What started as a dream and developed into a 12-month plan- is now life on the road. Adam, Emily & Colette Harteau departed California in October 2012 in their VW Westfalia, with the goal of reaching Tierra del Fuego and returning a year later. 5 months in, they decided to embrace a future unknown and the rewards of slow travel. They are blisfully enjoying life on the slow road, with no end in sight.
Adam is an artist and finds inspiration in the landscapes and people he meets along the way; photography is presently his main medium, as he captures moments on the road that will be combined with collages, drawings and the like into a new body of work. Emily is a fashion designer and camp chef, currently working on a cookbook. Colette, also known as “the ambassador of love and joy,” enjoys drawing, singing and joining her parents in the crazy adventures along the way. In June 2014, they welcomed their second daughter Sierra who was born in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil.
Our Open Road will serve as a modern family portrait, as they shed their robes of comfort to reexamine the American Dream, they hope to inspire others to create, eat well, spend quality time together, and adventure into their own great backyards. .
View Adam’s current works of art here.
Our Home on Wheels
A 1990 Volkswagon Westfalia T3 became part of the family in 2004, forever changing how Adam & Emily traveled. After 6 years of loyal service and many miles, the original VW motor gave out and the long talked about conversion to a Subaru EJ2.2 motor began, upping the horsepower from 95 to 135. Before we hit the road GoWesty rebuilt the front end, installed Fox shocks, a 10 foot roll out Fiama shade awning, steel bumpers, the rear swing-away system for spare tire & jerry cans which carry extra water and gas, a high-lift jack in the front, and hydraulic lift-assist which helps pop the top with all the extra weight. The Westfalia comes outfitted with 2 beds- the pop-top fold-out top bunk and the convertible bench seat below, as well as a 2 burner propane stove, small sink with 10 gallon internal tank and a fridge.
10 months into the journey, Adam designed and built custom interior cabinetry including a closet for each traveler.
Adam swapped out the original fridge for a modern design TF49 TruckFridge, which runs from a 144 amp hour deep-cell marine battery under the bench seat, charged by the alternator or solar panels. Emily overdyed and made new curtains; a hand-woven rug from the Sacred Valley in Peru makes the tiny floor homey.
This Coleman camp oven allows baking of bread, quiche, lasagna, cookies and other treats not found along the way.Below the old a/c unit, a sliding flat-file allows for safe keeping and easy access of artwork. Goal Zero solar panels and accessories keep our fridge cold, lights on and laptops & camera charged when camped remotely. The Thule box on top of the van, a $50 craigslist score, is filled with camping gear- a rigid frame backpack for holding Colette, sleeping pads and bags, warm weather clothes for all. 4 surfboards reside in the padded board coffin, secured with locking straps.The van is safeguarded with steel bars that were welded over the stationary windows and diamond metal grate over the rear window. A removable steel bar system that locks over the windshield, passenger and driver windows was fabricated and is stored in the black tube on the roof rack, as well as exterior padlocks on all doors for reduced vulnerability when in big cities or extended trips away from the van. With no toilet or shower, we water trees frequently, use a plastic tub as Coco’s portable pool and a Swiss Army solar shower to keep ourselves fresh. Between the two captains chairs, Adam fabricated a custom safety-seat for Colette, which Emily upholstered to match the seat covers she made.
We have owned our van for about 11 years now and it has been a continuous work in progress. more to come…
About the Finances:
When the decision to take the trip was agreed upon- promising to each other and ourselves we were going to make this happen come hell or high water- it seemed everything else fell into place. Not that our bank account instantly filled with money, but we could better envision what that $10 sandwich would buy- two days worth of groceries in many of the countries we wished to visit, a night at a campground or 50 miles worth of gas. Our focus was clear- scrimp & save in our daily life, but more than that we realized it necessary to generate extra income while preparing for the grand voyage.
Pizzanista!, in downtown Los Angeles, owned by our good buds Price & Salman, hosted a guest chef night/ fundraiser where we sold raffle tickets for donated items and original artwork. Adam designed this pizza box for the event.
What really sealed the deal, was the funding they received through the Kickstarter campaign Adam compiled. You can check out the video and project by clicking the photo below.
A big THANK YOU to all who helped us get on the road!
5 months into the trip, we realized there was so much to see that our pace to Tierra del Fuego did not allow for. Not having the finances to stay on the road longer than our original plan, we brainstormed for solutions. Many ideas were discussed- Adam perhaps working as an underwater cinematographer at dive shops, or Emily selling food from the van as a mobile kitchen, or both of us juggling (which neither of us are any good at!) at streetlights. When hosting flash sales from the road, which we named “24 Hour Bazaar,” came to light- we knew we had found the winner. The ‘aha!’ light came on and the inspiration and framework for how we would flush it out unfurled naturally. Sign up to recieie our 24 Hour Bazaar catalogs by clicking the photo below.
We live a simple life on the road, mostly free-camping & making our own meals.
If you dream it, you can do it too!
A very SPECIAL THANKS to these companies that have helped outfit our adventure!