Indy | The Equinox Odyssey
Indy is the quintessential free spirit – she’s a photographer, blogger, thrifter, and wandering road tripper. She documents her travel and van life at The Equinox Odyssey.
We talked to Indy about her beloved van, Trixy, life on and off the road, nurturing her creative spark, and what it’s been like to say goodbye to the vehicle that came to be so much more than just a mode of transportation.
Tell us about your first van, “Trixy.” Why did you choose a ‘91 Chevy Van 20?
I found my van,Trixy, for sale in a parking lot on a drive to town. I made the same drive every day, and every time I’d just stare longingly at her as I drove by. One day I stopped to take a closer look, and within the next few weeks she was mine. I wasn’t actively looking for an adventure vehicle, but she appeared and it happened. I bought her because she was there and I could actually afford her.
You wrote that Trixy is a symbol of your independence. In what ways has owning a van inspired you take chances?
Choosing to purchase a van is the best decision I have ever made. I didn’t buy it jointly with another person. I didn’t do it to impress anyone. I didn’t do it because people told me not to (and oh, boy, did they ever tell me not to). I wanted a vehicle to travel in. It was something that I had wanted for years, and I finally had an opportunity to do it, so I did.
The act of buying this van empowered me. I hadn’t even taken a trip in her yet, but I already felt more alive, and I was proud of myself for doing something “grown up” all by myself, for taking my future and my dreams into my own hands. This really opened up to door for me to become a more independent and adventurous decision maker.
Did you grow up travelling? In what ways has it become a part of your life?
My family and I travelled together at least once a year while I was growing up. We visited a lot of historically significant places in the east (Virginia, Philadelphia, Washington DC) which most definitely helped inspire my love of history. We visited Door County, Wisconsin most often, and I loved it so much it’s now my permanent home.
You’ve recently had to take Trixy off the road. How did it feel when you knew you wouldn’t be able to fix her?
I was on a trip in Florida when I learned that Trixy wasn’t able to be completely fixed. It was a terrible week. I cried in the auto repair shop. I cried in my van. I cried everywhere. My fiancé and his family (who we were visiting at the time) didn’t understand why I was so upset over a “nasty old van,” and that made things even harder.
Trixy isn’t just a vehicle to me. She’s not the car I use for everyday driving, so literally every memory I have of her is somewhat epic. Even though the people I’ve travelled with have changed, she has remained the constant on so many of my adventures. Seeing her go is like saying goodbye to an old friend.
Have you found a replacement van? If no, what are you looking for in your next road trip vehicle?
I would absolutely love to find a different Chevy Van 20. I love Trixy’s set up, so it’d be perfect to just upgrade to one that’s just maybe not so rusty (Trixy’s biggest problem at the end was all the rust underneath making repairs pretty impossible). I hold out hope for that special Chevy, but lately I’ve been a little bummed out with the market for old vans in my area.
If I can’t find another Chevy Van 20, then I think I’ll start seriously looking at newer vans and SUV’s. Something with all wheel drive would be awesome. I think Ford Transit Connects are kinda cute and pretty perfect for what I have in mind, so perhaps one of those will be my next investment.
You call Wisconsin home. What do you love about it?
I live on Wisconsin’s peninsula, so I’m surrounded by the beautiful fresh coast. I love visiting the beaches and the state parks, and I love being a local in a tourist town. The winters are quiet and perfect for planning what road trips to undertake next.
What tips do you have for women who also want to live on the road part time? How do you balance being “on” and “off” the road?
Living on the road is my absolute favorite thing in the world, but it is essential for me to have a permanent home base. The biggest reason for this is that I have three cats, and one of them is handicapped, so taking them on the road with me would not only be crazy, but definitely not in their best interest. If it wasn’t for them I could travel nonstop probably forever, but I am so happy to be a cat mom, so I make it work. I also get to do things like work in my garden and visit my family more during the summer, which is another reason having time off from traveling is awesome. Right now I use my spring and summer to work long hours and build up my savings so I can afford to travel during the winter.
- Plan everything. Planning is the most important part for me. I want to make the most of all my trips, so I research and plan meticulously during my time at home. It’s important to take into account destinations, costs, time, gas prices, emergency maintenance, weather, parking, ect.
- Save, save, save like you’ve never saved before. Saving money is also one of the most important things for me to do while living off the road. Prioritizing spending where it’s needed and limiting it where it’s not necessary is crucial.
- Take special care of your adventure vehicle not only on the road, but off. Keep the oil changed and keep up with maintenance. Store your vehicle when it’s not in use in a garage or storage unit (seriously, especially in the winter). If you live or are travelling in a place with snowy and icy winters, be sure to get regular car washes that include washing the underside of your vehicle – salt is not your friend!
Take a photo of your five must-have items for van life.
- Reading material – I always have a ton of books with me on the road. I love reading, and it’s good to have something relaxing to do when you’re not busy with other things. Exploring local libraries is something I find fun to do when it’s rainy. It’s so cozy, and you don’t even need to buy coffee to use the wi-fi like you do in a lot of cafes. Many times I’ve found that libraries have stacks of free magazines for people to take. It’s the best when I can find old National Geographics!
- Camera – I always will have at least one camera, but most likely I will have four or five. I like to have a DSLR, and 35mm, and some instant cameras handy, just to keep things interesting.
- Notebook – It’s important for me to have a notebook along for journaling, but it can also come in handy for things like jotting down lists and writing letters.
- Hiking boots – I love love love my Keen hiking boots. I didn’t have proper hiking footwear until recently, but now that I do I could never leave them at home. Even if I’m traveling someplace where hiking on trails isn’t part of the plan, I love having a good sturdy pair of shoes along, just in case.
- Comfy socks – I always overpack big thick socks because I become a miserable crank when I am cold. Having backup socks is a lifesaver (even if you’re traveling in warmer climates!). I even keep a couple pairs in an old plastic grocery bag so if I am traveling somewhere humid and everything inevitably becomes damp (ugh), at least my feet can be somewhat comfortable.
Does travel invigorate you creatively? How do you feel when you return home?
Being in an unfamiliar place and out of my comfort zone is great for my creative process. Not to mention that the US is such a diverse country! It’s possible to experience so many different people, cultures, and climates in just one trip. I honestly believe that this is healthy not only for me, but everybody. Seeing things with fresh eyes can invigorate the soul and spark creativity.
My passion is photography, specifically wildlife photography. I love being able to travel and learn about different species by experiencing their climates and habitats firsthand. Actually observing animals through my lens and in person makes me fall in love with each of them one by one, and this is one of my greatest joys. My hope is that I will ultimately be able to use images from my travels to help promote interest in travel, conservation, and love for our planet.
Seeing things with fresh eyes can invigorate the soul and spark creativity.
I’m always anxious to return home after a long trip. I love seeing my kitties when I walk in the door, and I can’t wait to finally sit down to edit all the photos I’ve taken. It doesn’t take long for me to start dreaming and planning my next trip.
Where to next?
Lately I’ve really been interested in experimenting with film photography, especially instant film. For some reason I’m always drawn to washed out polaroid photos of the desert, so I decided that in the next couple of months I will be hitting the road towards the southwest! I’ve been stocking up on film, and I’m itching to get shooting!
Photos courtesy of Indy / The Equinox Odyssey.
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