Who the Heck Are We? Ten Things to Know About Nik and Dusty

Hey peeps!

us shot3So with our big adventure underway, you might just be wondering: who the hell are these people anyway?

Well, if you’ll follow along with us as we scoot around the world – and we sincerely hope that you do – we guarantee you’ll get to know us pretty well in a short amount of time. There’s probably quite a bit you’ll learn about us that you never cared to know, honestly. But we know there’s a lot of folks who are curious about what we do, and how we’re able to do it, how we got started traveling and all that good stuff. And we absolutely plan to share more of our story as the weeks go by… in fact, check out our very first podcast in which we talk about a lot of that stuff. But in the meantime, and in the interest of expediency, we thought we’d put this list together of ten things you should know about us as we all get started on this crazy journey together. So here goes, in sort-of chronological order:

We met in October 1998 at – of all places – a little karaoke bar on Sixth Street in Amarillo, Texas called Pop ‘N Daddy’s, which to this day remains one of the coolest karaoke bars we’ve ever been to in the world (though sadly it shut down not long after we met). We had friends back in the day who’d been trying to set us up, but for some reason the introductions just never came about. Until that night, when the stars aligned and through a drunken, smoke-filled haze we sang our first duet together. And the rest, as they say, is history.

We got married a few years later on a beach in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, after a small ceremony with friends and family back home. And it also might have happened in a drunken, smoke-filled haze. Don’t exactly remember.

We’re both originally from really small towns in the Texas Panhandle – Dusty from Borger (population 13,024) and Nik from Claude (population 1,225) – but after graduating high school we both lived and worked in the “big city” of Amarillo for about the next 17 years or so. For most of that time Nik worked as an orthodontic assistant, and Dusty worked at the local ABC affiliate TV station. And life was good. Mostly. But over time it became clear that something was… well, missing.

So we’ve always loved to travel, and discovered early in our relationship that travel was something we did very well together. From the beginning we’d take whatever opportunities we could to travel, which typically meant taking short trips to all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, or cruises, or road trips to the mountains in New Mexico. Like a lot of folks who worked (and continue to work) regular jobs, finding the time and money to travel was always tough. But in spite of that, travel for us quickly became our addiction. As soon as we’d return from a trip, we’d begin dreaming about and planning the next one. And as the years went by that addiction just grew stronger and stronger.

us machuWe finally decided to leave it all behind in September of 2006, when the wanderlust just completely took over and we went crazy. We were finally overcome by our dreams of a life of travel and adventure, and vowed to begin a process of personal and radical re-invention in order to make it happen. Over the course of the next year, we sold our house, our cars and most of our personal possessions. All that stuff we’d worked so hard for so many years to accumulate. And we broke free. We downsized to next to nothing. We paid off our debts. And in the summer of 2007 we quit our jobs, took what money we had in savings, stuffed what little we had left into two backpacks, and hit the road.

Two for the Road was born in August of 2007, when we left the United States on an open-ended adventure through Central and South America. Our plan was to start in Costa Rica, where we lived with a local family and attended Spanish school, and continue on through South America, living day-by-day, adventure-by-adventure, until the money we’d saved up ran out. And we started the Two for the Road blog as a way to stay in touch with family and friends, and keep everybody back home updated on our travels. We backpacked through Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia and Peru, writing, taking photographs and shooting videos as we went along. And it wasn’t just an incredible journey. It was completely transformative.

We returned to the U.S. when the money ran out seven months later and settled in a tiny studio apartment in Austin, Texas, flat broke and fresh out of ideas. There we were: 35 years old, and we were starting our lives over from scratch – with no jobs, no money, and not a single stick of furniture to our names. But fortunately our travels had given us new perspective, and a new outlook on life. We knew we’d never again need material stuff to make us happy, and we knew we could never again work what’s considered a “normal” job. So it was then that we decided to do what any travel-crazed 35-year old couple might do under the circumstances: we started our own company.

gearusYep. We started our own production company. Which sounds a lot sexier than it really was. Turns out, starting your own company really isn’t all that difficult. Just pay a little money, fill out and file the right paperwork with the government, pick a groovy name and presto! You’ve got yourself a company. It’s obviously what you do with it from that point that matters. So we founded Stone Ranch Media, LLC and decided to focus our time and efforts on producing videos, initially with an eye specifically toward the internet and an on-line audience. And sure enough, we got rolling. Very, very long story short – we spent the next several years traveling, shooting videos and telling stories for our clients and our Two for the Road travel blog, gaining lots of great experience and making lots of great contacts along the way. And it wasn’t until about 2015 when we decided we’d take all that experience and that momentum and try to make a run at actually producing our own travel TV show. Sure. Why the heck not?

So we buckled down and put together a couple of half-hour TV episodes – completely “on spec” and completely on our own – and began “shopping it around,” as they say in the TV biz. By this time we’d moved from Austin back to our old stomping grounds in the Texas Panhandle, where one of our first stops was to our local PBS station – Panhandle PBS – which is located on the campus of Amarillo College in Amarillo. Turns out, the folks there took a look at what we’d done, said they loved it, they loved our ideas, they loved us, and they’d be more than happy to put our little show on the air. And giddyup. We had us a show!

But as it happens, that was just the beginning of what turned into a crazy, crazy, crazy cool next few months.

Two for the Road season one first premiered in our local market on Panhandle PBS in September 2016, and not long after that we found out that the show had been reviewed and accepted for national distribution throughout the PBS system by NETA – the National Educational Telecommunications Association – which is the second largest distributor of public television programs in the country. Giddyup again!  Within a couple of months, in December 2016, the show was distributed by NETA to public television stations all across the U-S-of-A, and by May of 2017 it had grown to be available in almost 50 percent of television households in the country! And then came the really big news – that our little TV show was getting picked up by the Create TV channel – which leads us up to where we are now. And between Create and the many local PBS affiliates now running our show, Two for the Road is currently available in more than 90-percent of TV households in America. A fact we still just can’t possibly wrap our brains around. Too stinkin’ cool.

Okay. So. Even having said all of that, and even though the show is growing like a wildfire, there’s this: yes, we travel. But we definitely ain’t rich. Not by a long shot. We’re very blessed in our lives in a lot of ways, without a doubt. But like a lot of folks in the professional travel blogging/travel video world, we actually bristle at the idea that we’re “lucky” because we get to travel. Our lifestyle is 100% the result of a very deliberate decision we made many years ago to dedicate ourselves to traveling, and focus on personal and spiritual wealth and health rather than the accumulation of money and material things. In fact, there’s no question we work harder today than we’ve worked at anything in our lives and still we make a lot less money than we made back when we were in our twenties. If you did’t know – we shoot, write, produce and edit everything for the show entirely by ourselves. Most of the little money we do make goes right back into funding our travels and our show.

When we’re not traveling, we live in and work out of a 700-square foot mobile home. Our cars are 20+ years old. Most of the stuff we have and the stuff we wear came straight from Goodwill. And still not a month goes by when we don’t stress about making ends meet. But we can say unequivocally that we’re happier than we’ve ever been. And we absolutely love, love, love what we do. So, yes, we’re very blessed indeed. And we’ll be doing this as long as we possibly can.

kids smallLastly, we are passionate about travel. And we absolutely believe travel can change the world. Mark Twain famously said that, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness,” and we can happily confirm that that’s absolutely true. Our travels in the last few years have taught us more about people, and human nature, than anything we’d seen, heard or been taught in our first 35 years of life. And it’s one of the many reasons we hope to encourage you to venture out away from your corner of the world, to push the boundaries of what you consider “comfortable” and “absolute”, and to open your eyes and hearts to the incredible world that’s out there. Because it’s all pretty dang incredible.

Until then, our plan is to bring at least some of this incredible world home to you, through our blogs, photos, and of course our TV show. So we really hope you’ll watch, you’ll follow along, and you’ll join us on this incredible ride! Because we can’t wait to see what’s waiting down the road…

Cheers gang. Thanks so much for your interest and your time! And feel free to drop us a line anytime. It’s just the two of us, and we’re proud to personally and directly answer every single email, message, comment and question. In the meantime, be safe, and happy travels!

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35 Comments

  1. Jan Douglass

    I am So Jealous of you guys!! This is something I have always wanted to do but life keeps getting in the way. I am single now but I am still committed doing this. I think the only way to make it happen is the way you all did it. Sell everything and go for it!! Thanks for the inspiration. Wishing you safe travels on your adventures.

    • Thanks so much Jan! And yes – you absolutely need to stop letting “life” get in your way and just do it! A daunting thought to be sure, but we’ve never had any regrets (nor have anyone else we know who have taken the leap). So start planning today! 🙂 Thanks again, hope you keep following, and safe travels! Cheers!

  2. Awesome blog, and super cool to see more Texans (and especially Austinites!) doing long term travel! I just got back from a year long trip through Mexico (didn’t quite make it to Ushuaia, heh) by motorcycle, and it’s always both a little heart-wrenching and inspiring to read about other’s travels! Keep on keeping on, and maybe we’ll bump into each other one day in the ATX!

    • Thanks so much! A year long trip through Mexico? Super cool! Bet you saw some awesome things on your trip! It would be great to meet up sometime! Keep in touch! Safe travels. Cheers!

  3. Traveling the way you do isn’t for everyone for sure, but good for you that you’re finding ways to continue doing what you enjoy. Your photos are great!

    • For sure Ivona. It’s definitely not for everyone. But we love it. And we do feel so blessed and we’re super grateful to be doing what we’re doing. We’re living our dream every day. Thanks so much for your kind words. It means so much to us!

  4. It’s so funny how we stumbled across you two when looking for another blogging couple using the same name (Two for the Road). We are so excited for you two and your latest adventures. People thought we were crazy when we also sold everything and started traveling full time…but what we are doing is so mild compared to your travels! We’re trying to live like tumbleweeds and let the wind blow us around…but we seem to be fenced into the southeast US. But we are starting to dream bigger as we follow your adventures! You are so blessed and we’re sad it took us so long to live the dream…but at lease we are finally doing it! We are excited about learning about and meeting your sponsor, Adventure Life! And now for #MyAdventureLife!

    • Love it! Thanks so much for the kind words guys, and for following our adventure! “Live like tumbleweeds.” As Texans we absolutely totally get that statement. 🙂 Cheers! Best of luck, and happy travels. Definitely dream big and keep in touch!

  5. Carroll Monden

    Dusty, I work with your mom in Durant, OK. She gave me yours and Nikki’s card ‘Two For The Road” and told me to check it out. I have told your mom our plans when we retire in two years, one month and nineteen days, but who counting, lol. I’ll be 60 and my wife 62, both retiring from our careers but we feel like we will still have to do something to make some money to support ourselves. We bought our “retirement camper” a few weeks ago and are in the process of selling everything and living in our camper. During the summer months we plan on working as campground hosts (gate keepers), moving around to different campgrounds within Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Missouri. During some of the winter months we plan on living in Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and Puerto Morelos. I would really like to check out Costa Rica but my wife doesn’t want to be that far away from her mom as long as she is still living. Maybe you can tell I’m the more adventurous one. I hope my wife will become more adventurous as we try to spend more time in Mexico and beyond over the next several winters. Your mom is a wonderful lady. I’ll be checking your website to follow you on your travels and maybe I can convince my wife to be more adventurous. 🙂 Good luck to you and Nikki and I hope you continue to enjoy your lifestyle of travel.

    • Thanks Carroll! Your plans sound incredibly exciting! And I’ll bet dollars to donuts that as you guys get going that your wife will adjust, and really start enjoying the adventure of it all. Sometimes you’ve just gotta get your feet wet before diving all the way in. 🙂 We’ve found that travel and adventure is highly addictive, and the more you guys travel, the more you’ll want to travel and see more! Thanks so much for following our adventures and we hope you’ll stay in touch. And since you’ll be living in a camper, we’d suggest you check out a great website put together by some good friends of ours who have been living the RV life and absolutely killing it! Check them out: http://www.gonewiththewynns.com. And thanks for the kind words about Mom. She’s the best, isn’t she? So lucky and proud to call her my mom. 🙂 Cheers! Take care!

  6. Hey Guys! I’m an Aussie who lived in the Austin area for over twenty years and only just moved back to Sydney two years ago. You guys were RIGHT THERE and here I am, finding you once we’re back in Sydney. Ah, but we won’t be here for long – another two years tops as our daughter finishes high school, but then we will be hitting the road full-time. We won’t be returning to Texas though – been there, done that. There’s more to see of the world. We did as you did – sold everything – house, cars etc and now just bare-bonesing it in Sydney. It’s a freeing way to live and would have it no other way. I’m looking forward to following you guys and reading of your adventures to date. It’s great to ‘meet you’!

    • So nice to meet you too Tara! Always great to meet fellow Austinites! We’re jealous of your adventures in Sydney. We haven’t been yet and are dying to see all the beauty in Australia! We’ll definitely look you up if we get the opportunity to visit!! Thanks so much for the comment. Glad to have you along for the ride! Cheers!

  7. Iain & Chris

    My wife Chris and I are with you all the way. We are a bit later in life than you, and so have the luxury of being retired with enough money to let us travel. When both of our spouses died we came together by accident through travel. Having both experienced such a loss we are now determined not to waste a minute sitting at home and so we are always off somewhere. I relieved myself of my house and other material assets and Chris just kept her small place for us to return to for about 12 weeks of the year. Otherwise we are on the road! Plus, as well as enjoying our own company and the lifestyle we lead we have decided that quite frankly no-one else gives a **** about us so we may as well do our own thing. In closing, we wish you all the best in the world and we both hope that one day your dreams will be realised financially as well as spiritually.

    • So great reading your comment! Thanks so much for taking the time to write to us! GOOD FOR YOU! So wonderful that you both found each other. 🙂 It’s so nice not to have to worry about all the material ‘things’ in this world and just focus on experiences with each other! Thanks so much for the encouragement and well wishes. We wish you safe travels! LIVE LOVE TRAVEL

  8. Lyne & Dan Binger

    Hi Nik & Dusty, Firstly, a huge congratulations for having the guts to do the things you are doing. It certainly is an interesting lifestyle and one that would result in divorce if I suggested it to my wife! We are off on an Antarctic cruise on Feb 1st 2016 and your “orientation” videos have been so helpful and totally enjoyable to watch. Your personalised commentary made me feel like I was actually standing beside you during the entire trip. I wish you well during your forthcoming adventures. We live in Sydney Australia and hope that one day you will come “down under” to see what we have to offer.

    • Thanks guys! And enjoy Antarctica! We’re jealous. 🙂 Of all our travels, Antarctica is without question our favorite, most memorable trip. As you’ll no doubt see, it’s an absolutely incredible, incredible place! And Australia is definitely near the top of our list. Hope to get there soon! Cheers, and let us know how your journey to Antarctica went!

  9. I randomly came across your channel “Two for the Road” whilst I was searching about a trip from Ushuaia to Antartica.I am feeling lucky that I viewed your adventure videos.Like you guys,I am not really materialistic.I am a 20-year-old from the Indian Sub-continent,and always been a goal-oriented and ambitious individual,who one day wants to realise his dream of becoming a pilot.Aviation has,is & will always be my passion.And secondly,wants to live a life of a Nomad just like you guys.I share the same passion for travelling like you couple but,frankly i never got the opportunity to travel anywhere at all.However,i am faithful someday i will be able to make it.I wish you all the very best for your globe-trotting,and hope that you are able to make your life meaningful.If Asia is soon on the list,who knows we might bump in to each other.And I might offer you help with exploring my country.Just notify me through a mail,and I will be there without hesitationGood Luck & Keep Going !

    • Thanks SO much for your comment! We feel truly grateful and truly blessed for what we’ve been able to see and do in this beautiful world of ours. And seems like no matter how many places you go, you still want to see and do more! We actually went to China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand last November! It was one of our favorite trips so far. We LOVED everything about it and hope to return someday soon! We’ve actually recently uploaded a teaser video from China on our blog – you’ll definitely have to check it out! Hope you’ll stay tuned for the rest of the videos in that series as well. Thanks again for taking the time to write us and good luck to you as well. Cheers!

  10. Hey Nikki,Thanks for your very swift reply and wishes.I am interested in reading a few good books on travel apart from the Lonely Planet Guides.Could you please reccomend some? And,yes I will definitely check out your new uploads every time,as I am now a loyal fan of your channel and a subscriber.Take Care!

    • Absolutely! I have a few favorites that are inspiring to me. They’re more stories than guides though. My all time favorite is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It’s definitely a story about following your dreams. I’ve read it over and over and over. I really like Life is a Trip by Judith Fein. It’s a collection of her adventures all over the world. Each chapter is a new adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and have read it again and again. I also love Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It’s about her dealing with a broken heart by going out to find herself on a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. It was inspiring to me. I of course enjoyed Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. It documents the travels of Chris McCandless. He definitely had a gypsy soul. But beware – it’s a sad one. I also enjoyed reading Vagabonding by Rolf Potts. It was definitely a great book to read before we initially set off on this great big journey of ours. So those are a few of my faves. I’d be interested to know if you enjoy them too. Keep me posted!

  11. Thank you for your suggestion Nikki! I am not really a reader actually.The first book I ever bought online with my own desire was a aviation related novel 2 years ago.Thereafter,I read 1000 places to see before you die.Loved it! I recently cultivated this habit of reading.Will surely read these inspiring books.And will see how they change my perception.Inspire me & motivate me.Will get back to you in a few weeks.HAPPY TRAVELLiNG!

  12. Aggie & Clint

    We have fallen in love with your videos! Your travels have truly inspired us to leave our “stuff” behind and explore the world! I hope our paths cross one day and our first video will be dedicated to “Two for the Road”!

  13. Glad to have found you online. I saw the trailer and was thinking, I know that guy from somewhere. We’ll be watching.

  14. I am just now finding this blog after a few friends posted about it on Facebook. It is so interesting everything you guys have said about travel because I believe the same thing. I traveled alot during my time in the military and after growing up in Stinnett Texas that changed my life! Where as my wife of ten years has literally been to clovis NM, Fun Valley Colorado, Oklahoma City and roughly thats it! She had never even to southern Texas until my parents moved to Houston 3 years ago. I went to Mumbai India for two weeks for a mission trip two years ago and it reopened my eyes to travel all over again. So we are getting our passports and planning our next large trip! I really appreciate you guys perspective on travel and how life changing it is. Also I love that you guys are from my area! Keep up the great work!!

    • Hey Matt,
      So glad you found us! And great to hear that you’re excited to get out there and see the world. We’ve been at it for 10+ years now and we are so blessed to have seen, done and experienced so much. And you’re right – it can be completely life-changing! So get out there and good luck! And stay in touch and let us know about your travels! Cheers! ~ Dusty

  15. Watching your new show on PBS here in DFW! Exciting to see fellow Texans doing what they love. We have some good friends from your neck of the woods. Don’t get up there to see them much, as we want to travel new places when we get the chance to go.

    • Awesome! Thanks SO much for watching! Always great to meet fellow Texans!! And we know what you mean – we’re the same way. Always like to see new places! 😉

  16. Oops, hit post too soon. Goal this summer is to take our kids somewhere new, the only challenge being narrowing it down! It’s going to be fun though.

  17. Hello! We were able to see your show tonight for the first time. We live in Andrews and I was sorry to see that we missed seeing you in Midland. I was born and raised there. We both went to WTSU…lol before it became A&M, too.
    Anyway, the show was your trip to China. What an amazing trip. I would like to go sometime, myself. What suggestions or help would you offer for someone going to China? Did you go with a group and how were you able to hook up with Hiro? I’m guessing that is how you spell his name. We enjoyed watching him as well.
    I’m sure we will continue to look for more of your episodes. It was really enjoyable!!
    Wishing you both continued success!
    Eleanor Leeper

    • Hey Eleanor! Great to hear from you! And thanks so much for watching the show! We went to China with a company called Adventure Life. They set everything up for us. We would highly recommend giving them a shout! They are absolutely wonderful to work with. If you mention our particular trip, I’m sure they could help you with the same itinerary we had! We were blown away by China and would love to visit again one day. Let us know if you decide to go! We’d love to hear all about it! Thanks again for reaching out!

  18. James Hamilton

    Hey Y’all .. I hope the two y’all are having a blessed time. I’m in south Alabama and it’s 4:4G am here ( CT). Anyway I got to watch y’alls trip to the Antarctica on the Russian ship you guys looked like you were having a blast my question or idea and you can email me my answer if you so wish on a weekly or bi-weekly production-wise time and money what do you guys deal with on trying to make it on that kind of budget whatever it maybe versus your hours versus editing and writing because watching the show on the trip to Antarctica it didn’t look like it was scripted at all and I’m curious on how you guys what about that and made it look so natural my email address adamanntt13@gmail.com. medically retired veteran from the Marine Corps so I have a lot of time and I watch a lot of PBS these days matter fact I’m going Thursday Friday Saturday and Sunday to function called a hero that they put on over on Pensacola Beach for 4 days for veterans but I just would really like more in-depth on how all this come about with you guys I’m real impressed and don’t know you but I’m proud to see that you stepped out and being yourself.
    Thanks,
    James

    • 4:45 am! You are an early riser James! Thanks so much for reaching out! Before chasing this crazy dream of ours, Dusty and I had ‘real’ careers and were making really good money. We don’t make near the money we did then, but we’re SO much happier and fulfilled. We definitely work harder now than ever, but we love the work and that makes it feel like we’re not working at all! Our goal with the show is to inspire folks and make them feel like they’ve been where we’ve been. Kind of like taking you along with us on our adventures. We’re just ourselves, for better or worse. And we’re just two ordinary folks who decided to chase a dream and it’s been one heck of a ride! Thanks so much for watching. And THANK YOU for your service! The event in Pensacola Beach sounds wonderful! We hope you have a great time! Thanks again James, really!!

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