People are curious as cats. But cautious, too, which makes the Internet a great place to explore. You can find new people and places, peep into new worlds, all from the comfort of your covers.
But what if you could take your cozy bed, spin it around, and find yourself in the places you’ve been searching out online? Imagine waking up to a beach or a mountain lying just past your sock feet. It’d be so unexpected. Because, of course, you’ve been in your bed before. And, of course, you’ve been on a trip before. But you’ve never been in your bed on a trip before.
Most of the beach-beyond-my-bed photos on Instagram include attractive young people. But those kids aren’t the only adventurous ones. Given a chance, I believe most of us would like to have adventures throughout our lives. My husband and I are in our 50s and we certainly want that for ourselves.
In 2011 we bought a 1995 Sportsmobile—a sky blue, 4-wheel-drive camper van with a pop top, solar panels, propane heater, running water, and more. We stripped everything out and customized it to our liking with a black interior, with wall pouches instead of cabinets, and instead of fold-out seats a dedicated queen-sized bed covered in cowhide, fresh sheets, warm blankets, and two pillows each. We took the Sportsmobile out for weekends, then weeks, then eventually for two five-week trips, and two summers. We had great adventures. We found we slept better in the van than anywhere else. Like many do, we became our best selves when we lived simple.
With that in mind, we made a decision three years ago to sell our gallery property in Mississippi and most of our belongings. We spent a summer farming in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, spent two-and-a-half years as artists-in-residence at Green Mountain College in Vermont, then decided we wanted to focus full-time on our art business and adventures. So last November we left our cozy dorm room, put our belongings in my parents’ basement, and set off as full-time van-lifers.
The Sportsmobile is perfect as a living space, but as full-time artists, we also need a place to work. Our 15-year-old Yukon XL suburban would’ve cost $75,000 to replace—a ridiculous amount given you can’t work in it…or much else. So after searching around for a trailer or a second Sportsmobile (each with its own drawbacks), we found the perfect vehicle—a 2009 bread truck with only 30,000 miles on it for $21,000. Wondering if we had gone crazy, we drove round-trip from Vermont to Pennsylvania to buy it, and then round-trip from Vermont to North Carolina to have it converted at Ujoint Offroad.
If our gamble pays off this big white box truck will be just what we need for a second vehicle—a traveling studio van. So far we’ve added 4-wheel drive, a huge roof rack with plenty of solar power, a huge patio, an awning, a tall view from 10-feet off the ground, cool lighting, and—get this—a wood stove. Next month we’ll add a big side window, nerf bars, and a bike rack on back, plus a hot shower, screened doors, storage, and lots more. But one thing at a time.
This week we’re off test running the four-wheel drive, breaking in the woodstove, and making art under the new lights on its maiden voyage in the Pisgah National Forest. Stay tuned for that big adventure. While we’re off in the woods, here’s hoping you get creative and get outdoors, too. Life is amazing if you make it that way.