By the end of college, it was clear to me that working in an office to pay rent and buy possessions to fill my place wasn’t my path to happiness. With my biology major I could be part of a research organization, or with my English major I could become a journalist. But both careers would land me inside for work. I couldn’t bring myself to spend 8 hours stuck inside, while out in the world each day unfolded with it’s own unique natural splendor. Being outside, traveling to experience new places, and spending time with amazing people brought me joy. I felt called to live on the road.  I wanted to get beyond our walled human spaces to learn about the land by observing the wildlife, plants, landscapes and ecology of North America. So, I convinced my family to let me take their 2004 Honda Odyssey on a journey across the USA.Just After Entering Big Bend My van was going to be my home. I would pay no rent, and sleep in parks and forests across the country. My boyfriend, Morgan, eagerly joined me for this trip of a lifetime. As I packed my van with everything the two of us needed to live for at least the next three months, I realized more and more that all the Things that filled my life, or more accurately my home, were unimportant. In fact, as I prepared to leave every possession which I had originally valued felt more like a trapping. Where was I going to put all this stuff while I traveled? I got rid of a lot of it, but there were some items that just had too much significance or value attached for me to part with them yet. What if I wanted them when I came back. What I couldn’t part with, I was luckily able to store with friends and family. But I had a feeling that when I came back to Texas, every item I had clung to wouldn’t matter to me, and the memories and stories I had from traveling would be worth more than any Thing I could buy. In this blog, I’ll share my most precious experiences out in the natural world with you. I hope they fill you with a sense of ecological wonder and joy at what wildness flourishes out in the world!

The Route

Texas ⇒ Colorado ⇒ Utah  ⇒ Montana ⇒ Washington  ⇒ Oregon  ⇒ Washington  ⇒ Idaho  ⇒ Montana

The Barrel 

My home. My Van. My Starship. I love this vehicle. While physically it is just a powder blue Honda Odyssey from 2004 with space-age automatic doors, this minivan means more than what it is. As Jack Sparrow says in Pirates of the Caribbean, “Wherever we want to go, we go. That’s what a ship is, you know. It’s not just a keel and a hull and sails; that’s what a ship needs. Not what a ship is. What the Black Pearl really is, is freedom.” Van at CampThe Barrel is freedom. Freedom through minimalism and simplicity, just like the Greek philosopher Diogenes demonstrated through his lifestyle of living in a wine barrel in the park. By valuing the natural world for all the free goodness it offers, I hope to be like Diogenes. One day as Diogenes lounged in the sun, Alexander the Great offered him anything his vast wealth could provide, but Diogenes requested only that the great ruler step aside slightly so his shadow wouldn’t block Diogenes’s sunlight. 

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