Have you ever dreamed of walking away from it all?
When you’re sitting in traffic for three hours a day, or an angry customer is screaming at you for something someone else did, or you had to work late for the fourth time this week, it’s a perfectly normal fantasy to imagine dropping everything, and just leaving. Quitting your job, selling your house, packing up the dog, and setting off on the road.
To one inspiring young couple, that’s no fantasy.
For this couple, that’s the plan, and they’re putting that plan into action. Through hard work, a lot of courage, and a nomadic outlook on life, their plan is to abandon the shackles of corporate America, live a minimalistic lifestyle on the road, and experience the wonders of the United States and beyond. For them, happiness isn’t found through material items, happiness is found through experiences, connecting with nature, and living life on their own terms.
This week, I’ve got a very special post that I’m excited to share with all of you, and it’s something I haven’t done before on my blog, but I hope to do again as a subsection of my “Dreaming” series. It will be a Q&A piece with Marvin Leister and Paige Yeoman, of Anacortes, Washington.
Since 2015, Marvin and Paige, the Northwest Nomads as they call themselves, have been planning for a life on the road. They’ve sold the majority of their belongings, and just a few months ago were able to complete one of the biggest and largest goals on their journey to living life on the road, which was purchasing an RV to live out of as they tour the country.
They have not quit their jobs and hit the road just yet, as the final stage of their plan is to save up some more money to set out full time in the near future. While they are still working, they still do as much exploring as they can, frequenting the North Cascades wilderness, as well as the Olympic National Park, among other locations in the Pacific Northwest (PNW).
Paige and Marvin are very driven young people, and the PNW has crawled into their hearts, instilling a hunger for exploration that Amber and I have developed as well. Maybe someday Amber and I will take the leap for a life on the road as well.
Without further ado, let’s jump in!
How old are each of you?
Where are each of you from?
ML: Clarkston, WA
PY: Lewiston, ID
Having spent time living in both Moscow, Idaho and Washington’s Columba Basin, and having family in the Lewis-Clark Valley, I know that area very well. The North Idaho/Eastern Washington region is a very unique and special place. What was it like growing up where you did, and how did your childhood contribute to your chosen lifestyle?
ML: Clarkston is a small community at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers. My family actually runs a children’s home in Eldoret, Kenya and we up and moved there when I was 13, and I lived there until I was 18, traveling back and forth every 6 months. This type of childhood expanded what my realm of possibility was as far as being capable of chasing something different, and a lifestyle outside of what society deems as “normal.” Not to mention having a comfort with constant travel. I was also raised on quite a bit of property in the Clarkston Heights as a kid where we had a huge field with a bank off the side, so we were almost always outside being entertained by nothing but dirt and imagination! So I can definitely say that it led to a comfort in simplicity if nothing else.
PY: Being born and raised in Idaho, in true Idaho fashion, I grew up in the great outdoors. Most of my summers were spent camping, fishing, hunting, and boating with
my family. I’m so grateful for that, because I may not have had the interest or inspiration to find this lifestyle had it not been for my upbringing. My parents separated when I was young, and I moved houses many times during my school years, so I was always going to new schools and finding myself in new places. At the time, I definitely didn’t see it as a positive thing, but now I feel it’s made me much more adaptable to change. I also saw my parents struggle with money, so I’ve never been too concerned with material items. To me, instead of using all you have to get this great house with lots of nice items inside, I wanted to use all I had to get a tiny house with only the necessities, and use the rest on what I know will truly bring me joy.
To follow that question up, how would you describe your chosen lifestyle? Take us through a day-in-the-life.
ML: For now, aside from the fact that our entire home is only the size of our old bedroom, it’s pretty normal. We wake up, make coffee, get ready, and go to work, although we pretty much always make it a point to do something outside. Whether it’s a jog or a little photo op, it’s much easier to get outdoors when your home is as small as ours. The days off are where we come alive and run as far away as we can. For now any way.
PY: Every day for me starts with coffee, no matter where I am. The sun is my new alarm clock, so I’m up much earlier than ever before. On my days off, I always try to take a hike or a little trip to a new place. I’m trying to explore as much of this area as I can while we’re still here. Even on days that I work, I do some sort of outside activity, whether it’s taking my dogs for a jog, watching the sun set, or taking photos. As I mentioned, there’s not much for entertainment in the RV, so my requirements for that are much simpler. I don’t feel the need to constantly be doing something. Sometimes I’ll just sit outside doing nothing, and still find myself satisfied. Bedtime comes much earlier as well, both from waking up earlier, and not being able to binge on Netflix until 3am.
Netflix is a killer…so you’ve sold your belongings to purchase the RV, but of course, that money will only go so far in sustaining the lifestyle. How will you make money to continue funding your travels?
Both: Everything we sold went towards the purchase of the RV itself, so right now we are in grind mode! We’re currently getting everything prepared and ready over the course of the next year, which there is a lot that goes into the process, more than we knew! Our plan is to be able to sustain this lifestyle by doing what is called Work Camping. Work Camping is essentially working as a camp ground host, maintenance worker, or other type of part-time seasonal outdoor/campground worker, which will put us right in nature’s backyard, in exchange for free lodging and a stipend. We also both have a passion for photography and hope to one day turn that into a source of income.
It seems like a romantic lifestyle, one I’ve dreamt about many times. However, I’m sure there’s plenty about the lifestyle that’s not so romantic. Tell me about some of those things, the realities of living out of an RV, and living on the road. Also, once you hit the road long-term, how long do you plan to stay in one place at a time?
ML: Since we’re still in preparation mode, we haven’t had to deal so much with these issues to an extreme extent. But I mean, everything is cramped, you know? If one of you is awake, you’re both awake, no matter what time it is. There’s also only two panels of RV
grade vinyl paneling between our bedroom and bathroom. So there’s definitely limited privacy as well. Thankfully, when we are free from captivity (work) we spend most of our time outdoors and are only home to do the essential things like cook, sleep, and bathe. Once we do finally take off, when we stop to Work Camp it’ll be about 2-3 months at a time a couple of times a year, and when we’re just traveling without aim, our plan right now is to stay at a particular place about 2 weeks at a time. But, how long we stay in a particular place will really come down to once we feel like we’ve truly experienced a particular destination. Then we’ll move on.
PY: The biggest issue, as I’m sure you could guess, is space. It feels messy inside so much more quickly, and you don’t even know how it happened. On the flip side though, it’s that much faster to clean up. Cooking is also a challenge; with very little counter space, an oven that’s a quarter of the size of a regular one, and not much room in the fridge, you’ve really got to get organized and creative. If you can’t be somewhere with hookups, you’ve really got to conserve everything that we normally wouldn’t think twice about. That means very few showers, not using too much heat or cooking for too long to save on propane, and finding somewhere to dump your black tank. Oh, and laundry. That adds up very quickly when you can’t just go into the other room and start a load.
What’s the favorite place your travels have brought you so far, and why is it your favorite?
ML: My favorite place is the place we haven’t seen yet! *Laughs* But, as far as the places we’ve already seen, I’d have to say Hidden Lake in the North Cascades. It was a 12 mile
hike with a 6,700 foot elevation gain that we did last summer, and it was such a humbling environment to be in, up in the glaciers with massive mountains and cliffs all around you, surrounded by nothing but nature in its natural state for miles. And that environment doesn’t care about what time we work tomorrow. It’s just doing its thing. Really puts into perspective how small we really are, and that this amazing planet we’ve been given the gift of consciousness to experience, exists whether or not we’re there to see it.
PY: We have only just begun this journey, so we’re really saving as much as possible right now to be able to take off from our jobs and journey around the U.S. Our trips right now are fairly short. My heart will always be in the PNW though. The North Cascades have some of the most breathtaking scenery I’ve ever seen. You could spend years here and never see all they have to offer. My favorite place in the world is the ocean, so that’s where I’m always the happiest. The Olympic National Forest is also incredible. My favorite hike I’ve ever done was to Hidden Lake in the North Cascades. It’s over 6,000 feet up, and the 360 degree view is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
What’s the most rewarding part of this lifestyle?
ML: Probably getting to experience exactly what I just described in the last question. It’s my true addiction and the reason we’re pursuing this thing first and foremost.
PY: For me, the most rewarding part is being pushed out of my comfort zone. Living in a house, I would easily spend days-on-end coming home from work and watching TV until I went to bed. Even on my days off, I found myself in a rut. Once you start living a lazy
lifestyle, it’s so much more difficult to pull yourself from that, because it’s what’s easiest. Living in an RV, we have no TV and no Wi-Fi, so most of my time is spent outside finding new ways to entertain myself. It’s like being taken back to a simpler time before life was about the constant need for more stimulation. I’ve found new hobbies and met so many interesting people already, and feel more carefree than ever. I’m not as worried about what people think, I have significantly less stress (at least about the things most people find themselves stressed out about), and even though there’s some backlash from disapproving people, there are so many that feel inspired by seeing that it’s completely possible to get off the same road that most people are taught to go down, and take the path less traveled.
Do either of you have any formal photography training? Or are you mostly self-taught?
Both: We’re both self-taught. Google and YouTube are amazing professors. The technology age, baby!
Lastly, what advice would you give to someone wanting to adopt your lifestyle?
Both: Just do it. I know that sounds so simple but it’s really the only place to begin. Start to live it and learn it and you’ll be shocked what doors open up. Be diligent and disciplined with your time and finances. If it’s the lifestyle you really want to live then you have to make it what it is: Your life’s style. Adopt it. Who you are is very malleable. Four years ago we were blowing our paychecks on disposable nonsense as fast as we got them without a thought of ever chasing this. Change and conviction can be amazing if channeled into positive action. People will doubt you and will tell you that you can’t or you shouldn’t. But like I said before, whether you believe in God or Biological Evolution, we’ve been given this gift of consciousness, and we don’t believe it was intended to be experienced by trading away your time doing anything besides what fills you with purpose and inspiration. So do it. Because your life literally depends on it. Life isn’t going to wait around on your insecurity!
To wrap up the Q&A, I wanted to once again thank Marvin and Paige for taking the time to participate in the interview, and I wish both of you the best of luck in your future travels! I’ll be tracking your progress via Instagram, and I hope we can do a follow up interview someday down the road, maybe next time over a beer or two.
My closing thoughts after the Q&A, outside of what I’ve already said, are that I think that all of us that have grown up in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, or Montana, should be thankful for the awe-inspiring places we are lucky enough to call home. I know Amber and myself are thankful for where we have grown up, and it’s evident that Paige and Marvin feel the same way.
While there are dreamers and explorers all over the world, it’s my opinion that there are some places on earth that can crawl deep into a person’s heart, and inspire an insatiable desire to explore, discover, and be nomadic.
The Pacific Northwest is one of those special places. Long live the nomad.