‘Shaking hands with America’
Video storytellers from 2LaneLife visit Page to showcase region’s attractions
It all started 10 years ago with two friends who simply enjoyed getting out on their motorcycles to explore the back roads of America. Gaylin Anderson and Lance Coury started with day trips around southern California, then began going farther afield on weekend excursions. They documented their travels with photos and videos for their own personal consumption and to share on Instagram. They also returned home with “amazing stories” about people in small towns.
Family and friends who saw their photos and heard their stories encouraged Anderson and Coury to roll out their experiences to a wider audience by posting longer videos on YouTube. So, in February 2020, the two friends formed a limited liability company (LLC) called TwoLaneLife – later changed to 2LaneLife – based out of Canoga Park, California.
Coury said he and Anderson started the 2LaneLife YouTube channel to “shake hands with America” and show viewers the country’s small towns.
“We started travelling, and we wanted to start sharing these travels because when you watch what’s on TV or in the news, you don’t see what’s happening in the country,” Coury told the Lake Powell Chronicle during a week-long visit to Page last month.
“When we go out from coast to coast, and we meet great people, there’s so many great people in every state we’ve ever been in. They’re diverse, friendly, everyone is so warm and caring, especially on the two-lane highways and the small towns.”
Although Anderson and Coury considered themselves “gentlemen who really loved to film,” they had little idea how to edit their footage once they returned home. They asked around and were introduced to college business major Josh Seiden, an outdoor enthusiast who had made “cinematic” videos of his camping trips, complete with drone footage, slow motion, layered sound design and other effects.
Seiden’s first edit for 2LaneLife in March 2020 was done using Anderson and Coury’s iPhone footage, and he’s been with them ever since, editing the videos and accompanying them on all their motorcycle trips. They’ve also moved on from iPhone footage and invested in high-quality camera and sound equipment.
“Basically, my two best friends are 55 and 62, and I’m 25,” Seiden laughed, referring to Anderson and Coury, respectively. “The things that I’ve gotten to experience over the last few years are second to none.”
He said travelling by motorcycle allows him to experience every mile, smelling the smells, catching the views and feeling the differences in weather.
“No one can call you, you’re not talking to anyone, you’ve got your eyes open, you’re feeling the wind, you’re looking at the surroundings,” he said. “There’s no chance to look down at your phone or take a call. You’re just feeling every inch, every mile and just enjoying it. There’s nothing like it. It’s an experience like nothing else. It’s road tripping at its finest.”
One trip that stood out for Seiden was travelling the entire Route 66 on motorcycles from Santa Monica to Chicago. But by the time they reached the end, they all realized how much history they had passed through without stopping.
“Shortly afterward, we started going to individual towns and staying there for a couple days to talk with locals, learn the history, talk to business owners, historians, artists, whatever it may be, and actually get a closer look at the town and what makes them and learn about not only how the pandemic has affected their business and how tourism helps them to survive, but also get to learn about the people in the town,” Seiden said.
That approach inspired last month’s week-long visit to Page, which was aimed at meeting the locals, hearing their stories, finding out what made them fall in love with the region – and showing people from outside the area why they should come visit.
“We’ve heard about what’s going on in Page, specifically related to the lake. We’ve been through here a hundred times, whether it be Horseshoe Bend, whether it be stopping for lunch,” Anderson said.
“We really want to showcase that Page is still alive and that there’s still a lot of activity within Page. Whether that be water sports, hiking, mountain biking, side-by-side tours, shooting a gun in a gun range. There’s so many things to do.”
Their stay in Page last month included interviews with restaurateurs and other business owners, visits to the Balloon Regatta and Horseshoe Bend, a tour of Glen Canyon Dam, a pontoon-boat excursion on Lake Powell and a side-by-side outing.
Seiden said their talks with numerous people in Page revealed a “genuinely positive” outlook among residents who recognize that the key to survival is adaptability.
“There’s a lot of people that have been here for generations, a lot of people that have seen the cycles of water levels or tourism or whatever it may be,” he said.
“I think they all have a general consensus that they’re optimistic. Things come in waves, there’s been a lot going on with water levels, but I think it would take a lot for some of this tourism to completely disintegrate. Whether it be boating or biking or hiking, there’s just so many activities out here that even some minor or major changes wouldn’t be extremely detrimental to the town. There’s always going to be something to do.”
Coury added, “We’ve been in Page several times, so we figured we would come back and instead of blowing through town after a quick lunch, we’d stay here for a week, showcase the businesses, showcase all the activities that are out here to do, show that there’s still water in the lake.”
He said that Page, like other small towns they’ve visited across the U.S., embraced them with open arms.
“One of the beautiful things is that all over America, we get welcoming people,” he said. “It’s just a wonderful thing to get out, meet people, have them embrace you and then share their story. In the beginning, Gaylin coined the phrase, ‘We’re here to inspire you to get out on the open road.’ Now, people are inspiring us because of their kindness. They give us inspiration to get out on the road and do more.”
Coury likes to think of motorcycles as “time machines” that facilitate travel that is loose, free and unscripted. Two-wheeled travel also makes it easy to stop and talk to people along the way.
“You go into a small town and talk to people, they give you the history of their families and it goes back generations, so you kind of go back in time mentally. You learn the history of the area, and that, I think, is what intrigues all of us – the learning,” he said.
Anderson said the time machine idea also harkens back to the way cowboys once traveled through the Wild West.
“[Coury] is a big bison fan. He loves the history of cowboys and war, so we’ve been searching to find him some bison. In all the years we’ve gone to Sturgis [South Dakota], we haven’t seen a damn bison,” he said.
But on a recent trip through Wyoming, they crested a hill on their motorcycles and suddenly saw before them a vast plain populated with a large herd of bison.
“All of a sudden in the headset you hear [Coury] say, ‘I feel like I’m in “Dances with Wolves.”’ You could just sense his excitement that this plain opened up, and there’s bison everywhere,” Anderson said. “I think that’s also what [Coury] means by ‘time machines.’ You think about how the cowboy used to travel, and we’re on these iron horses going through unique places in the country.”
Such unexpected encounters are what long, unscripted journeys are made of, and Anderson said he and his two friends see themselves as storytellers who want people to “fall in love with America again.”
“We love America. We don’t love some of the things that are happening in America, but if you look at any of our content, you’ll see American flags are scattered throughout it,” he said.
“There’s a believability factor for us that if we just band together, things can be better. That’s what we find in the smaller towns – people know they have to band together to make things work.”
The 2LaneLife website (2LaneLife.com) features blogs, resources that allow travelers to replicate the featured trips, links to videos and more. The 2LaneLife YouTube channel can be found at www.youtube.com/@2LaneLife. The Page video series will be uploaded onto the YouTube channel in the coming weeks.