Attending The Van-Life Gathering in Colorado
Updated: Mar 26, 2019
Even though I’ve been traveling for long spurts over the past three years, I haven’t met too many people sharing the same love for the road, and van life, until I attended a weekend van gathering in Colorado. Some fellow vanlife friends, I’d met a campground, told me about the upcoming event and I knew I had to be there for it… I registered via E-mail with Kathleen from TinyhouseTinyfootprint and received the GPS coordinates for where the meetup would be. The GPS on my phone rerouted itself twice while I journeyed to the location and I was honestly a bit nervous about whether or not we were on the right route. My three-year old son and I ventured up through the steep mountains and beautiful forests of Colorado; as the dirt road we were on rounded the bend into a big open field, I prayed to see fellow vanners parked for the gathering and thankfully I’d found the right location! The organizers for the event had picked a perfect spot with breathtaking views and there was a fresh flowing creek nearby.
Since I’d never been to a van gathering, I wondered what type of people would be there… Would it be more like a festival scene? Would there be heavy use of drugs and alcohol? I’d remembered reading in the E-mail for the GPS coordinates that it was a ‘leave no trace’ event and that gave me hope that the others showing up would have a shared respect for the earth like I do. My son and I found a spot to park and we then went around to introduce ourselves. I met a sweet elderly couple with a vintage van who were from Wyoming, another young couple in a camper originally from Hawaii, and a few other down to earth people hanging around the camp fire. That evening, several other travelers pulled up and I was blown away by the van setups some people had! For the first time, I also met other fellow lady travelers – young women like myself who’ve been traveling the country solo in their vans. “I love living this lifestyle because every day you get to be a new person and it doesn’t matter who you were yesterday.” said Maja, who’s been traveling for three years and has a pink van she painted herself. “This journey has really taught me to have faith in the light and helped me realize that’s all I need. I’ve learned to stop making expectations and to just be grateful for everything. If you really want something in life – all you have to do is visualize it and believe. You can manifest anything.”
There were veteran travelers like Maja and myself, but there were also those who’ve recently taken to the new life of living simply and being on the road. “My boyfriend and I lived in a studio apartment and we didn’t even use all the space there… We lived on the road for one month and it was the best experience of my life – so why not chase that?” said Lynelle, a yoga instructor who had been living out of their renovated van for only a few days before the gathering. “I follow vanlife on Instagram and I feel like so many people have DIY vans and it was very supportive and inspiring for us to build our own.”
I was almost overwhelmed by all the amazing souls I was meeting at the weekend gathering – there was an abundance of creative and very intelligent entrepreneurs, photographers, musicians, journalists, college students, and fellow travelers who had very loving and compassionate hearts. We all shared a genuine desire to build community, live more simply on the earth and to enjoy the beauty of nature together. On Saturday morning, there was organized group yoga which was really awesome to participate in with the magical surroundings! And that night a generous couple made a lasagna dinner for the 60+ people that were attending the gathering, using Dutch-ovens. Free organic coffee was provided daily by a sweet soul named Jane, (writer of the inspiring blog: rockmeetssoil.com) and incredible musical performances by Steve Ertl and Sophie and the Midway Tanglers were the nightly entertainment around the community campfire. It felt so bittersweet that the weekend had to end so quickly! I was truly loving all the kindred spirits and our time outdoors together. Community is something you really miss and long for when on the road…
“I didn’t expect to have so much room for this event to grow,” said Kathleen Morton (representative of Van Diaries and the gathering’s organizer) “We’d been planning for this for months – searching the right location and wanting to find something accessible for all van types. I put the forum out online and I didn’t know what would happen or who was going to come. I have been blown away by how amazing and generous everyone is.,” she added. “We all have the same mission of spreading the positivity of vanlife and building a stronger network for community. Living on the road there is a lack of that and this event is a powerful resource to help it grow. I have loved hearing all the different stories for why people are living alternatively and it’s helped me realize that yes, we’re all different, but at the same time, we’re all the same. We share the same love and passion for travel, to be free and to enjoy nature together.”
To all those reading this that attended the gathering, please know that I miss you and I loved getting to know all of you. It was really comforting to meet so many positive, up-lifting and passionate people who want to rebuild the definition of community in our modern world and who are paving the way for exciting new opportunities and healing on our planet. For those of you who are desiring to travel and experience vanlife – I say go for it! There are more brothers and sisters on the road than you probably realize (I definitely know this now.) This world was meant to be seen and experienced!