Follow That Story

One hundred and two days. That's how long it took Josh Caldwell and Hunter Weeks to travel from Seattle to Boston on a Segway -- a journey that takes roughly five hours by plane. Last August, the pair hit the road with a couple of digital video cameras, plenty of battery packs and a plan to document their slow-moving cross-country trek on www.10 and then turn it into a companion documentary, also called 10 mph ("Slow Ride," August 5, 2004).

"Crossing the country is like peaking a mountain," says Weeks, who's finally home in Denver after bouncing around the country finding sponsors for the film. "There's a finite side, a beginning and an end. I think as Americans, as a society, we're used to setting goals and achieving them. But it's also a very liberating experience. Every single day is different. You see so many things, process so many things, solve so many problems. Every day was so full."

Caldwell piloted the Segway as Weeks followed in an SUV, both traveling at top speeds of twelve miles per hour. Their route moved east from Washington and traversed every kind of road -- from rural two-lane highways to urban avenues -- weather and experience. They did a sweat ceremony with a Sundance Chief of the Shoshoni tribe in Wyoming, and rode tractors in Kansas. (One of 10 mph's funniest moments comes when Weeks crashes a tractor into a Winnebago.) In Chicago, they took a tour of the city escorted by members of the police department, which uses Segways as patrol vehicles. Toward the end of the trip, Josh endured a freezing-cold stretch from New York City to Boston, gliding along the shoulder of a highway in the middle of the night. But of all their adventures, Weeks's favorite leg of the trip was the fifteen hours they spent traveling from Idaho into Wyoming along the Teton mountain range.

"The area was so amazing, and we were just traveling up and down these steep grades at this slow pace," Hunter says. "It was a really unusual and liberating way to see the country."

The pair interviewed people they met along the way, including lots of other trekkers: groups on motorcycles, in RVs, on bikes. In Dubois, Wyoming, they met a bunch of motorcyclists from New York City who were covering the country in the opposite direction -- and making their own documentary -- as a charity project for victims of 9/11. Weeks and Caldwell's original plan had been to talk to people about their concept of the American Dream, but as the project progressed they realized that it was really about their own.

"We got these great slice-of-life stories from a lot of people who had found a way to do what they wanted to do with their lives," Hunter says. "And we realized that you really have to find ways to do what you want to do. Josh and I both kind of quit the comfy corporate life to make this trip and this movie, so in a way you see our dream coming true as we go."

Weeks and Caldwell arrived at Boston Harbor, their final destination, on November 15. When it was all over, the guys had logged more than 170 hours of footage. They're currently editing the raw stuff into a feature-length documentary that they hope to have ready to submit to festivals this spring: Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival are their first targets. (Selected footage can be seen via Surprisingly, the Segway itself makes relatively few appearances in the rough cut.

"It was always our intent to have a story that was people-oriented," Josh says. "The Segway really became a way for us to introduce ourselves to people -- a tool to get where we needed to go and tell stories. It got us where we needed to go, but the people are the real story."

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Laura Bond
Contact: Laura Bond

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