I have never met Kenz & Hawk, but is it safe to say that I already know I would get along with them?
If you're into campfires, rainbow party lights, hula hoops, dancin' hippies and wild weather, these two have you covered. They are free spirits flowing through life by saying "yes" to new experiences.
They don't have a plan or an agenda, but I'm confident good things are in their future.
Square Feet: 80
Currently living: Somewhere in northern or central California
Make, Model, Year: 1980 VW Vanagon Westfalia
Our van, "Betsy Vanessa," is a California model. She’s also one of the first 6,000 Vanagons ever made!
Years Living Mobile: 3
Hawk was born and raised in Folsom, California, and I have been living in northern California since the age of 14. We both love this part of the country dearly, and living in an air-cooled vehicle full time tends to keep us near the cool coastal air.
This year sparked a new adventure for both of us, as we quit our jobs to see if we could actually take van life head on and support our lifestyle. We have found so far that we only work when we need to. We have been lucky with finding odd jobs in Santa Cruz on a friend's property on and off since May 2015.
What were you doing before you went mobile?
Hawk and I met at a yoga studio in the foothills of northern California and quickly became friends. Hawk was attending my second yoga teacher training while I was managing the front desk.
Hawk was living in a tent on the side of a house in cookie-cutter suburbia and I was staying on a WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) farm at the time. Some mysterious force lured me back to that tent. Maybe it was the fresh air, the sound of birds or the new love of my life by my side. But I was hooked.
Why did you make the change?
We started wondering, how could we take this lifestyle on the road? What would be our freedom vessel? Could we actually support ourselves financially while living in a van for an unknown amount of time?
We already had a 1980 VW Riviera camper waiting for us that needed a ton of work so we scrapped that plan and started to brainstorm. We both knew that a VW camper was still what our hearts desired but not a van that had been forgotten to the elements for years.
Hawk decided the best route was to sell his perfectly working pickup truck and stalk Craigslist for the perfect deal. After about a month of waiting, the stars and timing aligned perfectly. An ad popped up for a 1980 VW Westfalia in the golden hills of Auburn, California. Hawk called the guy and said we were already on our way with cash. After a quick test drive, we sealed the deal, and that evening we started prepping our new home to live in full time.
Our introductory time seemed to be filled with either cleaning or tuning up the van, selling things in order to comfortably live in such a small space together and mentally preparing ourselves for the road ahead. We have both come to embrace the old adage, "less is more." And to this day, we are still purging things that we ultimately don't need.
We stayed close to the suburban Sacramento area for the first year while we adjusted to this new lifestyle, and we would flee town most weekends to explore and test the reliability of our new home on wheels. Our urban living eventually transformed into friends' and family's places with property among the trees.
And at the beginning of 2015, we quit our jobs and hit the road with no real destination in sight. We live by the flow of the universe and work only when necessary by finding odd jobs.
We strive each day to listen to that flow and to manifest abundant visions in our minds.
What was the process like to move into your mobile home?
We were living in a two-person tent before we moved into the van. We quickly discovered this was going to be way more of a journey than we had ever anticipated.
First, we had to clean out 33 years of micro-trash wedged into the bench seat, remove old hippie dust from every crevice imaginable and bleach a moldy pop-top that would make anyone squirm. Once things were clean, we started to move our belongings into the van and sell objects we ultimately didn’t need. We had many test runs of different cabinet organization layouts, and it took us about a year to finally lock down our favorite style.
We are still selling belongings and gifting unneeded things to other people. Van life has taught us to live much more simply and to be aware of our impact on this Earth. For us, living small directly correlates to leaving a smaller impact on our planet's already struggling systems and resources.
How do you balance work and living in a small space?
Working and living small is perfectly attainable from the road. In our modern high-tech world, connectivity is available in most places. We can typically find a parking spot close enough to an establishment to stay cozy in our mobile office and have Wi-Fi access. We balance our computer work with physical labor to get out of the van and connect directly with the Earth.
Hawk turned the van into a mobile recording studio to record a solo album. The van was transformed into a cluster of wires and instruments, forcing me to stay outside and have some me time.
How do you get Internet and mail?
We use Wi-Fi from grocery stores or friends' homes when needed, and we usually get our mail sent to our parents' houses (both live in northern California). If it's super important, our parents will forward mail to a friend's address in a town close to us.
Where do you shower?
We always wonder why this question comes up so much! There are so many shower options in this day and age. We only shower one to two times a week compared to the average American who showers every day—sometimes twice. It helps our drought-ridden state, and frankly, humans don't need to shower that often.
We get creative and take advantage of campsites, friends' homes and our Helio pressure shower by Nemo. (Pro tip: Boil a pot of water to take the edge off the chilly water.) We also take advantage of gyms, take a yoga class and jump in the ocean, lakes or rivers (weather permitting), and we use good ol' baby wipes or essential wipes.
What are your top three go-to items in your tiny home?
- Solar Panel: Because we're able to go off the grid longer.
- Truck Fridge: It's reliable, runs off solar and fits more food/beer.
- Super Cozy Bed: This one seems simple, but a good night’s sleep means more happiness in the morning. We replaced our foam mattress with one from IKEA after about a year sleeping on a decrepit 30-year-old foam one, and it’s changed our world!
- Really Good Beer: Oops, that’s four things.
What are your hobbies on the road?
We both love the outdoors, hiking, hot springs, enjoy craft beer and meeting new people. We are both makers and love using our hands to create music, artwork or DIY hacks for van life. We also both love photography and sharing our van adventures through our lifestyle blog writing.
What has been the most rewarding thing about living small?
The coolest thing to us about living small is the flexibility we have with our day-to-day schedule. Most people take weeks or months to plan a trip, but van life has given us the ability to jump at chances to say, "Yes!" to far more exciting opportunities.
We both worked full-time jobs before we hit the open road, and this summer has opened our eyes to a whole new way of being. We are able to go to all the camp-outs we get invited to, take on last-minute festival jobs and connect with friends and family more often.
What is the most challenging thing?
Hawk’s mom, Cathy, said it best: “I thought you two were running from the challenges everyone else deals with like a house, a real job and improving your credit, but you still have challenges. You just traded the typical set of challenges for another set that suits you.”
She’s a wise one—that seasoned schoolteacher.
Beyond the romantic lure of the open road lies experience waiting to unfold in all its beautiful, imperfect reality.
Do you plan to go back to your previous way of living?
There's really no way to predict the future. That is another reason we embarked on this journey—to find out what it is that really juices our souls. But for now, this is what we are doing. We're slowly figuring out places we'd love to eventually settle down into and places we'd rather not return to. We're learning which jobs we would love to do again and which chores we would never wish upon anyone.
Do we plan on going back to a boring neighborhood that focuses more on the false idol of success than living through experience? Nope. Not one bit.
What is your advice to future homeowners who want to live small or hit the road?
Do your dreams! Let people inspire you, and go for it! Hawk and I were talking to a friend earlier this month about how you can talk yourself out of anything, and it's clear that we are the ones that hold ourselves back. Fear and overthinking about what the journey could look like will only hold you back and keep you stuck in one spot.
Whether you dream of building a tiny home or moving into a freedom mobile of your own, there is plenty of abundance from the universe available to those willing to follow their dreams.
What's next for you guys? Any news you want to share?
We are never really sure what’s next for us. We live by the ebb and flow of the universe. We do manifest that camp-outs, festivals, meeting new people and going places we’ve never been are in our future.
We’re not sure how the next chapters will play out, and we’re OK with that. Maybe we will get to camp with you! We love living in the unknown, and this community has taught us to let go of the plan and trust the universe.