a handful of roadside snaps from Slade’s journey.

Abandoning the Blue Line

“When possible, if it wasn’t a big difference,” says Slade, “I’d always take the smaller road.” Like this byway just off his GPS route in West Virginia. “You’re just following that blue line, and sometimes you think, you’re never going to have an adventure on the blue line.”

Clouds and green vegetation in the hills of West Virginia.
West Virginia hills. Photo by Bradley Slade.
A wooded road in West Virginia.
West Virginia byway. Photo by Bradley Slade.

Romantic Decay

Slade has a thing for small communities past their prime, like Cumberland, Maryland, a town he stopped at during a multi-state leg of his journey. “Cumberland is a little town, one of the poorer towns in the country,” says Slade. “There’s so much texture”—like Main Street churches abutting industrial brick buildings and a neo-gothic county courthouse. “I love that sort of romantic decay,” he says. “I love the [towns] that were great and are now coming apart a little.”

Spires from churches in Cumberland, Maryland.
Cumberland, Maryland. Photo by Bradley Slade.
A crumbling old army barracks in Memphis, Tennessee, behind a rusting fence.
An old army barracks sits empty behind a rusting fence in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Bradley Slade.

54 Years, 364 Days

Slade’s route took him past the place his mortal journey began—a hospital in Bloomington, Indiana—one day short of 55 years later. Slade celebrated the next day with a trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Art to see one of his favorite paintings (Rembrandt’s Lucretia) and a plate of bratwurst and sauerkraut.

The Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital.
The Indiana University Health Bloomington Hospital. Photo by Bradley Slade.
Rembrant’s Lucretia, hanging in the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Photo by Bradley Slade.
Rembrant’s Lucretia, hanging in the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Photo by Bradley Slade.
A bratwurst, sauerkraut, and potatoes birthday dinner.
A bratwurst, sauerkraut, and potatoes birthday dinner. Photo by Bradley Slade.

Architextures

Slade, a lover of architecture, reveled in the variety he saw all over the eastern United States. He was especially drawn to the Yale campus as he took pictures of a BYU alum who teaches there. “What an amazing campus. Not only are they good about doing the old-style stuff, but the new stuff. They integrate so well.”

Beckton Plaza on the campus of Yale University.
Beckton Plaza on the campus of Yale University. Photo by Bradley Slade.
Harkness Tower on the campus of Yale University.
Harkness Tower on the campus of Yale University. Photo by Bradley Slade.

A Swinging Time

The work kept Slade busy—often editing and uploading images in his hotel room until the wee hours. But he did find a few minutes here and there to relax, like when he arrived 15 minutes early to a shoot and found a park next door.

Feet of someone swinging amid trees.
Photo by Bradley Slade

Public Spaces

One thing Slade could stand to see less of after his long journey: billboards. And more of? Public art and public spaces. Slade loved the public art and spaces he encountered—like the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge spanning the Missouri River and connecting Nebraska and Iowa.

Child and dog running across the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge connecting Omaha, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa.
The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge connecting Omaha, Nebraska, and Council Bluffs, Iowa. Photo by Bradley Slade.

More From This Issue

Feature

50 Going Forth

Enter to learn, go forth to serve. BYU Magazine explored how one alum in every state carries out this charge.

Feature

This Is Us

The BYU family is found everywhere. See how we stand out in one crazy chart.

Browse the complete »

More Articles

First Person

First Person: Road Trip!

The BYU Ride Board brought together all kinds. Read the tales of those who dared to use it.

Alumni News

Retired Rides

Students once filled out tiny slips of paper to catch a ride home. No more.