Eva And Jordan Go
Eva and her boyfriend Jordan are traveling the United States in their jam-packed Jeep Wrangler. Camping in a tent, they’re on a mission to see every National Park America has to offer.
Learn from Eva how their trip came to be, and how she’s using it to gain a newfound appreciation for America. Interview below!
Why did you and your boyfriend Jordan decide to travel to all of America’s National Parks within a year?
Jordan and I met working for lululemon athletica, where we both worked for about three years prior to life on the road. As a company they instill living in possibility and setting big/scary goals for your life, the kind of things you would do if nothing were standing in your way. From the start of our relationship I have felt that Jordan has always believed in me, and he has always supported me through many endeavors (like pursuing my art, selling knit beanies, completing a triathlon together) and I, him. Neither of us were experienced campers at the time, but we were curious.
We followed that curiosity, borrowing friends’ camping gear and began to explore the Texas State Parks around us. This alone was very eye opening. I had no idea the state I grew up in was so beautiful. We then started acquiring our own gear and were itching to camp every weekend. We’d talk about our desire to travel, and of the many places we’d love to explore. Yellowstone, the Tetons, and oddly the Everglades were a few of the first to make the list. I halfway jokingly said, what if we did them all at once?
We completely bought into the idea that we could create this life of adventure and exploration and things began to snowball. We were constantly day dreaming and talking about this life on the road. It no longer lived as just an idea once we committed to leaving, without a clue how to pull it off. About four months out we began saving, made some lifestyle changes, and put in our notice of leave with work. It’s pretty amazing when you share what you’re up to with the people around you: they support and show up in the most incredible ways. With less money than necessary to sustain life on the road for a year, we set out.
What is your “home” on the road?
We live out of a 2-door Jeep Wrangler, packed to the brim with two weeks worth of clothing, a cooler, and our camping gear. Most nights we sleep in our Marmot 3p tent, with the exception of staying with family and friends along the way. We considered getting an RV before we left, but with the cost and maintenance we decided taking Jordan’s Jeep made more sense. In turn, this has allowed us to get to some primitive campsites in the backcountry, and explore back roads that otherwise would be inaccessible (like the 100 mile white rim off-road trail in Canyonlands NP.- highly recommend).
What is the first thing you do when you arrive at a National Park?
If the park has a campground, the very first thing we do is try to snag a campsite. We often don’t plan ahead where we will be staying, but rather show up and hope for a first-come first-serve site. If there’s nothing available we will either camp right outside the park on BLM land, post up at a nearby campground, or apply for a backcountry permit and hike in for a site.
With 58 parks in the US, you average more than one park a week in a year. How do you budget your time to get the most out of a park and hit them all?
We allotted roughly a week for each park, planning our route mainly with weather in mind to maximize our access to the area. We have chosen to stay only a couple days at some parks, and longer for the parks we fall in love with. Of the eight months we’ve been traveling to the National Parks, it tends to balance out.
What have you and Jordan learned about each other on this journey?
I have always felt that Jordan sees me as the best version of myself, and the trip has highlighted this. It’s easy to get bent out of shape over so much unknown, (how will we afford this, where are we sleeping tonight, the adjustment in lifestyle, or what food can I quickly whip up in this state of hunger) and through a steep learning curve we’ve learned to better support each other in these moments. We’ve learned the importance of creating routines, roles, and working together through anything that comes our way. We have discovered that when we incorporate a creative outlet, physical activity, and quiet time into our day, we can show up for one another how we would like to. I’ve learned that Jordan’s creativity, kindness, and ability to make me laugh is a constant, and there’s no one else I’d rather have by my side through life’s many adventures.
Take a photo of your five must have items for life on the road.
- lululemon Fluffin Awesome Jacket -prior to the trip I had never owned a puff, growing up in Texas it just wasn’t needed. We are constantly changing elevation and weather as we journey to each park and this jacket has been worn more than any other piece of gear I have.
- Chacos -I was gifted these bad boys right before we left and now I couldn’t imagine being on the road without them. (they make excellent shower shoes too)
- Watercolor postcard kit -a creative outlet on the road is a must for me.
- GoPro HERO4 -small, easy to use, weather proof (with case), perfect for play. Great for capturing our adventures.
- Catan Dice Game -we pretty much wore uno out and have moved on to Catan. We game almost every night before bed, and sometimes in the morning with coffee.
There has been a lot of talk lately about overcrowding and misuse of public spaces. The most recent mishap involved the men behind a popular social media handle walking on the Prismatic Hot Springs in Yellowstone. How do you think we can better raise awareness about the best way to use and respect public land?
This experience has made me more aware of the impact l have on the environment, and on our beloved National Parks. When we began, we didn’t understand why it is so important to stay on trail, or fully realize why we leave everything in its natural state. By using social media as a platform not only to inspire, but also educate others on Leave No Trace principles, we can raise awareness about this impact, giving people the tools to fully realize the consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, there will always be people who knowingly break the rules, but if we can educate the majority on proper usage, we can make a huge dent in how we interact with the outdoors as a whole.
What is your favorite “off the beaten path” National Park?
Dry Tortugas National Park. This park takes a little extra planning and work to get to, but is more than worth it. To me, it is America’s hidden gem. After driving down to Key West, we hopped on the Yankee Freedom ferry, and rode 70 miles out into the ocean. There are only ten campsites on the island, no running water, no electricity, and it is easily the most secluded I have ever felt in a park. Ruins of an old naval fort take up most of the island. We camped on the beach for three days, snorkeled, learned the history of the island, and walked to another key that is only accessible in the winter when the tide is down. It may be my love for the ocean and interest in history that made this park so special to me, but it’s truly a unique experience for anyone who is willing to go the extra mile.
Do you feel like you have a better appreciation for America after visiting 31 parks?
Absolutely! This experience of America has blown me away, and the people are just as beautiful as the places we get to explore. Our country has so many different terrains and unique places that are right in our own backyard. From the importance of preserving the land we call home, to the numerous memorable experiences and interactions we’ve had, I appreciate the country that I’m from in a whole new way.
Where are you now and where will you be in one month?
We are currently in Colorado Springs, coincidentally where both Jordan and my dad grew up. We are visiting family and friends before we head to Rocky Mountain National Park. In a month, we will be traveling through the Pacific Northwest, seeing a part of the country neither of us has been to. We are continuing our work with QALO, sharing stories and moments from our experiences on the road.
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How many National Parks have you been to? Which is next on your list?
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