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What Moving Into a Travel Trailer Taught Me About Time

Nick Wade

My wife and I moved into a 22-foot travel trailer with our dogs.

From Thoreau to Hemingway to Jeremiah Johnson, the human attraction to the raw, unadulterated outdoors has been well documented. Our need for exploration and our curiosity of the unknown lingers like a vestige of the evolutionary traits that brought mankind out of our caves, sent us out onto the sea and into the wild. The land and ocean was not enough, so we took to the skies then, quite literally, shot for the moon.

We pressed forward because stagnation meant peril. And somewhere, through the generations, stability became desired over constant motion. And so we settled for the lessons of our fathers and their fathers before. The American Dream became less about conquering life and more about its deceleration. Convenience and comfort became the milestones by which we graded the world around us.

My wife and I traded heavily in such commodities. We were both professionally successful. We lived in a desirable area in a desirable city. We wanted for very little, accumulating possessions and working our lives away in the name of capitalistic endeavors and societal norms. But then something happened.

We can’t pinpoint it. There was no grand event that influenced us immediately. No pseudo-epiphany in which we changed our outlook on everything. Rather, the best way we can describe it is to liken it to a slow boil. My wife began working longer hours with less time off, while I began to feel myself become a cog in a wheel I had hoped to change. Despite our “success,” we were unhappy, and despite our seeing each other each day, we were rarely able to connect without interruptions from the outside world.

So we woke up. We realized our lives are ours alone, and that any idea of convention we were taught—by our parents, or professors, or the culture we grew up in—was just that: an idea. We formed our own ideas. We formed ideas of what we wanted our lives to look like, what fulfillment feels like, how to measure success and what happiness means to us. We had the first real conversation in May. By August, we’d purchased our Keystone Bullet Crossfire—a 22-foot travel trailer. In September, we donated everything we owned and moved full-time into the camper, setting out to…well, wherever we wanted.

We’ve picked up trash from the bottom of the Guadalupe River. We’ve helped quantify the water conservation efforts of utilities for the Texas Water Development Board. We’ve cooked over open fires, told ghost stories in the deep woods and hiked through countless climates and conditions. We eat eggs ranchero in the mornings and grill whatever we can in the evenings. We run rivers, conserve water and only do laundry when the dogs start to think we smell bad. We listen to baseball on the radio (Go ‘Stros!), talk to folks from all walks of life and meditate in the solitude and serenity of the untouched forest.

But, more importantly, we appreciate things we used to never think twice about. Heat, showers and, naturally, time. It isn’t necessarily a fear of our own mortality, but realizing time is the one constant—uninterested in what actions we do or don’t take—has made us appreciate each moment in its own unique way. Whether we’re making the summit of a tough trail, or reading from a history book I never sold back to the campus bookstore, we relish our time for the nonrenewable resource it is.

You’re here, on this site, because you have that same innate calling that leads you to the woods and the mountains, or the lakes and the rivers. You too share that sense of adventure that makes you feel like time outdoors is time well spent. I’m not advocating for a life on the road. I’m not condemning those who make ends meet or provide for their family by working a 9-to-5. But what I am asking, is that we all—us lovers of the outdoors—keep on keeping on, continue finding ways to fuel our passion for nature. Our time is just that, ours. So let’s spend it filling our souls with the natural magic we can only find in one place: the wild.

To follow our adventure, visit our blog and follow us on Instagram @wandering_wades

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What Moving Into a Travel Trailer Taught Me About Time