I'm NOT "wandering" or "finding myself." I'm on a MISSION. Image: The Happy Talent.
The whole world is my backyard.
I live everywhere.
Being a full-time RVer was one of the best, most epic decisions of my life, and I feel extremely lucky (except it isn't luck — this is what I wanted and I was very thoughtful and strategic about getting it) every. Single. Day.
And I'm definitely not one to complain about hearing the same questions or comments all the time. As a six-foot tall woman (see also: Yes, I'm 6 Feet Tall. No, I Won't Move So You Can See Better), I've been greeted with, "Do you play basketball?" "Do you play volleyball?" and, "How tall are you?" my whole life.
It doesn't bother me, because... what is the person supposed to say? They don't know me. They don't know anything about me except that which is easily observable. I am obviously very tall and very athletic, so the questions don't bother me.
I'd rather talk to people and make new friends than not.
Now that I'm an RVer, strangers and new acquaintances have additional, easily observable information about me: I am a full-time RVer. This opens up a whole new set of questions and assumptions they can make about me. Some of which are accurate and true, and some of which are hilariously untrue.
I thought I'd take a moment to share some of the most common ones here.
1. "So how do you like van life?"
I am not a #vanlifer. In fact, I hate vans so much, I would rather die than live in one. I started doing stand-up comedy recently, and I've got a whole bit about how ridiculous and stupid vans are.
The thing people don't realize is, just because I'm a girl, doesn't mean I can't back up a trailer.
Mountaintop boondocking in Carlsbad National Park. Image: The Happy Talent
I am perfectly capable of towing a 30-foot fifth wheel with a 3/4 ton truck.
(Though, funnily enough, when I drive into a city without my RV, I always get compliments from passersby just for being able to parallel park my truck. Sam Harris would call this the "soft bigotry of low expectations," but I know their intentions are good.)
The other thing is, this isn't a three-day weekend. It's a two-year trip. I am living and running a business out of my RV. A van would be fine for the former, and torture for the latter.
I knew from the beginning that I would require a large trailer for this trip. I also knew from the beginning that I had never backed up a trailer before; that backing up a trailer would be hard; that there would be times when it took me 45 minutes just to back into a spot; and that in the world of social media, there was a decent chance people would not only laugh at me, but film me and post videos of my struggle online.
A van would be easy. An RV would be hard. But I'm not afraid of a challenge.
One assumption I've learned during this trip that unbelievable numbers of people make about themselves is, "Just because I've never done something, it means I never can."
I would never, ever make that assumption about myself. But since so many people make it about themselves, I guess it's not that surprising that they'd make it about me.
2. "You eat meat?! I assumed you were a vegetarian!"
I love this assumption. It makes me laugh out loud every time -- my diet consists almost entirely of General Tso's chicken, chicken salad, and burritos, though sometimes I'll eat hamburgers (plural -- I never eat just one hamburger, unless it's a hamburger and a bratwurst).
When I ask, people tell me they make this assumption based on their assumption that I am a #vanlifer.
I wonder if they would make the same assumption if they knew the size of my RV.
A whole desert, all for myself, in one of the best mountain biking destinations in the world. I love living in Sedona. Image: The Happy Talent.
That said, when I'm in a place with a lot of mushrooms (so, not the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, where I've spent the last two months), I'll often go for weeks without eating meat. It's not because I'm trying to be vegetarian, even though I know that eating meat is terrible for the environment.
It's because, of all the fancy meat substitutes and lab-grown meats I've tried, nothing even comes close to the wild mushrooms I've foraged.
Chicken of the woods literally tastes and feels like chicken.
Coral tooth fungus tastes and feels indistinguishable from crab.
Golden oysters and chanterelles are incredibly delicious, and when I have these available, I just have no interest in eating meat.
Mushroom hunting has become one of my favorite pastimes. Image: The Happy Talent
The problem is, wild mushrooms must be foraged. Most cannot be bought in stores.
Even though they are way better than the mushrooms in stores.
The reason the mushrooms in stores are available in stores is not because they are the tastiest or healthiest mushrooms. It's because they are the mushrooms that can be commercially grown.
If you want to know what wild, delicious mushrooms actually taste like, you gotta get out there and find (or cultivate) your own.
To get started, check out Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures.
Download iNaturalist and invest in a mushroom guide for your region.
Or, if you're too intimidated by the prospect of poisoning yourself, invest in a mushroom growing kit. Mushroom kits have become my go-to gift for parents, friends, and people who host me in my RV.
My friends have had good luck with The Root Farms Golden Oyster Kit, but you can also try the crab-like lion's mane kit (they say lion's mane is "the ultimate anti-Alzheimer's mushroom."
Trust me. You'll be glad.
3. "You eat bread??!!"
When I'm not endlessly feasting on meat, or mushrooms that I foraged myself, I'm dipping bread in the boldest, highest polyphenol olive oil I can find (see also: Why Connoisseurs Love Itchy, Burning Throats). And I've had the incredible opportunity on this trip to visit some of America's best olive regions, from California to the Texas Hill Country to Georgia and Arizona.
This assumption... I'm not sure if it's part of the #vanlife thing. Due to the conjunction fallacy, I can see why someone would think a #vanlifer would be not only vegetarian, but also organic (I hate organic, and it's terrible for the environment), GMO free (I hate GMO free, and often return items to the shelf when I see that anti-science label on the packaging -- see also: Saying "Ban GMOs" is Like Saying "Kill the Diabetics" and With Genetically Modified Crops, We Can Reclaim Unfarmable Fields the Size of France), and gluten-free.
But it could also just be because I'm fit and athletic and have visible six-pack abs, so people think I'm on a special diet.
Image: The Happy Talent
While it's generally true that abs are made in the kitchen, I'm not on any kind of special diet. I look the way I do sue to a combination of genetics (everyone on my mom's side of the family is tall and fit, and we all put on muscle pretty easily) and lifestyle. I surf, skateboard, mountain bike, hike, SUP, and explore the world around me every day.
And, because I spend so much time exploring the world, I don't spend much time snacking or mindlessly eating. This makes a huge difference for most people -- and it's why kids are much more likely to become obese over summer vacation than during the school year.
That's why I can eat as much bread as I want and still have a six-pack.
Honestly, I eat whatever I want... and I think I do a pretty good job of listening to my body and eating what it wants me to eat. To learn more about this, check out The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor, which I found not only tremendously interesting, but also very actionable in my own life. I recommended it to a scientist at LANL recently, and he absolutely loved it.
You will, too.
4. "Good luck finding yourself!" / "I hope you find what you're looking for."
There's this funny thing -- a sexist double standard that would have us think that when men spend time traveling and exploring the world, it's because they are curious, hungry, brave explorers...
And when women do the same, it's because we're lost, we're recovering... we're "trying to find ourselves."
Bro. I never lost myself.
I know exactly who I am and what I want -- that why I'm doing this.
I have worked hard to have this life, and I am in the middle of an epic mission:
To surf the country's best surf, and ride the country's best mountain biking trails.
And I'm doing a hell of a job of it!
I'm a farm girl... but sometimes I think that if you cut me, I would bleed sand from Sedona. Image: The Happy Talent
In addition to surfing South Padre Island, Narragansett, Rye Beach, San Clemente, San Onofre, Kitty Hawk, Cocoa Beach, Ponce Inlet, Ormund Beach, Chincoteague Island, Virginia Beach, and many, many more spots (with more to come!)...
And in addition to mountain biking Alafia, Santos, Copper Harbor, the Kingdom Trails, Spirit Mountain, Windrock, O-Rock, Spider Mountain, Sedona, Moab, Fruita, Grand Junction, Bentonville, Marquette, Nashville, Asheville, Snowshoe, and many, many others (with more to come)...
I've also played shows and written music all around the country, visited dozens of national monuments, national parks, and great American cities.
I even recorded an original duet with country musician Patrick B. Ray in Houstin, Texas.
They say not all who wander are lost. I am not lost. I am also not wandering. I am not doing this in order to try to find myself, or to find happiness...
And I think that's why this trip makes me so, unbelievably happy.
As I wrote in No, Traveling All The Time Will NOT Bring You Happiness,
I have mapped out my most perfect road trip. My life is extremely fun. But I also fill it with meaning through running my own business, creating art, reconnecting with old friends and meeting new ones every day.
And that, not wandering aimlessly hoping to find meaning, is how I am living the dream.
People make assumptions. That's just what we do. What are some of the assumptions people make about you? Let me know in the comments, and don't forget to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
About the Author
Eva is a content specialist with a passion for play, travel... and a little bit of girl power. Read more >
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