Eddy Collins writing on geographical independence

We weren’t expecting to spend more than a night or two in Johnson City…but ended up staying for a week.

The drive into this mountain town, surrounded by the Appalachians, was beautiful. First stop, a local brewery attached to a taco shop for take-out.

My wife, Francesca, and I parked our 1985 VW camper van at the edge of the adjacent park – complete with a creek running through it – grabbed an outside table, and settled in. The steak and cheese, Bangkok shrimp, and veggie tacos went down deliciously with a couple of the local IPAs.

After checking email (the taco shop had high-speed internet) and putting the finishing touches on an article for a client, it was time to relax at the park. We took our Maltese, Tripp, for a walk and then pulled out the folding chairs to wait on the sunset.

We learned there was a special event at the brewery the next night, along with an outdoor concert in the park. There was also an outdoor yoga session in that same park the next morning (more than 60 people showed up) and a huge farmer’s market on Saturday morning.

We had no idea this place was so pretty and full of the types of things we both love to experience, but with an open schedule and no plans to stay in one place for any length of time, we had plenty of time to explore.

Having stocked the fridge with fresh veggies and some amazing cheeses from the farmer’s market, we headed for an area we had seen on the way into town. We were ready to paddle the river, try a few of the hiking trails, and hopefully discover a few more surprises.

We have a spontaneous, freewheeling lifestyle, without limitations or barriers, made possible by my freelancing. After a very rewarding – but usually hectic and stressful – career in veterinary medicine, it was time for a change of pace. It was an eye-opener to discover that I could take my existing skills and knowledge, and transition them into a portable, online income that I could earn from anywhere.

I now act as a consultant for pet food producers, write for some veterinary websites, and even do a blog for pet owners.

It all comes with a freedom that feels much more natural than any 9-to-5 ever could.

We fitted the van with solar panels, a small fridge, built cabinets and a bed. We took a few test trips, to work out any kinks, and a few weeks back we hit the open road.

There are a lot of reasons why I chose this mode of transportation to explore the United States. One stands slightly above the rest…it’s not easy to get in a hurry when you’re driving a VW.

Our goal is to continue learning and having new experiences that only a nomadic lifestyle can give us.

Image: ©iStock.com/Giorgio Fochesato

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