How a former soldier and ex-school teacher took to the highways and byways of the world to spread the gospel of curious travel
ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Executive Editor
When I first meet Isis Gaine and Shine True, it is 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday and they are buying eggnog-flavored donuts from Top Pot, the gourmet doughnut shop along Lower Greenville Avenue. Isis appears to be walking with a slight limp; turns out the previous night, she was hit by a car (not too bad) while crossing the street at Cedar Springs and Knight. But there’s no time to worry about the injury right now. They have already had a full morning (a stop at Buzz Brews) and the afternoon is booked as well (down to Twisted Root Burger Co. in Deep Ellum, and more after that).
If it sounds like an itinerant, somewhat crazy life, that’s exactly how they like it. Shine and Isis (they prefer to go by first names) are adventurers, and have turned their restlessness into a lifestyle … and, they hope, a career.
Both already had a sense of wanderlust even before they met. Isis was enlisted in the military, and serving in South Korea. Shine had relocated there to teach English to the locals. They met at a party — most of the ex-pats congregate together; it’s a smallish community, they say — and they bonded over, of all things, fruit.
“She could not afford fruit — one apple was like $4 — but I was on a base where the price was more reasonable,” Isis explains. But lest you think it was a lop-sided relationship, Shine chimes in about her contribution.
“I had my own place!” she interjects. “An apartment where she could get off the base! It wasn’t all about the fruit.”
Their romance blossomed, although at the time — this was about 30 months ago — it seemed to be a short-term thing: Shine’s assignment was coming to an end, and Isis was at the whims of military personnel decisions.
Then, Isis got an unexpected (but honorable) early discharge from the Army, which sent her back to the area where she initially enlisted: North Texas. By happenstance,
Shine’s assignment teaching was ending at the same time. She flew back to the U.S., but had an unplanned three-day layover on her way home … at DFW Airport.
“So she stayed with me in Lewisville for a few days, and we’ve been together ever since,” Isis says.
But Lewisville couldn’t contain these world travelers. It didn’t take them long to realize that staying put in one place was not in the DNA of either. They began traveling constantly — they say they have no home base, but live entirely on the road — and as a lark, would send videos of their travels back to Isis’ mom and close friends.
“The feedback we got was amazing,” Isis says. They wondered whether they could turn their passion into a professional. They began putting their work on every imaginable social media format — Vine, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube… some just a minute long. Last fall, they decided to take it a step further when they headed to New York City (a first for both), but it ended up being a boondoggle. The trip was going to be the basis for a pilot to pitch to a TV network like Logo, so they hired “professionals” to stage, shoot and edit the footage, but what emerged was disastrous.
“It was very informative, but it wasn’t us,” says Isis. “It was not up to our rigorous standards — we are used to doing everything on our own.”
That’s how they do it now. They are currently developing the Let’s Go Travel Show, a YouTube channel they created where they could post videos of their exploits. (Only a few videos have been posted so far; their Dallas trip should go up later this month.)
“We can’t stop the momentum,” says Shine. “We [really just started] four months ago, but doing it on our own helps a lot. We started with iMovie, then got FinalCut [software] to do the editing. We have a tag-team system of editing techniques. People are already requesting us to come to their cities.” Isis has already been accepted to film school, and hopes to become a filmmaker of both documentaries and features. They’ve really already started.
“We are doing two documentaries [while making the travel show] — one a behind-the-scenes look at our process, and one on female entrepreneurs,” says Shine.
They know that as a curious, young, interracial lesbian couple, they have something that sets them apart. But their style of exploration isn’t about doing “gay travel,” but about doing “travel” from a gay perspective.
“People overseas don’t know a lot about America — they think everything is all ‘New York Yankees’ and ‘Hollywood,’” Isis says. “But we like [landscapes] that are forever changing, meeting new people, [forging] new relationships. We are lesbians and an interracial couple, but we are just us, not doing gay travel, but” going off the beaten path to uncover the quirks, appealing characters and fun activities anyone can enjoy.
They arrived in Dallas direct from Phoenix, after starting in New York City; after the Metroplex, they’re heading for San Francisco, then Las Vegas; hopefully, they will make it to Africa, because they want to pursue international travel. But they are adamant that the future holds what it holds — there are no rules for them to follow, just life for them to enjoy and excitement to discover.
Like eating an eggnog doughnut. And learning to look both ways before crossing Cedar Springs.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 15, 2016.