Camille is a geologist, rock climber, writer, and photographer. She is forever entertained in nature and it’s reflected in her work. After wrapping up graduate school in December 2015, she bought a used 2001 Toyota 4Runner and spent the better part of 2016 solo on the road in the western United States.
The solo time gave her many gifts, including the ability to focus and figure out what is important for her life. When Camille contacted us she wrote:
My soul has awakened in a such a way that it will never go to sleep. I’ve become braver and more ambitious in terms of what I want to do for my self, for adventure, work etc. and have a stoke in my fire that burns like the sun.
How valuable is that? Learn more about Camille in her interview below.
How did your lifestyle come to be?
I TA’d a geology summer field camp in Montana while attending grad school at the University of Washington, Seattle. Everyday at sunset we’d drive home from the field on endless, golden, winding, open, big sky highways. Grad school had been tough and all I wanted was to keep driving down these roads with freedom to roam and explore wherever, for however long I wanted. So when I finished school in December, 2015, I bought my truck, packed it up for the next few months, and set out to do exactly that. Along the way I developed loose plans of a big loop through the southwest, climbing, snowboarding, photographing, writing, hiking, exploring and catching up with a few friends.
Why the Toyota 4Runner? How did you kit it out for travel?
I wanted to be able to sleep in my car and still carry all the gear I needed to adventure. I also wanted something reliable for the kind of mileage I was going to put on the car. Initially a Tacoma was the dream but as I was looking around for used cars I realized how expensive they were and how many alterations I would need to make to that truck to kit it out how I wanted (shell, build a deck, the right windows etc). There were a few 4Runners in the lot. I looked over and realized it was already set up for what I wanted… The shell was there, it was cheaper and they just looked so good. I fit perfectly behind the driver’s seat for sleeping and the rest of my gear lived neatly beside me in a few bags and plastic crates.
What did you learn about yourself by traveling solo?
I think the main thing I have learned is how much I need and enjoy time alone in nature. It can be so unleashing for your mind and soul. I dreamt big on that trip and some of those dreams are already coming true in full force.
How did you combat loneliness?
If I had service, I’d call friends and family. If not, I’d take photos, find constellations, or hope for a new friend and wait for universe to faithfully deliver.
You studied geology in undergrad and graduate school. Because of that knowledge, you’ve said that you’re “forever entertained in nature.” Where are three of the more geologically interesting areas you’ve visited in the past ten months?
Arches National Park, UT
Red Rocks, NV
Capitol Reef, UT
And I’m going to add a fourth that wasn’t on my road trip… the Himalayas.
Do you have any tips for other women who want to live on the road like you did?
Do it. Be brave, be respectful of nature, open your mind to new possibilities, and get absorbed by the beauty and vast wilderness our country has to offer. If you aren’t done with a place, stay. If something doesn’t feel right, leave. Do exactly what you want and take the necessary time to meditate on what that is. Dream big, be safe.
Take a photo of your five must have items for travel in your Toyota 4Runner.
Is there anything that became a luxury in your “road life” that wasn’t in your Seattle grad school life?
Freedom, time, mindfulness, ambition.
Where are you now and where will you be in one month?
I am currently in Yosemite National Park for a Geology internship. In one month I will still be there, after that, I have no idea and I love not knowing.
Photos by and courtesy of Camille Collett.
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