Catching up to life on the road
Written by Trae
Hey there! Welcome to Brants Wander West and our first official blog post! A LOT has happened in our lives over the past 6 months; some of you know everything and some of you have only heard bits and pieces. We’re using this first post to update our friends and family on the months leading up to our great move out west, and our decision to take some time making the move. We have a lot to catch up on and may take some time in later posts to go into greater detail on some of the choices we’ve made (selling our house, buying a vintage trailer, renovating a vintage trailer to live in, the first few stops in our journey on the road, etc.), but for now, let’s just get you all caught up. We’ll be using this site to 1) keep our friends and family in the loop of where we’re at and where we’re going; 2) to help be informative to others who find themselves on similar journeys (travel, trailer renovation, house fire survival, etc.); 3) to serve as our personal journal as we drive/run/walk/hike/bike/sleep across the country; and 4) help us design the layout for our trip as it evolves every day. Over the last 5 years of marriage, we’ve recognized a pattern in our nature and decision-making: we like to make multiple life changes at one time. Granted, some of these changes are literally acts of God, but others are self-imposed. Let’s start with the dream and end with the journey…
I Have A Dream…
I (Trae) have dreamed of living in Colorado since I was a child. My parents worked very hard and blessed me with many vacations to the mile high city growing up. As a child, I wanted to work the ski lifts and live on the mountain. Time passes, dreams fade, reality sets in, and as my tastes adjusted, I realized that my heart still lived above 4000 feet, but that my job needed to be grounded in reality. This led me to engineering school. With a (second) degree in hand, a lovely wife by my side, and a home in Charlotte, NC, I joined the 7-5 workforce. While working the normal grind, Jamie and I started to become keenly aware of the amount of excess we had accumulated in our lives. We began to dislike the amount of space we had and all the stuff we were accumulating and wasting with two people in a 3 bedroom house and a Costco membership in our wallets. This feeling just so happened to coincide with emersion of the tiny house trend that now seems to be featured everywhere. We seriously considered joining that bandwagon, but the logistics and timing closed that door for us. In all the discussions though, one thing did become clear – neither of us felt that Charlotte was our forever-home. Both of us felt a pull towards moving to higher elevations, but the mountains of North Carolina just weren’t what either of us were envisioning. Colorado kept coming up in discussion, and little pieces just kept falling into place: our good friends Tyler and Shaundi moved to Denver, my brother George and his wife Kate moved to Larkspur, CO (between Colorado Springs & Denver), and Jamie already had close family in the Denver vicinity. All signs seemed to be pointing to a move to Denver, but the question became, “how do we make this happen?” We could each start the job search out there and let that dictate when and where we moved. More discussions led to more dreaming, and eventually it became impossible to ignore the signs that we were on a unique path of adventure and discovery that would lead us to Denver eventually, but not immediately.
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. – Helen Keller
The ability to travel and the experiences and people that you encounter along the way are things that Jamie and I hold near and dear to our hearts. We both have been extremely blessed to do quite a lot of traveling in our short lives thus far, both separately and together, and our experiences have undoubtedly helped to shape the people we are today and the way we perceive the world we live in. Since we met back in 2009, we have always talked about wanting to take a cross-country trip and explore some of God’s great creation here in America. Both of our parents had gone on cross-country trips before they had children, so it was only right for us to follow in their footsteps 🙂 Neither of us can pinpoint when exactly we came to a final decision, but somewhere in the discussions, it was decided that we would take our time to get out to Colorado, stopping along the way to visit family and friends, and explore our country. We had no set timeframe or agenda in our minds, but we did know that with modern technology, we could both still work if we made the proper arrangements. I had website development experience from my previous job, and a close family friend helped push me over the edge and jump into full-time development. Jamie was already working remotely 2-4 days a week but could she do it full time? A few heartfelt discussions with her awesome boss Gary McDermott, and we had the green light! So long as we had internet accessibility, we could work anywhere! By the end of August 2015, it seemed like all the pieces were falling into place: we would put the house on the market in the fall, try to have it sold by the end of the year, have some sort of travel vehicle (rv, trailer, or even outfit our Honda Pilot somehow) lined up, and start our adventure in January 2016 with some quality family time down in Florida until the weather got warmer, eventually arriving in Colorado sometime in the fall. And then…on the morning of September 23rd, all the pieces broke apart when a fire broke out in our kitchen.
I woke up to smoke in the stairwell and Jamie in the shower. Darting downstairs, I saw one of our refrigerator drawers (one that I took out of the fridge the night before while working to fix the fridge) burning on the stove. The burner knob was accidentally bumped on when Jamie tried to squeeze by moments earlier to grab a clean towel out of the dryer. A few splashes of water from the Yeti cup Jamie got for Christmas, and the fire was out, but in the 5 minutes that tiny drawer burned, a heavy blanket of plastic-based ash had settled over the entire house, causing what would ultimately total over $100,000 in damage to our home and personal belongings.
Over the next 6 months, this small fire took us on a long rollercoaster ride with lots of twists, turns, drops and rises. We will go into more detail on this subject in a post at another time, but on the tail end of the ordeal (and even in the midst of it) it was clear that God had a bigger and better plan for us than the one we had pieced together ourselves. The fire forced our hand to make some big decisions and purged our lives of a lot of our physical and mental clutter. As we drove away from our inhabitable house that day, all the possessions we wanted and needed were able to fit into the back of our Honda Pilot.
This gave us the reassurance that we would be able to live in ~200 sq. feet as we travelled cross-country. The details of when and how this trip and subsequent move would happen were muddled at best by this point, but if anything, we took this as reassurance that we were not meant to stay in the comfort zone that was our status quo.
How exactly we jumped from selling our home, to temporary homelessness, to finding and purchasing a temporary home on wheels for our cross-country trip will definitely be detailed in future posts, but in short, we decided to purchase and renovate this handsome vintage devil we named Bob Argosy (just “Bob” for short, due to his close resemblance to a fishing bobber).
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. – Chinese Proverb
After 47 days from purchase date to departure date (a RIDICULOUS turnover time for a vintage trailer overhaul, by the way – not recommended to anyone…more details to come), we are officially living life on the road! In the 3 weeks we’ve been traveling, we’ve already had some awesome experiences with family and friends (old and new), seen new places, and learned lots of new things. We would love for you all to continue following us here as we “wander west” and discover the joy and adventure that comes with stepping away from the comfort of the known and out into the spectacular of the unknown!
Trae and Jamie