Home is: a group of dirtbags

Posted by: Sarah Fischer

In the outdoor community, we are reminded daily of the different, physical forms home can take, whether as a tent, hammock, airstream, or the bed of a truck. Our Home campaign this season explores the shapes and forms that home can take through video, photos and blog posts written by guest writers who have found different expressions of home in their own lives. In the following piece, guest writer Megan Kantor of photography duo Cedar and Pines explores what home looks like on the road.

If there’s one thing roadlife has taught me, its that in order to be happy with a lifestyle with so much change and unpredictability, you have to redefine your thoughts on home.

A lot of us idealize #vanlife (and for good reason) – the open landscape, the instagram shots of adventure vehicles in a wide open desert, the lack of schedule, the sense of freedom. All of this is quite thrilling and we’re so lucky to have the opportunity to travel when we want to. The privilege of our lifestyle is not lost on me. But there’s parts of road life that often make me question all of that. 

We’ve lived on and off the road, sometimes in a vehicle or tent, sometimes in an apartment, for almost three years now. And we’re about to be on the road full time again. What strikes me every time we get back on the road is the reality of how lonely it can be. Not many people talk about that part of it. It’s easy to mask the pain and homesickness that can come with a life of travel with a few more sunset photos and another post about the adventure you just went on. The wide open West is wonderful, but the loneliness is all too real, and the guilt for missing out on family gatherings can be heavy. I sometimes question my choices to travel when I miss out on nephew’s piano recitals and friend’s birthday parties. It’s always difficult to explain our lifestyle to people back home--the need to defend and make excuses for our choices can really wear on a person.

What brings me back to road life every time though is that the community of travelers is unlike any community of people I’ve ever been around.

I think all of us who travel feel this same loneliness at times. We all miss our families, our friends we grew up with, we miss hot baths and climate-controlled spaces. Despite this, I’ve never felt more like I belong than with a group of road life friends. Because we all desperately need the companionship, the times we have together are incredibly fulfilling. Road life gatherings with our other friends on the road mean big ol’ bearhugs upon greeting and deep life conversations over campfires. We check in with each other over dinner in each other’s rigs. Seeing other road lifers means we can skip the small talk and get right into each other’s lives.

When Kammok reached out to us to shoot some photos that represented the idea of home, I started thinking about what that word meant to me. The kind of things that came to mind were our yearly New Year’s Eve camping trips to Enchanted Rock when we lived in Texas. I thought back to the time we played “Head’s Up” around a campfire at a trail angel’s house on the Pacific Crest Trail. I thought about camping with our road life friends for a week in Moab. I thought about when we rented an outdated cabin for a night with 6 other hikers on the Colorado Trail. Or that time we got stuck in a snowstorm and set up our tents in the middle of the day right next to each other, built a snowman, and made the best time out of a bad situation. None of these situations happened within the confines four walls.

Home is a group of smelly dirtbags sharing beers around a campfire. It's a space where you can be vulnerable. Where you don’t feel the need to explain yourself to others. Where you’re known and understood and loved.

So we decided to create just that--a space that represented the warmth that happens when a group of adventurers meets up. We reached out to other road-lifers and outdoorsy folks from all walks of life. Most of us didn’t know each other before the shoot. We shared blankets and played music, made cider and played with each other’s dogs. At one point I took a step back and looked up from my camera and just watched as two of our “models” who didn’t know each other prior to the shoot were talking and laughing about their mutual interests, and planning to meet up for real later on. Yes, we were shooting the product, but we were also becoming real life friends. And that, to me, is the best representation of home.

Though the times that our travel plans overlap with friends can be few and far between, when it does, it is so sweet.


Photos and blog written by Megan Kantor of Cedar & Pines