Living the #VanLife Dream - A trip across Ireland
Early in 2013, I had bangs. There were a few other differences in my life at that time too. I was not yet a mother of two and though we were entrepreneurs and avid campers, Pin Drop Travel Trailers had not yet been born. We were only in stage 6 of our historic home remodel in Old Town Cottonwood, Arizona. (For perspective, we are now in like stage 82.) Also at that time, Tim and I were camping in remote destinations in a 1952 Happy Home trailer that really wasn't made for off road travel. The foundation of our small footprint camping experiences, we had dragged this top heavy tin can along hundreds of dirt roads, sandy washes, and rocky terrain. It had made trips across the country and up the coast. With only a few minor adjustments, including a flip of the axle and a solar panel addition which accommodated off-grid adventures, the Happy Home remained in a mostly historic condition. This lifestyle sparked the desire for ongoing untethered travel.
While Tim and I had explored extensively together for years camping mostly in remote areas, off-the-grid and isolated in said Happy Home, we had not yet travelled together overseas. It seemed like a good test of our recent nuptials and an excellent excuse to try our remote-adventure style in new territory.
In true form, we didn't want to travel anywhere during peak tourist season. The travel planning is a bit fuzzy now. I am not really sure who's idea it was or how it came to be that we found ourselves standing in a field in Belleek, Ireland in early February (note: the middle of winter) picking up a VW bus that we had contractually rented via email communication and a PayPal exchange.
Enter: West Coast Camper Vans
It might need to be said that we flew in to Dublin. For those not so geographically familiar, Dublin is on the east side of Ireland, so our 4-week adventure started with a bus ride to the County of Donegal where we picked up the Volkswagen. True to its name, West Coast Camper Vans is located on the west side of Ireland. It actually worked out as we spent our first 5 nights touring what ultimately turned out to be our very favorite leg of the trip. The County of Donegal was more rural, remote and a bit more rugged. It was also less crowded and the locals jovial and welcoming. Just our speed.
The experience was, as you can imagine, remarkable. We sought out ocean view towns with accessible ports where we could pull off. We cooked most meals inside the bus, and visited local pubs for libations, conversation, and tips on area hikes. We visited castles and churches, picnicked in grassy meadows and walked in the rain. Our Volkswagen bus hauled us from Donegal County to Northern Ireland, and all the way down through central Ireland to the south coast and around clock-wise up the west coast back to Donegal.
Night 1: Outside of Killybegs, County Donegal
Night 2: Port near Teileann (Teelin), County Donegal, with a day hike up Malin Beg
Night 3: Dunmore Head, Portnoo, County Donegal
Night 4: Na Dunaibh (Downies), County Donegal
Night 5: Malin Head, County Donegal
Night 6: Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Night 7: Cushendall, County Antrim
Night 8: Fenore, County Waterford
Night 9: Kinsale, County Cork
Night 10: Mizen Head, County Cork
Night 11: Parkna Hilla, County Kerry
Night 12: An-Feothanach (Feohanagh), County Kerry
Night 13: Liscannor, County Clare
Night 14: Galway, Couty Galway
Night 15: Cleggan Bay, County Galway
Night 16: Westport Bay, County Mayo (Hiked Croagh Patrick)
Night 17: An Fal Mor (Fallmore), County Mayo
Night 18: Easky, County Sligo
Night 19: Rossnowlagh, County Donegal
Night 20-22: Dublin, County Dublin
We drank whiskey sometimes, and we drank beer most of the time. We played scrabble, hiked mountains, and talked to sheep. We drove on the left side of the road without dying, and managed to make a few friends. It was an exceptional existence. We travelled without an itinerary. Everything we needed was packed tightly in a 40 square foot mobile box. I guess it's called Van Life now.
The hashtag #VanLife, if it existed at all, was certainly not as popular as it is today. And now with COVID-19, this van lifestyle has exploded with people seeking isolation and ways to explore remote destinations untethered. We have many friends (i.e. Ellen Jo D. Roberts and Chad Roberts) and even more parents of friends who were the true pioneers of Van Life and who didn't use nor need a hashtag. They just lived in a van and that's what it was called.
Camping adventures for us are still much the same: low impact, small footprint, and fully self-contained. The 1952 Happy Home has long since been retired, and Pin Drop Travel Trailers was born in 2018 to bring an unplugged and solar powered experience to those seeking it and, of course, to fulfill our own untethered dreams.
About Pin Drop Travel Trailers
Pin Drop Travel Trailers are fully self-contained, solar powered micro campers designed for comfort and convenience. Perfectly adaptable for those who like to hop between National Parks or for adventurers who prefer to trek into dusty unexplored terrain, Pin Drop Travel Trailers are made by real people in the historic, rural town of Miami, Arizona. Designed by a licensed general contractor and avid camper, Pin Drop Travel Trailers offer explorers a way to access remote destinations while enjoying both comfort and convenience. Fully self contained, and solar powered, these tear drop style trailers have a full galley kitchen with a Canyon Cooler, two-burner propane stove, 12-gallon fresh water tank, cabinet storage, a queen size bed, under mount and over head lighting, and optional upgrades including solar shower, bike rack, roof rack and refrigerator. Available for sale or for rent, see if a Pin Drop is right for you.
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