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  • Writer's pictureBlaine Hoppenrath

Women On The Road Gathering

A few years ago a couple of coworkers were sitting in my office asking ourselves what we would do if we got let go (we were downsizing at the time and it seemed like everyone was on the chopping block). When it was my turn I confidently answered "I'd live in a van down by the river and be a park ranger." One of my coworkers looked at me and replied "huh, it all makes sense now" as if that answer was some magnificent insight to my life. And truthfully, it sort of was (and is). I have dreamed about my own sprinter van, and being completely nomadic.

Flash forward a few years, and this weekend I drove up to Taos, New Mexico to attend the first ever "Women on the Road" Gathering. It was put on by @vanlifeidaries and the Women on the Road Podcast and about 150 women gathered at Hotel Luna Mystica.

I got to the site a littler later than I wanted, and was staying in the bunk house, because, well I don't own a van. So it was a little intimidating being on the outside because I am not on the road full time. I didn't know what to talk about, even though I was curious about their lifestyle. I got there in time for Ira Wolf to play a short concert. I had never heard her before but instantly fell in love with her music. While I don't live in a van, moving every couple years makes it hard to put down roots, so her music was insanely relatable. I met a gal name Kelsey out of Denver who was not a full time van lifer but came down in her SUV where she was crashing.

I didn't stay up too late after the concert, because work had kicked my butt that week. But I did wake up refreshed. I met a wonderful woman named Lexi at the breakfast table, she was a Canadien visiting in Flagstaff and hitched a ride to the event with a van lifer from Cali who was passing thru. She was an absolute joy to talk to (and hopefully will be seeing her after the New Year in Flag!).

I met several other amazing women, including an IG hero @emilyventures, the hosts of @she_explores and @womenontheorad podcasts and a couple of ladies that I just clicked with. I got a picture with Gail from She Explore and Laura rom Women on the Road and my best friend Anna (via iPad). I also went to a host of seminars about being on the road and what it takes to do it full time.

I enjoyed the weekend and was so grateful to see Michelle, a woman who was on the road full time in her Ford Transit. We got along very well and she even stopped by Albuquerque (and will be again at the end of December). We enjoyed talking about everything when she spent the night at my place and I CANNOT wait to see her again.

I left the weekend with mixed emotions. Everyone I met was wonderful and I will take those relationships with me as I continue my journey. But I also left really questioning if van life is for me. And I really don't know. Sometimes I really want a home, and other times Im not so sure. For right now I would love to make long term travel happen (but that could be difficult with work), so who really knows how a van will fit into my future.

Maybe one day I will be that park ranger living in a van down by the river, but until then you can catch me on the railroad.

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