It was a passing compliment about her hair, just a stranger in a coffee shop, I didn’t expect her to sit down and start chatting. Then as I would come to learn, that is just one of her marvellous traits.
Up until that point I’d been travelling mostly on my own, relishing in the freedom it offers to do what one wants when one wants. Though as we sat swapping travel stories and blog advice in that coffee shop, I listened to her tales of diving in the far east, absorbing her passion for it, recognising the glint of adventure in her eyes that seem dig into that unsettled feeling I so often find in myself.
We’d spend the next few days together, exploring the area, learning to play our chosen instruments, practising our existing skills and bouncing ideas and concepts off each other. At first I said it half jokingly, just to see what her reaction would be, but as the days counted on the question as to whether she would join the adventure became more of a taunt as if to say we’d both be missing out if she passed it by.
Then as it often does, the law intervened. Standing with my hands up against the van, a SWAT officer patting me down, I decided it was time to leave Nevada City. It was enough to make Virginia’s decision for her too. The next day we dropped her car off in Sacramento, she booked a flight home and we set off to live in the as we made our way to Seattle.
I’m not sure either of us knew what to expect, having known each other a mere 4 days we were now living together in a confined space as the world outside grew colder and colder. The magnificence of the morning vistas and the good company more than made up for the cold nights. Then we spent the night in a blizzard on Crater Lake, waking up with frozen solid water bottles and ice on the inside of the van. It was time to find warmth and the freedom to be outside without fear of frostbite.
We found inside comfort in Hood River where I stopped to catch up with Sailworks owner and founder Bruce, who generously provided me with a rig for the trip South and gave us a fire to warm our toes. Though the cold was still too bitter to hang around long and we found ourselves on the coast heading up the 101.
This gave me a glimpse, not only of the excitement of the next chapter, but of what it would be like to travel with somebody and enjoy the freedoms of outdoor life. So that when I dropped her at the airport in Seattle, I wasn’t quite ready to be a lone traveller once again. Yet alone I now sit, starting the next chapter.
Virginia is also a travel blogger, with words far more eloquent than mine, so why not check out her thoughts on van life here https://vagabondvirginia.wordpress.com/2015/12/06/my-taste-of-van-life/