Are you homeless?
Well that’s kind of rude, but sometimes, yeah. I’ve spent more nights sleeping in my ’97 Camry than I ever imagined a person could. I was able to make it quite comfortable for one person. At this point I’m pretty well qualified as a zombie apocalypse team leader, as long as you’re on the “let’s go live completely off the grid and wait it out” team and not the “let’s stay in a heavily zombie-populated city and fight everyday while our friends inevitably get bitten and turned” team.
What made you go nomad?
I think I always wanted to, I just didn’t realize it was a real thing that could be done. Like a lot of people, I often daydreamed of leaving everything I’d known, all the people and the drama and my job, or even high school, to adventure and explore and experience the world. So when the opportunity presented itself, I decided on a rough plan and told my family and friends, “I’m leaving in eight months. I’m going to tour the entire country by myself, for as long as I can.” I’m sure most of them though I was full of shit. Turns out I wasn’t.
How do you afford constant travel?
Well, that’s a good question. Due to money, circumstance and immaturity, it wasn’t until I was 28 that I had found myself in a situation where dropping everything was a viable option. In January 2014 I left my full-time job for a new one closer to home that paid a good bit more, and I was luckily able to continue working for my previous boss after hours. Working two jobs for 7 months gave me the financial room I needed to save about $12,000 (I still wasn’t making a ton of money, and I had to pay off debt). Through a fortunate turn of events, a close friend’s new boss offered me freelance writing work, so I had two freelance clients when I left home in September 2014. For the first 8 months of my cross-country journey, that is how I sustained myself. With $2700 coming in monthly, and requiring only about 3 days of work a week, I was able to do pretty much whatever I wanted. Then in May I got out west and became so captivated by the great expanses that work started to suffer. I was off grid for days, hiking mountains and canoeing rivers. Phone calls went unreturned. Clients were unhappy. I told them I was taking a break. I had about $8,000 left (I was spending just about what I took in, minus $3,000 in auto repair), and I determined that I could make it five months on that. Five months and $2,000 in credit card debt later, I stopped moving and stayed in Denver for six weeks. Then in early December I came back to Austin, Texas, one of my favorite places from the journey, to find an apartment and work for at least six months to get my head above water.
So if your life as a nomad over?
I want to say this here so it’s on record: I do not plan on settling. I do not plan on stopping. There is too much world out there and I refuse to lay down one day 50 years from now wishing I had gone here or seen that or done something else. I’ll ride my Camry ’til it dies, and I plan to backpack through both Europe and South America in the next three years. If I can make a go of photography or writing as a steady source of income, I will go back to being responsible like I was on the first leg of my U.S.A. trip.
What’s up with the photos?
At one of my old jobs I had the chance to start doing photography professionally, and even though I didn’t have any idea what I was doing, it worked out for the company and I loved it. I spent every dollar I earned on new equipment and resources to increase my skills. Once I was on the road, figuring out my own path every day from sunrise to sleep, I fell into nature photography as a matter of course. At some point I began to get better, to plan ahead and spend entire days shooting one location, not adventuring or exploring. I have photos from at least 100 locations around the U.S.A., but only a select few are good enough to sell. Now I’m hoping that somebody out there thinks they’re good too, and likes them enough to hang something of mine on their wall. That’s what’s up with the photos.