written by: Susan Lacke
Like most outdoor enthusiasts, Matt and Sarah Park lived for the weekend—days spent hiking and rock climbing and nights spent at campsites with friends. They worked at their tedious 9-to-5 jobs during the week, counting down the minutes until Friday afternoon, where they could breathe in mountain air and relief until Monday morning. Then the grind would begin again. The dread of Monday morning hit them like a ton of bricks each week. What were they doing? And why?
“I realized I didn’t want to be tied down to a job I didn’t like to pay for an apartment I didn’t really need,” says Matt. Sarah agreed. The decision to quit their jobs, end their rental lease in Lehi, and convert a Chevy Express into a home on wheels was a risky one, but they soon realized bigger risks yield bigger rewards.
“By living in a van, we can afford to only work part-time at flexible jobs that allow us the freedom to pursue opportunities at the drop of a hat,” says Matt—opportunities like popping down to southern Utah for a week-long assignment as a climbing guide or taking a five-week job to climb Mount Denali. Their blog, Simply Mountain People, contains more adventure from two years of van life than most people experience in a lifetime. They don’t make a lot of money or have a lot of stuff, they admit, but they don’t really need much, either.
“The freedom, not being tied down, not needing a lot of money—it’s quite liberating. Being out in the world and meeting people is fun, hearing their stories and learning from them. Being able to travel slow and not have to rush back from a weekend of climbing to be at work on Monday is awesome.”
“I think the American dream is changing,” says Park. “A lot of people in my generation are going against the grain—not going for the career, house and boat. We saw what our parents and grandparents did and want something different.”
See more inside our 2017 July/August Issue.