Aloha. My name is Ross and I am a photographer from the gorgeous Central Coast of California. I lived there for 20 years before moving to Hawaii. After leaving the islands I moved up to the Northeast for a few years. From there, I landed back in my hometown — 9 years older, a few stories heavier, and a renewed stoke for travel. I am itching to get back on the road.

The last 8 years I was a photographer for the U.S. Coast Guard and was beyond fortunate for opportunities to travel to remote and gorgeous parts of the world. But I always had a safety net. I always had a return ticket, an assigned date upon which I would leave the adventure and come “home” (wherever that was at the time). As much as I enjoyed hopping on a plane or a boat, always experiencing somewhere new, I was never fully satisfied. Over time, that safety net, became a noose.

A few years ago I started to plan. I knew I wanted to travel. I knew I wanted to go on a surf trip. A really long one. Travel far, travel wide. Travel and maybe not return, at least for a while. Hug the coast. As a kid, that’s what my friends and I did — we looked for waves up and down the California coast. We drove the Pacific Coast Highway. We would study maps, pouring over the coastline and thinking aloud at what swells might break best and where.

Fast forward to today — a decade or more since I was that funny kid driving up the Pacific Coast. Interestingly enough, things haven’t changed all that much. I am still searching for that next best wave and constantly on the road. The difference of course, this time around, is that I am able to travel beyond the Pacific Coast — wondering where in the world the waves will take me.

I’ve been to the South Pacific, surfed the Caribbean and theAtlantic. As a kid, I traveled to Mexico, and except for a recent surf trip to Panama last April, Central and South America still remain unexplored, to me that is. Figured it was time to change that and little by little the parameters of this trip started coming into focus. The roadmap started to unfold before me.

So, here’s the plan!

I will be driving from California to Argentina over the next 4 years along the Pan-American Highway. The highway snakes from Alaska to Argentina and I’ll be on it, surfing, shooting and telling stories of
the people I meet. I have spent the summer retro-fitting my trusty Subaru Forester, adding bumpers, solar panels — basically, making my vehicle a home for the next few years. Starting from the ground up, a few friends and I fabricated an “adventure trailer.” This trailer will carry my gear, surfboards, and add a layer of security to this trip.

Ross Ruddell
My Subaru Forester. Home for the next 3 years.

While I am going on this trip by myself, but I am not alone. My friends, my family, my team at Project Bliss, and you are all coming along with me. I am stoked to be sharing this journey with you. As the ambassador, and the boots on the ground reporter for Project Bliss, I will be highlighting not only the environmental and social organizations making a positive impact in their local communities, for our world, but the personal stories of each and every person making it happen. This is going to be one hell of a journey!

But, before we hit the road, I want to take a few moments to include a few personal notes (and thanks) to everyone involved.

Mom — I know it’s scary to see your son leave and travel half way down the world — and not have any idea of when he will be back. But I will be fine, and I promise to look both ways seven times before I cross the street. Please bake/send cookies.

Dad — I brought my fly-fishing stuff with me, I’ll keep that rod tip down when I land a big one! We’ve been through my gear list at least a hundreds times, I think we got everything and, I know Grandpa would be pumped to see that his tarp is coming on the journey.

To my brother Ian, my step-sisters Ciena, Jonna, and Molly, and my step-brother Cooper — I love you guys more than life itself and I can’t wait to hear about school and work and everything wonderful
you’re involved with back home.

Josh, my best friend and the person I blame for my surfing addiction – Remember when we were 17 and got lost in San Diego? We pulled out a map and realized Mexico was only 11 miles away? Yeah, I’m gonna go scope out a few point breaks down there. I’ll be looking on the horizon and hope to see you and Kelsey sail into view.

Everyone at home in California — no matter how far I travel or how far I go, the Central Coast will always be home. The Fernandez family, thank you for refilling my stomach with wonderful food and opening your home to me whenever I visit. Kyler, Jesse, Chris, Bill, and Josh (especially) — thank you for your guidance, smack-talking and support. I love you guys. Building my rig wouldn’t’ve been possible without your skill. Blood, sweat and beers, we finished that thing.

To my Hawai’i ohana, especially my first landlord Mr. Tom Rea — I feel like I grew up on that Island, and today, I still carry that aloha with me. If I find something that rivals a Spam musubi down south I’ll let you know. Tom, I’m gonna climb that damn mountain!

To my absolutely amazing, loving and supportive friends in the Northeast — I would not have survived there if I had not met you. Y’all are Rhode Island royalty and I lucked into a circle that always
promised I’d get served at the Mist just like a local. Your sharing of waves, couches, and stories makes me the most fortunate transplant ever.

Aaron and Madeleine at Project Bliss — thank you for believing in me, and checking the spelling in everything I post — I’ll get better, I swear! Thank you for letting me chase my dream, and share my vision.

And you — everyone I get to share this with — you’re in the passenger seat, you’re on the towel on the beach next to me, you’re splitting beers (and the tab!). Pack a bag, some sunscreen, and an open mind, lets go!

Lets go south. Always South.

Till next time,

Ross Ruddell, 29, Atascadero, Calif.
#PromoteBliss #ProjectBliss

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