Originally, Jordan is from Pensacola, Florida and Candice is from Buffalo, New York. Go Bills!
Candice started as a kid hiking and exploring on four-wheelers around her family’s land in western New York in the Boston Hills. Jordan started exploring neighborhoods and woods near his, by bike, and then camping trips and hiking with the scouts.
We both are artists and actually met in art school at the Savannah College of Art and Design back in 2004. Candice is a Pre-Production Artist specializing in Design for Animation and Jordan is a Visual Effects artist who works in Film. We became friends in college and stayed good friends living and working separately in Los Angeles and San Francisco. A night in Vegas aligned some stars and we switched it up to being more than friends, first exploring and backpacking together in California and then Germany. We moved together to live in London, England exploring Spain, Portugal, France, the Canary Islands and our surroundings, by cheap flights. We then moved to San Francisco and decided to take a month-long trip backpacking in Patagonia. This trip really sparked up our desire for type 2 fun and adventure, later leading to us working and living in New Zealand for two years, exploring the North and South Islands and ultimately leading to us moving to Vancouver, Canada, where we were still in close proximity to the mountains, but now also closer to family. Ultimately we got married on the summit of the Grand Teton in Wyoming; hiking up to the top was when we made the decision to drive the Pan-American Highway.
Art has honestly been a real help literally everywhere. Candice is very fast at drawing cartoons and it turns out everyone everywhere, enjoys a quick drawing of their favorite animal in front of their eyes. This skill has brightened people’s days, been used at border crossings, used when language was a bit of a barrier and just as plain gifts to new friends. I think it really goes a long way and it led us to teaching kids at an orphanage in Mexico how to draw, painting murals in Peru and Ecuador, and creating stickers for us to trade with people we met on the road. Using this skill to teach children how to draw, was also a fulfilling way to share some of our talents with the communities we would be guests in. Both of us being artists, we tend to look at the landscapes and villages we encounter, through the eyes of seeking beauty and always want to share the amazing glimpses we find with others.
We have both taken emergency medical certifications, and somewhat know our way mechanically around the Delica — especially after camperizing it and the two-year drive — but we feel that those are just great things to have a working knowledge of and we are by no means professionals.
In general we are both pretty handy and like to learn, and that ambition and drive keeps us creative and helps us get unstuck when we find ourselves in stressful, or challenging situations while exploring.
Together we have explored most states in the USA, Canadian Rockies and western Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany, Portugal, Italy, New Zealand, and Eastern Australia. The pan-American Highway trip took us through all of North and South American, except a couple countries in Central America that would not allow right hand drive vehicles.
We really enjoy backpacking and getting to places solely by our two feet. We’ve elevated our knowledge and skills of mountaineering, climbing and being able to go farther with less gear, giving us more flexibility and safety in unexplored (to us) areas. This latest trip has allowed us to link hundreds of these foot-powered missions together in further places, giving us the opportunity to use a mobile home base to still explore off the beaten track, by foot.
Hiking the GR20 in Corsica is something we’ve been wanting to do while our knees are still capable. Candice met this guy randomly on a plane who told her about the hike and it’s been in her mind ever since.
Driving across Europe through Russia route would be incredible in so many ways, one being the chance to explore areas our family’s originally came from and two being able to climb some incredible mountains.
A destination closer to our current home, would be hiking some or all of the Great Divide Trail through the Canadian Rockies. Candice actually created the new logo for the trail marker so it would be pretty cool to hike and see that.
We have never visited somewhere that sucked. Our suggestion is to go anywhere that is new to you, go with an open mind, and try to meet as many people as possible and do as much as you can while you’re there. Anything that gets you out of your comfort zone will be an amazing and fulfilling experience.
1997 Mitsubishi Delica Van named Bagheera. It’s 4x4, but we have it lifted a bit and bigger tires on it to be able to go a bit further into remote areas. We gutted the van and self-built a “micro home” inside allowing us to travel with our bed, kitchen, and electronics/power.
We both feel that life is too short and there are too many amazing things to see before time’s up. If we didn’t have to work and could constantly travel and explore the world, we still wouldn’t have enough time to see it all. So we are especially excited about seeing the places we have the chance to, after saving up enough to take long amounts of time to immerse ourselves in new cultures and places.
I guess that depends on the situation, but we are very friendly and volunteer frequently. On our Pan-American trip we somewhat molded our journey around volunteer opportunities, which in turn created some lifelong friendships. We find that giving back to communities that you live in or are traveling through only results in positive outcomes, like knowledge on climbs you didn’t know about or a rad camp spot that wasn’t on your radar previously.
That’s the whole point right?! You’re not going on a trip like this to be a hermit in your van. You’re going to meet people, see how people live in places you’ve never been, see their culture, eat what they eat, check out their history and listen to their stories. The people we have met have shaped our trip into what it is. The stories and experiences we’ve been through with new friends are some of the most important in our lives. We believe that to be happy and fulfilled in life you need to have challenge, change of pace, and frequent activity. Exploring the world gets you out of your comfort zone and keeps you sharp. It also affords you the opportunity to learn about other cultures and build a life for yourself that takes from many traditions and many peoples, often making you a more rounded person.
Our goals are generally to see and do as much as possible while leaving a positive mark on the places we visit. We do that by trying to talk to locals and learn about how they live and their history, sharing pieces of ourselves and our story with those who are interested, and always trying to leave a place better than we found it — through leave no trace practices, by teaching a skill to local children, or by adding something creative and beautiful like a mural to help brighten a community.
We have experienced all kinds of mechanical issues and setbacks on the trip — we blew a head in Anchorage, AK and had to source and ship all the parts from Vancouver, while living out of our backpacks in Grizzly Bear country for two weeks while it was fixed. We have suffered the pain any traveler knows of eating the wrong food in the wrong place. People have broken into our van and stolen our possessions. We have been lost, out of service, off schedule and sometimes felt like things are just all going wrong.
The best thing we’ve found to deal with all of this is to try and look for the brightness, we’ve always had each other, and we can always find happiness in looking at how lucky we are to be able to live the way we want, knowing that the hardships often make the successes feel even better.
We’ve had many rewards at the end of super tough hikes, and many life realizations after a few close calls. But I’d say the winner of the chicken dinner would be climbing up to the summit of the Grand Teton and getting hitched by a guide (who is now a friend) who was ordained by the Big Lebowski’s Church of Dude. Perfectly legal in the state of Wyoming. Tying the knot literally and figuratively of our harnesses together on the top of our favorite mountain after a stunning climb, basically solidified our union adventuring forward together. And two new friends surprised us by summiting at the same time to be our witnesses and brought us Reese’s cups.
We have definitely become more appreciative of the kindness of others, and especially of the feeling of a hot shower. We are both more patient and often look at problems in more logical ways instead of letting emotion take over in a stressful situation.
Right now, we are living in a small town surrounded by mountains and rivers in every direction. During the week, it could be a short or longer walk with our dog or a lunch-time run up a hill. On the weekends we try to get out a bit further by driving up a forest service road we’ve never been up, finding a long hike or backpacking trip to take us into the wild, or looking for an interesting place we’ve never visited.
For us, it seems like a pretty solid way to live your life. You’re never going to explore every little corner of this earth and beyond, but we’re going to give it our best shot. The idea of always seeking the unknown keeps us mentally and physically healthy and happy.
Just go for it. There’s always going to be something that comes up or tries to get in your way, but you have to push that aside and get out there and do it. Adventuring becomes way easier once you take the first step of just going. And post-it notes can help… Put post-it notes on your wall of all the obstacles you need to tackle to get to that goal of starting your trip. It might seem a little crazy but we literally wrote down every task we needed to do on multi-color post-it notes, before moving out of our apartment and into our van full time. We found that seeing everything that needed to be done helped push us in the right direction as we counted down the days til the end of our lease. Put them in a place you see everyday, and get yourself as prepared as possible. But don’t let that hold you back, set a date, quit your job, get things in order and if you haven’t accomplished all the things you need to get done by that time, go anyway.
Definitely easier today, though we can’t compare 1:1 obviously… But there’s much more infrastructure and gear for everything we do these days. They used to climb mountains in wool and hobnail boots… Today we use lightweight tech materials… That being said, to really get out there on your own these days, you have to put in way more work to get farther out and work a bit harder to find untouched places.