The Accidental Adventurers.
CHRISTIAN MORRISON AND JULIE GIBB were established graphic designers and letterpress printers when they decided to take a sabbatical in 2013. Only they never went back.
Instead, they sold their 2,700-squarefoot home and studio in the west end of Toronto and hit the road in a 1990 Volkswagen Westfalia Vanagon. They’ve been trekking ever since.
“Most people would have probably planned for such a life change,” admits Gibb, “but we’ve never really operated that way. We made the decision and immediately began dismantling our life and 24-year-old business.
“We made a few cosmetic changes and modifications,” says Gibb, “like new curtains and some upholstery. We replaced the rug in the living area with marmoleum, installed a roof rack and a Thule Box on top, bought lightweight folding chairs, a roll-up table and outdoor carpet, and then got an oil change.”
In the two and half years since, they’ve driven more than 80,000 km—from coast to coast in Canada and the US, even dipping down into Mexico. “Considering what we’ve put this 26-year-old vehicle through, we think it’s performed like a star. Plus, the breakdowns we’ve had have led to some incredible experiences. We’ve met some great people because of them.”
What’s the best part about all that time spent on the road in the Westfalia? “We like the light and fresh air, the amount of storage, the functionality of everything and the size—being able to park anywhere and ease of setting up and packing up,” says Gibb. “The Westy is all about form and function. Also, it seems to bring out the best in people wherever we go. We’re always greeted with a smile, a story or a question. We’ve had many a conversation with the driver next to us at a traffic light, or with an
“At first, we thought we would just live and work smaller and more simply in Toronto, but we couldn’t find anywhere we wanted to live. We considered living in another country, but couldn’t decide which one. Once we twigged on the idea of moving around in a VW Camper van, that was it.”
Enter Van Morrison and Gibb, the 1990 camper they bought for $17,900 from a Toronto family that had spent six weeks driving around the US and Canada the year before. attendant at a toll booth or border crossing.
“It turns out that this accidental lifestyle suits us perfectly. It’s difficult to stop and stay put. We stayed in one place for four and half months because of a serious familial responsibility, but we now find a sedentary lifestyle suffocating. We long to be on the open road exploring, hiking, living mostly outdoors, with a different view from our living room windows each day, if we choose.”
To catch Christian and Julie’s adventures, visit them at folksblogen.com