the (west) american dream: full-time mobile
I'm not really sure how to start this, or what this blog post will end up becoming, but I'm afraid if I plan it out too much it'll miss the point. The point being, after years of dreaming and months of praying, planning, going back and forth, tears, hard conversations, good conversations, soul-searching, and all the things you do before making life-changing decisions, we've decided to go full-time mobile. In three short weeks, our lease will end here in The Woodlands, Texas and we'll have sold/donated most of our belongings, stored the rest, and moved our little family into the subaru + camper rig to head west and chase our dreams. It feels surreal to be typing this out. For most people that know us, this is no surprise at all (heck - a lot of you think we already live in a camper!) but to those that know us deeply and have walked with us these past few months, you know how hard this decision has been for us.
We are leaving friends, family, and a life that we are so incredibly thankful for. Our tribe here in Texas is beyond words. These people have raised us, watched us grow, prayed over us through every major life stage, supported us and loved us in ways that we could never adequately express. Since making the decision to leave a few weeks ago, we've both experienced doubt and questioned why in the world we would leave something so good, but then we remember the way we light up in the Moab desert, and how well our family works together when we're living on the road. Personally, I've seen God work and move in a lot of ways in my short life, but I've never experienced him the way I do when standing alone on a high mesa in the desert, or laying in the grass in El Cap meadow in Yosemite National Park. We believe He built us with these places in mind and that He has amazing plans for us in this new stage of life. We don't know what the future will hold, but we know He'll guide us and grow us in ways we can't begin to imagine.
As we've told this news to close members of our little tribe over the past few weeks, we've been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support. We are so thankful for friends and family who love us and want the best for us. We've also had a lot of questions from people, so I figured I'd address some of the most common ones here:
Where are you going?
Our favorite thing about this question is that for the most part, we don't know!! But we do have a rough plan for the first few months. We are shooting a wedding in California in September, so when our lease ends we will pack up here in The Woodlands, make a stop in Austin (where my family lives) and a stop in San Antonio (where Callen's family lives), then head west! We have a few weeks before we need to be in Cali, so we'll take our time getting over there. After the wedding, we'll head up the coast towards Yosemite, then spend a week or two there before heading to Moab! We'll then "settle down" in Moab during October and November, briefly returning to Austin to shoot a wedding at the end of October. After November, there is not much of a plan other than weddings we're shooting, which is what we'll base our schedule on from here on out. We have a list of places we know we'd like to spend some time and we'll primarily chase good weather / exciting adventures.
How will you make money?
Pretty much the same way we have been: photography! Callen will be giving up his income he makes at the church in The Woodlands, but we also won't be paying rent so it pretty much evens out.
Will you still shoot weddings?
Yes! Absolutely!! We love shooting weddings and our hope is to book weddings in these beautiful places that we love. We have adjusted our pricing and travel policies to fit our mobile lifestyle, including a new Elopement Package for adventurous, intimate weddings :) While we are offering zero travel charges for quite a few states, we like to think our travel rates are very reasonable when we do need to charge them, so feel free to reach out to us even if your state isn't on the list (that means you, Texas friends)!
Does this mean you'll be in Austin more?
Sadly, no. We will be spending a lot more time out of Texas and, as of right now, the plan is to only return a few times a year for weddings and family holidays. We love Austin, but Texas is so dang big and really far away from the places we want to be :) Part of what we love about Utah is it's proximity to everything else!
So, you're moving to Moab?
No! We're moving to nowhere!!! That's the best part about this whole thing! We are so excited to be full time mobile and not feel tied down to any one location. Obviously, we are really in love with Moab and it's a great place for Callen to rock climb, Abbi to skydive, and both of us to work on our photography, but we're also going to spend time in a lot of other places. BUT, if you are going to Moab, let us know because we'll almost always be nearby :)
What about Charlie?
Charlie is coming with us and if he could know what is about to happen I'm sure he'd be beyond psyched. He loves the road and we love thinking of the life of adventure he'll have :)
How will this be different from the road trips you normally take?
Honestly, a lot of this is still up in the air and we'll definitely report back in a few months, but there are a few ways we know things will be different! First of all, we won't have a home base. We will no longer have an apartment or job back in Texas that we're returning to. Also, thus far, I have primarily "taken off" from running the photography business while on our short trips, but because this will be full time, I'll be working a normal schedule no matter where we are. I will still spend close to 40 hours a week editing, shooting, running the website/blog/social media, etc from coffee shops or other places with wifi and electricity. We'll also try to spend a lot more time in each place. On our trips, we almost never camped in the same place two nights in a row, but moving forward we will try to spend at least a week, typically a month or more in each new location. Lastly, we will not do everything together! Because this will be our "normal" life now, we will probably do a number of our own adventures, meaning Callen won't just hang out at the drop zone all day while I skydive and he'll finally get to pursue some of his crazy adventures that I'm not super interested in doing (like multi-pitch climbs or kayaking) without feeling guilty that he's taking up limited time in a certain location. We're both super excited to see where this freedom takes us (together and apart) and can't wait to see how our adventure interests develop.
Where will you camp?
Our goal is to camp free as often as possible. We only paid for one campsite on our entire 21-day Canada trip, so we're pretty confident we can do this thanks to BLM lands! A lot of people assume we camp in National Parks, but we actually almost never do! For one, National Parks are not a great place for dogs (boo), not to mention camping in National Parks at $15/night adds up fast. We prefer the isolation and freedom of BLM lands and thankfully, there are plenty to choose from in almost every state on our list! For more info on how we find free campsites, be sure to check out this blog post.
What if you hate it? Don't you need a kitchen? How will you shower? How will you SURVIVE?!
Okay, I get it, this all sounds a little crazy but we promise we semi know what we're doing and it probably won't just crash and burn. As far as amenities go, we have looked at every type of camper on the market (including camper vans...haha remember that? rip #vivathevan) and have decided that simplicity is everything. Because we've never truly done this lifestyle before, we want to start with the bare minimum and build from there. So, we are leaving with our reliable Subaru Outback and a very minimalistic camper that is basically just a full-sized bed and storage! As far as amenities go, we will bring our Yeti cooler, a propane-powered camping stove, and possibly a road shower. From there, we will add things as we need them and re-evaulate our systems in a few months. We have the mindset of we'd rather decide we need something and then purchase it, than blindly make a bunch of purchases and end up not needing them.
So...when will you settle down and get real jobs?
Ok thankfully most people in our life know better than to ask this question, but just in case you're thinking it...we do have real jobs, and we don't know if/when we'll settle down but I like to think if we do, it'll be an educated decision after visiting many many prospects :)
PHEW. That was more than I anticipated I'd write, but hopefully this clears some air for those of you with questions, and of course, we'd love to hear from you (whether you're a personal friend or not!) if you have any questions or advice! We wouldn't be able to do this without the support of our friends, family, and those of you who follow our adventures. We are so so thankful for everyone that has walked with us through this decision and we hope you'll continue to pray for us as we hit the road! Blue skies everyone!!!!