#VanLife Step 1: Create A Plan
We officially met in August of 2016. After a month of messaging via the infamous Tinder dating app, we decided to meet up at a board game cafe in Omaha called Spielbound. Conversations of the outdoors, mountains, and traveling attracted us to one another. Especially in the Midwest, where most lives are consumed with Husker football, beer drinking, carnivorous dining, and Netflix. Each of us had been married and divorced, purchased and sold homes, and downsized. We were at a point in both of our lives where we appreciated experiences over material possessions.
A spontaneous trip over Labor Day weekend set the tone for our budding relationship. We easily agreed that we should go to Colorado and try new things together. We spent the first night going out with Andy’s friends in Denver, and then headed out to the mountains. Andy had never been mountain biking in Colorado, so we rented downhill bikes and purchased lift tickets at Breckenridge. It was difficult getting him to leave the mountain that day when our rentals were due back in town. He was hooked! Neither of us had hiked a 14’er before, so we briefly researched a few options and decided on Mt Elbert, the highest 14’er in Colorado at 14,433′. We soaked (or possibly bathed) in the Cottonwood Hot Springs, then randomly found a camp site for the night outside of Leadville. Through rain, sleet, and wind we conquered Mt Elbert together. Testing his stamina, we then proceeded to go to a Red Rocks concert and booked a last minute Airbnb in the area. It was amazing! Short hike around Red Rocks in the morning to see it in the daylight concluded our first, successful trip together.
Many trips later, we chatted about all the National Parks and places we haven’t been to here in the US and Canada. Monica had read a few blogs and articles on #vanlife and was intrigued. She introduced the idea to Andy, who was instantly on board. We had both been downsizing with the hopes of eventually moving to Colorado. Never in a million years would we have guessed that this would be the beginning of our very own #vanlife story.