A few months ago, I posted a rare, “holding out the camera in front of my face” selfie and asked if you had any questions for me. I kept the post up for 24 hours and said I would answer any question you threw at me. I received 94 questions from you and after reading them, I put each question into one of 9 categories: Health, Safety, Social, Fear, Experiences, Photography, Max, Travel, and Money.
I realize that reading answers to 94 questions might be a bit lengthy and boring so I decided to split this blog post in two. In part 1 of, “you asked me” post, I will answer questions you had in regards to Health, Safety, Social, Fear & Experiences.
As much as I post on Social Media sites, I am a pretty private person. I think there are some things that should be kept private but at the same time, I will answer just about anything you ask. Hence, I am answering all the questions you asked a few months back. It was a nice practice for me to put some thought into what I’ve done, and what I’m doing, so thank you. Here we go…
Can you shower everday?
Most of the time I can, but sometimes I don’t or can’t. When I'm camping and there's a shower, I try and take advantage of the opportunity since I never know when the opportunity might present itself again.
Where do you take a shower when you take a shower?
Mostly at campsites
What do you do for self-care on the road?
This is pretty open ended on what “self-care” means, but I try and rest, eat well, and move around every day.
Have you ever gotten sick? Like really sick? And what did you do?
Fortunately, I haven’t been sick or really sick while on the road. I have health insurance so I imagine that I would look for emergency care if I was really sick.
What do you do for food? Do you cook?
I eat simple. That means that most of my meals are heated up or fresh and ready to eat. I try to keep fruit on hand. I always have coffee in the morning.
How/where do you shower/use restrooms?
I answered the shower question above and as far as the restroom, I use it where and when I can. When there isn’t a restroom, I do my business outside, far away and in a dug hole. Aren’t you glad you asked?
Have you been physically in danger, and if so, have you (and how did you) had to protect yourself?
I haven’t been in danger like that but I am always cautious, no matter where I am.
Do you carry a gun?
I did at one point but realized that it brought on more anxiety and if I really needed it to protect myself, I wouldn’t be able to get to it so I decided not to carry one.
Do You have anything in your van for protection should, heaven forbid, you ever need it?
Yes. Bear spray and my fierce dog
How do you deal with safety on the road? Safety of your stuff, your vehicle, yourself?
I think it helps when Max is in Campy since he barks at people if they hang around campy for too long. Other than locking the door and staying away from sketchy places, I just hope that someone doesn’t decide to steal my things.
Do you push yourself to interact with people you see in your travels or just stay an observer, and if you reach out, how do you do it, how do you break the ice and not allow yourself to be shy or feel awkward?
I definitely have to push myself to talk to strangers. I am shy by nature so being social is not my strong suit. Having a camera is a great tool for helping me break the ice with people. I also use it as a confidence booster and a magic machine that I can use to hide behind if I was feeling extra shy. I am still shy and awkward, but it doesn’t stop me from getting a shot, if I see a person I want to take a photograph of.
How do you cope with lonliness traveling solo?
This is one of the questions I get most often. I get bored easily so I try and keep busy doing something. Usually I take photographs, play with max, edit photos, or write. When I am busy, I don’t feel lonely. I am alone a lot, but rarely lonely.
Where/how do you spend extraverted time with people?
I have a handful of friends that I consider friends for life. They are there whenever I need them and I make sure to spend time with them when I can. I also meet people along the way every now and then.
When you first started your campy journey, did you fear failure and if so, how did you conquer that?
My first year in 2008 was the hardest. I really didn’t know what I was doing but I put on a brave face and kept going. At the time, I didn’t have any expectations of myself so it didn’t matter if I failed. I wasn’t going to stop my journey during that time, but it was a huge lesson learned for me. These days, I make it a point to have a few goals in mind before I head out.
What do you fear?
Do you get lonely? If so, which parts of your travels have people been the most open in befriending you?
I answered the lonely question but as far as people being open… yes, people have been extremely generous to me along the way by offering a shower, place to stay, a meal, somewhere to park, donations, etc. I am so grateful to all that have reached out to me.
Do you ever get afraid of being on the road?
I am not afraid of being on the road… I am more afraid of being in the same place for an extended period of time.
Do you get nervous/scared traveling in isolated places alone? If so, how do you handle that and what precautions do you take as a solo woman?
I do my best to keep myself out of potentially dangerous situations. If I don’t feel comfortable at a camp… I keep moving until I do. The best precaution is to trust your gut. Because Max is with me, I get nervous about attracting wild animals. He lets me know if he sees or hears something by growling. He wakes me up in the middle of the night and growls. Usually it’s a rabbit, lizard or a rat. One time, it was a moose.
Do you have a safety plan for checking in with someone?
My close friends can track my phone and if I know I will be without reception, I alert someone. However, there are times where I don’t have reception and I didn’t anticipate it. I don’t always check in with someone because half of the time, I have no idea where I am headed until the moment I am moving towards a place.
What do you do when your van breaks down in the middle of nowhere? Can you repair some things yourself?
I am fortunate to GoWesty campers for sponsoring me and taking care of Campy so that I don’t have a breakdown. I haven’t had one as of yet. I would love to say that I could repair whatever is wrong if I had a breakdown but sadly, that's not the case.
What has been the most daunting, humbling, or enlightening moment for you?
Great question. I can’t think of one moment that was all of those things but rather, a combination of moments and experiences have given me those feelings. If I decide to do something big, I don’t like to think too much about it since I will drive myself insane on the unknown. Making big choices in life can seem daunting but for the most part, I welcome change.
What is the most challenging part of van life?
Compared with traveling with a tent, which Max and I did for two years, van life is pretty luxurious. I think the only challenging part is finding parking when I’m in a big city.
What do you wish you had known before starting your journey?
I don’t think I would change a thing about how I started… not really knowing what I was doing. It made for some fast learning curves.
What do you do with all of the time on your hands? What do you read? What do you write about?
Most of my free time is spent taking photos, researching places to go, or editing photos. I try to make time for writing and when I do, I write about whatever is on my mind. Many times, it’s, “I am sitting here not knowing what to write”.
Do you intend to do this for the rest of your life?
I intend to explore and try new things for the rest of my life.
Is there anything you miss when traveling what you can’t have or do?
Sometimes I miss the ceiling being higher than 2 feet above my face. I miss hot showers and slipping into a soft clean bed. However, there really isn’t anything that I can’t have or do.
What is something in nature that moved you to tears?
I am constantly amazed and in awe with nature. Being in nature allows you to reflect on your life and when I do that, I think about loved ones that I’ve lost.
Have you had any moments of personal growth/enlightening that have given you a new sense of life and what lays ahead of you?
I believe that my decision to stop drinking alcohol was a huge step towards personal growth and enlightenment. Being present and fully aware of feelings/thoughts is the best gift that I have given myself.
What questions do you get asked most often?
How can you afford to travel and do you get lonely? (The lonely question I answered and the other will be in the money category in part 2 of the blog)
What were you doing right before you started traveling? What pushed or lead you to this path?
I was working in advertising sales in a large corporation. I quit and hit the road in 2008. I knew I wasn’t happy in my job so I saved for years to feel comfortable enough to quit. I don’t think anything in particular pushed me but I knew that the job I had was unhealthy and was killing my creative soul.
How cold is it really? How much thermal gear do you need?
It can get cold. Once Max’s water bowl froze inside of campy. I think a good sleeping bag and a warm wool blanket is all you need. The combination of the two keep me toasty.
On the next blog, I will answer questions in the following categories… Photography, Max, Travel and Money.