Interview with Amanda Winther and Matt Swartz on living remotely, taking to the winds, and doing good as they go.
Show Notes for Podcast Episode #44
Interview with Amanda Winther and Matt Swartz on living remotely, taking to the winds, and doing good as they go.
Scott Brady interviews Amanda and Matt about their three years living on the road, learning to pursue their creative professions, and doing more with less. They also share their newfound love of paragliding. Matt Swartz is Expedition Portal’s Senior Editor.
This podcast is supported in part by:
My name is Matt Swartz and I owe my love of the outdoors to my Grandfather, a PHD Ecologist, and photographer who was years ahead of his time. Every visit to his house was filled with hiking adventures where we’d collect and identify insects, or trips to a nearby creek to fish and look for water snakes. We’d also regularly sit on the couch together, pouring over the latest National Geographic while my Grandfather provided additional commentary, always getting deeper into the science. His knowledge was endless.
With those early childhood experiences in nature, it feels fitting that I’ve built a life full of adventurous outdoor sports, travel, photography, and writing. From my first camping experiences on the East coast to bigger adventures, like exploring the West coast of South America, or hiking from the border of Mexico to Mammoth, California, I find that time spent outdoors gives me an incredible sense of well-being.
One of my biggest pieces of advice to the aspiring adventurer: passionately pursue your dreams, and don’t let society convince you that a high net-worth is more valuable than a life full of rich experiences.
Hi, I’m Amanda Winther, adventurer, vanlifer, Leave No Trace trainer, and sustainability copywriter for planet-loving outdoor industry and lifestyle brands. If you’d told me ten years ago that I’d be where I am today, living semi-nomadically in a campervan, or working for myself (and getting paid to write!), I’d never have believed you. I grew up in a suburb of NYC, and followed what I thought was the path to success and happiness. I even made it to what many deemed as the pinnacle of success -- a high-paying job as a Marketing Manager at YouTube in Silicon Valley. But I didn’t find happiness there. I found anxiety and burnout.
It was only once I left that path, and started exploring an alternative lifestyle, living in nature, and waking up with the sun, that I started to discover what makes me feel like I have a place in this world.
Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal and is often credited with popularizing overlanding in North America. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and includes three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar expeditions include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. @scott.a.brady
Matthew is a leading expert in automotive adventure. He has extensively explored the world's most remote places by 4WD and is considered an industry authority on overland travel. He is the only American to ever become an editor of a major Australian 4WD publication and has over 15 years of competitive auto racing experience. @mattexplore
[00:00:00] Scott Brady: Hello and welcome to the Overland journal podcast. I am your host, Scott Brady, and I am here with two wonderful human beings. I am here with Amanda Winther and Matt Swartz, and Matt is our senior editor for expedition portal and it is so great to have both of you on the podcast today. Thanks for being here.
Matt Swartz: Thanks for having us.
Amanda Winther: Thanks. It's exciting to be here too.
Scott Brady: Yeah, totally. So there are some fun things for us to talk about today because you two lived on the road full-time for about three years and you've also traveled extensively. I also want to talk about your paragliding passion, and we'll talk a little bit about photography and leave no trace and some of the other things that you guys have learned as travelers.[00:01:00] So before we get started, Matt and I would like to do a quick call-out to Nakota and Sonya Staples from Staples and Tents and Black People Off-road. We've started working with them. They've been helping us with our testing parameters for the Overland journal tests. They both work in the technical fields, the scientific fields. So they've been very helpful for us to start to create some repeatability and testing standards around our equipment. They also have a very cool Instagram and YouTube channel as well. You can find them on YouTube as Staples and Tents and on Instagram as Staples and Tents and as Black People off-road, so just a quick call-out to [00:02:00] two amazing folks and Matt's rocking the shirt right now. Very cool. And then I also just got a really thoughtful gift from my friends at the X Overland. So that is Clay and Rochelle Croft. They just sent me a very cool 10 year anniversary, you know, wall art is just awesome talks about all of their adventures around the world. So we are big fans of what Clay and Rochelle do with their family and their team, very high quality, authentic content with a lot of consideration around just being good humans when they travel as well. So thanks clay and Rochelle for sending that really thoughtful gift over to us and we're excited to see what you guys do in 2021. So let's get started with some questions. The thing that always comes to mind for folks is how do you make a living on the road? And I think that that would be a really interesting thing to talk about first. So Amanda kind of share what it is that you do and how you're able [00:03:00] to do that from the road and make a living while you travel.
Amanda Winther: Sure. So it was a little bit of a journey to get where I am today. But I currently am a copywriter. I help sustainable minded brands who are also usually planet obsessed to tell their sustainability stories. So I use their words. Usually it's a lot of digital copy. So websites, email, other types of online copy, and I help them speak to consumers who care about these kinds of things who care about the planet and who care about sustainability.
Scott Brady: Yeah it's very cool to see the brands that you work with and you had quite some time with YouTube before you hit the road. How many years did you work with YouTube?
Amanda Winther: Yes, so Matt and I both kind of met and we can get into that later, but in both of us were in California and so I was at YouTube for about three years as well. I was on the marketing team there and so I did learn a lot about consumer marketing and email marketing and how YouTube works, but it's also been a little while and YouTube has grown and it's been cool to see those projects develop since I've been there.
[00:04:00] Scott Brady: Well, you've already been so helpful for us trying to learn the YouTubes. So thank you, Amanda, for all of your advice. It really means a lot. So, when you hit the road, what did you see that changed noticeably about how you worked? Like what did, what kind of little hacks did you learn that helped you be effective and focused? And while you were had that beautiful view right out the vehicles window, right?
Amanda Winther: It's really hard and to be fully transparent, we were not working full-time in the way that you might work, full-time sitting at an office. A big motivation behind us going on the road was to be able to control our time more and be flexible with the way that we did work and so yeah, I wouldn't say we were working 40 hours a week. Like that was not part of what we wanted for our adventure. But there are definitely tools you can use to make it a little easier to work from the road and I've learned over the last couple of years. First off, obviously internet is a huge struggle and issue that [00:05:00] you're going to want to think about going on the road. Service, the deeper you get the service, obviously isn't out there right now, at least. I think there are some possibilities coming in the future around that, but right now it's not there. So you have to prioritize where you're going to be. If you have meetings, especially meetings on video, you need really good connection and so that's a consideration to take. It's probably a good idea to make sure that you're in a town
Scott Brady: Well, before the meetingright?
Amanda Winther: Yes, well before the meeting to make sure things are working well and as things start to open up again, one of our ghost who's used to be libraries. Libraries tend to have really, really good internet and are free, so you can go there and use it. But that can also be hard if you need to talk a lot. So just be like planning around that is probably one of the biggest concerns you'll have going on the road. Even if you have tools like multiple different ways to access service, you're still going to have to think about that. So I'd say that's the first one that comes to mind for me.
Scott Brady: It was interesting even here in Prescott, right downtown, very close [00:06:00] to where you guys are right now and where my home is. It's got a coffee shop inside the library, and they actually have these little cubicles that you can work in. That makes it very efficient to do that. So I noticed that a lot of people that travel full-time, they tend to have like a gym membership that's available like a planet fitness or something like that. So you can get access to a shower and you can get access to a regular workout routine and then maybe you're right. Maybe it's the library solution that can oftentimes get you that better connectivity.
Amanda Winther: Yeah. I mean, coffee shops are obviously a go-to too, but it just, that connectivity can really, really widely vary libraries. Sometimes you can also book like private rooms. And so that's a good thing to, I don't know if there's like a good way to find that other than just searching the town you're in, but they sometimes have little private rooms. You can book.
Matt Swartz: Like conference rooms and stuff like that. It's pretty interesting right now, because obviously with COVID nomads, digital nomads, people that are traveling and work remotely don't [00:07:00] necessarily have the same access that they had previously to those resources. And again, full transparency, you know, right now we've been renting a room in Denver. We've been living with Amanda's sister, Shannon. Who's been a wonderful person to live with. But we've had some more stability, which has helped us kind of get to the point that we're at now. And Amanda talked about it before when you asked, but you know, we were working, I would say much more part-time when we first got on the road, and that was because we really wanted to kind of get back to some of our passions and getting on the road was way to cut our overheads, that we didn't have to work as much. We can play a little bit more. But yeah, kind of touching on some of those hacks too. I mean, I think having structure is still really important , especially for being productive. So sometimes like picking a portion of the day that you're going to work that can be helpful for accomplishing things on the road, because as you mentioned, you always have that temptation of what's just outside the window or outside of the door of your vehicle. And. Often for people that go on the road full time, you do [00:08:00] it to be in beautiful places. So, you know, when you're boondocking in Sedona and you're looking at the red rock Canyon right outside, can sometimes be difficult to find the motivation to sit down in front of your computer for four hours and knock out a bunch of work.
Scott Brady: I guess after a while, it starts to make more sense. I mean, I find that even like I was riding a motorcycle solo up through South America and at first I was trying to work a little bit every day and that just did not work well. So I found if I booked a hotel that I knew had reliable internet, or if I was going to a city that would have a good hotel with reliable internet, then I would just stop for an entire day and maybe work 16 hours that day. So I'm in a hotel room, which is just like any other hotel room in the world and I'm not distracted by the historical places or these beautiful roads or the beach or whatever else, and I just would lock myself down, get a [00:09:00] bunch of work done and then get back into travel mode and for me, that really helped. I don't, I don't find that I do well with parsing out the days like that. Other than just basic email communication and text communication, I can keep that up, but I do find that I need to stop and get out of traveler mode, get my head wrapped around the fact that I'm just in this cubicle in a sense, and get that work done. Has that worked for you guys where you'd stop the camper and then kind of focus on that? Or how did you deal with that even working part-time?
Matt Swartz: I mean, certainly I think especially with creative work, it can be easier to allow yourself that time to kind of get in the groove and then stick with it and so, so like you're saying, I remember we talked about this, you know, I think. Sometimes it is easier to just set aside days or blocks of days, you know, maybe say to yourself well I'm traveling full time so I have the flexibility to take whatever days off I want. So I'm going to work for the next two days while the weather's a little mediocre. Get a bunch of stuff [00:10:00] done and then once the weather gets nice, then I'm going to go and take a couple days off, and you know, you have that fluidity in your schedule and that's, that's part of the beauty of working this way. It is maintaining the flexibility.
Scott Brady: Listening to ourselves too, right? So I'm definitely a work until 1:00 AM kind of person. If I force myself to get up early, I'm already not happy about that program. So it affects my creativity and I have trouble focusing and I think that I personally do better sprinting create creatively. So if I'm engaged in a topic or if I'm even writing a big article for Overland journal, I may do 12 hours a day for five or six days in a row. And then take some time off to recoup and get back that kind of... recharge that creative juice. So, but then there are, you read about other writers like Stephen King and other writers that'll just, they'll sit down and they have a block of time. They close the door [00:11:00] and they do that every day and it is very much formulaic for them and my mind doesn't work that way. I'm not sure how my mind works actually, but it doesn't work that way.
Amanda Winther: I think it's a combination of both for me too. Like there are deadlines that really exist and even if I'm not feeling creative that day, I still need to sit down and get a messy first draft out there and have it to edit later. So that's definitely something I do and have learned and I think especially now that we've gotten into paragliding a lot of times you can paraglide in the morning and then work like in the afternoon or evening or vice versa if it's better for an evening flight. And so I've been able to find ways to where I'm like, if I get this to this point, like I'll be able to paraglide later today.
Scott Brady: I'm going flying. I'm soreing this afternoon. Well, that's a good segue. I think we should talk about the paragliding thing for a little bit. So that is a relatively recent passion for you two. What inspired you to jump off a perfectly good mountain and [00:12:00] trust the thermals and a fabric wing to your life?
Matt Swartz: Yeah, well, I mean as so many things these days do, it comes back to our time traveling full-time on the road.So this was... what year was this? 2018? 2018? 17?
Amanda Winther: 17 or 18?
Matt Swartz: It was the first year... what was the first year we did the van life gathering. It was 2018, right?
Amanda Winther: I think so.
Matt Swartz: Okay. We were in Jackson, Wyoming, and we were running a van life meetup with some friends of ours who run a social account called Van Life Diaries, which it's got a fairly large following and Amanda was like, we're traveling full-time we should get involved with the community more. We should run an event. So we actually hosted an event in Wyoming or excuse me, it was in Idaho, but just on the other side of the Tetons and one of the couples that came to our event where paragliding instructors and tandem paragliding [00:13:00] pilots, and they basically made us an offer we couldn't refuse to go and fly at Jackson, a ski Hill. And so yeah, we said, we've got to do it cause it's, it's a fairly expensive thing to do. So we went, we took them up on it. We got a great deal and we flew off of the ski mountain and I mean, we landed and I remember being like, I need to learn how to do this. Yeah.
Scott Brady: So when you, when you flew that first time you were tandem up with this other pilot?
Amanda Winther: Yes. Both of us were, so we flew at the same time, but had like... we were attached to another pilot, so we didn't do any of the piloting. We're just riding and enjoying the view.
Matt Swartz: Yeah. It's kind of like skydiving, you know, they're they don't just like, say, go for it. You know, this, like these forts are high consequences, if you do something wrong. So yeah. So you basically, yes. You go with someone who's qualified. Who knows what they're doing? Lots of training.
Scott Brady: You have to read the instructions. Is that what you're saying?
Matt Swartz: Yeah. It's a fairly unforgiving sport if you miss something. So yeah. But I mea it, you know, it was incredible. [00:14:00] It's not the adrenaline fueled experience that maybe some people might think it would be, or at least it wasn't for me, you know, I found it very relaxing it's it feels slow. It's not... you're not, you know, free falling you're gradually running off a slope and then you're in the air and it's just about silent and you're going maybe 20 to 30 miles an hour. And you've got this light breeze on your face. And I mean, you're, you're flying. Its just wild, so.
Scott Brady: And is that the high point of it for you Amanda? Like that sense of flying or what is it that you find makes you want to go do it again, jump off another mountain.
Amanda Winther: Well, like Matt was saying, I think when I did the tandem, Oh, I had, I had done a tandem skydive as well, and that is very adrenaline fueled. It's like, Holy crap, I'm jumping out of a plane. And like, I mean, you're going very fast. Yeah, well, if you do both, you'll see, at least for me, it was a very different experience. I didn't [00:15:00] land and say like, Oh, I want to go learn that tomorrow.
Scott Brady: Glad I survived and never doing that again.
Amanda Winther: Yeah. I mean, I was like, Oh my gosh, that was crazy. Cause you get, I think the general in rush of skydiving, even tandem, is just crazy, and that was not the same for paragliding, but it was like similar to Matt. I felt like it was relaxing, which then I learned being a pilot. That is definitely not the case all the time. And it's not relaxing as a pilot yourself, but just the the speed of it. And being able to fly above places, fly above a peak and look around and look down and see animals or, or a view that you can't see any other way. I mean, you could see it in a small aircraft, but having the wind literally on your face, it's just being immersed in nature in a very different way. But also that isn't as adrenaline packed as skydiving. I, a lot of people do both do skydiving and paragliding, but for me paragliding only.
Scott Brady: I wonder how much, I mean, I think about for myself that I try to look for these activities that are a little more analog. Where you're you can't use your [00:16:00] phone to read email or to check text messages or, you know, hopefully not getting on Instagram or whatever, but it seems like when you're trying to fly a paraglider that you're not distracted by those things, you're probably not even thinking about them at all. Has that been your experience? It's like an escape that mental disconnect from the digital world, your digital lives that you live as creatives too.
Amanda Winther: Yeah. I mean, I think especially, it depends on your skill level, so, and the conditions which we're still both very new and learning and the conditions can get really, really extreme. So that's a big part is learning how to read weather and learn about the environment in a deeper way than I've ever had a chance to learn. But I think I'm just focusing on what I'm doing in that moment. It very much can be in a, you get into a flow state and based what you're doing or feeling, or there are some small instruments to use. So potentially based off of signals from the instruments, but basically like. Am I entering when that's lifting me up, where's that wind coming [00:17:00] from? Like, how do I enter into that? How does it feel on my hands as I'm piloting this piece of nylon?
Matt Swartz: I mean, it's one of those... like any more complex activity that you can learn to do, when you initially start doing just a fairly simple task can occupy a very big part of your brain's ability to comprehend what's going on and to make decisions that are smart or logical and paragliding is very much like that. You know, like at our point where we're less than a year in, it's a very big part of our ability just to fly the glider safely away from the Hill, fly it through the air safely and land safely. And the longer you do it, you know, you start to see pilots who are capable of doing much more than just flying. And it's really incredible to see. And I think. You know, that's one of the most interesting things about this sport doing a tandem flight, you have no concept of what's going on. It feels so laid back. It feels [00:18:00] so fun and relaxing. The second you're the pilot, and there's no one else to make sure you get to the ground safely. It changes. And I mean, it's not, I don't want to use the word scary, but it's very real, you know, you're, you're very acutely aware of, of the potential consequences of a good or bad decision and so right now, we're still at that point where we're very much just totally focused on the flight. You know, I've tried to take my camera up a few times around my neck and I've managed to take a couple of photos, but I always find myself coming back and saying, you know what, I'm just going to like, leave these extra things behind. I need to focus on the flying. I'm not quite there yet. You know, I am at a point where I want to focus on learning to fly really well and have it be a little bit more intuitive so that I can start focusing on some of the other complexities of the sport, like staying up for longer periods of time or flying away from the Hill than I start on and going somewhere else. But, you know, it's like, you basically [00:19:00] have to understand all the complexities of piloting an aircraft. You know, it's not just steering your glider, it's understanding the weather and how that progresses over the course of the day. It's understanding and identifying what direction the wind is going. You know, in relation to where you're going, because those are two different things. I mean, it can get very complex.
Scott Brady: And you mentioned that some advanced pilots will even travel hundreds of kilometers, you know, in their journeys.
Matt Swartz: I mean, just in the past couple of days, I think it was a pilot back in Boulder, Cedar Wright. Who's also a pretty, pretty well-known climber. He just set the record for that particular site. He flew over a hundred miles from the site East in Colorado. So yeah,
Amanda Winther: in one go, he doesn't land. He's just up there that whole time flying and catching thermals and staying up and he, I think it was, it was definitely over six hours.
Matt Swartz: Yeah. I think his flight was close to seven hours, but I mean, pilots... I mean, people fly 500 kilometers plus in different parts [00:20:00] of the world. Yeah. It's that the kind of progression of the sport to the upper levels, you know, the pilots that are the best in the sport, they do incredible things. I mean, they'll go in, they'll fly over wilderness areas. They'll fly over places where you don't really have the option of landing. If things don't go and it's just crazy to think about, you know, because again, we're so focused on just taking off and landing safely that it's like the idea of flying a hundred miles and being in the air for seven hours is just like, it's almost. You know, in comprehensible at this point, but it's something that strive for. I mean, the idea of being able to fly a hundred miles without any kind of power is really, yeah. It's pretty wild.
Scott Brady: And you, you both recently did a trip to Turkey. So talk about, and was that both of your first time in Turkey.
Matt Swartz: Yes that was.
Scott Brady: So talk a little bit about your experience in the country and like maybe the high point of your flights there.
Amanda Winther: Well when you were asking that question earlier about [00:21:00] like getting on your phone, I'd say that's the one place where I've consistently been able to do that. And that's just because the conditions there when we were flying were very smooth compared to some of the conditions that you deal with in mountains or even in the desert. I know that conditions can be rougher, but when we were there, it was basically 30 minutes of flying around with. You could. Oftentimes take your hands off of the controls. It was that smooth and so that that's like one of the few times that Matt had a camera, I took my phone out and actually took photos. I always fly with my phone, but like I almost never touch it. And you're flying over the Mediterranean and you can, you know, literally I'll just talk about one of my favorite moments there was a morning flight with Matt and. As we're coming into is about 30 minute flight. Again, you're about 5,000 feet over the Mediterranean when you're coming in. And as we were coming into land, there was a pirate ship there that I guess goes on little cruises. We didn't end up doing the cruise.
Scott Brady: And you landed on the pilot pilot pirate ship.
Amanda Winther: I wish, but I did do a very close fly by while it was playing pirates of the [00:22:00] Caribbean theme song. And yes, yes. And I was like, this is the coolest moment ever.
Scott Brady: And then did you land on the beach?
Amanda Winther: Landed right on the beach right next to it.
Scott Brady: Yeah, that's so good that somebody is there waiting with like, like a, like a mint Julep for here or something.
Matt Swartz: There are bars on the beach there. You can literally land, put your wing in a pile and go and get a cocktail.
Scott Brady: That's amazing. How fun is that?
Matt Swartz: I mean, it was a blast and it was a really interesting trip. I mean, we went there specifically to take what's called an SIV course which has like a French meaning situation involved. Basically, you're simulating things that could go wrong with your glider while you're flying with instruction and learning how to correct those things in flight and so alludenease, which is where we went, is a great place to practice that because as Amanda mentioned, you get a ton of terrain clearance. So you drive up this insane road with these taxi drivers that go so fast. I mean, they do not care if you're [00:23:00] getting nauseated, they're getting to the top of this road in 25 minutes. And then you fly off this mountain and the summit is I think just over 6,000 feet above sea level and you're landing at the ocean. So you're getting 6,000 feet of train clearance, which is... there's not many places where you can get that. And with paragliding, actually the more terrain clearance you have, theoretically, the safer you are, you know. The thing that's going to hurt you as the ground. So the further you are from the ground...
Scott Brady: The sudden stop, right?
Matt Swartz: Yeah. So you fly out over the water and then you do these maneuvers, you practice them. And so we were grabbing the lines on our paragliders and yanking them down and causing the wings collapse, and then you fall out of the sky and then you learn what to do to correct that.
Amanda Winther: And you're over the water in case you do have to throw your reserve. So we do fly... like almost every pilot flies with one to two, sometimes, maybe three, we fly with one backup parachute that if anything were to go wrong in your glider, you can't control it anymore. It's not flying over your [00:24:00] head. You throw your backup reserve. So neither of us did, but people who are on that same course did end up throwing the reserve and ending up in the water. But alluded knees is one of the places that people go to do that and there are boats there to pick you up. It's as far as like practicing those skills, it's one of the best places to do that.
Scott Brady: I've always had on my bucket list to be in a helicopter when it does an auto rotation landing. Cause it, just to me, when I first heard that that was how they do that and that was possible. It literally was mind blowing. So yeah, at some point in my life I would love to hop in with a great pilot and actually experience turning off the engine of a helicopter and it is just incredible to me that that works. But I would love to experience that. I mean, it seems worth the risk to see that happen just because helicopters are amazing, but to experience that kind of thing.
Matt Swartz: They seem terrifying to me.
Scott Brady: No, they do move around more than you think. Yeah. [00:25:00] Depends on the conditions, like anything.
Amanda Winther: Yeah, and alluded this is also one of the places where pilots go to train acro paragliding, which is a whole different thing, but basically they're there to do tricks over the water. So you can watch people do crazy things. They do infinity loops and all kinds of, I mean, we'll send you some videos.
Matt Swartz: Yeah. They have these very specialized wings for this that are... they're much more reactive to inputs to the controls. But yeah. I mean, you literally, you're flying around. Doing whatever you're doing, they're practicing your SIV maneuvers, just having nice light. And you see people literally doing like head over heels, like tumbling for minutes, or, you know, helicopter rotation where they're basically descending vertically and just spinning around. And I mean, it's pretty wild. The things you see people doing there.
Scott Brady: And what did you, as for a travel location, what were some of your high points from Turkey?
Matt Swartz: Well, you know, we didn't do a whole lot of traveling around in the country while we were there unfortunately. We had plans to travel a little bit more widely, but there was some state department stuff that [00:26:00] came up while we were there and like all of the us embassies were closed within the country because of some some safety concerns. Would that have materialized? We don't know, but you know, we figured we can always go back. So we ended up just sticking around in allude knees that particular location as a place to travel to was great. It's a pretty touristy destination though. There are a lot of British tourists there, a lot of German tourists there. But yeah, I mean, as a place to go, it was great. We were able to walk from our accommodations down to the beach. It felt super safe. Everyone was really friendly.
Scott Brady: Yeah, that was my experience there in Turkey. I met some just wonderful people in a place called Trabzon. We needed to get some service done to this little Suzuki Jimny we were driving across central Asia in. And we pulled in there. We actually saw a Defender 110 with an expedition exchange sticker on the back of it and I just walked into the D into the little shop and said, Hey, I'd like to get this stuff done to my car. And they [00:27:00] were immediately like, whatever you need, they took care of us. We had food with them and it was just, it was truly wonderful and constantinople was the same way and all spending time along the Caspian and without a doubt for me, it was, it was a very safe and, and super enjoyable country to spend time in.
Amanda Winther: Yeah. I mean, I think especially like Matt said, part of the concern was that travel advisory. I also had a huge project deadline that I was working on.
Matt Swartz: And thatcame up while we were there.
Amanda Winther: I basically signed this project that was like dream client while we were there. And I couldn't say no. So I was, navigating that and yeah, that was one of the biggest challenges is because the time difference getting meetings with my client, I would be really late at night there and I just needed to not have to make that decision. Sure. Yeah, watching Matt go fly. That was one of the times where it's like, ah, hard to stay in the hotel room, but definitely a rewarding project in the end. And I'm really glad we did it. So we're looking forward to going back. The food was [00:28:00] amazing.
Matt Swartz: All the locals there were excellent and just super nice down to earth. It was, it was really fun, kind of venturing out from allude news, cause it's this little kind of bubble of tourist activity, and pretty much the only Turkish people there, the shop owners. And then if you drive out a little bit, you know, you, you find more of the locals and it was so fun to go to some of the restaurants within a bit of a radius. And they were like surprised to see tourists showing up to sit down and eat, but they were all just so nice. And like Amanda said, I mean the food was fantastic. Food is really good there. We loved it. I mean, that's generally one of my favorite parts about traveling is the food.
Scott Brady: No doubt.
Amanda Winther: Yeah, it was great. I mean, we ended up still there for about three weeks, so it was a great trip and affordable, amazing food definitely would go back, like go, if you have a chance to.
Scott Brady: I think that food is such an anchoring part of any travel experience because I've heard this, I've not studied it myself, but they say that [00:29:00] olfactory memories are the strongest memories that we have. So if we can associate a beautiful travel experience with a great meal and all of the smells and the smell of the coffee and the spices and everything else that it seems like to me, that it helps kind of embed that memory. I remember being in Marrakesh and having this it was actually camel that was stewed with peaches and cinnamon and cardamom. And like, it is still like, I remember it like all of the details, like where I was sitting in the room. And the way that the... or laying down, cause you were kind of laying on these couches, but it's amazing how that those food memories really reinforced the experience of what you're doing.
Amanda Winther:Idon't know that study, but I would agree with it because I definitely have similar experiences. Like a smell can bring you back somewhere and that food was really good. Bring me back.
Matt Swartz: Also a great way to break the ice, which [00:30:00] I'm sure you're aware of, but you know, it's like that thing that you can come to that's like devoid of politics or differences and yeah, I was going to say, you know, when you can appreciate the food of a culture and they see that, like that's, that's just a win for everyone right there in a good way to connect.
Scott Brady: It certainly is. So to pivot a little bit with you, Matt, primarily focusing a lot of your editorial around the campers and trailers and just general camping and vehicles fitted with campers. When we talk about looking to purchase a camper or a trailer. What are some of the things that you could advise the listener that you consider to be like the top things to look for in a camper. Like help people run down that process of, should I get a trailer or should I get a truck based camper or should I get an RV or a essentially we call them expedition campers, but walk people through, like some of the things that you think are [00:31:00] important in your research.
Matt Swartz: This is a topic that you can get really deep into. And you know, I think one thing that is hard to get around is you have to kind of live it to figure out exactly what you need. You know, you can have an idea. For instance, Amanda and I bought our RV that we lived in for almost three years. It was a classic in 1964 and we picked it for a few reasons. You know, one, it just had tons of character. It was like super cool and we just fell in love with the way it looked. But you know, the size was appealing. It was 18 feet long. And so, you know, that's smaller than some of the longer extended sprinters and transits and things like that. So we wanted something that was maneuverable that could get around. But, you know, ultimately for us picking a classic vehicle, it was a great experience and we really enjoyed it, but it was a little slow. You know, driver fatigue was like through the roof, you know, doing 200 miles in a day was like, man, that was a lot of [00:32:00] work and expedition. Yeah, seriously. You know, so I think I'm kind of getting ahead of myself on that, you know, I think you have to come back to basically starting your search for your vehicle or your system with, you know, what is your intended use for it, you know? And you have to be really honest with yourself about that. Like, I think there are a lot of people that want to go out and buy that crazy expedition vehicle, you know, because why not? Like if you can afford it, they're so cool. Like, yeah, I would love to get an earth roamer, but like, am I going to use that to its full potential? Probably not. You know, the reality of my life right now is I'm working a fair amount. And I want to travel, but I don't need that kind of capability, so.
Scott Brady: And what are you compromising to by that? I mean the cost of, of an earth roamer new now is about a half a million dollars. You could travel full time for 10 years on that money.
Matt Swartz: Probably longer.
Scott Brady: For sure. In fact a good friend of mine, Stephano Melgrotty [00:33:00] who rode around the world on a 250 Yamaha, his daily expenses were $28 a day. So do that math. Yep. You're pretty much traveling for the rest of your life on that kind of money and seeing all of the world. So I think maybe you made the best point there of if you can afford it, which means if it makes no other impact to your travels, if you've made no other compromises, if you are able to travel for as long as you wish, and it includes an earth roamer, then that's awesome. Cause you're going to be super comfy. Right?
Matt Swartz: And honestly, that's kind of an extreme example. Right? But I think the point I'm making is you know, you have to be, again, you have to be realistic about your use case. So for us, the RV was great, but we found that what it lacked was capability. You know, we could take it on dirt, but we couldn't really take it everywhere. We wanted to go and now that we're paragliding, we're finding that we need to tackle some. Slightly more technical dirt roads to get to some of [00:34:00] these launches places that the RV just couldn't go. So we're leaning more towards the truck. So I think you have to start by saying, where do I want to go with this vehicle and can it get there? So that's a great place to start. Budget is a huge thing too. I mean, you've pointed it out. And honestly, that was a big part of our decision to, you know, we looked at our living expenses at the time and we kind of did the math and said, well, if we buy this vehicle for X number of dollars, like, you know, how many months of paying rent or paying a mortgage? Do we have to go before they make sense and so that's kind of where we're at now. It's like, that is a consideration. If you have an income that is relatively stable, you can kind of say, here's what I can spend in any given month. And you know, maybe buying that newer truck actually makes sense, because if you're not paying rent maybe you're actually paying less for the new truck that gets you where you need to go, or the new camper van, you know?
Scott Brady: Yeah. And most people that are paying rent are also paying a car payment on top of it. So if you can [00:35:00] combine them in just to one, then maybe your overall expenses are even lower.
Matt Swartz: Yeah. But I'm maybe also making the assumption that you're traveling full-time and you know, that's, that's also not everyone's reality. And a lot of people are going to want to get an adventure vehicle that they can use on weekends that they can take for a week at a time. But, you know, they're still gonna maybe have a house or a place that they come back to. And so, you know, you can go simpler if that's the case. I think if you get anything used in, you're looking at a camper or a trailer, you have to start by looking at the roof. That is like the most important thing I've learned. That's one of the kind of weak spots in any camper or trailer. So get up on a ladder and look at the roof before you say like, Oh yeah, this looks great because the inside looked fine.
Scott Brady: Maybe run a hose over it for a while and see if it leaks.
Matt Swartz: I mean, it's smart. That was kind of the weak spot in our RV. And we did some work to mitigate issues, but it was an old vehicle. It had been in pretty decent storage, but it had rust and it leaked at first and we had to do a bunch of work on the roof, which is not easy work.
[00:36:00] Scott Brady: When you, when you look at trailers, you've been using more of the trailers and featuring more of the trailers, what are some of the things that you like to recommend around a trailer purchase?
Matt Swartz: I think with any vehicle, I think kind of that kiss thing: keep it simple stupid. I think the simpler you can go with systems the better off you are because it's less, it's less stuff to break. You know, I would always advocate for going simpler than more complex with your systems and that's just, you know, learning from you experience, we, in our camper, we had like, we installed an on-demand hot water heater, and that was great until we were in Moab and the temperature plunged when a cold front came through and, you know, our system broke because the water froze and the pipes burst and that's not a super easy thing to fix on the spot. It was like we had to shut off our water and we had no access to our water tanks for a couple of days until we got it squared away. So I think but to your question, you know, what should a trailer have? You know, I think [00:37:00] a functional cooking system is great. I really like having a sleeping area that is not a convertible sleeping area. That's just like a dedicated bed. Something you don't have to set up every day, you know, is really nice and the same goes for for a working space. If you intend to work when you're on the road, and I think that's, you know, that's another thing you have to address when you're looking at what you want to get. Again, what am I going to use this vehicle for? If you're trying to have a job on the road we found that it's really a lot easier to be productive and to get quality work done if you have a dedicated working space. So that means not having to put away your kitchen so that you can use your kitchen counter as a desk. You know, we did that and you can get by. But I think it's a lot easier if you have a dedicated place to get that work done. I don't know. What are your thoughts?
Amanda Winther: I mean, I think that's totally right. I had a flashback to that same moment in Moab when it hit 18 degrees at night and we had never experienced that. Had no idea to like drain water or anything. Our pipes [00:38:00] exploded and so we actually, I don't remember exactly what we did, but we couldn't replace that for a while because we had to get it delivered. There was nowhere to buy that exact system. I think we were able to just route it without using the heating, but it took like over a month to get that actual heating element in our outdoor shower fixed. So definitely agree with that there. And I think one of the biggest considerations were working on the road. I oftentimes would end up working in the bed. We initially, when we first built out the... like we redid the interior entirely of our camper van, which we didn't talk about, but we'll have photos and show them to you. But we had a table originally, we actually had the same size as the original table and it was like a fold out table, but it ended up just. Not working for the space. It broke and we never replaced it because it took up so much space. So we didn't end up having an actual like table to sit at. And oftentimes we would sit on our ARB fridge. So our fridge made a good seating area. So I would often either work from like the fridge or the [00:39:00] bed. And it would be hard to do that. Like it's too comfy or you just don't really have the work mindset. So one of our priorities for what we're looking for next is to have a place that is separate, that we can work in so that we can get into that mindset and have it like physically separated, even though it's a small space to have like a physically separate place where now I'm in work mode. Now I'm under sleep relaxed mode and like keeping those seperate.
Scott Brady: And we're seeing that more and more era Airstream just launched their kind of like nomad, you know, professional nomad trailer, it's basically got a workstation built into it. What's the name of that model?
Matt Swartz: It's the flying cloud 30. I just wrote about it. So yeah, they did basically an office version of that and yeah, I think the timing was great for them because so many more people are finding out that they can work remotely. It turns out they didn't have to go into an office all this time. But yeah, it's, it's clever. It's got a nice little desk kind of nook in the corner with a, you know, an office chair and it's kind of optimized for getting work [00:40:00] done. And I think that's super clever. And I was just kind of racking my brain for stuff that's important because I think, you know, a lot of people who haven't lived on the road yet, they really want to know it's important. I think one thing that I didn't mention yet is having that ability to be truly off grid, you know, to be able to dry camp. So that would mean like a fairly robust power system and enough fresh water. And I think that's super important these days, because with just how popular traveling is getting, and especially during the whole pandemic thing, all of the national forest and national parks are seeing a lot more use. So it may be difficult to find a sure power hookup or a water hookup. So having that ability to be totally self-sufficient and go and find a BLM spot. I think, I think if you're thinking about getting a trailer or camper, don't neglect your capacity to stay off grid for a few days, because it might be hard to find a camping spot if you haven't booked it out, you know, months in advance. That's what we're seeing. I know a lot of [00:41:00] people have said that. Like they'll go to a national park and there's just nothing. Now it's, it's booked out four or five months in advance.
Scott Brady: And that's so much of the spirit of Overland travel anyways, is to get remote and to find those really beautiful, distant locations. On the trailer subject, one of the things that I've found through the years is if you can't retreat inside the trailer, the use case for it in my mind goes down considerably. It doesn't mean that there aren't use cases for trailers with tents on top of them. A good example of that would be you have a family of four and a fore runner. Then those kinds of fold out tent style trailers do make sense, but if it's a couple or a single individual, then why not dedicate the trailer towards that retreat where you can open up a door or a hatch and. Crawl inside it to a dedicated bed. [00:42:00] And I'm seeing more and more trailers, even some that are very small and very capable. Like for example, we just had that sniper trailer show up, right. Which has got a full-sized bed that folds down, it also lifts up and you can have a full full-size kitchen seating area to work inside the trailer, but you're totally protected on the inside of it from the conditions and that you can add a heater and everything else. To me, that makes sense because now you're towing something. That's like a very small off-road capable home. Whereas if the trailer just has the same roof tent that you could put on top of your vehicle, why not just put the roof down on top of your vehicle and save all of that expense and weight and. You know, backing up a trailer is always a consideration too.
Matt Swartz: I'm inclined to agree with you. I think a trailer that doesn't provide sleeping quarters, I'm not going to say it's useless. There's the person that that's perfect for and, you know, and there are instances where that's totally fine, [00:43:00] like nice summer adventure where the weather's perfect, you know, like that slide out outdoor kitchen and rooftop tent, that's fine. And that's maybe even better. Right? It's hard to keep a trailer cool. In the summer off-grid. But yeah, I mean, I think one of the biggest advantages to a trailer or a camper is having that kind of Bulletproof living quarters, like we've been in the RV when it's just dumping rain or snow and you are so thankful that you're not in a tent, you know? I know some of these tents are like, they're pretty weatherproof. I've heard from people who've been in crazy weather with them and they say like, yeah I stayed dry. But being within some sort of rigid shell...
Scott Brady: And it seems like that the cost of the trailer with a soft tent on top of it are usually very close to the cost of like a teardrop where you have hard sides and a hard roof and a door that you open, and it has a fan on the inside and it pulls in, you know, fresh air. [00:44:00] And it just seems like that from my perspective, that looking at a trailer, it should be something you can retreat inside of as opposed to kind of live on top of or around which at that point, why not just put the tent on top of the car and save a bunch of money.
Matt Swartz: I think you're kind of right on it.
Scott Brady: I mean, of course it's my opinion, which doesn't mean anything, but it's my, in my experience, that's been something to look out for is what's the advantage of the trailer? What can it do that the car can't. And if you can go inside it or maybe like the sniper where you're sitting add a dinette and you can work or like the Airstream or any of those other quality teardrop style trailers.
Matt Swartz: The cool thing too is, you know, one of the biggest advantages with any trailers that you can detach it from the vehicle. So paying a whole lot of extra for a super off-road capable trailer, you know, you have to decide if that's the right call for you. For me, I would rather pay for a trailer that I could get inside of, like you were saying versus one that [00:45:00] I can haul way into the back country. Cause it's like, I can just park the trailer somewhere, reasonable, detach the truck and then still go out there.
Scott Brady: Go do a day trip up into the mountains.
Matt Swartz: That's me, you know, maybe there's someone that really just like getting way back there with the trailer is that's the thing they want to do. If that's what you want to do then get that, that super high clearance one. Yeah, totally.
Scott Brady: Yeah. One of the things that we love to ask on this show is favorite books that you would recommend to our listeners. I have learned so many great books from podcasts that I listened to. That many of them have been very transformative for me. So, Amanda, what would you say is your top couple of books that you would recommend to friends?
Amanda Winther: Yeah, it's such a hard question. I'll just talk about one that I found, like at a really good time, as far as this kind of transition for me in my life. And its the Alchemist, you probably have heard this one before. It feels a little cliche to be honest, but it found me right when I needed it. And yeah, we can talk now about living in the camper for three years, but when we were [00:46:00] actually making that decision, it was a big decision for me. And like one of the craziest most life-changing things I'd ever done. I grew up in a town where like the expected path was that you would go to college and then get a job probably as a lawyer or a doctor, or maybe get a PhD, like a very high-performing path. And I followed that path for a long time. I grew up. I went to an Ivy league school. I ended up in Silicon Valley working in tech, which that's not a doctor, but it's now it's kind of up there at this point. And I found myself just not fulfilled. It wasn't the path that was for me. And I was questioning that a lot. And every time I'd bring that up, people would ask me what? You're leaving YouTube. Are you crazy? And that book just made me feel like, yeah, I mean, like there are different paths for different people and this is my journey. I just remember being like settled. It helped me feel accepting of what the path I was taking at the time. So that's one of the ones I'll put out there.
Scott Brady: Yeah. It's amazing how much [00:47:00] energy we can spend trying to accomplish things that we don't really want. For people that we don't really like. It's amazing how much energy we lose in that pursuit.
Matt Swartz: Amanda, she had this great idea, which maybe I'm like giving the idea wherever, but it's this art idea of asking people to consider whose dream they're building and I think it, it really plays that like the tech scene in San Francisco specifically, you know, you've got people who are giving 60, 70, 80 hours of their life a week to building an app so that someone else can put a lot of money in their pocket and sometimes these things aren't really, they're not really services or products that are doing much good in the world. You know, they're elevating the quality of life for people who are already privileged. So I don't know when she told me that it like, that has stuck with me. I think about that all the time. Yeah.
Scott Brady: Any other books come to mind, Amanda?
Amanda Winther: That's the top one for now.
[00:48:00] Scott Brady: Okay, awesome. We can add it to the show notes for sure. How about you?
Matt Swartz: I would just say anything by Edward Abbey specifically Desert Solitaire. I mean, that's like kind of his classic work that probably a fair number of people here are familiar with, but you know, if you're, if you're new to the outdoors playing in the outdoors adventuring, that's just a really great one. It's about his time as a park service employee. And it's just the way he writes is a really vivid his descriptions. And, and some of his other stuff is just really fascinating too. He was like a very big critic of expansion for the sake of expansion.. Yeah. Monkey Wrench Gang is another one by him that I absolutely love. That one's a little bit... it's interesting because it's fictitious, but it's got a lot of elements of nonfiction in it and You know, I think that that had something to do with the earth first movement. Yeah, it's just, he's a fascinating writer and just his take on things. He's really not afraid to say what he thinks, which, you know, sometimes I find [00:49:00] myself reading him and I like him, but I read stuff that he says, I'm like, man, you know, if he was still around, it's the way he speaks. Sometimes it's not so PC. He definitely, as a human, has things that I can take issue with. But I think overall his ideas about the importance of preserving wilderness, of preserving wild places is something that we really need and we should really be paying attention to and he's just... when I read his work, it gets me fired up, you know?
Scott Brady: And he, he loved doing what we love to do. He was an Overlander for sure. I mean his travels in, well, maybe that's how you ended up like being drawn to Southern Arizona, right. Or to Arizona in general. That was his playground. And if you drive along the El Camino Del Diablo there, there are many places that he talks about in Oregon pipe and all of that. And one of the stories about Edward Abbey that I found so fascinating was he passes away [00:50:00] and all of his buddies steal his body like they had all planned it, including him ahead of time, and they steal his body and they take them out in the desert and bury him in an undisclosed location. Like you could not pull that off anymore, but they somehow were at that perfect moment in history that they could still steal a body, buried it in the middle of nowhere and get away with it. And none of his buddies ever gave up the location. There's ideas about where he's at. So maybe, maybe that's a next trip for you. We will get a vehicle lined up and you go walk in the footsteps of Edward Abbey.
Matt Swartz: I picture him. Laughing in his grave. Like you're never gonna find me. It's probably somewhere very obscure.
Scott Brady: I hope so. That's the thing that's fascinating about it. I love it.
Matt Swartz: Yeah, no, that's that story is awesome. I mean, it's just like speaks to who he was. And, and one other book that I'll mention that I think is a worthwhile one to read if you like him, and if maybe you've read some of his material, but [00:51:00] it's a book called postcards from ed and it's actually a collection of some of his personal correspondence with friends and family members and also a bunch of his responses to editorial in magazines and newspapers. He is just so sharp with his responses. But that is like...
Scott Brady: Responding to the original haters. The haters of his day.
Matt Swartz: Yeah. I mean, he's like he doesn't hold anything back and it's just, it's really awesome.
Scott Brady: You gotta pick who you mince words with. I think Edward Abbey is quite the sword with the pen. Right?
Matt Swartz: He really is and I mean, like just a pretty brilliant guy too. I mean, yeah. He usually has an answer for anything that has to do with the outdoors and conservation and wilderness. He has something or a few things to say about it.
Scott Brady: Yeah, that's great and I think is a nice segue into. You two, have both spent some time becoming certified with Leave No Trace. You are both Leave No Trace instructors and you've spent energy around that [00:52:00] cause which I think is so important today, more than ever, because of the amount of people that are in the back country and as Overlanders, we not only have the responsibility for how we use the vehicle, which is typically going to align with tread lightly, but we also have the responsibility of being back country campers as well and hikers and where we interact with native lands and with Aboriginal sites as well. So we have a lot of responsibility as Overlanders, because we see all of those things, and we touch, all those things in some way. So let's maybe talk for a few minutes about with the explosion of overlanding and the number of people that are getting into the back country, what are some things that we can do as Overlanders to reduce our impact to these beautiful places that we love and want to come back to?
Amanda Winther: Yeah. I mean, I think that's such a great question and there's a lot we can do there's so much we can do [00:53:00] first off it's it's like learning what, leave no traces. So you can easily go to the website and look up the seven principles and kind of just get an introductory level of what a Lino traces and it's it's a framework, so it's not going to give you the answer. The number one, answer all the time. It's a framework to think about how your, what your impact is on these spaces and how perhaps you can leave less of an impact. That's the whole framework. I think the first principle for example, is plan ahead and prepare. And in the context of things, this is an important one for overlanding because. We want that balance of like freedom and being able to find a new place and explore and adventure, but oftentimes if places are crowded, there might not be campsites that are established, that are available and if you don't, you know, find out how many sites there are, or potentially have a backup in mind of where you can go. If this first site or second site or third site doesn't work out then you might be thinking it's okay to kind of create a new site or go off road here. And that's definitely [00:54:00] one of the things that we're seeing happening right now, where more people are getting outside, which is incredible, but just not knowing the capacity of the places that we're going to, when there is a limited capacity, there are a limited number of vehicles that can fit there or humans that can be there. So I think that's a great place to start.
Matt Swartz: Yeah, no, that's a, that's an excellent place to start. I think dispose of waste properly, which is another one of the principles is awesome. And I think it's almost even more applicable to the overlanding community. We have this amazing resource, which is our vehicle, right? Like when you're on foot, your capacity to carry trash out to to leave things better than you found, it is somewhat limited. But when you have a vehicle you just have so much more capacity, so that can start with not leaving your own trash behind, and it can expand to removing trash that other people leave behind. And I think within that category, you know, it's something that maybe is squeamish for some people to talk about, but, you know, using the bathroom in the [00:55:00] back country, I think all over Landers should get themselves some sort of a portable toilet solution that they carry on their rig. And you just, you, you almost no excuse to be digging a hole in the back country and pooping in it. Now that is how leave no trace would educate us to, you know, dispose of human waste properly and again, it's a framework, so I'm not saying this is the only, only way.
Scott Brady: Yeah. Like if you're on a motorcycle that's not feasible or it's much more difficult.
Matt Swartz: Yeah there are wag bags, you know, like there are solutions . I think it comes also back to plan ahead and prepare. It depends on the environment you're in, you know, some environments are more capable to deal with human waste than other ones. So like here in Arizona and in the mountain West, the high desert it's not an environment that really deals well with human waste. It's very dry out here. And so things don't decompose very quickly. You know, so I think like a five gallon bucket with trash compactor bags, a seat that snaps on and a little bit of a. [00:56:00] You know, something to add to the bag, to keep things manageable. Is a really easy thing to do. It'll save you time digging holes in the back country, and then you just wrap all that up, you take it out with you and you leave so much more of a smallert impact.
Scott Brady: You put it in your trash on the spare tire.
Matt Swartz: It doesn't have to go inside your rig, you know, put it up on your roof, rack, whatever. But you know, it doesn't take a lot to do that and it can really help some of these places. I mean like the Moab area see so many people, and if you think about every person that's visiting and having to dig a hole once or twice a day, I mean, it's like, where does that all go?
Scott Brady: Yeah. A little a pro tip for those that are listening. If you take that wag bag and you stick it in like an ammo can on the roof rack and it sits out in the sun in Arizona for a couple of days make sure you again, plan ahead.
Matt Swartz: Maybe not the roof rack don't listen to me.
Scott Brady: No, no, no. I think that there are times where the roof rack works, but in my experience There was times that it didn't work. But it, these are all good things to talk about. And I, one of the [00:57:00] things that I really like about leave, no trace and tread lightly. These are apolitical organizations. They're not saying that this is left or right or whatever. It's just, we all grew up with the idea of let's leave these places better than we found them. It's that simple. It's just the extension of the golden rule. Like, like be a good human, like let's, we're going to these beautiful places. Don't you want your grandchildren to see them just as beautiful as you do. And I think that that's the whole framework of them is this is not a political thing. It's not even a environmentalist thing. It's just something very practical of let's leave these pretty spots that we may want to come back to in 10 years, let's leave them better when we leave. And I think that your idea around the trash is such a great one. We've talked about that before on the podcast is just have a good sized trash bag with you. Not only pack up all your own trash, [00:58:00] but find any trash that you can in the campsite. You know, there's been very well-documented studies that if you can make the place look clean, it will stay clean longer. Even someone who is less inclined to do that when they come to a clean campsite, they are much less likely to leave trash behind. Whereas if they come to the campsite and it's trashed, they are going to be far more inclined to just throw that LaCroix can out into the pile of all the other ones. Whereas if we can clean up the campsite, we're giving it a better chance. The next time a group shows up and speaking of groups, and this is kind of the last thing that I want to include on this, because I do think that this topic needs to be covered in more detail, but one of the things that I'm seeing in our communities is larger and larger groups of Overland travelers. Most of these camp sites in the back country can handle two, three on rare occasions, four or five vehicles. If you're traveling in a group of 15 [00:59:00] people, just ask yourself, why would I do that when the back country is not set up to handle that size of a group. Now if you do a lot of planning and ahead of time, and you know that I can get from this big group site to this next giant group site, or I'm going to camp on the Playa where it could handle a group of a hundred, then that makes a lot more sense. But I think when we're seeing groups of 20 go across the Mojave road and shoving a bunch of trucks into small campsites, they get slowly and incrementally larger. The terrain gets damaged and then they get shut down. So the forest service, or the BLM will just come in and put it this camp sites closed. Cause it's now a trash heep.
Amanda Winther: Yeah, totally. And that's really unfortunate for all of us.
Scott Brady: It is. And I think that if we just, if we take a little bit of responsibility as a community, then we can improve the outcomes and the likelihood that we get to continue to access.
Matt Swartz: I mean, that's the thing with [01:00:00] anything that takes place in, you know, on public lands and the outdoors, I mean, the amount of infrastructure and federal employees that are out there to help manage these sites is so limited, you know? And so I think we almost have to just think of ourselves as like a self regulating group. We, we kind of have to approach it in that way. We have to take the initiative and again, it's not, it shouldn't be politically motivated. It's not about, who you vote for. It's just about this resource that we all love and taking care of it. And if you think about that group of 20. If they divide up into five groups to camp and if every one of those cars picked up two pieces of trash, like think about the positive impact it could have. I mean, I know I haven't participated in it, but I like the gambler 500 is always like in the back of my mind, just because I think the culture of it seems super interesting. They do a lot of cleanup work. I didn't realize, but it's just really refreshing because I don't always think of like the four wheel drive in the Overlanding community being a community that's [01:01:00] really concerned with that, but that just has totally changed my outlook on that. And it's cool, I mean, they haul out like... I see them hauling out like wrecked cars and boats and just like truckloads. The most random stuff and so that's so cool. So that, that could be like a really awesome group of people look to, they organize cleanups everywhere. Like throughout the year. It's not just when they're doing the race.
Yeah and maybe that's the way to do it. If it's a little bit bigger group or your club has that 10, 12 members or whatever that you put some kind of a charter behind your trip of like, okay, we're going to do this to make this place better when we leave it. I think those are all ways for us to take responsibility over our own own activities.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think the other thing just to chime in with this last point is around how we talk about Leave No Trace and there's a lot of great resources I'll send people back to Leave No Trace, so definitely go there for more resources.
Scott Brady: That's leavenotrace.org?
Amanda Winther: Yeah. I feel like a [01:02:00] lot of times when you start learning about these things, you get very passionate about it, which is a great thing, but then you have to remember that not everybody has the same level of education as you do, and they're not at their same Leave No Trace journey. And so the way that you bring these topics up to others who are out in public lands, there's a lot to learn there about how you communicate with people. And again, it's a framework. So there are Matt suggestion to carry out your human waste is probably something we should all try to, you know that should be our standard that we're reaching towards, but not everybody knows about that. Not everybody has been taught, not everybody is aware of the science behind things and just trying to get people where they are. If you did want to have a conversation with someone, there are resources again onLeave No Trace about how to approach these things. But if things, if your conversation isn't going well, then, you know, there's only so much you can do and leading that example is always the best starting points.
Scott Brady: Best starting point is always us and our own actions. I remember when I was pretty involved with tread [01:03:00] lightly. A lot of the training that I got with tread lightly was how to have those conversations with other four wheel drivers of like, look, if we keep making all of these new trails, they're going to shut this whole thing down. And none of us get to have any fun. It's that simple. It's just like that there's consequences for our behavior, but it is a difficult thing to have a conversation about because people can be intimidated by that or offended by that. And the last thing that we want to do is our own version of some very poorly constructed virtue signaling towards some other human. I mean, I make mistakes every single day that I'm worthy of being judged for. So the last thing that I want to do is judge others for their own actions when they're not really trying to be bad, but that's the great thing about a platform like this podcast or like expedition portal and Overland journal and all of the other great organizations that are out there is that if we can just raise the. Conversation a little bit of like, Hey, let's just try to keep access to these trails. This is where we want to go. Let's keep them [01:04:00] open for a little bit longer. So those are awesome points. Both of you. I appreciate you both. You both sharing that.
Matt Swartz: So yeah, there's, there's a lot of stuff has come up in like the last couple of years where people were actually using the framework to shame others for trying, but not quite hitting maybe the highest Mark that others are. And that's the last thing we want to do. I mean, we all love the outdoors and we want to encourage people to, to play out there. And if we give people a hard time for trying. You know, you're going to turn them away. And as Amanda said, everyone's on their own. The journey, you kind of have to meet people where they're at and maybe offer some education, but we never want to make people feel bad about trying.
Scott Brady: Totally. And any form of virtue shaming, or signaling like that is always a zero sum game. No one wins. Yeah. The person that's signaling, you can tell that they're signaling and then they look pathetic and then the person who's being signaled against now, they feel bad about themselves. Everybody has lost in that. So let's make it a positive sum game of like, do it start with ourselves, with our own family, with our [01:05:00] own community, our own club, try to make things a little better and believe it or not, it's all going to make a difference. In I think in a very positive way, so you're right. We don't want to, to start shaming others for trying like what a terrible thought, but I think that's where the world's come to. In some ways.
Matt Swartz: It happens a lot. I mean, you know, social media and the hitter again, and that gives people a platform to. Say whatever they want you know, almost anonymously. So people that are having a bad day, sometimes they just go on there and they, they let loose and you know, it really causes a more, a lot more problems than it provides.
Scott Brady: Yeah. It just shuts down the conversation and then no one's learning anything. Exactly. We're just talking over each other. Right. So thank you both so much for being on the podcast today. It's been such a pleasure to get to know you, Amanda and your skills. Thank you so much for all of your insights that you've given us around YouTube and the things that you do professionally. And then Matt, I mean, you're just total rock star, man. [01:06:00] You have just done such an awesome job on expedition portal and for those that are listening, when you go on to expedition portal, you'll oftentimes see Matt's name on the bio for the article that you're reading. So this is the guy that's, that's making all that great content happen and working closely with the other editors on expedition portal to, to make that content so solid, and Matt also contributes regularly to Overland journal as well. Where can people find out more about the two of you and your travels and your upcoming journeys?
Amanda Winther: Yeah, so the best place to learn about me and my business is Amandawinther.com. I also have an Instagram @Amanda.Winther. I mostly share. Fun travel stuff on the Instagram. So if you want some of that, you can see paragliding photos or a lot of photos that Matt takes that I post because he's the photographer. We also have an Instagram together. It's not being used as much, but you can see some of our previous troubles @van.project. [01:07:00] So if you want to see the camper van all of that is captured there.
Matt Swartz: Yup and then, yeah, I guess my personal Instagram account is m.b.swartz and like Amanda said, I mean, I mostly just share photos.
Scott Brady: That's a great account though. Like your dog is so charming. Like what's your dog's name again?
Matt Swartz: Royal.
Scott Brady: Royal. He's rad. He's great. I love like... you had this one, like perfectly framed backlit, like model photo of your pup. It was such a great.
Matt Swartz: We don't have a human child, but we have that child, so.
Scott Brady: Nothing wrong with fur babies.
Matt Swartz: He's front and center.
Scott Brady: Awesome. Well, thank you guys again so much for being on the podcast and we will talk to you all next time.