from Callum Pinkney and Katherine Yager
Photos by Callum Pinkney
A common phrase when you do something bad ass like a cross continent road trip is, "I wish I had done that when I had the chance."
Callum Pinkney and Katherine Yager, a couple from Toronto, took that trip when they had the chance and lived five months on the road across America.
They sold some stuff, put some in storage, moved out of their apartment and hit the road in a Roadtrek Camper Van.
They lived just a sliding van door away from the outdoors at any given moment, shared meals over candlelight in tight quarters every night and met awesome people (including Runners of the Wild) around the country.
Here is a peek into their life on the road and the lessons they learned.
What were the steps that led you to living in a van?
Callum: This idea was talked about in vague non-commital terms for years. A year or so before our wedding, we started the process to buy a condo. We were in a real estate agent’s office one night with a whole list of things we had to do and fees we would have to pay and things started to get really overwhelming.
On the way home we realized that if we bought a condo, the longest we would be able to go away, would be a month. We decided that that wasn’t what we wanted and from then on the trip went from something that always was talked about in passing to a real plan of how we would be able to do this.
We think what made us really go for it was the idea that we had to do the things we REALLY wanted, and not say “Oh, when we get older, we will do that!”. You never know what is coming around the corner, and we didn’t want to turn 60 and be slumped on the couch going “We should have done that when we had the time.” Today is the perfect time to grab a hold of your dreams.
What did you learn about living without much stuff?
Callum: It really frees you, you know? Removing things from your possession creates not only physical freedom, but a mental freedom. I worry less about whether I have that tech or gear, and more about what I want to do. Generally I could bring less camera gear on a run or hike, and focus more on moments and the actual experience of living out of a van in various state and National parks.
Katherine: That there's really very little that you actually "need" and there was very little that we missed. Our van being really small was a great excuse to not buy any stuff and instead we focused our time on experiences.
What was the biggest surprise of living out of a van for as long as you did?
Katherine: I think the biggest surprise was what life is like when you’re not “busy” all the time and don’t have plans. And also how resistant people are to you not having a plan. When we left we had a rough route that we were going to go but no timeline of when we would get anywhere. That meant that we never made plans more than a week out. If we wanted to see something/do, we were free to go do it. It was extremely freeing! I think it's a good lesson that when you're "busy" all the time, you won't get the opportunity to run through Zion National Park in the middle of the week or have picnics on the beach!
Tell us about the people you met along the way.
Callum: We met a bunch of runners from all different backgrounds, from the Runners of the Wild in Portland, to some new amazing friends Krystin and Karl in Phoenix. We met them via another Runner of the Wild, Robbie. Katherine, Robbie and Krystin ran the San Tan Scramble 50k together just outside Phoenix. We hope they come to visit us soon in Toronto and we can return the favour. And Pat Fuller in Mobile, Alabama.
We met up with Sawna in LA. She gave us an epic tour of the Hollywood sign and the endless trails you can get lost on around it. That was probably one of my favourite runs of the entire trip. It was so wild to be in the urban jungle and in five minutes you are on a trail with no one around, overlooking the city.
Callum: Being able to connect with people in person and make friends who actually live in the city we are visiting was the reason we joined Runners of the Wild. We knew that’d we taking on this trip and were hoping that other runners would be open to showing us their hometowns (or adopted-hometowns).
From Colorado, to Portland, Arizona, California, Alabama, there were amazing things to see. The Portland crew took us out to Bingo at a crazy Portland bar, and Sawna introduced us to the most amazing ice-cream/coffee after we hammered out a trail run with her. Robbie took us out to a cool group trail run at night around Phoenix; there were about 40 runners with headlamps just chasing each other through this open trail that backed onto a zoo. It was kind of wild, and nothing like we had done before.
Callum and Katherine are back home in Toronto. Callum is back to his business as a wedding photographer and you can see more of the photos from their trip on his blog here.