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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Motorcycle Diaries: Three Young Men Document America on the Road

Posted By on Wed, Sep 18, 2013 at 12:19 PM

click to enlarge From left to right: Dylan Ozanich, Wyatt McCall, Brant Ozanich - PHOTO COURTESY OF DYLAN OZANICH
  • Photo Courtesy of Dylan Ozanich
  • From left to right: Dylan Ozanich, Wyatt McCall, Brant Ozanich

Three young men sit in their back porch of their Outer Sunset home rolling crumpled, loose leaf American Spirit tobacco leaves into tiny cigarette cylinders and chain smoke frequently while taking sips from their camel-brown colored cans of Coors.

Their skin is tanned like that of a broken-in leather jacket showing signs of weathering various climates -- pouring rain, blistering heat, bitter cold, urban smog, and damp humidity. They are visibly tired and exhausted with slow heaving shoulders, drooping eyelids, and drawn out sentences that are meticulous and pronounced with a slight drawl that hugs the sounds of their speech.

Nonetheless, there's an excitement and euphoric longing in the men's eyes like they have discovered wonders beyond belief. Their being exudes a sense of liberation and acute self-awareness. They act like men that know where they have been, have tasted adventure, and welcome uncertainty and the unknown. They are charismatic, magnetic, and prideful of the feat they just accomplished and they deserve to be so.

click to enlarge On the road portraits while in search of Main Street - DYLAN OZANICH
  • Dylan Ozanich
  • On the road portraits while in search of Main Street

Wyatt McCall and brothers Dylan and Brant Ozanich, arrived August 28 in San Francisco after going across the United States and back on their $500 motorcycles purchased on Craigslist for their self-funded with the help of Kick Starter, multimedia project titled "Finding Main Street."

In 55 days, McCall and the Ozanich brothers traveled 10,500 miles through 28 states in a massive circle around the periphery of the continental United States. They documented the sights, sounds, and people in every region along the road with photography, video, and blog writing in search of an all-American Main Street.

View Finding Main Street Live in a larger map

"Main Street is a symbolic metaphor for all the universal themes and values and characteristic of all the people that we met have in common as Americans," Dylan Ozanich said. "Main Street is the backbone that holds America together. Here you feel it and people just want to know you, connect with you and people respect you because you are American and there is this sense of community ingrained in us as Americans."

More: A slideshow of photos from their cross-country journey.

According to McCall, it was important to travel with an open mind and a non-judgmental approach when arriving into communities and interacting with locals.

"We were not trying to seek some all-mighty powerful truth or trying to prove anybody right or wrong," McCall says. "We are just trying to show America as it is right now with all its particulars and peculiarities. The blog, the film, the photos were all directed at one thing: discovering the universal themes of America that our generation is inheriting."

click to enlarge Finding Main Street in Utah - DYLAN OZANICH
  • Dylan Ozanich
  • Finding Main Street in Utah

As they went down the many highways and roads covering the vast nation, Brant Ozanich notes that everyone along the way was receptive and open to their adventure and ambitious project.

"Because we are Americans trying to see and discover our own country, everyone respected that and wanted to share their stories, their community, their town. They wanted us to have their view of what America is and to experience it from their perspective," he says."They shared their views on politics, religion, and all these different things that a lot of times we see as things the separate the country but they didn't necessarily take our view or us take their view and see is as a difference because they would see us first as people."

click to enlarge Finding Main Street in Detroit - DYLAN OZANICH
  • Dylan Ozanich
  • Finding Main Street in Detroit

The Ozanich brothers and McCall have known each other for about five years and this project had its genesis at San Francisco State University.

"Wyatt and I meet freshman year at SF State and even since then five years ago, we talked about a Pan-American trip and it just happened that we talked about bikes, hitchhiking and eventually motorcycles," Brant says.

But it was graduating from college in May that really pushed the three guys to be serious about the motorcycle trip because they felt themselves at a crossroads in their lives.

"We had to do some sort of adventure to cap off the achievement of graduating from college because I couldn't just graduate and continue building off of that, we had to travel," Brant says. "With graduation I had a question leading up to the trip: What am I going to do with my life next? Do I want to live a life that is focused on reaching goals, and this next point, this next star that I put on my lapel? Or is more about what you do between reaching those goals? Is it more about the destination that you reach or the process?"

click to enlarge Finding Main Street in Minnesota - DYLAN OZANICH
  • Dylan Ozanich
  • Finding Main Street in Minnesota

According to Brant, going on the journey proved that he needed to focus on exploring the roads life in between the milestones and not obsessing about the career and income. As such, they felt it was vital to take the plunge, severe all ties that bound them to San Francisco and would have prevented their odyssey from coming to fruition.

"It is really easy to let everything go. Granted we are not in career jobs right now because I bartend, Wyatt worked at House of Air and Dylan is a photographer by trade," Brant says. "If you can save up the money ahead of time and not have any strong obligations or commitments like a mortgage or kids, then it is not that hard. We ended our leases, quit our jobs and set off."

Unlike other famous accounts of adventure and self-discovery like Eat, Pray, Love and The Motorcycle Diaries, the crew thought it was vital to document their happenings in the moment and not in hindsight.

click to enlarge Finding Main Street on the road. - DYLAN OZANICH
  • Dylan Ozanich
  • Finding Main Street on the road.

"I want to inspire people to know that they can do these type of things and have these type of experiences," according to Dylan Ozanich. "Us documented it day by day and in those moments really brought out what we were feeling and let people into that and know that it is possible to experience the world in this way, to change the way they think about the world.

Brant also notes that there efforts to stay connected with world and the live updating of their social media accounts causes a paradigm shift in those that stumble upon or discover "Finding Main Street."

click to enlarge Finding Main Street in New Orleans - DYLAN OZANICH
  • Dylan Ozanich
  • Finding Main Street in New Orleans

"Ever since I've been back and tell people about the trip, people's perspective changes because this idea that you need a lot of resources or be a rich boy to travel is crushed with the one notion of what you spend on groceries in a month can buy you a motorcycle and saving a little bit more can get you gas and food," he says. "Our project makes accomplishing anything you set your mind to tangible and not just an illusion or fantasy."

Overall, McCall and Ozanich understood more about themselves in the context of being Americans in a country that is culturally multifaceted and complex.

"I understand the country that I'm a part of. I understand the people who are my countrymen, who are my peers, and I understand what it means to be an adult and a man in this society. I think going on this journey pushed to really find that within myself," Dylan says. "At the start, I had this preconceived notion of what the U.S. was about and now that I'm back in San Francisco, I just understand where I'm from more. I understand the city more in the context of how it fits in the United States."

click to enlarge Back in San Francisco after more than two months documenting America. - DYLAN OZANICH
  • Dylan Ozanich
  • Back in San Francisco after more than two months documenting America.

Finding Main Street is currently editing the video footage of their sojourn and will have it's documentary film debut in late November early December.

And although there were no absolute conclusions, there was one thing that all three of the the young men could agree on: America is not San Francisco, New York, Miami, or any specific metropolitan area. America is all of us and the love that we have for each other and our surroundings.

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About The Author

Juan De Anda

Juan De Anda

Juan De Anda is a cultural correspondent with a concentration in tourism, literature, and lifestyle and has been writing for SF Weekly since 2013. As an avid traveler, he enjoys discovering destinations abroad as well as the never-ending hidden gems of San Francisco. #DondeAndaJuanDeAnda?


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