We are an adventure-loving couple who has been making videos and traveling the world by van for the past 3 years, embracing the unknowns, living simply and exploring the roads and trails of America Canada Europe
After living in a number of different layouts and being completely inspired by the repurposing and creativity of the seasoned vanlifers we met in Europe, we sort of knew exactly what we wanted, but had no idea that what we would create would turn out to be SO beautiful.
Before starting this build, and while we were still in Europe, we learned about San Diego Urban Timber via @wheresmyofficenow. We saw how they were using reclaimed wood to make yoga blocks, amongst an endless array of other beautiful creations, sourcing their wood from old-growth trees that were being torn down by the city of San Diego for urban development projects. These trees, many of which were majestic Red Woods taken straight out of historic Balboa Park, would otherwise be chipped or sent to the landfill, but instead were being turned into beautiful expressions of love and creativity. Even though we were thousands of miles away, something inside told me to reach out and connect with these talented souls, and so we did.
Now, almost two years have passed since our initial Instagram message, and after having given our European van away to sweet couple in England and finding an undeniable deal on a van upon our return to America, we spent four months building out the framework, electrical and plumbing with our families in Florida, finally finding ourselves in San Diego where our van needed to get some “skin,” aka wood. After two additional months of building, the van home of our dreams is now complete, made possible by none other than the majestic souls (humans and trees) at San Diego Urban Timber.
Beyond having the opportunity to work with Dan, Jess, Mat and Sal, laughing, learning, living and collaborating on a real-life project which all began with an idea sparked in the virtual world (crazy how things work these days), here are 5 (of the main, seemingly endless) reasons why we loved used reclaimed wood in our van build:
1. Sustainability and environmental responsibility.
Undoubtedly, as we learned from Dan and Jess, the most important aspect of using reclaimed wood is the fact that doing so reduces the massive amount of emissions associated with the logging, processing, and transportation of new wood. Using reclaimed lumber also means that we are helping to massively reduce waste, contributing to the millions of tons of wood that are being diverted from the world’s waste streams, landfills and burn piles.
2. It saves lives.
Not only does using reclaimed wood save the lives of trees, ultimately preserving our world’s remaining forests, but it also helps protect the innocent little creatures, many of whom are endangered or becoming endangered, who call these green giants home.
Out of the 19 countries we explored throughout our 2.5 year VanLife Europe (and Africa) honeymoon, there was one country that we actually considered living the in FOREVER, and that incredible country was Portugal. If we had to pick one reason why, we’d have to say it was the ease and quality of life. With endless opportunities for wild camping, its beaming beaches, iridescent seas and the kind, relaxed people and culture, it was just easy to be.
We arrived in Portugal after having spent 3 months in Morocco; we took the ferry from Tanger-Med across the Straight of Gibraltar to Algeciras, Spain, and then drove 7 hours straight to Lisbon, where we had flights to San Diego for a friends’ wedding. We left The Howeller at an off-site airport parking lot and returned a few weeks later to embark on a journey that looked a little something like this:
We originally planned to vlog each week, but for the sake of enjoying our present moments, knowing full well that we’d eventually have to leave this marvelous place behind, we abandoned that idea after week one. For your viewing pleasure, here is the only vlog we made, sharing the excitement that was our 1st week of VanLife Portugal!:
VANLIFE PORTUGAL Getting Back in the Groove (Part 3 Ep. 1) - YouTube
What happened after that was nearly 2 months of pure magic… which brings us to our list of the 20 most unforgettable places and memories from our time living the VanLife in Portugal!:
1.Arriving to Lisbon with GLORIOUS weather! Exploring the magical library at the LX Factory, wandering through the historic Alfama, visiting the massive Cristo Rei statue and biking the path along the Tagus River, and these were just some of the highlights!:
2.Trying one (or three) of the famed Pasteis de Belem, and eating them in front of the golden pavilion! Learn about the history of these monk-made pastries here.
We recently collaborated with Go Van to create a playlist that captures the essence of “THE HOWELLER,” our beloved British campervan that carried us, American Honeymooners, 40,000 miles all around the UK, up past the Arctic Circle in Norway, all the way down to the golden sands of The Sahara and beyond.
Over the course of 2.5 years, we visited numerous countries and spent countless hours driving with the windows down, hair blowing wild, perfecting our seated dance moves as The Howeller hummed along, blaring all our favorite songs. Other days, we’d be relaxing by the sea, grilling on the sand, enjoying some good ole American classics as we sat with The Howeller, the three of us, watching the sun go down, wondering if our friends and family back home could feel us thinking about them.
We accidentally broke off The Howeller’s antennae when we first got him, so we had to burn CD’s in order to have tunes. This happy, romantic, chill, “vibey” playlist is a collection of all our favorites that will forever be remembered as the soundtrack to one of the most unforgettable adventures of our lives. We hope you enjoy sharing in the journey, maybe it’ll even help inspire your own.
Click here to listen to The Howeller’s very own Spotify playlist + save it to your library so you can jam out whenever the urge to roam strikes!
It’s crazy how quickly life can change. How you can go from one land to another and reality totally shifts. It’s crazy how you can return to a place as a different person, with new life experiences, new insights, new values, yet everything else has remained exactly the same. We are changed people. Nothing feels the same anymore. Our desires have been reshaped by life on the road and our stories made richer through experience. We’ve been EXPOSED. Ripped open by the world, stunned by its natural beauty and awakened to its pain. We have been disconnected from US culture and recharged by the call of the wild. Surrounded by nothing yet blessed by so much, we are now without walls and without wheels to call home, we are…. HERE, and home is with in.
For us, life on the road started back in 2014, and since then, we’ve traveled 40,000 miles across Europe + Africa, and before that we spent an entire year exploring the US, Canada + Iceland all by van too. Crazy to think of all the footage + photos we have to edit into something epic one day! Here is a collection of the various rolling homes we have lived and travelled across the globe in throughout the years:
To be completely honest, we’ve been confused about what to do next. Removed from society as we once knew it, only to be thrown back in, surrounded by a world of noise and needs, concrete and routines, we want to plant our feet but they just won’t take root. Part of us still craves the open road. The unscripted mornings, the fulfilling thrill of the unknown. We spent the past 4 years roaming and changing, so I think it’s only natural to find ourselves in this place. So, how do we move forward and redirect our lives after such an incredible journey?!
We have some grand ideas brewing, but for now we just need to take things one day at a time, and soon enough, our present moments will flow right into our next big adventure. Besides wanting to know “What’s Next,” we asked you guys what other questions you had for us via Instagram, and here’s what we got!:
1.“It takes a lot of courage to travel to so many places as you did and deal with each individual culture, especially with such a positive attitude. You spent quite a while in the UK. Is there any cultural quirk that you will miss or takeaway from over here in the UK?”
Oh gosh yes, where to start. The word play and accent (miss it everyday), radio stations that value and uphold what has always made listening to the radio so great, the way that so many towns/cities are laid out to promote walking and community vs. disconnection and automation (if that makes sense), the preservation of traditions (there are so many), Rugby Clubs, pints at the pub (they’re either an inconsistently sized large or small), old architecture, small country roads and truly, the thoughtful conversations with people from your part of the world, always appreciating and always learning from them.
2.“How did you guys meet? Basically what’s your whole love story?”
We met in college back in 2009 thanks to a fateful internship with JanSport. We were just baby adventurers back then, I had never even been camping before! You can read the entire story on our About Us page + the 2 posts below will share a bit more insight into how much it effected the course of our lives:
3.“Do you want to have babies and if so, when?”
This question happens to come up a lot! Especially amongst our friends and family, but yes, we do want to have kids, one day. I’m 30 and Drew is 31, so maybe in 2-3 years, God willing (“InshAllah”). We both grew up as only children, and because we craved the love and shenanigans that growing up with siblings brings, we ideally would like a minimum of 2, but recently we’ve been talking about how 3 might be the perfect number for the family dynamic we envision… though we’re not sure how all that will fit into a van… maybe we should start to consider the idea of #buslife! We’re also open to the idea of adopting (have you seen the movie Lion?). It all depends on what life has in store. Below is a photo of us with our dear friends/amazing family of 5 who created Quirky Campers: