Arizona Elopement Photographer’s Van Life Journey
Oh man, I can’t believe I am writing this….
Okay! You know I can’t tell you all the juicy bits without telling you the timeline. So last I checked in with you all on the van life journey we were in North Carolina for a couple of weddings and some time visiting friends and family. We had just left the Pacific Northwest after an amazing couple of months exploring Oregon and Washington. I was in North Carolina for three weeks and man it’s like my life turned upside down lol. I always say I am an East coast raised girl born to be in the West. Indy and I were both excited and anxious to get back to the van and hit the open road again. It was nice to be in a house for some time, but we missed being outside, being on our own and the constant adventure. Indy and I flew back to Seattle, caught a bus which took us to another bus, then hopped on a Ferry and finally into my sister’s car back to the van! We spent a couple of days back on the San Juan Island to regroup and get ready for a long road trip back to the desert.
We were off to Moab for the Women on the Road camp out! On our way out to camp the van broke down in Idaho with a leaking heater core. No biggie, we had places to be so we stopped for the night and had the heater core by passed to get back on the road quickly. We made it to the camp out only a few hours late. It was so great to spend the next couple of days being surrounded by women like myself. Women who hike, camp, travel, live in vans, hike with cats, but more importantly women living their lives passionately. We all participated in hikes, yoga, workshops about life, business and more. It was so special as well to hear the beautiful voice of Ira Wolf perform live under the stars of Moab.
After staying in Moab for an extra day for a couple’s session and camping with a new friend we made our way back to Sedona!! We had the most marvelous campsite all to ourselves in Mexican Hat, just North of Monument Valley. I was grinning ear to ear as we entered back into Arizona, I was home. Leaving Arizona was super hard for me and I was beyond excited, but also nervous to be back. We made it into Sedona that night where I got to camp on the road this all started on, the 525, with a good friend of mine, Chris. He and I started out van life journey around the same time and met on this very road. It was so nice to recap together what the last six months of van life had been, what changes we experienced within ourselves and what changes we had made to our vans.
The next day I was in Sedona doing some soul searching over what the last month of my life had been and catching up on work at the local Starbucks after being on the road for almost a week. I ended up chatting with a young lady who had just moved to area after through hiking for the last four months. We hit it off great and have actually become good friends since this meeting. I met another Sedona local at camp that night who wanted to meet Indy who was out chasing bugs and she just kept raving over how she felt like I belonged in Sedona. It seemed like life was really falling into place and everything was aligning in a very certain direction for me….
I was headed to Phoenix to house and dog sit for my lovely accountant (Ya’ll she is amazing, hire her for your taxes!) which also worked out perfectly because I had several shoots coming up in Phoenix and it was still too hot during the day in the van for Indy. So our second day in Phoenix we…
Sold the van.
Whattttt!!!! Shocking right??? Why?? You and so many others are asking me questions right now, lol. To be honest I did not want to sell the van. I LOVED life on the road and getting to go to all of these amazing places all the time. I was super torn about selling the van. While I was at the Moab campout I was feeling so much love and hate towards the van and the current life I was living. I took some advice from some folks and posted the van for sell just to see what reaction I would get. I woke up to hundreds of messages of people wanting to buy the van. Then it was like one after another of things falling into place for me to sell it smoothly and for things to regroup my life to fall into place. I don’t fight fate, ya’ll. The thing is selling your van is super scary. You are selling your home (my first home that I put a lot of work into) and your way of transportation all at the same time. So a fella looked at it on our way to Phoenix and bought it the next day. That same day I ended up buying a Nissan Xterra, so heck yes to OFF ROAD ADVENTURES!!! In even more exciting news, I will be….
MOVING TO SEDONA
…at the end of this month!! I love Phoenix, but I need to be outside, in the quiet on trails as much as possible. Almost all of my elopement work in Arizona is in Sedona, Flagstaff and Northern Arizona. So why not live closer to those places and really be able to explore personal nooks for all my elopement clients?? Also for personal outdoor adventure reasons too though, like right now while you are reading this I am hiking Humphery’s Peak with some of my favorite trail blazing women. I will be in Phoenix often for sessions at the Salt River, client meetings and more so do not worry, I will be around the city too.
So if you are asking, What exactly does this mean?? The answer is simple. Better things are coming. I will still be traveling and exploring a lot, that will never stop, it is in my blood. I will still be taking elopement bookings in the Southwest, the Pacific Northwest, California, Iceland and beyond throughout next year and many more years to come. I have also been asked a lot, So would you do van life again? My answer to that is heck yes! In a different van and with a different plan. I learned a lot about how to properly do van life during my six months in my van. Deciding to no longer do van life at this time was really hard for me. The last week in the van was so magical with epic camping experiences, good conversation with other van lifers and more. I also felt like I was failing because I had set out to do this for a least one year. Honestly, we did not fail. In six months we covered over 13,000 miles, 15 states, countless state parks, 6 national parks and countless nights on our own in the woods. We did the damn thing. Now you are probably wondering, Why sell if you were having such a great time doing van life? The fact of the matter is I bought an old van because that is what was in my budget. The repairs and horrible gas mileage were killing me. I expected this and was somewhat prepared, but it was becoming too much. I am thankful though still because I learned so much about working on my own vehicle and learned to stay calm, be patient and do not panic in any situation. I have always known that I am really good at making shit happen, no matter what I need to do to make it happen. This whole experience reminded me of that skill I have. Having your entire home with you at all times was super nice, but at the same time it made me feel restricted having this huge vehicle in cities or trying to go down any sketchy road for trail access. While van life was really good for me and my self journey of healing and really learning and growing myself it was not helping me grow my business in the way I am currently reaching for. I learned a lot of great skills that I will be able to bring to the table for elopements and learned so much that will also help me in planning epic elopement days for couples. This spring and summer were amazing, some of my favorite work came out of this summer like the Olympic National Park elopement or the Mt Baker Elopement. Being without wifi at all times as someone who needs to answer emails quickly, grow their business with marketing and blog twice a week, it was hard and I often had anxiety about not being able to communicate with my clients. It also took up so much of my time just planning routes, driving and finding camp sites. Van life as a solo person, cat owner and business owner is very time consuming. I made many new friends and had some of the most amazing conversations with strangers, but I really missed community and my friends here in Phoenix. I always knew I would come back to Arizona, but I did not really know it would be the soon, but I am so thankful to be able to sit across from a table or plan a camping trip with some folks I really care about and that care about me. At the end of the day I am just thankful. I learned so much about myself, I found so much strength within myself, I got to do some incredible hikes, I finally got to be okay with really being a lone, I am leaving this journey with even more of a burning passion for my elopement photography business and more friends all over the states. As a friend said to me before going on this journey and as soon as I returned, “You are doing things in your life some people only dream of doing.”
There really are not words to express to you all of the feelings I felt on this journey or ways to recall some of the amazing memories. It has meant so much that so many of you have followed along with my journey. I hope it was a fun ride for you all as much as it was me, but my friends it is not over. We just won’t be in the same rig….
Indy and I’s first and last portrait with the van.
Special thanks to Izzy for the photo on the left taken at Lost Dutchman State Park and to Chris who took this photo for us in Sedona.
Though I think Indy will miss the Pacific Northwest I know he is excited to call Sedona his home. He is an avid lover of rolling around in the red dirt lol. When we first got to camp in Moab I thought he was going to have a stroke out of excitement.
During our time in transition we got to stay back in Phoenix and the visits to the Salt River for many sessions sure did not disappoint…..