Recently we wrote about escapism. We talked about how it takes many forms. How it means different things to different people. How it’s that power we all possess to find freedom, empowerment, simplicity, meaning.
Since we first started hitting the road and seeking out wild swell, one idea has -- for us -- encapsulated our understanding of escapism: vanlife. Right now, we’ve been thinking a lot about it. If you’re anything like us, the world right now feels more complicated than ever. Wherever you stand, sometimes it feels darker, stranger, more confusing. Making sense of it all while amidst the noise, bustle, screens and everything else can be overwhelming, exhausting.
And that’s why vanlife is more important than ever. A dialled van ready at a moment’s notice to head somewhere, anywhere is a kind of solace in a troubled world. Having everything in one place to wander, roam and create home in places removed from the ordinary is a salve on the wounds that modern existence can inflict. To sustain oneself and live simply, to master a tiny pocket of the world, to live with far less than we’ve all become accustomed to. If escapism is our individual capacity to find freedom, the allure of vanlife is one of the finest physical means to exist and live within that mindset for extended periods of time.
What we’re driving doesn’t matter much: Delica, Transporter, Sprinter, Outback, Westfalia, whatever. Set yourself up with one of these or anything else, and your relationship to that adventure wagon is far different than any other automobile. When you buy a van for the purpose of living out of it for sustained amounts of time, you gotta work on it. You have to make it habitable. Comfortable. You have to figure out a system so it works not just as a van, but as a home. You have to want to spend time in it, rest your entire life on 4 wheels. Much like our homes reflect ourselves, so too do our vans. Through the way we pack them, adorn them with small comforts, trinkets from the road, they represent the wild, adventurous, pragmatic, and spontaneous part of ourselves that we tap into when hitting the road and roaming off grid. They become unique, unlike any other vans out there, and somehow removed and totally unlike other things in our lives.
Like escapism, vanlife is a means of taking a step back from everything to make sense of and comprehend it. It’s not about opting out of the world, foregoing responsibilities, ditching your job, or turning your back on the things that matter. Whether it’s for one night or a long weekend, it’s about knowing there is still room in the world to see an impossibly star-filled sky beside a dwindling fire in those midnight moments before we crawl into our sleeping bags. It’s knowing that there will always be a time to wake up to the sound of wild swell and sea-birds. That glorious escape can be found if just for a day or a night.That if you let it, the road will lead you to places you would never have found on a map.
So, as a surf adventure and outdoor lifestyle brand, you’re probably wondering what we’ve been up to in relation to this whole vanlife thing. Well, recently we picked up an old van from a friend of ours: an old Iveco Daily Van. With a bed in the back, it’s just big enough for two Passengers and our pooch Ralph the whippet. Tieing this beaut together is a fully-functional kitchen and a flat roof area for catching sunsets and meteor showers. To say we’re stoked is a bit of an understatement.
Okay, it’s a bit on the rough side. It needs a bit of love. It’s a bit tatty. But we love it. We decided to name it after our favourite tree: Douglas Fir. Rough around the edges, sure, but ol’ Douglas has a few adventures and stories left to tell, and we can’t wait to get them started.
After a few Sunday afternoons of tinkering and getting it dialled, we’ll adorn it with the things we love and cherish to make it feel like home. And soon enough, come some pre-dawn Saturday morning, we’ll scrape frost off the windshield, fire it up, steaming coffee in hand, and hit the road for as long as we can with our camp gear, adventure essentials and our four-legged pal. Douglas Fir, we’re looking forward to it.