Our little green bus sits parked out in the red sand and scrub of the Utah desert. The windows are filled with golden hour reflections of the incredible sandstone formations in the distance. On the stove simmers a pot of albondigas: small, Spanish meatballs in a paprika-infused tomato sauce. The air is heavy with their aroma, and our stomachs are rumbling. As soon as they’re cooked through, I will artfully arrange them and snap a few photos. Only then, after the pictures are taken and checked, can my wife, Ayana, and I finally dig in. They smell fantastic and we’re feeling ravenous after a glass of pre-dinner wine, but this isn’t just a lovely meal in the wild, this is also work.
For the past two and a half years, Ayana and I have been on the road full time in our short-bus-turned-tiny-home. We aren’t the #vanlife influencers you might be thinking of, per se, but we do make our living on the internet. Since hitting the road in October 2020, we’ve traveled to 22 states, covering a lot of ground, and long ago burned through the savings that we had when we started the journey. But, after this long on the road, it has become hard for us to imagine ever stopping, and we’ve had to find creative means to keep the gas tank and the refrigerator full. Ayana makes silver jewelry and practices natural dreamwork with clients over the internet. I spend my days writing as well as developing recipes for other nomads like us. Despite our inexpensive lifestyle, making a living isn’t always easy.
When I left my job as a firefighter, I had a lot of money in the bank. Even though the pay for wildland firefighters is not high, it is easy to save money while working a job that takes you away from home all summer and regularly includes over 1,000 hours of overtime in a six-month season. However, that schedule was also what drove me out of the profession.