My name is Ryan, and I might be the luckiest guy in the world. Presumptuous, yes, but wait, there’s more. I live and work in a van. By choice. I left Los Angeles, CA on May 1, 2015 and haven’t looked back since, except to check my blind spot when I change lanes. My girlfriend, Stephani, and I traded in our apartments and vehicles for Louie, our 4×4 Dodge Sprinter conversion van. It’s a self-contained camper, outfitted for off-the-grid living, and ready to tackle almost anything you can throw at it. Over the next year or more, we’ll be throwing a whole lot at Louie. By “a whole lot,” I mean cross-country travel, fly fishing, BLM land, happy hours, camp cooking, adventuring, and more. After all, we’re exploring the US with him, and everywhere we go, the view from our front door changes.
My lifestyle and adventure on the road with Crown & Caliber will unfold through the 10 and 2 blog and the lens of my camera. Follow along with C&C throughout the United States as we venture through cities and wilderness, exploring a world of endless possibilities for the modern gentleman. It’s a long road out there, but nothing a little rugged sophistication can’t handle.
Believe it or not, van-dwelling isn’t really a glamorous life. It’s not about luxury cars that that are only admired and not driven, or drinking expensive cocktails at a lounge when you’d rather be drinking bourbon around a campfire. We also don’t live in isolation from society or without most of the trappings and luxuries of modern life – I mean, my van has 4×4, surround sound, a mini-bar, and it’s my mobile office/house/studio. Plus, it has the largest front porch I’ve ever seen and a front yard without property lines. It means that I have time to be deliberate in how I choose to spend my day, and who it is spent with. I can adventure where I want and create a schedule that fits my needs.
All of that said, leaving Los Angeles was a difficult decision. I had lived in the city for nearly a decade, I had friendships that felt like family, and I had started to grow roots in the community that I lived and worked. Los Angeles is a place where you can find anything you want in seemingly endless amounts: culinary offerings, craft cocktails, a thriving arts scene, and access to beaches, mountains, deserts, and more for outdoor activities. It’s a city that blossoms with inspiration – in business, creativity, art, and culture, and it’s a place with legitimate opportunities to hike a 10,000’ mountain and surf in the same day. Also, the weather there isn’t too bad.
Despite all of that, I chose to tilt the balance of my life heavily towards the spontaneous and being outdoors or in the wilderness. I’ll take a day wandering in the mountains, meals cooked over a campfire and a craft beer or a bourbon cocktail in hand over a meal pulled from the refrigerator any time. I’d rather fill my daylight hours prospecting for trout with a fly rod or photographing my adventures with my camera over the stop-and-go frustration of my car in rush hour traffic on the freeway. But that’s just me. Every day I’m out here, I try to remember how fortunate I am that I can make this life work.