Slow progress is still progress.
Memorial Day weekend was our first weekend in the apartment. We, in typical Mallory & Justin fashion, hosted a party in the midst of our never-ending workdays and moving chaos. The party was a sort of shotgun start to summer. It was beautiful out, our family and friends came and gave us much needed encouragement when they saw the camper, albeit full of junk from the move.
Wedding season started and June was our most booked month but we managed to find a few good days and lots of help in the camper! My Dad is our hero on this project (and many others in the past). He has all the tools, the know-how and the great ideas. My mom is his sidekick, she keeps his ideas and measurements organized. She’s tiny but she can throw around a sheet of plywood like nobody’s business. Dad is teaching Justin so much and I just sit back and pretend like I’ve already been taught everything I need to know. Truth is, we’re both learning new things every time we walk in the tiny, too-short door of our crazy project. Who knows if we’re doing anything right. I’m sure we’re not. But we’re doing it.
We’d laid the subfloor and then sat around taping out the layout. I’ll show ya’ll the bathroom progress and all the fixures we had delivered next time!
It was July 2014. The back of the Jeep was packed. The sun was shining. We’d never been so excited for anything in our lives. This even felt bigger than our wedding day in a weird way. We knew the adventures we’d have on this trip together would change us, we just didn’t know exactly how yet. We had a loose schedule, a paper map and lots of snacks. That and our cameras…and each other. That was all we really needed. All the Before the Road Trip stuff had really sunk in in the time between writing that and actually leaving. We were ready to hit the road and get off the grid.
We drove from Ohio through Indiana, Illinois through Missouri and into Kansas. Kansas was where things started to get fun as you’ll see below. We found horses and drove the way back roads in the dead heat. From Kansas we drove through Colorado. I love Colorado. Mainly because my best friend lives there but also because it’s insanely beautiful. We stopped at Garden of the Gods before heading to Denver for a few days. From Denver we made the trek towards Yosemite through Utah, Nevada and California. The desolate desert, the colors, the big sky…it was all just too much to even understand as it was blurring past. We made time to stop in some awesome places of course, but you’ll just have to see those photos below! We loved the abandoned towns and old gas station RV camps. The first night we camped was right off the highway out behind a Bojangles in the mountains of Utah. After a really long drive and some altitude sickness we came into Yosemite from the high country. I could have died there that day and been happy. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. Yosemite to San Fran to Napa to Point Reyes and back down the coast. California literally stole my heart. I have to keep going back just to collect the pieces. We camped at Big Sur and woke up to the sun. We stood under red woods and gazed at the stars. All of this was breathtaking, mind-blowing, awe-inspiring and life changing.
The best part though, which we figured out after a couple days, was the simplicity of each decision. There was no need for forward thinking past the next few hours. Where would we eat? Where would we sleep? These became the only decisions we NEEDED to make and after a week or so all that became really something wonderful. All of the lofty thoughts about the future and deadlines and accomplishing tasks that creep up throughout a normal day/week were far off in the distance like memories. To add to this simplicity we had everything we needed in the eight square feet of space in the back of the car. Everything got really easy really quickly. We saw almost instantly how living with less really is the key to freedom.
I just started reading Vagabonding, two years after our first vagabond adventure, and this quote really resonated with me: “Vagabonding is an attitude—a friendly interest in people, places, and things that makes a person an explorer in the truest, most vivid sense of the word. Vagabonding is not a lifestyle, nor is it a trend. It’s just an uncommon way of looking at life—a value adjustment from which action naturally follows. And, as much as anything, vagabonding is about time—our only real commodity—and how we choose to use it.”
I think as photographers we are explores on an even deeper level because we feel this strong need to see more and document and preserve that which we explore. And in a nutshell, we didn’t know any of that before the trip but it’s generally the concept that changed our whole lives.