Shop UO UO Blog

UO at Home:

Our Open Road

In October 2012, Adam, Emily and Colette Harteau—a family of three, soon to be four—set out on a journey from California through the Americas in their VW Westfalia Camper. What started as a one-year adventure has turned into a freewheeling life, without an end point in sight. Adam takes pictures and makes art; Emily cooks nutritious meals for the family using local produce and is developing a cookbook of her road-tested recipes. Colette takes it all in with the pure wonderment of a child exposed to the great wide world.

To keep their momentum, the family hosts flash sales, a concept they call 24 Hour Bazaar. When visiting craft-rich regions and market towns, they work with local artisans to curate a selection of fair trade goods, which they offer for sale on their website for a limited time. This initiative both finances their travels and directly supports the talented makers they meet on the road. This month, the Harteau's team-up with Urban Outfitters on a curated assortment of home goods. "The items we selected are hand-crafted rugs and pillows made from hand-woven materials, created as they have been for ages," says Emily. "Sheep, alpaca and llamas are raised and shorn, wool is spun, and wild materials are gathered to dye the yarn, which is hand-loomed to create these bright, beautiful pieces." To celebrate the collaboration, we asked the traveling family to fill in our questionnaire about their life on the open road.

Photographs and artwork by Adam Harteau

The greatest thing this journey has taught us is no matter how marvelous where you are may be, there are more marvels to behold in this wide, wonderful world.

The most memorable sights on our travels have been sunset over Machu Picchu—cliché but for good reason.

The most memorable scents on our travels have been fresh made tortillas, salty sea air, the pungent aroma of fish markets at every coastal town, the sweet and heavy scent of Peruvian copal and Palo Santo incense.

The thing that has most surprised us on this journey is how easy it was to make the decision to stay on the road indefinitely.

The yummiest meals we have whipped up on the road are made with the great fresh, local produce and products we find along the way, like the giant box of raspberries we had the other day that were so ripe and flavorful, and the quantity so indulgent, that we basked in the simple perfection. [See below for two tasty recipes—one sweet, one savory—from Emily.]

When you're on the road you learn to live without almost everything you thought you needed.

When you're on the road you can't live without patience and a whole lotta love. Money to fill the gas tank, a working engine, clean water to drink and a safe place to camp are pretty essential too.

The best souvenirs we've picked up along the way are the photos of our experiences! When we are very old and senile, we will have something to look fondly upon.

The soundtrack to our travels is "On the Road Again!"

Some of our favorite destinations so far have been... We could never discriminate that way! Each country has its charms that we think of fondly. Hierve del Agua in Oaxaca; the outdoor market in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas; Santa Catarina in Panama; Getsemaní, an old city in Cartagena, Colombia; hiking amongst the tallest palms in Valle de Cocora, Colombia; the Volcán Cotopaxi in Ecuador, and see below for Peru and Chile...

If you're ever in Peru, don't miss searching for caiman (alligatorid crocodylians) by flashlight along the banks of Rio Madre de Dios in the Amazon, handstanding at Machu Pichu, and soaking up the rich indigenous culture all throughout the Andes.

If you're ever in Chile, don't miss the sunset while bathing in the hot springs at El Tatio Geysers, surfing the mellow coast south of Pichilemu, and hiking around crystalline glacial lakes in the Lake District.

This trip has inspired us to trade in expectation for experience.

We make our van a home by having a bright, colorful Peruvian rug on the floor, real pillows and blankets in the bed, a spice cabinet stocked with a variety of flavors to transform simple ingredients and, most importantly, each other!

Two Recipes from the
Road by Emily