As we finish up on our second month on the road, we seem to be finding our rhythm. With the weather getting warmer and drier, there are more and more days to spend however we want. Friends and family frequently ask how exactly we spend our days, but our nephew, Cody, put it best when he asked recently, “So…what do you guys do all day….like hike and stuff?” So, we thought we would try to explain how we choose to spend our days (and why) in this post, hope you enjoy the insight!
One thing we realized pretty early on, is that it was important to cease the day from sunrise to sunset. Ashley is awake at 5AM on the dot without fail, and most days she can hold out on waking the van up until the sun starts to rise and she exclaims “oooh, it’s a good one!!”. Once we are all awake and ready to get up, we layer up and open the door, it’s about 6:30AM
First thing we do is take turns taking the shovel for a walk, if you catch our drift, (pooping, we mean pooping). Rufio usually spends 10 or so minutes walking around, sniffing for any signs of animals that passed by through the night. before barking at us to scratch him. Ashley sets the Coleman stove up and gets her morning coffee going. Once her cup is brewed, we take a morning stroll around for an hour or so, secretly hoping we’ll catch a coyote or a burro still awake from its night out. Only once have we been so lucky to see a coyote. By the time we get back to camp, it’s usually around 8:00AM and our stomachs all start to growl. Ashley gets Rufio’s breakfast ready while Sean fires up the stove. A typical breakfast for us is eggs + ground sausage in a tortilla; simple, filling, and really delicious.
By 9:00AM we are organizing the van and ourselves for the day; making the bed, draining the cooler, shaking the rug out, and putting our clothes away. Once the van is organized, we make our protein + greens shake, brush our teeth, and then finish up with our exercises and yoga.
It’s 10:00AM now and we are either packing up the site and hitting the road, or saving our spot and headed out for a day of exploring. Usually, we don’t have a set place we are headed, but instead check out some trails we have saved and drive by the seat of our pants. We prefer areas that have large networks of trails, with options ranging from easy to difficult terrain- we have learned over the years that the harder trails are always empty if there are easy trails nearby for the masses to take. If we are doing a hike longer than 7 miles, we will bring a couple of gallons of water, lunch, and plenty of trail snacks to help keep us from getting hangry, and if it’s an especially long day, we bring lunch for Rufio too.
Hiking intentionally slow has helped us to really enjoy and take in our surrounding; frequently we catch a grazing rabbit, a busy bird, wild horses casually going about their day, we see nature, naturally. It’s a beautiful thing. Around 12:30PM we stop for lunch; Peanut Butter + Jelly w/ Chips. We hike another 3-7 miles before seeing Bernie in the distance and racing to be the first to say “I see the Tooo-Lee(Thule)!!”
We get back to our site between 3-5PM and relax for a little while by napping, laying in the sun, or reading before Rufio starts his whining to let us know he is hungry. He has become our dinner bell. While he’s eating, Sean gets our dinner organized, and picks a game for us to play before we start to cook. After Ashley wins the game (HA!), we get to work (HA again!). Ashley is the skilled firestarter and normally has a roaring fire to eat in front of by the time Sean has 1 of our 3 dinner meals ready (Steak Quesadilla, Hamburgers, or Kielbasa).
It’s 6:30PM and Rufio has already put himself to bed in the van, waking up for only a minute to see if there is any dinner scraps around for him. There aren’t. Back to bed he goes. Sean soaks the dishes while we sit by the fire and watch the last of the sunset. We talk about the day, our favorite parts, or if there are things (usually from our “old life”) that are weighing on our minds. We may play another game of Yahtzee, Sorry, Uno, or Battleship, or we may read- whatever we feel like.
8PM is here already. Sean does the dishes, and packs the site up, careful to not leave anything out to attract anything wild. There is a 10/10 chance that Ashley will be fast asleep by the time the dishes are done, so Sean grabs a book and reads for an hour before cracking the windows, locking the doors, and climbing into bed at 9:30PM, before turning the lantern off for the night.
As we talked about our average day, it became clear that our average day may sound relatively simple or boring. But we think by simplifying our life, we have been able to live more full and happy lives. We have not just simplified our house and possessions, but what we want out of a day too. Not every day looks like this either, there are plenty of days where we just putz around the site and spend the whole entire day lounging around, or difficult days where we don’t feel like hiking but can’t go indoors because we have Rufio. It’s all a balance, a delicate balance. But, you know what? We wouldn’t trade our worst days in #vanlife for our best days in our old life.