Jan 15, 2023
4 mins read
Our last post here was in June of 2021 when we explained our need to leave the Appalachian Trail (again) and head home to be there for Shari's dad during his heart surgery and recovery period. He pulled through the surgery like a champ and has recovered well. As of this writing he is feeling good and back to his almost normal routine (we still don't want him climbing ladders without a spotter, but sometimes you just have to let him be).
Since that post, we have purchased our van and have been bouncing between building it out to our liking and traveling around the country visiting friends and family and enjoying the ride along the way.
Our van is a 2020 Ford Transit E-350, high roof, extended. It's the tallest and longest van that Ford makes and it pretty much checked all of the boxes for us. We found it quite by accident when Shari was searching for info on a Ford forum. She came across a post from someone in California who listed the van with all the specs and then said "I'm not sure if I want to sell this or not but here's the info". She immediately contacted him and after a few days of communicating back and forth we were on a plane headed to southern California to buy the van and drive it home.
We spent the remainder of the summer on what we now call "Phase 1" of the build. We installed our roof rack and solar system, got the ceiling insulated and put up, built the bed platform, and strapped the refrigerator, stove, and composting toilet to the bare walls and hit the road on our first trip to Indiana. We had left our car there at a friend's place when we made our way to the Appalachian Trail and needed to get it out of storage and sell it. Over the next year and half, we continued to work on the build and travel in between.
Currently living and traveling full time in the van with "Phase 3" complete, we are finding that we love what we have accomplished so far. Taking our time and thinking every step through has paid off and we wouldn't change a thing we've done to this point.
Moving forward into 2023, we find ourselves making some challenging decisions. We are spending the winter months in Arizona and have the opportunity to not only visit with friends, but to work while we are here. The work will lead to regular employment in the fall, but the hard decision we have had to make is getting Kris back on the Appalachian Trail! The AT has been her dream and real passion for over seven years. It's what started this crazy process and is why we are living the life we are now. After some long conversations and a little planning, we have decided that if she doesn't get back out there this year and walk off her obsession it most likely won't happen. At least not in the next few years.
So what does our year look like? We are going to stay in Arizona until early March when we will start our drive back east. The plan (for now) is to visit with friends in North Carolina for a bit before stopping in South Carolina to work out the details of our upcoming business venture. When Kris has finished the AT we will be working for Fire and Ice Outdoor Gear, selling their products at vendor shows as we travel around the country. We met the owner of the company, Barry, in January of 2022 and after spending a few weeks with him and his family this fall we decided to take him up on his offer and join his team.
So what is Shari going to do while Kris is hiking? And why isn't she hiking the trail too?
That's why this decision was so challenging. The Appalachian Trail is Kris's dream and she feels drawn to complete it on a level that almost cannot be understood. While Shari loves the idea of hiking it, and will certainly miss the experience, it isn't a driving force in her life. The best option is for Shari to stay behind with Bayley and work with Barry for a while in South Carolina before making her way to randomly find Kris on the trail and offer some support. She will most likely spend time with friends in North Carolina and have her own adventures while Kris continues north on her journey. We will meet up on a more regular basis in New England where Kris has family and, maybe, Shari will summit Katahdin with Kris when that day arrives.
That's it friends. That's the update. We've been busy, but we've been having fun. We have been able to spend time with family and friends more in the last year and a half than we have in the last ten years. We have reconnected with friends and family who we haven't seen in forever and will continue to maintain that connection. Living this nomadic lifestyle is not easy. In fact, most times it's very hard. But it's rewarding in ways you can't imagine!
Thanks for supporting us in every way! And thank you for being part of our journey.