When people hear what our current living situation is we basically get one of three reactions; “Man, I wish I would have done that when I was younger,” “Good luck with that,” or “Man you guys are living the dream, I wish I could drop everything in my life and travel too.”
I’m sitting in the back of the van watching the headlights pass. We just had an amazing 3 days in Park City, Utah. Fresh powder and great friends, finished off with the most epic, life-reviving hot shower of all time. Everything you could want out of a little “weekend” van trip… even the ride in a tow truck!
I am incredibly thankful I am to be living this adventure. I was driving during sunset earlier, surrounded by glowing pink snowy mountains and I experienced the most “I am meant to be here” moment. I love the van. It’s truly become my home. No matter where we are parked I can step into the back and be home. It’s a comforting yet bizarre feeling, especially when you forget where you’re parked and go outside to let the dog out only to become very confused. I love being able to start up my house and drive 8 hours to go ride powder without having to pack or really plan anything. I love the simplicity of it, and it has taught me that I need so much less than I previously believed. I’ve already made a donation to goodwill, and will probably do another very soon. Van life also has a way of sucking the laziness right out of you and forcing you to get up and do the thing. Not much to do in the van, so you gotta get out. Go ride, go surf, go walk, go work. Go, go, go…
Not exactly the relaxing *sunrise coffee in bed before a surf session and açaí bowl* a “van life” pinterest search would have you believe. This life is not easy. It’s not rare that I long for my bathtub back home, or to be able to roll out my mat and do yoga in my living room. A real shower is rare, doing laundry is a hassle we put off until it’s borderline too late, filling up water is not easy in the town we’ve adopted for the winter. It’s a weird thing, really. Being home all the time but also not really having a “home.” Yeah, we get to walk off the mountain after riding and directly into the shower and a hot chai, but at the end of the day we have to drive into the middle of no where to find somewhere to sleep.
I miss Netflix binge sessions, sleeping in when Zach has to be up before me, my little car, setting a timer on an oven and it actually being accurate, and baths. I really miss baths. But… I’ve gotten so comfortable with being uncomfortable, which I think is something people don’t really focus on when thinking about van life until you’re in the thick of it. I shower far less than I would ever choose, I cook in the most absurdly small space every day, and I literally have to warm up water on the stove every night to have hot water to wash my face with. The other night on the way to Utah, we broke down and I comfortably slept on the side of the road, woke up at the crack of dawn, called AAA and made coffee while we waited for the $400 tow without hardly thinking twice. It had to be done, so I did it. At any other point in my life up until here that would have probably threw me into a panic.
I love where I am getting to spend winter and that I’m getting to snowboard so much. I absolutely love these mountains. I love my job and all the people I’ve gotten to meet out here. I also miss being a walk away from salt water. I miss the simplicity of a house that can’t break down. I miss my best friend back home and having a driveway where no one can tell me I can’t park there. My point being, you can’t just drop all your home problems and live on the road to escape stress or boredom. It will follow you. Where there’s not boring life stress there’s van and travel stress. I’m in the van and house life seems simple, this summer I’ll be in my house and van life will seem simple. The only thing you can do is follow your dreams and don’t be surprised when shit hits the fan anyway. Just because you’re doing the right thing for you doesn’t mean crap doesn’t happen.
Van life has simultaneously been harder and better than I could have ever imagined. I am proud of myself in ways I never thought I would be. I have said yes to doing and trying things I would have never done when I was back home in my comfort zone. Learn how to ollie a skateboard? No thanks, concrete is scary. But I did that here. Why struggle to learn how to snowboard switch when just riding down the mountain is fun? Because it can be more fun! Recipes? I would have never strayed from them before the van. Now, I cook elaborate dinners in a tiny kitchen without so much as a glance at my phone.
You see, I didn’t leave all my problems behind, I brought a lot of them with me and adopted some new ones. However, I also learned some really important life lessons that you just don’t get unless you say yes to something that kinda sorta scares the shit out of you. For example, driving across Mexico with little to no knowledge of Spanish in a giant tan van. I guess what I’m saying is that you don’t have to drop everything and live out of a car to be happy or be more satisfied in life – you just need to take a big ‘ol step out of your comfort zone. You gotta get real comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s where the pink haze mountain magic happens.