• Dreamers + Doers: Our Open Road

    Dreamers + Doers highlights emerging artists, entrepreneurs, and up-and-coming ones to watch. Whether it’s starting a new business, creating something beautiful, or just daring to do things differently, we stand behind those taking steps toward something new.

    In October 2012, Adam, Emily and Colette Harteau 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, and Emily cooks nutritious meals for the family using local produce - she's even developing a cookbook of her road-tested recipes. In the past year, the Harteau's have also teamed up with Urban Outfitters on a curated assortment of home goods. To celebrate the family's unique lifestyle and their most recent collaboration with us, we asked them a little bit about their life on the open road.
    Interview by Chantal Chadwick

    What ultimately made you decide to pack up and hit the road? 
    We had been taking short trips in the van for 10 years, and over time we fell in love with the home space that it provides. Living in a van, you have so much freedom to make decisions inspired by the people that you meet on the road and the beauty of the places that you find yourselves in. Our original plan was to be gone for a year, but after about five months into the trip we realized we weren’t able to fully absorb the various cultures while staying on schedule.

    Above: Our Open Road x UO Peruvian Pillow

    Walk us through a “typical” day-in-the-life of Our Open Road.
    The wonderful thing about life on the road is that there is no “average day.” Our twists and turns are determined by many factors, both in the grand scheme and in daily occurrences. Weather and finances help determine what activities we do. Guidebooks, our own internet research, recommendations from fellow travelers, and the most valuable–local knowledge–are all sources of information. Tuning into the energy of a place, we decide where to camp and how long to stay. We have a standing rule that if one of us does not like a campsite, we move-–no questions asked. On the road, you are stripped of so many outside filters and your intuition is your most vital gift.

    Care to share any shocking or hilarious stories from your travels?
    We met quite an ‘eclectic’ retired couple in Mexico that was into S&M. This was revealed over a slow evening with too many margaritas. The wallpaper in their bathroom was vintage British weaponry… handpainted, of course.

    Describe the soundtrack in the Westfalia. 
    Crashing waves, swaying branches, wheels to asphalt, Colette’s giggles, Sierra’s cooing.

    Name the top five destinations on your to-do list.
    1: Patagonia (in Chile & Argentina) is where we will spend this upcoming South American summer.
    2:  Bolivia
    3:  Although our 3 month old daughter Sierra was born in Brazil, we have seen very little of this expansive country.
    4: Suriname & the Guianas
    5: Adam has his heart set on making it to Antarctica, although Emily & the girls probably won’t make the voyage.

    What are your absolute travel essentials?
    A good attitude and a camera. 

    Above: Our Open Road x UO one-of-a-kind textile

    Can you offer a few words of wisdom for someone hoping to lead a similar lifestyle?
    The 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, when asked what surprised him most about humanity replied: “Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”

    We know you wouldn’t have it any other way, but is there anything you miss about life prior to Our Open Road?
    Our friends and family are the most missed element in our life on the road, and they are what prompt our yearly visit back to the US of A.  All of the other things that are missing (like the vast and delicious range of cuisine both in groceries and restaurants, as well as reliable hot showers with good water pressure) are well worth the rewards of life on the road.

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