Andrew Muse in a Ford Van

Andrew Muse, a professional multi-sport athlete and photographer, has been through a lot in the past three years. After a devastating car accident, Andrew lost everything, including his best friend (his dog Booter) and a truck camper that was his tiny house on wheels. He thought his life was over and wondered how he could get back everything he lost. In this story, Andrew takes us through what his life was like before the accident and how he's rebuilt it from the ground up.
I’ve been experimenting with tiny living for more than 10 years now.

When I was 18, I went to the Hawaiian island of Kauai by myself and lived out of a backpack for more than two months. After that trip, I decided I wanted to live out of a VW Golf car during the climbing season. And that inspired me to step up my game and build a bed inside a 4x4 Chevy Astro van. But, I was still living in a house and was acquiring more stuff than I knew what to do with.

And even though I was making good money, I didn’t feel fulfilled.

At 25 years old, I decided to follow my dreams of traveling by doing what I love and finding a way to make it sustainable. I moved out of a master bedroom into a garage, purchased a Nissan Titan truck and bought a 1976 truck camper for $500. I realized I had signed up for a lot of work than I expected when I discovered it would be a two-week remodel and cost $1,000. Nearly three months later, the camper turned out beautifully and I moved in with my best friend Booter (my 5-year-old Golden Retriever).

During this time, I was producing a lot of videos and I decided to make a show about Booter and my adventures. I called it Tiny Home Adventure. During the first season, Booter and I traveled for more than six months, and we had the wildest adventures. We set up some of the world's largest rope swings, cliff jumped off of massive waterfalls and hiked Havasupai Falls.

Everything had gone exceptionally well up until I made the drive home after filming the final episode.

I was rushing back home from California with Booter when I made the biggest mistake of my life.

I fell asleep behind the wheel just two hours from home and rear-ended an 18-wheeler semi-trailer truck. When I woke up, the trailer was 12 inches from my right shoulder. And I knew Booter was sitting next to me. I did absolutely everything I could to save him. Once the paramedics showed up, I refused care and demanded they save him. But there wasn't anything anyone could do. He passed away in my lap on the side of the road. Booter was not just a pet, he was my soulmate, and the best dog I could have ever imagined. I lost him because I was too stubborn to pull over and go to sleep.

I lost everything—my new home, my truck, all of my belongings and the thing I cared about most in the world, Booter.

Eventually, I made it home, but I was both devastated and lost. No money, no home, no truck, no belongings, no Booter. Nothing. It was safe to assume my life was completely over.

Then, all of the sudden, hundreds of people who had been following the Tiny Home Adventure reached out, offered support, told me how inspiring Booter and I were and how we had changed their lives for the better. I was completely overwhelmed and inspired.

When I thought my life was over, it gave me hope that I might be able to rebuild what I lost.

I stayed in contact with one of the firefighters from the accident, Paul, and he helped me through one of the most tragic days of my life. I shared with Paul the special relationship Booter and I had. A few weeks later, Paul reached out and told me that he and his family were breeding Golden Retrievers (Red Canyon Retrievers) and Goldendoodles (Copper Canyons Doodles) and that they would like to give me one when I was ready. My life was still so up in the air, so I initially turned them down. But then, GoPro reached out.

GoPro wanted to fund Season Two of the Tiny Home Adventure. And my other sponsors wanted to help me get a new tiny home, an incredible 1996 Ford E-350 4x4 van.

And then, a new puppy named Kicker came into my life.

I spent a few weeks quickly building out the van's interior and headed to Alaska to film another six-month, 12-episode adventure series.

This time, it told the story of Kicker (an 8-week-old puppy), our travels to Alaska, and how Kicker became a full-blown adventure dog. We just released the 12th and final episode.

Nothing will ever fill the part of my heart that is missing with Booter, but if you had told me things could be as good as they are now, I would have never believed you. Thank you all for the love and support.

Follow Andrew Muse, Kicker Dog & their adventures

Produced & edited by Kathleen Morton.
Photos courtesy of Andrew Muse
& Jo Savage Photography.