Josh & Meagan McFarland
The son of a park ranger, Josh spent his formative years exploring the national parks of Utah. In 2009, he found inspiration while visiting several of the highlights along the Park-to-Park Highway circuit and has been planning to complete the master loop ever since. The daughter of a travel agent, Meagan has been an international jet-setter since she was a toddler. Her most recent travel includes several weeks in Cambodia and an upcoming trip to Myanmar.
Josh completed his undergraduate work in Utah, while Meagan studied nursing in Oregon. Both later completed graduate studies at Oregon Health and Sciences University. As a nurse practitioner, Meagan now practices gynecologic oncology; Josh practices emergency medicine as a physician assistant.
The McFarlands spend most of their free time refurbishing a recently purchased 1920's home in Salem, Oregon, and exploring the beautiful green country of the Pacific Northwest.
Jared Jennings & Ashley Wall
Jared, an Eagle Scout, spent much of his childhood in the great outdoors, backpacking, rock climbing, spelunking and running rivers throughout Utah and the lower 48. He continued to pursue his love of the outdoors in his studies, graduating with a degree in geography from Portland State University.
While Ashley calls Portland, Oregon, her home, she has also lived in Greece, Canada and Israel. Ashley has her Master's degree in International Migration from the University of Kent (Brussels) with her research focused on forcibly displaced groups around the world.
In their nine years together, Jared and Ashley have never found it in themselves to settle down. Since being married, they have spent two summers in Alaska, one year in Belgium and three months camping in the American south, visiting 15 national parks along the way.
Recently, Jared and Ashley purchased their first home- a 43 foot sailboat- with plans of sailing the seven seas. While living according to the ebbs and flows of nature presents its challenges, they hope to experience firsthand the varied realities of the different geography and cultures around the world.
The Zhang Family
Li Li was placed in Utah as a Chinese Guest Teacher through the Chinese HanBan Program from 2012-2015. In China, she taught English and Mandarin at Bin Zhou Medical University in Yantai. While in Utah, she has been teaching Mandarin at three high schools in Davis County. Li Li spends many hours preparing lessons and dedicates her heart to education. While on exchange, she has been able to experience Yellowstone, Zion, and Bryce National Parks; she was awestruck by their beauty and says they have been imprinted on her heart forever.
Zhang Feng is a college English teacher and Vice Dean of the College English Office at the Bin Zhou Medical University. He has a dynamic personality that is full of energy and life. He loves to travel. Zhang Feng and Li Li spent years studying English in preparation for their dream to see America. Their son, Tong Tong (8), loves the feeling of camping and the outdoors.
The Zhang Family feels that the national parks of the West are windows to the beauty of American culture. They are looking forward to their Park-to-Park adventure.
The Ballard Family
Ask the Ballard kids what their mother does best, and they'll undoubtedly tell you plan trips. The last three years have included a road trip to Alaska, a six-week expedition across South Africa, and a tour of Thailand. Their next adventure takes them to Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico. The Ballards enjoy traveling globally, but they have always loved U.S. national parks.
Steve and Emily both graduated from Utah State University with degrees in Organizational Management and Behavioral Nutrition. Steve loves food so much that he decided to make it his career. He is the owner and operator of Sonora Grill and Thai Curry Kitchen.
Rachel (11) and Lucy (10) started camping as newborns, and Adam (7) figures we might as well camp when we travel, since he gets stuck sleeping on the floor in hotels anyway. The Ballard Family resides in Ogden, Utah, which is equidistant between two of their favorite places in the world: Grand Teton National Park and Zion National Park.
Jason is an artist and designer whose work explores the connection between social and personal histories of landscapes and places. He studied visual arts at Weber State University and graphic design at Virginia Commonwealth University. More importantly, Jason claims an informal education in wandering from the time he spent in the canyons of the upper Colorado Plateau. His practice shows a devotion for geology, history, ecology, mythology, mysticism, and folk traditions. He is loyal to design as a social art form and seeks to teach others the joy of remaining curious.
Jason is co-creator of Designer and Forests, an interdisciplinary project that focuses on creating healthier forests through engaging place-based workshops. Jason has facilitated design workshops in the United States, Germany, and Iceland. He is a 2014 Marion Fellowship recipient and is currently engaged in a project that takes him paddling, peddling, and hiking his way across the continent as he documents the changing North American West.
Jason lives and works in western New York with his partner and their three dogs.
The Philpot Family
Fred and Audrey met in high school, fell madly in love while attending Utah State University, and decided to get hitched. They also fell in love with a backcountry campsite at the base of Mount Moran in Teton National Park. They have been back every year for the last 12 years and plan on keeping the tradition alive forever.
The Philpots don't consider themselves extreme adventurers, but they do treasure this beautiful earth. They have taken humanitarian trips to Mexico, studied abroad in Sweden, backpacked to Havasu Falls, and spent many nights under the Utah stars.
Fred IV is a financial analyst with a municipal consulting firm in Salt Lake City. Audrey took a leave from teaching elementary school to take on the bigger feat of caring for their three beautiful boys. Fred V (7), Benjer (5), and Warren (2) have come to appreciate the outdoors as much as their parents and love sleeping outside in their backyard fort.
When they're not camping, the Philpots spend their days in a quiet neighborhood in Bountiful, Utah, surrounded by friends.