Yes, I’m leaving a good job with amazing coworkers , many of whom are like family. We’re stepping away from the safety of our suburbia middle American Dream to live out of a homemade campervan.
I’ve been told I’m committing career suicide, going through an early midlife crisis, and my personal favorite, “you should start doing drugs, like normal people”. And yes, this was said lovingly! “Drugs are bad MKAY”
Our path will take us through some of the hottest, highest, most famous, and profound terrain in North America. “Go big or go home“, literally. This isn’t a day-dream, or a fantasy . We expect mechanical problems, let downs, changed plans, and bad weather.
Along the way I’ll take terabytes of images, and countless rolls of film, as Lauren paints landscapes and crochets hats. For the sake of authenticity we’ve declined sponsorship and business involvements. This experience isn’t about selfies, followers, Instagram hits, blog roll, or social media attention.
For those of you who don’t know our story, our lives were forever changed by an old camera, that no longer worked but once belonged to my late grandfather. A refinery worker and self-taught photographer who started a “working class” photography business. Inspired by Ansel Adams he dreamt of photographing what he called the “Great Parks”, Yosemite, and the like. Yet, a few small trips into his retirement he was diagnosed with Parkinson disease.
After months of working on his camera I ran the first roll of film through it. I don’t know how or when, but that camera became more than a piece of equipment. It too inspired me to see those “Great Parks”. Taking every available vacation day we developed the skills necessary to through hike, explore, and document our “Little Adventures”.
Closing the shutter on Delicate Arch, a tear welled in the corner of my eye. Time stops for no man, but occasionally it grants us a parting gift. In the hands of his grandson his camera finally captured an image he’d longed to see.
Fast forward a few years, we’re about to travel over six thousand miles to see more of those “great parks” while living out of a van. We’re not early twenties trust fund hipsters. I’d lie if I told you I wasn’t scared. I’m going to miss the consistency, structure, and schedule of our daily lives. This has taken over a year of designing, building, and financial planning. YouTube videos and travel sites make the process of building a campervan and living out of parks look simple. Young attractive 20 something hippies with a screw driver and a hammer rocking out a Pinterest “day dream” in a weekend. I’m saying NO.. Lies and deception!
Building a solar powered off grid campervan with refrigeration, sink, fresh water, sanitation, fans, appliances, storage, editing station, and the ability to upload images from remote locations, has been a lot of work. Booking parks, planning a path, and organizing a budget was grueling. But, to date the hardest part of this process has been keeping it a secret. Friends and family have assumed we were angry with them. Our “sky family”, the skydiving community probably think were done with the sport, we are not!
I know this is unorthodox. But, during my time in vocational ministry I never once spoke with a dying person to hear them whisper, “I wish I would’ve worked more hours”. Or “I only wish I had more stuff”. Yes we’re afraid, but sometimes you simply have to jump!
Becky and Keith thanks for that campfire conversation so many years ago. Hank you’ll never know how much those door counts, and “get your head straight” advise changed me. Joe thanks for answering all my stupid camera questions. To our parents your support and encouragement has been priceless. Our community of readers and friends, thanks for the advise, even the negative stuff! I know you spoke it in love! “Drugs are bad MKAY“