Two Happy Campers
Michele and Mark live in the Colorado Rockies, but spend as much of their free time as is possible on the road in their camper. They’ve built a freelance photography business that allows them the flexibility to travel much of the year. The photographs below are the perfect evidence of that! Learn more – interview with Michele after the jump.
All photos above and below (C) 2015 Two Happy Campers
Meet Visual & Thoughtful Michele
When did you begin taking extended trips in your truck camper?
Three years ago we took our first overseas trip to Ireland. While we were there we realized that the cost and hassle didn’t seem worth it when there was so much to be explored right out our back door in the United States. That combined with the flexible schedule that our business allows made traveling & camping around the American West seem like the perfect fit for us. Six months after our trip to Ireland we purchased our truck and camper and began taking extended trips right away.
How do you know when it’s time to set off?
Living on the road full-time is something I see us doing in the not too distant future. For now, we’ve struck a nice balance between being at home in Colorado enough to maintain our business and being on the road enough to satisfy our wandering spirits. Our business allows us to be fairly location independent October-May. During that time we set off on various trips lasting anywhere from 2-6 weeks.
What have you learned about Mark that you might not have without these trips?
Safety and preparedness are two of Mark’s top priorities in life and problem-solving is his #1 skill. He takes calculated risks but is never reckless. When we travel deep in to the backcountry I’m always confident that we’re prepared for any situation. I’ve known Mark for 12 years and can confidently say that being on the road brings out his best traits. It’s incredibly sexy.
If you and Mark’s “camper roles” were a Venn diagram, how would they overlap? How would they differ?
I photograph, write about and generally document our travels while Mark handles all the functional aspects of camp such as chopping wood, filtering water and seeing to it that we’re generating enough solar. We always work together to cook meals, set up and tear down camp.
How much ground do you typically cover on your travels?
With the abundance of scenery and public lands, anywhere from the Rockies to the Pacific Coast is fair game. The seasons and weather generally dictate which direction we go but we rarely make any set plans. This kind of travel does not require any itineraries or reservations and I think that’s why I’m so drawn to it. If we see a cool road and think “I wonder where that goes”, we go find out. If we find a sweet camp site we stay for as long as we wish. I live for this kind of spontaneity.
What’s a typical camp meal like?
We keep it simple. Most meals are meat and veggies. We always keep a few dehydrated meals on hand for those long driving days that lead to wanting nothing more than a quick, hot meal before calling it a day. We’ll often stop for lunch as we’re passing thru a small town. We love the opportunity to experience small, rural towns that operate on a different wavelength than Urban America.
Take a photo of your five must-have items for camper travel.
1) Camera. I don’t go anywhere without at least one. 2) iPod. Good tunes are a must. 3) GoLite Puffy. A winter camping essential. 4) Journal. An ongoing log of every place we’ve ever camped. 5) Water bottle. I quickly get dehydrated on the road.
You and Mark own a photography company. How does travel influence your photography?
Mark & I have built a successful business photographing mountain weddings exclusively. Unlike many other photography industries such as food, advertising, fashion, and architecture, we have little to no control over lighting, location, weather (you can’t reschedule a wedding), length of shoot, etc. We take a lot of pride in making beautiful photographs with limited time and control however the creative aspect that drew us to photography doesn’t necessarily get to flourish. The opposite is true when we’re on the road. Our travels fuel our creative fire. I once again feel like the kid that picked up a camera at the age of 5 and fell in love. I can play, experiment, visualize and wait for the light. Much of my enjoyment on the road stems from this opportunity.
You recently wrote about how you strive for simplicity. Is there any one way that stands out?
The noise coming from every direction these days is maddening. TV, phones, e-mail, apps, news, ads, social media, it feels almost impossible to get away from it all. The more time I spend on the road, the more I realize how stressful and unnecessary most of these distractions really are. There is something about Nature and the elements that forces us to be present which becomes an opportunity to turn down the noise of modern life. As a result I become more centered than I ever am at home. Our travels have taught me that the simpler my life is the more time I have to enjoy it.
Where do you feel most at home?
I’m drawn to the mountains like a moth to a flame. After graduating high school in a small town in the middle of the Arizona desert I moved to the Rocky Mountains and it’s been a magnetic pull ever since. Whether I’m standing on top of one or in a river valley looking up at them, I feel more at home in the mountains than any house I’ve ever lived in.