July 21, 2017
“Home is where you park it” or so they say in the #vanlife community. It’s cute isn’t it? It makes you think of stunning remote campsites by the lake with breathtaking sunrises where you feel you are the only one on Earth, lucky enough to see it’s beauty. What if it meant city lights or sleeping by the train tracks or hearing transport trucks all night as you settled for this highway pull-off? Then, #homeiswhereyouparkit is not tagged to that photo you didn’t take nor upload to your social life because you convinced yourself that it’s not what people want to see.
Almost every day, around 4 o’clock we start browsing around on Google Earth, trying to find that spot to call home. We narrow it down to a couple of spots that look promising and start heading towards them.
We look for levelled pieces of dirt out of sight and sound of highways, somewhere we can kind of hide away from houses and roads. Somewhere surrounded by tall trees, where we can have a campfire if we wish. But most importantly, we look for a spot on a river, lake, ocean, creek or any body of welcoming water.
Kilometres go by as we attempt to navigate narrow dirt roads to get to these. The key is to get to them before the sun sets, because darkness makes finding the site much harder.
Some days, perfection is found on our first attempt. We can legally camp there and we call that piece of land home for a few hours. Other days we find, for some reason, we can’t. “Private Property”, “No Trespassing” or “No Camping” are the equivalent of getting the cold shoulder. Then, we have to turn around and continue on.
As the sun hits the horizon, and the signs we dread keep repeating— we are forced to settle for sleeping somewhere we don’t call home. It is the van lifers equivalent of the cheep motel on a delayed fight.
We head to the nearest city. We drive toward the light, away from the trees and into the concrete jungle. We search out the biggest of the box stores. Walmart. This is where we will park for the night. Our Westfalia is surrounded with bright lights, loud generators from massive RV’s with their TV’s glaring and no lake in sight. The only morning sunrise reflection we will see is off the big glass doors of store.
We are always thankful for the amazing camping spots we come across. It doesn't always happen though. Tonight we sleep at Walmart and are still thankful to simply be able to live the #vanlife. Here's hoping for a better spot for tomorrow night. #FoundSero | @gowestycampers | @huntclubvw | 👻 snapchat: searching4sero | 📷 @johnrathwell
We won’t call that spot “home”. It’s a place to rest our heads between travel days, between adventures.
Home on the road is a much more special place. A place with dirt, sand, bugs and water. It is the spot that every young adventurer dreams of finding, and a spot that far too many adults take for granted. Home, when you don’t have one every day, is that much more special. Home has to be on the water.
It doesn’t matter where we are. We could be on the highest of mountain tops (that our old Westfalia can get to), but if there is no water to swim in, to drink, to paddle and play in, it’s just not the same.
The feeling of finding that spot keeps us going, like a real life version of Where’s Waldo? except instead of flipping pages, it is the numbers on the odometer that we go through. Every time I find it. That perfect little piece of Earth, that is just dirt, trees and water, I can’t help but think… home.
I often wonder why I am drawn to water so much. Why do I go so far out of my way, so many miles, so many dirt roads, just to find it?
Is it because water makes sunsets two times better, when the rich colours reflect on it’s mirrored surface, or is it the water’s ability to work better than any coffee, when you run-in naked, into it’s brisk body first thing in the morning?
It could also be the fact that humans are just designed as land travellers, but with the assistance of water-crafts, we can explore this entire new dimension at our own pace, like our ancestors did on this land.
Water mesmerizes me. It did when I was kayaking every single day. I still does now. Water holds a special place in my heart.
Home is where the heart is. That’s how the saying goes.