All In

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to quit your job, sell your belongings, uproot your entire life, and just go? No particular destination, just with your best friend, a couple of dogs and see where life takes you? Apprehensively, we did just that. With no plans, no definite destination or details, we sold all of our unnecessary stuff, moved into our van and drove out west, leaving Georgia behind. This is where our story begins.
Brandon is 39 years old, originally from Gainesville, Georgia and works primarily as a fitness coach with construction as a side gig. He spent most of his adult life working and living in the Atlanta area and started climbing about three years ago. His athletic background has been mostly in weightlifting and CrossFit, frequently noting that 36 isn’t exactly the best time to start climbing. Whether it be pursuing a sport or building out a van, his approach verges on obsessed. Brandon has always questioned the conventional or “normal” way of life, and lives precisely to the beat of his own drum.
Trice (pronounced “Treece, full name Patrice) is 29, from Gainesville, Georgia and most recently worked in a doctors’ office as a medical scribe in Sandy Springs. Previously a fitness coach, this is how she met Brandon about 7 years ago. She was first introduced to climbing by him a year and a half ago, first with bouldering which slowly evolved into sport climbing. Her athletic background has mostly been with endurance running and CrossFit, and finds climbing to be the most unique physical challenge yet. Trice lives life in a bit more calculated fashion, but is also known to take risks here and there.
Riley and Blue are their two pups who are often referred to as “yin and yang.” Riley’s favorite hobbies include chasing a ball or stick for hours, riling up her brother, and sprinting back and forth on a trail until she can’t move. On the other hand, Blue would prefer a nap in the sunshine, a snuggle in bed, or a long, sleepy walk in the woods. When first introduced, they had no interest in each other. Two years later, they lovingly snuggle, groom each other in bed, and play like they’ve known each other for a lifetime. After thousands of dollars of training, they are quiet crag dogs, always welcoming pets from fellow climbers.

“What if we lived in the van full-time?” Brandon asked me about a year ago. I gritted my teeth and cringed a little bit at the thought, already worried about where the money would come from and how on earth I would maintain my current hair care regimen out of a van on the road. Brandon has been the risk taker in our little-over-two-year relationship and preceding five-year friendship, and I tend to move at a much more calculated pace.
I shrugged my shoulders in response and answered neutrally, “I want to, but I’m not sure how we would do it.”

Throughout the next year, the plan started to form as time passed and Brandon made improvements on our 2015 Ford Transit. We would both quit our jobs, save as much money as we could beforehand, and start plotting out an adventure out west. Initially, the trip focused on places we could climb, mostly the spots that Brandon has gushed over while scrolling through Instagram.

Eventually though, the trip’s purpose seemed to take on a new life of its own and go through a metamorphosis of unexpected twists and turns, even before taking off. Although we’d be climbing in some of the most profoundly beautiful places in America, the trip would be about much more than just clipping draws and sending projects.
Brandon is the one who introduced me to climbing and I’ve been able to watch his love and skill for it unfold. When I first started climbing, he was only working 9s and now he’s seeking his first 12a. Meanwhile, I’ve got my eye on any 11 I might be able to send. To say he is the better climber is a vast understatement, and sometimes I’m just grateful that I’m the one in control of catching his falls. (I might not be a great climber, but I take a lot of pride in belaying).

As the year progressed, our life ticked on as usual, with me working my 9-5 and Brandon coaching and doing construction. During the summer we got engaged, and with the date of our trip starting around the beginning of October, I proposed having our wedding right before we took off. Brandon and family agreed, and with the help of his mom, Bridget, we were able to put together a beautiful lake house wedding.
I also decided to sell my 2011 Honda Civic the day before leaving. I hated my car and was happy to get rid of it, but I also liked the idea of betting all of our metaphorical chips on this adventure.
All in.
This was slightly out of character for me on one hand, but I had also lived out west in my early 20s for a short time, primarily out of my Toyota Corolla.

Brandon isn’t as plagued with panic as I am, so he just kept repeating to me that, “we’ll figure it out.” But would we? My anxiety conjured up images of us begging for food with cardboard signs on the side of the road for our two pups, Riley and Blue. But, I had given a two-month notice at work already, so I assumed we’d forced ourselves into a position of figuring it out, and plans rarely go how you want them to anyways.

We got married on October 3rd, 2021, hopped into the van that night and set out west. Guided both by bucket list climbing spots and friends to visit along the way, we’ve mapped out a rough route through Colorado, Utah, Oregon, California, Arizona, and New Mexico. We’re living in a van though and the road forks many directions, so I’m not sure where we’ll end up, but one thing is sure, we will be updating you along the way. 

Thanks for reading, 
Trice, Brandon, Riley & Blue
The "Craggin Wagon" Crew

1 comment

  • Stephen Cunningham

    These two are the best. That is all.

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