Smiling at my boyfriend, Mike, we lay in bed surrounded by the fresh scent of the outdoors wafting in through mesh windows, it’s hard for me to believe that we are parked in a rest area parking lot in the middle of Kentucky. For the moment, I smile over at him, take in the sounds and scent of morning and forget that I am living in my Eurovan once again. It’s been more than 1 year since we set off together to travel and climb. I’m relieved and a bit amused that I still find pleasure in the oddest of lifestyles.
I had been working and living the corporate lifestyle for 10 years before I decided to make this shift. I’d worked hard to get where I was: I was independent at a young age but lucky to have good role models who encouraged me and always saw more potential in me than I could find within myself which kept me on a better path than most in my situation; I put myself through a private university and worked my butt
off to pay off loan after loan to cover tuition and book costs which cost my GPA some but gave me a degree, nonetheless; and after graduating from University, I moved myself across the country with 3 boxes of belongings to my name in the hopes of building a better life for myself, which I think after 10 years that I achieved quite well.
I remember when I decided to go on the road. I had been a recreational rock climber for a number of years, never seriously pursuing my potential in that area. But that year, in the fall of 2004, I took a course at the local gym about training for climbing. I started training for climbing and by training, I started meeting people who were seriously passionate about the sport. I started to learn that there was so
much more to rock climbing than I had imaged; and better, everything I was being shown was an experience that I could create for myself. I was tasting something that drove me to train harder, tested me to try my ability in competition and teased me to taste different kinds of climbing by traveling to more exciting places like Spain. It didn’t take long, but I was offically hooked on climbing. I couldn’t wait to get out there and be a part of the scene.
I had this fire building inside of me for a few weeks before I made up my mind. I was on my way to San Francisco on business. Halfway in flight, as I was day dreaming the time away, barely noticing the mountains passing below, it hit me. I was going to make a change. My whole self was ready for a change and this was just the thing I would do: I would quit my corporate job and go on the road for an indeterminent amount of time to climb rocks. It seemed so logical to me that this would be my next step. I was glowing from my excitement at the possibility. I couldn’t want to land to call my sister, with whom I am close, and let her know what I was planning. In fact, the plane barely reached the gate when I was on the phone to her babbling about my revelation. She didn’t say much. I think it was the shock of hearing me say something like ‘so, I’m planning to quit my job and live on the road!’ Living on the other side of the country meant she was not privy to the tee-up to this moment. It must have sounded bizarre and unreal when she heard it. I left her with those thoughts as I dreamily went about business the following day.
Having worked hard to get where I was, I didn’t throw caution to the wind and just jump in a van and go. It would have been bold, and fun, but I am more practical than that. Therefore, I set out a 2 year plan that included saving a travel fund and building my travel stock pile. I would have a trying next 18 months as I got sick and found myself unable to climb. But, I kept my sites on my goal and I didn’t let myself waiver from it. If there was one lesson I had learned in all my struggles, it was ‘slow and steady wins the race.’ Keeping to this, I did what I
could to keep my sanity and focus during this time and never let myself stop planning, despite doubts that would creep into my mind about my ability to go on this trip. Afterall, climbing was the primary driver for this trip, but keeping an open mind meant not letting the outcome be judged by the driver. There was surely a silver lining to this and I would have to wait it out to see what it would be.
Within 6 months of deciding to live on the road, I met my current boyfriend, Mike. I believe I said something like ‘this can’t be anything serious because I’m planning to go on the road soon.’ Several months later, he responded by admitting he’d been planning something similar. I was thinking 1+ years, he was thinking 6 months. We decided to at least start off on the road together and then see what happens. Afterall, we’d heard stories from friends about all of the couples who were friends, at best, after having lived on the road together for a period of time.
One year into our travels together and I can’t help but smile when I wake up and realize that instead of lying in the loft in my van, I could be home in my bed buried in my comforter. But, I find myself comfortable, well rested, content and, dare I say happy, right where I am. I smile with mild amusement that I could feel this way and still know that I’m in my van, at a rest stop, in the middle of Kentucky.