Taken straight from my daily journal, I’m opening up and getting real with you about what a week as a nomad is really like. And what van life is really all about. For two years I lived solo in a van while traveling around the US ….well almost alone, I also had my adventure dog India along with me. This journey changed my life. So come on, let’s crack this baby open, shall we, pages direct from my journal…
Week As A Nomad: Day #1
Tuesday, July 28th Rainy Creek Campground near Wenatchee Lake, Washington
I had a hard time finding this campsite. It’s AHHHMAZING! At first I was lost, but found a super secluded, almost sketchy place to camp before finding this one. But something wasn’t right in my gut bout that site. Even though it was what I love, being away from everyone deep in the woods, I can’t ignore my dear ol gut. I’m so glad I didn’t cause I feel we are now in a magical bliss of nature.
After cooking dinner, I sat down to eat. As I sipped my whiskey, I knew that this was it. This moment, in the middle of nowhere, alone, the sun setting in nature, taking it all in, that is why I am here. To sit, look, listen, and take it all in.
Ahhh…..crap….what was that? A bear???
Week As A Nomad: Day #2
Wednesday, July 29th Rainy Creek Campground
I woke this morning exhausted. The last couple of days in Seattle I was teaching and hanging with friends. This was really amazing and fun, but with traveling so much I need to rest for a few days. Even resting off the grid isn’t resting. I have all my daily routine that I can’t miss out on:
Wake up. Mediate. Journal. Feed the dog. Make the bed. Walk the dog. Do yoga. Make breakfast. Wash dishes. Quick body wipe down. Change clothes. Organize cooler: dump water out and arrange. Organize van. Play with the dog. Write. Do some art. Go Explore.
Okay, some of these things I don’t HAVE to do, but if I get behind on my “house” work, I won’t be able to move in the van. It’s a tight space, but I love it. It’s starting to feel like home. Guess that’s good cause I feel like I’m getting sick. That would totally SUCK! But at least I will be at home sick and not home sick.
Oh man….there it is again. Every night at dusk I hear these creatures, these animals screaming! I have no idea what it is and it freaked me out the first night, but now it means it’s bedtime. OH and I almost forgot I totally scored today. On my walk with India I found a $20 bill on the ground. We had walked over there a bunch of times before and never saw it. There’s no one around either. I think that’s a good omen! I hope.
Week As A Nomad: Day #3
Thursday, July 30th Rainy Creek Campground
Just took my second bath in the river while being on the road. This time seemed easier. There was no one around so I took the time to wash my hair. I also multi-tasked and did a bit of laundry and found that I’m a total ass.
For days, I thought my pasty white skin was getting a really nice tan. Maybe road life did something to my skin pigment. Maybe once I become a nomad, I somehow developed a super gene, like Spiderman? Heck yeah. And maybe my super power would be to have a nice glistening tan on my arms without burning. But I reminded myself to use this power for good and that with great power comes great responsibility.
Standing proud in the rocky river I began my bath and contemplated the good I would bring to the chaos in the world. Getting to my arms I began to splash water over them. With each splash of cleansing water my super gene slowly faded and then totally washed away. What! Dirt! How could I NOT know that I was so dirty? How come I didn’t wash my arms? Not even a month in and I was already a dirty mess. Sitting down to initially sulk, I managed a laugh instead. I didn’t have a super gene, but I was starting to change, and I liked it. I really didn’t care that my arms were so dirty. It was kind of cool and I was proud that I was really roughing it! Maybe THAT’s my super gene?
It was a crazy hot day and the ice-cold river actually felt really refreshing. It’s kind of freeing, to bathe in a river. I really love it, but still sensed the feeling of paranoia in me. I was well aware I was alone, but I still feared someone would appear when I’m butt ass naked in a river. Well, mostly naked. I keep my knickers on when I can, comforts me. So does keeping my knife near by.
I’ve decided to leave Sunday for Canada. I plan to volunteer at Crankworx and thanks to Amanda Batty, I’ll be competing in my very first downhill race! It’s going to be pretty amazing and I’m terrified. I’m also supposed to meet up with another nomad in her art community on a small island somewhere. Adventure awaits!!!
Week As A Nomad: Day #4
Friday, July 31st Rainy Creek Campground
I had the worst nights sleep last night. It was hot. There was no breeze and there was an evil mosquito biting me repeatedly during the night. Bastard. Then I totally freaked myself out when I woke at 2am. It was dark and my thoughts went dark as well. I became paranoid that either someone from the Walking Dead or The Road was gonna grab me outta the van at night. It’s dumb now, but was so REAL then.
Today really blows. Looks like my phone died and I have to drive 2 hours to the nearest town to get it fixed. I’m still sooooo exhausted and was hoping I would have more downtime. I’m tired of HAVING to do my routine, too. Cooking every meal, then washing dishes. Then I have to organize the van. And of course, once everything is in its rightful place I’ll need to grab something and can’t remember which container under which seat or in which side of the van it is in! I end up tearing apart the van then realize it’s been sitting on the table right in front of me this entire time!!! I then organize everything once again, for the umpteenth time.
All I want to do is a bit old nothing. Lay in the van and just sleep….. all day long. Catch up on some rest before I drive up to Canada and compete. Even if I could just chill in the van, it’s too damn hot today. I’d just melt!
Now my pen has stopped working!! GOD DAMMIT!!! Nothing is working. I’m TRYING to have a NICE MOMENT but NOTHING is cooperating.
Week As a Nomad: Day #5
Saturday, August 1st Rainy Creek Campground
With my cell phone dead I now feel a sense of calm. I didn’t realize how attached I was until now. I want to remember this when I get a new one. But part of me doesn’t want to get a new one. I want separation from the world, from being online. Free from its control. I feel I need to think this thought a bit more.
I want attacheds to the world on my terms. But maybe it’s not about attachments at all. Before van life I was almost a child, rebelling for my freedom. Freedom from LA, freedom from a-hole boyfriends, friend from a jewelry career. In reality, I was longing to live my dream of adventure. To stop going through the steps that either I, or someone, set for me and really live.
I have a feeling that finding my freedom will be difficult but worth it. I’m hoping to find it on the road. I’m also hoping to start living my life and to live a my life of adventure. Not what others expect of me.
Week As A Nomad: Day #6
Sunday, August 2nd Rainy Creek Campground….AGAIN!
Well, looks like Canada is out. My phone won’t be ready and I’m still waiting on a check. This check is my financial lifeline for the next few months. It was ‘supposed to’ arrive weeks ago and I could still be waiting a few more weeks or even months for it! I had to make the hard decision to miss out on volunteering, camping off the grid in BC, the art island and the biggest disappointment, I’ll be missing out on my first downhill race. I just can’t risk getting stuck in Canada with no money. On the upside, I got to drive 4 hours to just drop my phone off.
Today, I found that people in general annoy me. Okay, maybe not people, but what we have all become. When I dropped my phone off to get fixed, I ran into Target to grab a few things, before heading off the grid again. Good thing I made a list because I got lost when I was trying to find socks and ended up with a basket full of things I didn’t need. $1 flip-flops, a cute hairbrush, stickers, animal erasers and fashion tights. WTF. I put them all back, except for some reason I held on to the tights. Why was I so stuck on these tights? After paying for the few items I really needed, I ran out as fast as I could to escape Targets intoxicating grasp.
Now that I’m back at our trusty ol’ campsite, it’s time to gather up the dirt-encrusted dog and head to bed. But first I think I’ll make an old-fashioned. Okay, I gotta admit. I did splurge at Target. Just a bit. I got a nice bottle of Buffalo Trace Bourbon. That’s a necessity, right?
Week As A Nomad: Day #7
Monday, August 3rd 2015 Tolt MacDonald Washington Campground near Carnation, WA
Today marks one month of being on the road! Nothing has turned out the way I planned. Which is a good thing, I think. It really doesn’t seem good at the moment, though. Speaking of…..I went to pick up my cell phone and once I drove off the damn thing broke again. It’s late, so I’ll have to wait till morning to tackle that beast. That means we have to stay at a closer, more populated campsite. I welcome the community and gotta say, a shower sounds pretty epic but I don’t welcome the $25 a night fee, but at least we will be safe and I won’t have to drive 4 hours.
I had an amazing nights sleep last night. It was our last night at Rainy Creek and I felt pampered by the first cool breeze all week, which both India and I welcomed with open arms. As the sun rose in the morning it gently woke me with all its warm radiance. I had slept through the entire night and felt like I had triumphed. I felt that I had faced my fears of solitude, nature and saw that I am able to dig deeper.
After breakfast, I took the one remaining egg* from its crate before India and I walked down to the river. As we stood next to the shallow transparent river, my reflection looked back, catching my eye. I had a hard time seeing “me” in that mirrored vision. I began to think about who I had become while in LA. Who I had become in Nebraska. Who I had become as a jeweler. I had tried becoming what I thought I was supposed to be. Do what others asked and expected of me. These thoughts grew as I rolled the cool brown egg in my hand. The egg felt so strong yet so fragile. I could relate.
The road made me strong yet the past was trying to break me open. I put all those thoughts, those pressures, into that little brown egg, filling it up. With all my might I throw it as hard as I could into the river. SMASH! It exploded after hitting a rock. Damn! That felt WAY better than I thought it would. It was freeing. Once that egg smashed to pieces, so did all those things I was supposed to do. All those expectations. All those things holding me back. They’re now smashed and its pieces are floating peacefully down the miles of river.
Today marks the day when this adventure has NOW become MY adventure.
*A big thank you to Sam Shaw for the egg suggestion!