A father wearing a cowboy hat, swinging his daughter around on the playground. An elderly man wearing a Hawaiian shirt. A young family with a baby living in pop-up campers. A man selling Native American jewelry at a roadside rest area. We’ve met all sorts of interesting people on our journey so far and I expect we will be meeting many more.
Aside from the beautiful (and not-so-beautiful) places that we’ve visited, we have encountered many interesting characters as well. We have yet to meet anyone like ourselves, who have given up regular jobs so early on in life for a life on the road but we have met some traveling professionals who have their own interesting stories.
A couple who work as a photographer and muralist, traveling from city to city, photographing and painting the skylines they see. They travel in a small Class C RV that boasts their website address on the side. They take time to enjoy the ocean breeze and soak up the sun (greetingstour.com).
A middle-aged couple with a young daughter. We met during a walk with our dogs as he tipped the brim of his cowboy hat in our direction and asked if we were the ones in the “dolphin.” He is a traveling salesman who focuses on in-home security systems. We shared the same campground for nearly two weeks, both noticing the other move their RV from site to site within the same campground. They live in a “Bounder” brand RV that his daughter calls the “hoppy train,” while calling ours the “dolphin train.” He invited us to his father’s horse ranch near where we will be hosts the next time he comes into town, a few months from now.
An elderly man in a Hawaiian shirt approaches us while we are loading laundry into the Jeep. He is from Michigan and his sole purpose in conversation is to talk about the weather they are having back in the Midwest, and laugh that we do not have to be stuck in it. He is curious about where we are from in Minnesota, how long we have been traveling, and how long we intend to stay in Southern California. We talk to him about our Park Host position and he congratulates us, ending the conversation with a laugh and a “stay warm!” We hear the familiar cadence of home in his voice.
A young family lives in the campground in what we call “tent city,” which comprises of two pop-up campers covered in a variety of complex tarp arrangements. We cannot discern how many people are actually staying there but they’ve been in the campground longer than we have and must have reserved their sites for the maximum number of days, one month. They cook all of their food on an electric skillet outside and we often hear cries of a baby from their campers. They are friendly and keep to themselves, except for their chihuahuas that seem intent on making friends with an uninterested Theo.
Theo has his own entertainment, as can be seen from his exploits through the garden at Andy’s grandpa’s/aunt’s house.
While we were traveling through many states at the beginning of our journey, we quietly kept to ourselves, enjoying the peace that solitude brought us. We focused on ourselves, our health, our relationship, our animals, and on exploring the natural areas around us. We were not interested in meeting people on the road, not interested in hearing their stories. We were content to stay hidden in the forest, out of sight of normal society. Now that we are out of the wilderness and back in public places, we realized that we probably missed out on meeting some interesting people. A friend of mine asked us at one point, “what do you do for your social life?” At the time, I couldn’t say that we did anything. We didn’t go out for dinner or drinks; we hardly went into town unless we were forced to for propane or groceries. That has changed quite a bit now that we are in California. Getting this Park Host position will mean being in contact with the public daily. We have been going out regularly, meeting people, and talking with campers who share their own traveling stories with us. And it has been amazing! I am excited to see who we will meet next.