The New Year started out with cold temperatures affecting most of Canada and the northern U.S. But for Antigonish native Adam Hickey and his wife Vanessa, the deep-freeze wasn’t much of a factor as they were basking in the sun and warmth of Tucson, Arizona.
Being able to escape to better weather is one of the benefits when you’re living on the road, in a retrofitted van, as the couple has been doing since the summer of 2017.
“One of our main goals when we converted the van, since we were living in the cold, was to get down, away from the cold, at least for one season,” Adam said in talking to the Casket, by phone from the desert city Jan. 2, noting the couple was in Vanessa’s hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario, before they started out on their adventure and unique lifestyle in the summer.
“After we were done converting it, we headed to B.C. to visit friends for a little bit and then just headed south from there,” Adam, who spent much of his childhood in the Fraser’s Mills area before the family moved to town, added.
The couple has a website (createwondr.com) and Instagram account which is capturing their “semi-nomadic adventure.”
A passage from their website’s ‘about us’ section talks about their motivation.
“We believe that by simplifying our lives we get to the heart of what really matters; meaningful relationships and the time to follow our passions – achievable to every person that goes after it. Because when you learn to focus your energy on what’s important, you’ll have more time, more money, and the happiness that only comes when you live authentically.
“If you’re like us, you want to live a life with purpose, focused on experiences over possessions, so you can explore your passions. You want to wake up energized by life, have the vibrant health that comes from eating well, and feel the joy of being surrounded by simple things.”
Vanessa talked more about the “message” they’re living.
“I guess the message we have going forward is; you don’t have to conform to the expectations of society all the time,” she said.
“If you have a desire to do something different, even if it sounds a little bit crazy, give it a go and see what happens; because it could be the most amazing experience of your life and you’ll never know if you don’t try.”
Vanessa added an early benefit of being on the rod is meeting folks who share their philosophy.
“Another surprising and positive experience of traveling in the van, so far, is the people we’ve been meeting along the way who share similar stories to us,” she said. “Basically, people who went out on their own and tried something completely different than the norm.”
Adam talked about how the couple is financing their on the road lifestyle.
“We had bought a house in Thunder Bay, a total fixer-upper, and spent time renovating it in order to flip that house,” he said. “So, basically, we used the sale of the house to buy the van, convert it, and are using some of that money for traveling expenses right now.”
He noted the van they converted into a camper is a Dodge Sprinter they found in Toronto.
“We closed the house sale, then found a van in Toronto, because it was difficult to find one in Thunder Bay,” he said. “We saw one on KIJIJI and Vanessa and I flew out, the next day, to Toronto. We bought the van and then drove it back. So we sold the house, bought the van and then started converting it, all within a few days.”
The couple noted Instagram has been their main source of recording and posting about their adventure, so far, as well as a few videos they have put on YouTube.
“We’re just starting to put out content on YouTube; our goal for the future is to have multiple videos per week,” Vanessa said, adding blogging is also part of their future plans.
The couple talked about feedback they have received.
“There is a lot of engagement on this type of lifestyle; I think almost anyone could be interested in it,” Adam said.
“For a lot of people, their eventual goal is to do more travelling, take an RV trip or be snow-birding down south; it’s an attractive thing for a lot of people.
“It’s very freeing; we can be in different locations and visit with friends … be very mobile that way.”
Vanessa talked about another aspect of interest.
“We’re hearing from a lot of people who are not just interested in the overall lifestyle – the freedom to do what you want to do when you want to do it – but, also, a lot of people are contacting us wanting to know how we built the van and all of the things we’ve done to make this little space a home,” she said.
She noted a couple of favourite locations.
“One of the most picturesque places we’ve gone to, so far, has been the Pacific Coast Highway and Redwood National and State Parks,” she said. “Also, Sedona, Arizona – those two places are probably our two favourites.”
As for how long they’ll maintain this lifestyle, Adam said, at least, until the fall.
“It’s totally open-ended for us because we, really, just starting doing it a few months ago,” he said. “In the immediate plans, we’re going to be in it, at least, until next fall. Then, probably, further than that, on the road travelling.”
He noted those travels will include coming home to Nova Scotia in August for a family reunion.