Our New Yorker Magazine Response

Reflecting on the New Yorker article, and subsequent press and conversation was a learning experience, a transformational test of my inner strength.

The writer lived with us for 8 days. She selected moments from only the first 3 days to paint her picture.

Omitted was soaking in hot springs. Omitted was days surfing. Omitted was breaking down in a national forest. Omitted was sharing ideas and beers with the GoWesty crew. Omitted was essentially why we love life and why we live in a van.  

I was confused. Why is mainstream media focusing on the financial aspect of vanlife and especially influencer marketing, a new work territory for us all? And why the friction?

Here’s what I am learning…

Us human beings create belief systems, highly complex relational structures that determine our desires, thoughts and behavioral patterns. We often present this as who we are. I am a woman. I am a man. I am 33. I am a vanlifer. I am a capitalist. I am a neo socialist. I believe in God. I don’t believe in God, etc.  

We surround ourselves with thoughts about who we are in an attempt to define ourselves.

However, our beliefs can divide us because we seek validation through our reflection in the people surrounding us. Essential, we make others a part of our inner model and want them to be predictable because it reinforces the walls we’ve built. When they change, we feel disturbed.

The problem with this mode of operating is that change is the only constant in nature. By attaching to unchanging thoughts we fight our own nature. Life moves in cycles of creation, preservation and destruction. 

We live in a van because we love it. Plus, our lifestyle of movement has helped us reclaim real wealth.

Wealth, by ancient origin of the word, means abundance, happiness and wellbeing. 

We reclaim real wealth when we work with purpose.

We reclaim real wealth when we engage with nature.

We reclaim real wealth when we adventure beyond our comfort zone.

We reclaim real wealth when we follow our passions.

We reclaim real wealth when we radically accept our differences.

We reclaim real wealth when we make health a priority.

We reclaim real wealth when we realize other’s opinions are not our responsibility.

We reclaim real wealth when we redirect our focus inward when challenged and work all the way through our response.

We reclaim real wealth when we remember we are pure awareness having a fractal experience called life.

How do you reclaim real wealth?

Inspiration: Tortuga Plata

It’s about the people. Always has been, always will be. The road we travel seems to always offer us synchronistic encounters with inspiring people. People who are forever in our hearts and leave us slightly changed. Like-minded, free-spirited beings you could say. Therefore, I see it as fitting that I break my recent “van life writer’s block” by sharing with you a story of a family that we recently crossed paths with, Tortuga Plata.

“Hey Emily, some guy just texted me I think he knows Jad. He’s coming through Sedona and wants to meet up. Is that cool?” Corey asked me.


I hesitated. A stranger meeting us in the wilderness, unfinished work to do, and editing. Lots of editing, as I was behind in releasing our web series and wanted to get started editing Episode 7 ASAP. “Sure,” I replied.

This is how van life often goes.  I’m stressed because of work and then get thrown into an unplanned situation. But then something happens. Every single time:  I remember one of the top reasons that we live this lifestyle. The people.  Because every single person has

something unique to offer and is somehow inspiring.  A sense of peace washes over me as I become open to what is.


This time, the “is” was an awesome night of camping and getting to know  Tortuga Plata, a family of FOUR living in their Westfalia Syncro van.  Marc (dad), Sarah (mom), Charlee (daughter) and Micah (dog) left Alaska in October 2013 with objectives of experiencing America, and searching for a cool town that they can settle down in while Charlee attends school.

Four beings. In a van. Now, when we filmed our van life web series, we had a third person, our filmmaker. However, he was outside as much as possible, and even SLEPT outside.  How Tortuga Plata does it simply blows my mind.  Did I mention that Marc is 6’7″?? And that Micah is one of the largest dogs I’ve seen, possibly part wolf?!


We loved this family and what they are doing, and thus decided to film a little bit of their story.  A few life lessons Tortuga Plata exudes are: ANYTHING is possible (especially with space management!), van life is an amazing experience for a kid, and the VW community is strong and the catapult for connecting so many of us.

Thanks to GoWesty and 93 MPH for helping connect us with Tortuga Plata.  It’s a spider web of connections and we love every thread.

Since this is our first time interviewing people we connect with, please let us know if you enjoy the video!


Van Roles

Our van life roles are what keep us rolling on this journey of many miles.  Between the two of us there is a balance of driving, working, cooking, cleaning, van maintenance, route planning, and of course, playtime.  

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