big bend

This is not content. This is not the insta-worthy hashtag-vanlife fantasy peddled by all the influencers depicting picture-perfect promises of a nomadic existence. This is the tale of two souls venturing into the unknown. This is the story of their “anti” American dream. Their path less taken.

While others strive to be more comfortable, more stable, more… conventional. These two are fine-tuning the minimum number of pans required to cook the largest variety of meals. While suburbanites in sticks-and-bricks internet shop for next-day delivered gadgets, our heroes are paring down their wardrobes to only 60 coordinated items. Rather than collecting knick-knacks to display on trophy shelves, these vagrants are weighing the entirety of their life’s possessions on a scale, quite literally, to ensure that it remains under the seven-thousand-pound limit. They are on a mission to be uncomfortable. They are forging a path without a guidebook. They are in search of uncharted territory. They have pulled up the anchor by moving into a vehicle and owning nothing more than they can carry. Now as the dust settles on this chaotic life transition, it finally occurs to them they have no idea what they are doing.

The plan started sanely enough. They downsized from a house to a camper trailer towed by an SUV, a theoretical trial reprieve from the norms of suburban life. It had all the hallmarks of a more traditional way of life; A car, a home, and a porch. The only difference was it was more mobile.

“This is great!” said this one.

“I want more,” said the other.

Before you could check the PSI on four camper tires they had purchased an empty cargo van from a dealer in Boston, drove it to Atlanta, and left it in the hands of a self-proclaimed professional to be transformed into their new home. Several stressful months later they return to Atlanta to begin the process of downsizing further! Managing a juggling act that would be at home on stage, they traded in the comforts of camper living for the promises of adventure and exploration to areas previously inaccessible! Her name is Heyvan, a shiny blue Mercedes Sprinter 4x4. The alpha and omega of their tiny life on wheels. Little did they know their troubles were just beginning.

The initial winter months were a struggle, to say the least. They floundered between friends and family, driveway surfing, as they grappled with the finer details of vehicle dwelling. Simple tasks such as making the bed or using the shower required Tetris-like skills to accomplish. It was not the honeymoon they envisioned, but they persevered. Time marched on slowly. Order emerged from chaos, and through a series of coincidences and misfortunes, they found themselves in the remote expanse of Big Bend National Park. It was there, amidst the vast desert, devoid of anything familiar that their chaotic initiation to van life concluded. They relished in the knowledge that their future was finally theirs to pursue.

The desert is dry and so incredibly quiet! Not the familiar quiet of suburbia with its din of cars and electric lights. It is a wall of silence, miles deep, such that it feels as though the world has a mute button. It is a primal naked silence, made all the more poignant by the surreal kaleidoscope of pinks and oranges teasing the horizon. They are utterly present in this moment. The modern world no longer exists for them. In this vast open space sitting atop Heyvan, they are treated to uninterrupted views of the horizon in all directions. Day this way, night that way; like oil and water both separate and as one. In this moment, sitting shoulder to shoulder, they can hear each other’s heartbeat.

Now what? For the first time in over a year, they have a chance to breathe, to think, to decide their fate. As the last sliver of daylight melts into night, they hold hands, gazing at the lights of a thousand million worlds revealing themselves in the dark sky. And in that moment, they know their next destination: Alaska!

Moondance >>

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