In this edition of Gnomad Homies, we talk with the one and only Jane from Rock Meets Soil! If you are looking for an account to follow that will encourage you to get out of your shell a bit, dance a little longer and laugh a little harder – she is your girl!
She just wrapped up about 3 months van hopping in Australia, but most of the time you can find her galavanting about the US in her 1989 Tiger conversion vehicle, Teeg!
So read on, give her a follow @rockmeetssoil, and prepare to respond to all of her posts clapping your hands and saying “Yessss girll!! Amen!”
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So, where are you from?
I grew up in the Midwest in a tiny farming town in Northern Indiana. I was an exchange student in southern Spain for a year when I was 17-18 and spent time in Norway after graduating. Ended up in Colorado at 19 and have found a home base in the mountains the last nine years in between travels to Costa Rica, Australia and around the American West.
Where are you currently located?
Carbondale, Colorado is my home base. I just returned from a three-month trip van hopping around Australia and spent a few weeks down in Arizona. My (loose) plan is to work here for a month or two replenishing the bank account then hit the road for the summer van life gatherings, one of which I’ll be hosting in Virginia. After that, who knows.
What are you traveling in?
Teeg, a 1989 Tiger conversion on a Chevy Astro base
How long have you been living in this? Do you live in it full time or part time?
I have been living in vans full time since November 2015. I’ve had my current van, Teeg, since January of 2017.
What’s your favorite part about living the van life?
It allows me to do more of what I love, which makes life more meaningful. Whether that means I get more time on the road or just more time to myself to put pen to paper and create, not having all of the bills associated with living in a house or apartment allows me to save more money for life experiences and spend my time in more fulfilling ways than working all the time. I also really love the aspect that my home and everything I own and need to live are on wheels and can go anywhere with me, anytime.
What is your least favorite part about van life?
I can’t grow a garden and I don’t have a bathtub.
What were you doing in life before you decided to do this?
I was working multiple jobs to pay the bills and make a living for many years before I made the decision to live in a van full time. Even before finding Carbondale and a home base, I was always struggling to make enough to take care of everything AND pursue some creative ideas of my own AND still be able to travel.
I was always working for someone else’s dream and it was always a compromise; what was I going to give up? Usually it was my own passion projects that would get put on the backburner because I never had the time or energy to put toward them. Since I started living in a van I have taken back my time and have been able to focus much more energy on my own goals. I have started a website and business of my own and have pursued more creative ideas in the last two and a half years than in the last decade of my life.
What are your favorite features of your van? Anything specifically unique?
My current van has a few perks. Whoever designed the hard-top Tiger conversion knew what they were doing.
Favorite features: 3-burner stove, outdoor vented propane furnace with a thermostat that I can reach from my bed, guest bed that folds down, bathroom that I converted to closet/storage, and a flat roof perfect for star gazing.
What do you do for income on the road?
I have a few sources of income, depending on whether I am on the road or not. I run my blog and online shop, Rock Meets Soil, which I can do from anywhere. I do make money off the website through writings and the shop, but I do not make a living off of it yet. For the last five and a half years, when not traveling, I was the production coffee roaster for a cafe in Carbondale. I just quit that job upon returning from Australia though, moving away from the safety and security of a stable income to motivate me to pursue my own goals a little bit more. At the moment I am bartending for a month or two to replenish the bank account after the last few months traveling abroad, planning to hit the road again by May.
What have been your favorite locations thus far, and why?
Australia—I hopped between 14 different vans over the course of three months exploring Western Australia and the whole southern and eastern coastlines up to the Sushine Coast.
Page, AZ/Kanab, UT area with all of the amazing geological beauties to explore.
Driving the entirety of the PCH up into the Redwoods.
Witnessing the Super Bloom in March 2016 in Death Valley. The desert floor looked like it had golden carpets for miles.
What are some things you brought with you that you use nearly everyday?
- My pillow
- Single egg pan and my coffee setup
- LED light strings and BioLite PowerLight Mini
- Portable jump starter. Luckily I don’t have to jump start the van every day, but I do use the power bank to keep things charged.
- JBL Xtreme speaker because I always have music or a podcast on. Doubles as a power bank backup.
- Dry Shampoo
- Plenty of notebooks and writing utensils
How about things you brought with you that you ended up never or rarely using?
Hmm, I have to think back to the first few months for this one. I know I tried to bring too many clothes in the beginning, especially sharing the space with my ex-partner. I definitely got rid of a lot of clothing after just a few weeks. Same with dishes; you really only need one, maybe two, of anything. I bought this funny trash can, dry bag thing that we never used, except for camping. We also bought a camp shower that I don’t think we used once because it was never near as hard to find a place to wash ourselves as we thought it would be.
At this point I’ve pretty much got everything I need and not much extra, although I am about to purge my clothing again soon.
Is there anything you miss from your former lifestyle?
I miss being able to grow a garden, taking bubble baths and using a full size oven. That’s my list.
What do you do in your free time? What are your favorite activities?
This is THE reason I continue to live in a van: because it has given me my freedom of time back. This is an incredible luxury in today’s society, yet I feel like everyone should have this freedom.
As mentioned earlier, prior to moving into a van I never had the time or energy to pursue some of the ideas I had or day dreams I let my mind entertain itself with; I was always working multiple jobs just to make ends meet in the beautiful places I wanted to live in.
In van life, my ends meet pretty easily. The first month I moved into the van I started the blog, which was just a travel diary with some van life stuff thrown in. Through the inspiration I found on the road, out in nature, in the people I met and the histories I learned about in new places, I let Rock Meets Soil evolve itself into what it is today and it’s still changing after every share.
It may sound silly, but because of van life I have been able to find a path that I am very passionate about, with plenty of time and energy to devote to it. I needed that. We all need something like that. I don’t know where it’s going to take me, but I’m all in, hands up, ready for whatever wild journey this path is going to take me on.
Besides all of that ramble, I enjoy writing more than I ever have, having more time to be outdoors whether hiking or just laying on the bank of a river, spending more time with friends, acquaintances and strangers learning about other lives and stories, finding more time for meditation, and dancing.
What advice would you give someone considering traveling full time in a van?
Please be respectful…to Mother Nature and to all of the people and places you encounter on your travels. Abide by parking rules, camping rules and town ordinances. Don’t overstay your welcome and don’t be a burden to family and friends after choosing this lifestyle. Practice Leave No Trace when you’re off the grid and always pack it in, pack it out. Please don’t be disrespectful. Find the joy in the simple things in life and pass that feeling onto others.
What’s your favorite meal to make in the van?
Veggies and quinoa. I always have a bunch of veggies on hand and will saute or grill them up and serve them with quinoa or rice or beans, or all of those things. Doesn’t matter what or how many different vegetables; they’re all good. By switching up the spices and flavors used you can turn this into a variety of different meals..burritos, over salad greens, as is, as tacos, in soup, etc., etc. I love vegetables.