We are nearly six months into full-time van life. Six months of beautiful campsites, Wal-Mart parking lots, long hikes, hummus sandwiches, public bathrooms, wildlife, hail storms, canyons, deserts, mountains, dog snuggles, meaningful conversations with friends and strangers, sunrise coffee, trailhead beer, picking up trash, dirty hair, smelly clothes, weird tan lines, hard work, and LOTS of joy. While we’ve gotten used to many aspects of life on the road, daily challenges still exist. And we’re glad that they do; this isn’t supposed to be easy. But, tough parts included, I can honestly say that we love this lifestyle– every day is a new adventure.
After spending the spring around Colorado’s Front Range, we were excited to hit the road and experience some new places. There’ve been many highlights over the last stretch of travel, including hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back to the rim in one day, visiting Idaho for the first time, and camping in the shadow of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. Rachel and I are constantly in awe of the places we visit, as well as the landscapes in between. The American West is truly stunning.
In between outdoor adventures, we’ve been picking up work to make a little money along the way. The strangest job we’ve had so far was at an industrial hemp farm in Powell Butte, Oregon, where we helped plant seedlings. For 8-10 hours a day, we walked behind a tractor that dropped plants every three feet. We dug holes, planted them, and moved on to the next seedling. Imagine doing hundreds of squats across a gigantic field in the hot sun for hours– our legs have never been so sore! Needless to say, we only lasted three days, but we were thrilled to move on to a different adventure.
The next job was in Bend, Oregon gardening and landscaping for a couple with a large, beautiful property. We loved it! We did lots of weeding, planting, and mulching and continued to hone our gardening skills. As I mentioned in an Instagram post, gardening has never really been my thing; the fear of killing plants has always held me back. What if I over-water something and it floats away? Or, more likely, what if I forget to water it for a week or two? The “what ifs” have stood in the way of the “could be’s”.
Doing things that scare us goes well beyond our usual mountain biking and other outdoor pursuits. The fear of failure is real. Be it gardening, building a van, or leaving comfortable careers for a more fragile lifestyle, the chance that we’ll fall and fail is always there. But I’m learning that the risks we take define our lives. And so, from now on we will dive headfirst into gardening. I’m sure we’ll mess up and kill some flowers, but we’ll learn, re-plant, and move forward.
Currently, we’re back in Denver, Colorado for a huge outdoor industry trade show called Outdoor Retailer. OR, as it’s known, deserves a post of it own, so keep an eye out for that in the coming days. In short, it’s fun, exhausting, and exhilarating, and we’ve made some connections and friendships we’re both excited about.
We are also working on trip reports for some of our favorite adventures, “beta” (advice) about places we love, and news about exciting opportunities that have come our way. Stay tuned. And as always, thank you for following along!