This blog written in conjunction with Chloe, aka Team Clam.
The timing was perfect for us to go on an extended trip. Chloe just graduated in December, and her school year job ended in June. Our lease was up, and Cam marked five years at his grown up job at the end of May. We had dabbled with the idea of WWOOFing for a while, considering far-away lands like South Africa and Costa Rica. By Christmas time we had settled on British Columbia, partly because we could drive and camp in National Forests along the way. We also vibed with the idea of getting significant ocean time and the Rocky Mountains in the same swing.
We wanted to WWOOF for several and separate reasons. Chloe was keen on the concept of traveling internationally and long term for cheap. She was also excited to take a break from urban life and get her hands in the dirt on the regular. Cam’s motives dug deeper, as he sought training in specific organic techniques and principles. He wanted to learn about the details of how small farms make money. He needed to explore whether agriculture is truly what he wants his profession to be moving forward – the answer to that question is yes; please read on…
Every trip or vacation comes with its own set of expectations, and usually those expectations are upset by reality. Our planning was meticulous (mostly because Cam is in love with certainty), and it didn’t take long before we had to make some decisions that weren’t accounted for on the calendar. But it seems like our realities moved us in a positive direction more often than not. On day one we found that Colorado Road 318 is indeed not a highway, but a bumpy, dusty gravel path that becomes even more rickety when it crosses the border into Utah. On day four we were chased from our camp in the shadow of Mt. Hood by torrential rain and took shelter in the Portland Hyatt (thanks to Chloe’s discount). Because of the logistics of living on an island for three weeks, we had to give up hopes to visit an outdoor school were really jazzed about, and we had to prioritize weekend trips that meant a visit to Victoria wouldn’t pan out. We encountered mighty swarms of massive mosquitos and frustratingly unclear expectations from hosts. At that point, Cam had to face his “never quit” mentality head-on.
We did get what we expected when it came to wildlife. Bald eagles are like the robins of Vancouver Island. We had memorable encounters with bison, mountain goats, and seals. Chloe saw her first bear from the safety of the car. And when it comes to people, our assumptions were exceeded. Every one of our farm hosts (six in total) taught us lessons that we’ll carry with us into the next chapter. Even more impactful was the effect of living for weeks with great people who are passionate about doing good on a daily basis. We were inspired by their strength and work ethic, and we were nurtured by their cooking and parent-like guidance. Our interactions with fellow WWOOF volunteers were educative as well. Sharing stories and knowledge with people from different cultures was (and always is) enlightening. We taught each other card games, watched subtitled movies together, and tried to learn balance on the slack line. We also settled, once and for all, that the Swiss are dominant in badminton over the Americans (though the American team was actually half Brit).
So here we are, back in Colorado after two months of adventure, living out of a Jeep with a leaky roof. We’ve got a plan for what’s next for Team Clam, but it’s admittedly not as detailed as the one we had for the Canada Sabbatical. We’ll be in the Denver area for August and September. We’ll tie up loose ends, replenish our checking accounts, and unload the storage unit for a garage sale on September 3. Please come see us, and get some sweet deals on furniture, clothes, and knick-nacks. We wont be having a going away party (remember we did that before leaving for Canada). But we will be showing our Canada photos at an art walk event on First Friday, September 1; we would love for our friends and family to come join us as we close this Denver chapter in our lives.
Our next pages will be written in and around Roanoke, Virginia. Chloe’s parents moved there recently and they have made an offer that makes Cam’s dream of farming immediately attainable. In short, he will start an urban farming business that grows greens, fruits, and veggies on leased and borrowed land, and sells to farmer’s markets, CSAs, and local restaurants. Chloe will continue working with youth and seek experience in managing a small business. Long term her goals are also entrepreneurial, likely in the non-profit, youth empowerment area she loves so much. We’re hoping that venture also includes a for-profit component that incorporates her love for tea and baking.
Before we took the sabbatical, we know it would impact us in some way. We felt restless and burned out, and we hoped the trip would bring us some settled relief. We had no idea what would come next, which brought some feelings of discomfort. But we’ve talked openly about our values and dreams going forward, and it’s led us to a plan that has us excited for the future. Having a partner who loves with an open mind and is committed to turning dreams into reality with each other in enabling in an incredible way. Not having much long-term relationship experience, this is a new propulsion for both of us.
So we encourage everyone reading to travel, yes. But more importantly to travel, and to live with intention, purpose, and inspiration. That’s the most impactful lesson for us from this experience. For now, we also encourage all our front range friends and family to come to the Team Clam garage sale and/or photo show. We already know we’re going to miss this place and all the wonderful people who’ve made it home for so long.