Megan and Michael, creators of the camp cooking blog Fresh Off the Grid, are currently on a yearlong road trip across North America. When I first met the couple, they had just quit their jobs and were downsizing from a comfortable apartment to Michael’s Ford Focus hatchback.
With a few months under their belt, I was eager to catch up and hear about their journey. Check out the interview below with Fresh Off the Grid, and find out how they stopped living to work, and started working to live.
What inspired you to create FOTG?
We love camping, but have always been disappointed by the lack of practical information about cooking in the outdoors. The little we could find online was either too gimmicky or too elaborate to work for us. So we decided to build a resource for people who are interested in easy-to-make and easy-to-clean recipes for the outdoors.
Why did you decide to give up your desk jobs for life on the road?
We both had been working 9-to-5 jobs in Los Angeles for what seemed like way too long. We felt trapped in a never ending loop. We were making money at jobs we didn’t enjoy, so we could pay for the things we needed to live, so we could keep going to the jobs we didn’t enjoy. We were trading time for dollars and there seemed to be no end in sight. Both of us have creative passions that we wanted to focus on, and hopefully build careers out of, so we decided we had to break out of the routine. We wanted to stop living to work, and start working to live.
Traveling has reignited our creativity in ways we couldn’t have imagined. Seeing new places and meeting new people has broadened our perspective and made us appreciate each day. We’ve found that when you surround ourselves by new experiences, it’s easy to be inspired.
Tell us a little about your adventuremobile.
Our adventuremobile is a 2000 Ford Focus hatchback with 215k miles on it, which we have converted into a mini-camper. It might not be the ideal vehicle for this kind of adventure (it certainly has it’s limitations), but ultimately the best adventuremobile is the one that takes you on adventures, right?! We spent a lot of time saving for a van, until one day we realized we didn’t have to travel in a van in order to make our road trip happen. And on top of that, any money we didn’t spend on a van, we could spend on more time traveling! So we set out in the hatchback.
Do you have any advice for other adventurers looking to give up the daily grind for life on the road?
There will never be the “right time” to leave the daily grind, pack up your life, and go. Or, for us, the “right time” always seemed to be in the past (we should have gone after graduating college/before we started our careers/before we got a nice apartment and filled it with stuff). We could have played that game indefinitely. The right time is simply whenever you decide to go, in all of its imperfect timing. We’re pretty confident that some day we’ll look back and think “Yep, back when we were 30 with no mortgage and no kids was the perfect time to go!” even though we weren’t totally sure it was the “right” time when we made the decision.
What is the greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome on the road so far?
Finding the right pace! We’ve found that it is so easy to get caught up in trying to see and do everything that you can visit a place, yet completely miss it. Making sure that we travel slow enough that we can really explore a landscape has been a big challenge for us, mostly because we know there is probably something really cool to see around the corner, too. We’ve had to accept that we might not get to see everything (America is a huge place!) But, the trade off is that the things we do get to see, we can really enjoy fully if we give ourselves the time to do so.
What is your favorite go-to camp meal?
Most of our favorite meals are Mexican-inspired: Tacos, chilaquiles, rice and bean bowls. These types of dishes offer a big flavor profile with a relatively little amount of effort.
What are your 3 favorite essentials for cooking outdoors?
A cast iron dutch oven, a good chef’s knife, and a wooden spoon. You can make almost anything with those three items! (Just add fire.)
Where to next?
After the Shoestring Adventure in Death Valley, we will be heading into Arizona and Southern Utah to begin exploring the Southwest!
Photos © 2015 Fresh Off the Grid
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