From a death in the family to the combination of two families, the last couple weeks have been a crazy juxtaposition. Our life allows us to shape it in any way we want. Don’t want to be in rain for the winter? Lets go south. Want to go to South America? Done. But yet there are still things you cannot control. My grandma was sick for a while and even though I was given time to say my goodbyes it was hard to hear the news.
Thank you for the memories Grandma
But there are things that we are in control of. On December 9 on the beach in Monterey California, with our dogs running around us and the waves crashing around us, I asked Samara to spend the rest of her life with me. We have created a truly magical life together and I cannot imagine spending it with anyone else. I am head over heals in love and am lucky to have such an unbelievable woman in my life. Unlike our life, I tried to plan the perfect time and make it perfect but the beach with our van and our dogs running around just felt right.
In our modern world, it is the number one sought after thing. It holds an enormous and undeniable value to the human race. Some people refer to it as the thing that makes the world go round. And yet, it is somehow so taboo to talk about. We all strive every single day for it. It is constantly on our mind. It is all we talk about and, yet, it is something we tip toe around.
This ugly five letter word has been the cause of wars and rebellions, families coming together and breaking apart, lives being born and deaths occurring.
But what is money really?
Sure, we can manipulate it to hold a physical form of paper or metal, but otherwise isn’t it really just a virtual number? We let it constantly move up and down in our world and give us a value of our worth.
Our first day on the road was full of thousands of emotions. At night time, we couldn’t wait to sleep. We took an exit on the highway, drove down the street and almost instantly
found a small dirt road to pull off and rest our heads. Five months later we have slept everywhere from beside hot springs and the ocean, in the forest, Walmart parking lots, to residential streets. Surprisingly, sleeping anywhere and everywhere has been one of the easiest transitions for us. With only paying for three nights in over
five months, we quickly learned we can fall asleep just about anywhere. That is something very important with this lifestyle. While, obviously, we prefer the nights where we wake up with an amazing view in reality that isn’t always the way it happens.
After spending almost a week playing in the cool white sand of the ever-moody Pacific North West our spirits were lifted and our colds were persistent. Myles and I can’t seem to get enough of the beach. Salt or fresh water, 40 degrees or 10, you can always find us at the beach playing like children in the sand. In our Vancouver beaches, we have the protection of Vancouver Island that breaks our waves and makes it so that our coastlines have much more swimmable beaches with less fierce waves.
The sheer force of the ocean here was probably the only thing keeping us out of the water. Well, that and all of the signs saying “people have died here, stay out of the water”. Still, our days were spent with bare feet chasing the tide as it went out and then turning around to run away from the crashing wave coming towards us. With sandy feet and salty hair, we decided that it was probably time to be better adults and take care of our nagging coughs. Without any intention to leave the beach-side, we thought the responsible thing to do would be to at least go to where its warm out; give our bodies a fighting chance. So, we packed our pups begrudgingly back into the van and headed South.
After an intense love affair with Colorado (for anyone who hasn’t gone, go and allow yourself at least double the time you intend to stay there, it is AMAZING), Myles and I headed north toward Wyoming. We were told by quite a few people that Wyoming was home to some of the most beautiful and ever changing scenery. After crossing the border and instantly finding some hot springs, a new found favourite activity of ours, we were very happy to be there.
After driving through Wyoming we stumbled upon this lonely Syncro wasting away. Our undying love for these vans got the better of us and less than twenty four hours later we found ourselves with the keys in our hands and a forty-eight hour permit to leave the country.
Scroll through your Netflix and you will quickly be able to find dozens of documentaries on food and what it’s doing to our bodies. From GMOs, becoming vegan, juicing, and high sugar consumption, there are plenty of people out there that have found that changing a little bit can make a huge difference. I am the first to admit I have lived (and still live) by them all. I’ve cut the sugar, stopped eating animals, have owned a juicer (really expensive – I would way rather eat my fruits and veggies) and really try to stick to non-steroid induced foods (ha-in our society!).
“You look healthy and happy.” You’ve heard those two coinciding, but I thought once you became healthy, you became happy. I never realized that once you became happy, truly happy, your health will sky rocket. I have heard of stress playing a big part in your life and even though I felt stress, I always convinced myself that other people had it worse.
Convinced my “stresses” didn’t matter, I was addicted to telling myself the amount of my stress was ridiculous. Since leaving for a life on the road I haven’t tried to be happy. I haven’t actively thought to myself about how unhappy I am and how I need to be happier and have more fun. Sure, I have become a far more healthy person but I haven’t actively thought “you need to eat this way or you will get fat” like so many diets tell you to. I have never seen a documentary about freedom causing your health to increase, so that couldn’t be whats happening.
As you may know, shortly before leaving I injured my leg – over and over again. After an initial knee injury left me almost immobile, I injured my ankle. Yep, same leg. I couldn’t kneel or squat and lost a lot of muscle in my leg and gained quite a bit of weight. I wasn’t healthy. You wouldn’t believe it but when telling people about my injury, I had a few people quickly respond with, “Oh no, how are you going to work?” That was probably my rock bottom, my hate all with society, my burning desire to make a change – a big change.
After two and a half months on this trip I can now not only walk, I can hike. I can not only squat (still struggle a bit) but I can kneel on my paddle board. I can sit with my legs crossed again, I can even straighten my leg fully. This may seem common, after all I am only twenty-four, but let me tell you only eight short weeks ago I could not do any of this.
What have I done differently you ask? Well, that is a matter of opinion. It may just be time naturally healing (doubtful as my injury occurred late February, a sudden drastic improvement four months later seems unlikely) but in my opinion I no longer obsess with getting better. No longer do I spend every waking moment petrified that my knee isn’t getting better and if it doesn’t get better quick, good-bye future. If you ask Myles, it is that I have a reason to get better. I want to hike the mountains, I want to go paddle boarding. It is a much better motivation than getting better so I can go back to a job.
Not convinced yet? Well, hear this one. Before I left I was diagnosed with having gall stones. The attacks are unlike any pain you have ever felt. My mom, a woman who has given birth three times, compares the pain to that of labor. I honestly wasn’t surprised by this as everyone in my family has had issues with their gall bladder and has gotten theirs removed.
In a span of three months I had about ten attacks. Curling over with the most crippling pain I have ever felt and absolutely nothing I do helping even a little. Some landing me in the hospital with IV drips and promises of upcoming surgery to remove this little nuisance. I am proud, and incredibly surprised, to report that I haven’t gotten an attack since the second week of being gone. I am now having to tell my doctor to cancel the surgery. Turns out I didn’t need a knife to solve this problem.
Last one (sorry boys, this one might be a little too much for you), about a year and a half ago I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Basically, I stopped getting my period every month; my hormones were going more than normal. I was being told that it will more than likely be incredibly difficult for me to conceive (well, actually I was at a horrible walk-in that rather than sugar coating it, directly said that I will not be having children).
I was distraught so I went to gynecologists who sent me for blood work and told me that the goal was for me to get my periods back. Well this is only a start but in the almost three months I have been gone I have successfully gotten mine twice. Believe what you may but yet another victory for me (I am probably one of very few women who would get excited about this).
Writing them all here, I am actually shocked to see in black and white how unhealthy I was. At the time I never realized how bad I really was. It wasn’t until a couple of nights ago when talking to Myles that I realized how much healthier I have become. You can decide for yourself, it may truly be all coincidental, but whatever it is I’ll take it! Happy makes you healthy… huh, well that’s good to learn!
Let us know what you think and how you stay healthy!
When we started this trip we had an idea of what it was going to be like. As much as we tried to do this without expectation and without any planning, nature set in and we couldn’t help but dream about our freedom. But, as always, reality is different. When we started this life, we were much like children at recess, running in circles basking in our new found freedom. We are now more like children after school – still running around hyped on sugar, but we know we have a little more time than the 15 minutes now.
In two months of Vanlife we have only paid to sleep once (I am writing this from an air-conditioned room in Saint Catharines, Ontario). We have slept everywhere from the mountains outside Lillooet to a department store’s parking lot in Wisconsin.
Well, we have driven over all the mountains, passed through all the wheat fields and have hit the land of forests and lakes. Finally, a land that we like and Gurt does too. Myles has driven across Canada before (well to Toronto) so in an effort to increase his experiences we decided to head south and scout out some American wildlife.
With more small towns, we have found America to have more “unclaimed land” (crown land but I don’t know what they call that in America, Spangle land? I don’t know..) This works well for us, as it is much easier to find somewhere to camp and we are making great efforts to avoid paying for a campsite. Minnesota is the land of beautiful waterfalls, monstrous lakes that look more like oceans, and hunters. Lots and lots of hunters. Me, being the newly found vegetarian and animal lover that I am, am not impressed with this deer-killing society. Myles and I have actually gone to sleep with the soft, calming sound of gunfire – a little concerning what people are shooting in the middle of the night, but anyhow.