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I was in the hospital when she came to me. Lying in my sterilized bed and dressed in my hideous hospital gown, I longed to be sleeping under the stars or racing on an empty road or curled up beside a campfire. It all seemed so out of reach. That’s when I grabbed some markers and drew the logo for Camping Kitty. It was a way to manifest myself out of a terrible situation. She found adventure wherever she wandered and could rough it with the best of them, but always maintained a sense of style. She was free, roaming the world like a bohemian babe in hiking boots.
A year after I drew that little green tent with a “CK” kitty face, she still inspires me to follow my dreams of being a full-time gypsy. Today, I’m renovating a former school bus alongside Flannel Jack and preparing to take our tiny-house-on-wheels for the road trip of our lives.
We named our bus True North as reminder to follow our internal compass no matter where this big adventure takes us. We don’t always know where we’re going, but we believe all who wander are not lost. We roam and explore and test ourselves. We value experiences over things and opt for the outdoors over a penthouse in a tower any day of the week. We brake for fairy forests, food trucks, dance halls and hugs.
With careers and families, taking the road less traveled may be out of reach for some, but everyone can come along this journey with us. I believe we all have a Camping Kitty inside of us — a free-spirit who sees life with all the possibility of an open road. We are all wild at heart and can face any challenge with mad style, and transform it into adventure. No matter where we sit, we’re all on the road trip of our lives.
That’s how every call began, and it always made me cringe. My last job had transformed into Lessons in How to Avoid Your Boss — the one person with a right to ask “Where are you?” The question would remind me where I wasn’t — following my own road; going confidently in the direction of my dreams; feeding my soul with creativity and travel, curiosity and wanderlust. We were driving in circles, he and I, round-and-round till the exit ramp became indistinguishable from the dead-ends.
Asked to account for my place in the world, I wanted to say I was ripping up The North Fork on my vintage cafe racer or spending the summer hitting minor league baseball parks in my converted school bus or making love to Camping Kitty at the foot of Multnomah Falls in broad daylight. I wanted to say I was handing out free flannels to flood victims in Louisiana or entering my pit bull Jameson in the Westminster Dog Show for shits and giggles or building AdventureMobiles with my nephew Barry so anyone can tear up their own piece of turf.
This is where our story begins, leaving our “jobs” and embarking on the road trip of our lives. The goofy grins say it all. Everything lies before us. A thousand miles of coolness. This is where we let go of whatever doesn’t serve us — everything that doesn’t fit on the bus. The rest can find its own place in the world.
Here at Flannel Jack, we value experiences over things and opt for the outdoors over any mansion on the hill. We roam and explore and test ourselves. We live well, no matter where we wake up, or maybe because of it. We chase the present, when our minds and hearts are one and dreams roll out before us like an endless road.
Together we ride, together we rise.
Now the sweetest thing people can ask is the very question I used to dread. Where am I? Exactly where I want to be.