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About Us

The first time I met Bret I was in high school, and while we didn’t go to the same school, we had many mutual friends. We had been at a parent-less party that evening and afterward, Bret, our mutual friend Eric, and I went back to Bret’s house to further the party and imbibe in spirits and other things a high school kid might do.

We brought a six-pack up to Bret’s room and when we got upstairs, he turned off the lights and put on a black light, as well as a laser machine that was in synch to this strange music I had never heard called Enigma (pretty much all I listened to was the Grateful Dead at that point).

Once the lights went out, under the eerie glow of the black light, the walls revealed all sorts of images that Bret had painted with fluorescent black light paint. It was as if the doorway to his room was a doorway back to the Neolithic Period, and here I was encountering and deciphering a troglodyte’s history upon his cave walls.

This guy is a freak - but really creative, I thought to myself. And I want to be friends with him.

Since college - and then when we worked together for a brief stint in New York City at Barnes and Noble.com - we had always wanted to travel together because we knew we had a great creative energy between us. But as life and your early 20s would have it, either he was living in another country or I was broke in New York or Seattle. With one email in the spring of 2007 however, it all came together; not only did we both have the time and money to travel, but we both had been thinking of the trip as a creative endeavor. What if we could start a new category of travel called creative-connected travel? We pondered.

So we came up with a business name that meant nothing, because at the time, we had no idea what it would become. I had the image of youthful curiosity in my mind, which was inspired by my ten-year-old nephew, and so Jack Will Travel was born.

The first step was I hired a talented Seattle designer, Mikelle Morrison, to create a logo in the likeness of my nephew Jack. We then had business cards printed up and we built a fake Web site that told a fake story of how we received money to shoot a pilot. (Seems like business cards and a Web site legitimize people, right? In the meantime, our friends followed the real story behind our journey which I kept on another blog.

Essentially we created a work of fiction and walked into it as caricatures of ourselves.

We knew we were onto something new, but we weren’t quite sure, so we followed two mottos; Trust the process and fake it till you make it. But really, isn’t that what everyone is doing until they have a budget behind them?

We followed the Grande Randonée trail system through France - Provence specifically. The Grande Randonée is a well marked, easy to follow trail of close to 8-9,000 miles through Spain, Italy, France, and northern Europe. As far as we could tell, not many Americans knew about this route, and we discovered -without a doubt - walking a country is the best way to not only get to know it, but to know its people as well. On more than one occasion, little old French ladies who couldn’t speak English saw us walking and sweating profusely and invited us in for lemonade, as well as to fill our water bottles and feed us. The stylish, seductive Parisian women – not so much. I think they found us a little too recro-sexual with our khakis and camping gear and not metrosexual enough. (We have a plan to combat this time around.)

So we walked around Provence hiking from one wine village to the next, sipping on some of the best wine in the world and pretending we knew what we were talking about –

Oh – this one is heady!
This one has a nice finish!
How long has it been aging?
Wow! You can really taste that oak!

We slept in orchards, designated camp sites, Gites (sort of high-end hostels in France), or wherever we could rest our heads. All the while we were meeting incredibly inspiring people from all over the world on a daily basis. We did it on the cheap and realized if two knuckleheads from suburban New Jersey can figure this out, anyone can. People just needed to be shown these well kept secrets.

Stay tuned for more of the story....