Camping in the Rockies & quitting my job

Vanlife: Camping in the Rockies near Jefferson Colorado - Landscape Photography Sunset

This summer I spent a 5-6 days camping in a place that can hardly be beat. So nice, it helped inspire me to quit my perfectly good job!

(note: I started traveling full time in July 2016, and started this blog in December. I’ll be catching up on these trip reports for a while, so the post dates and dates of when I was actually there will me many months off)

I had taken the van out to Colorado once already, back in 2015. I was in the middle of converting it and brought a vanload  of stuff to store in a family member’s basement. We went up for a couple of camping trips while I was there.

Now in the summer of 2016, I ‘d finished converting the van. I went out to Colorado for about a month. This was my last month of work. I’d achieved all of the criteria I set for quitting my job: saving a certain amount of money, finishing the van, and selling my house. But I wasn’t yet mentally prepared to quit. I kept myself very busy while building the van and finishing the house. I also had a girlfriend who I chose to spend a lot of time with. So I didn’t let myself think much about the actual quitting. I just focused on whatever I needed to do next.

If I was going to keep working, my best option seemed to be to travel while doing so. I worked in manufacturing and traveled each week to one of our factories. This meant I had the opportunity to move the van and myself around the country. Each Monday I would fly from wherever I happen to be to the city I needed to work in that week. But I’d be on a short tether during the weekends. I’d have a couple days for camping but need to make it back to the airport the next Monday. I’d also have to plan where I would spend my weekends quite a while in advance for booking flights.

So, I wondered if I could still work some, but significantly lengthen my tether. Like, 2 weeks of tether. I’d worked for my employer for 11 years. I’d seen people work part time while on leave to care for a newborn. I’d seen people work part time when they had health problems. I had never seen a single person work part time just because they felt like it. Well, I asked anyways. I practiced the conversation with my boss and got my proposal very convincing. The same day my house sale finalized, I called my boss and proposed the change. I also told him I was so sure about this that I was either quitting or working part time. I didn’t give him the option of just saying no and keeping me at full time.

It worked!

We came to an agreement that I would work 2 weeks per month for at least 6 months. By the time my first week off came around, I had the van out in Colorado. I headed up into the mountains early in the week. I found a great camping spot a bit southeast of Jefferson CO.  I like open spaces and big views so I spent half a day hiking around the area and checking out all the possible campsites. This was the best one.

Vanlife: Camping in the Rockies near Jefferson Colorado

Now I had time and a place to slow down my mind. Now I had time to think about what was important to me. I spent an afternoon sitting at the log pictured below,  looking out over the valley, reading, and thinking.

Vanlife: Camping in the Rockies near Jefferson Colorado

While there, a line from Meditations came to mind. (The quote was actually about dying. But hey, it works here too)

You boarded, you set sail, you’ve made the passage. Time to disembark

It took less than two days camping here to decide to quit my job entirely. Why quit right after getting the nice part time arrangement? There were some logistical reasons. My work schedule ended up being mostly alternating weeks of working and not working. So I’d have 9 days off in a row. While in Colorado I started thinking about going to places in western Colorado. It’s a long ways to a major airpot from Crested Butte. I didn’t want to drive that much. But the main reason was that I just felt like it was time. I’d finished the van, I’d sold my house, I’d saved my money. I’d set myself up to travel full time. So now I should do it.


On the way out of the valley around Jefferson:

Vanlife: Camping in the Rockies near Jefferson Colorado


At the campsite:

Vanlife: Wonderful campsite in the Rockies near Jefferson Colorado.



Colorado Rockies Sunset Landscape Photography


This is a guy deciding to quit his ‘perfectly good’ job.

Vanlife: Camping in the Rockies near Jefferson Colorado


Views like this from my table/desk have made me very happy my van has windows

View out the window of my self built campervan in the Colorado Rockies


My brother and dad came out for the weekend. I’ve camped with them more since I bought the van than all the rest of my life combined.

Vanlife: Camping in the Rockies near Jefferson Colorado



Vanlife: Camping in the Rockies near Jefferson Colorado



Landscape Photography - a sunset in the Colorado Rockies



Vanlife: Camping in the Rockies near Jefferson Colorado


We went to Jefferson lake one morning and my dad fished while my brother and I walked around the lake.

Vanlife fishing at Jefferson Lake in the Colorado rockies


Here’s a video of the sunset one night. You can also see us setting up the fire ring and starting a fire, sitting around, cooking dinner, and settling in around the campfire. The next night the sunset was much better. I tried shooting another timelapse again, but forgot to hook up the external battery and charge cord to my GoPro, so it’s battery died.

Vanlife Manifesto: A strategy for Nomadic Vandwelling

Vanlife Manifesto. Written before buying and converting my van. Ideas and plans of how to live well in a van. A vandwelling projection.

32 is supposedly the age where creativity and output peaks. So maybe it is fitting that a couple years ago, at age 32, I drafted three manifestos to capture some of my life strategies/plans. The first is a Vanlife Manifesto: goals and strategy for how I want to spend my time while living and traveling in the van.

The manifestos are:
1 – Vanlife Manifesto:  A nomadic phase. Includes primarily Vandwelling, but later likely living in Central or South America and/or Southeast Asia. This manifesto is below
2 – Slowlife Manifesto: A “Settled down” phase.  Buy or build a small home or cabin. Dive into hobbies like gardening/permaculture, construction, fishing, building social capital, etc.
3 – Life Purpose Manifesto: This one is difficult to draft and is currently quite vague





  • Explore and learn about the United States (including our history)
  • Study and enjoy “nature”
  • Find good locations to settle in later
  • Meet people with similar outlooks and interests
  • See how little space and few things I need to live well


Vanlife Manifesto. Written before buying and converting my van. Ideas and plans of how to live well in a van. A vandwelling projection.

VAN (home)

  • Big enough to be comfortable enough to feel like an option for permanent living. (this may require buying a high top van in the future or adding a  high top to mine)
  • Able to go/stay in a wide variety of places.
    • Get to many remote locations.
    • Blend in while in cities.
    • Not restricted from going to certain areas by van size or type (I don’t mean parking garages here, I mean parks/forests or parts of cities)
  • Reliable – not needing frequent repairs
  • Relatively fuel-efficient, if possible
  • Equipped to allow living remotely for at least one week
  • Space for carrying hobby equipment
  • Not so expensive that it causes me stress
  • Clean and organized inside – so that when things are in their place, I feel calm and without urges to clean or reorganize



  • Low amount. High usefulness/quality
  • Things that serve multiple functions
  • Not so expensive that loss would devastate me



(some are current, some are things I want to get into at some point)

  • Exploration
  • Sightseeing
  • Learning the history of areas
  • Learn about nature – plants, animals, earth, weather, survival
  • Photography (landscape, nature, wildlife, travel)
  • Fitness – running, strength, injury resistance, health
  • Hiking
  • Swimming / Snorkeling? / Surfing?
  • Bicycling
  • Animal watching/tracking
  • Fishing?
  • Hunting?
  • Pens and writing
  • Graphic design (on computer)
  • Drinking good tea
  • Writing/Blogging?
  • Reading


Vanlife Manifesto. Written before buying and converting my van. Ideas and plans of how to live well in a van. A vandwelling projection.


  • Stay in good shape – don’t let muscles atrophy
  • Eat mostly healthy – find ways to make this work and to make it easy
  • Spend a lot of time with friends and family (because I may not want to travel while I’m settled down later on)



For those of you dreaming of Vanlife, preparing for it, or currently living in your van, do you have a Vanlife Manifesto? If so, what does your have that mine doesn’t?

Need some inspiration? Here are 10 Famous Manifestos, and a short guide on How to write a manifesto.