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Welcome to Our Lives… | 2 Vegans and a Van
Hey there!
I’m J. Bird and I’m writing this blog with my partner in life, Baby Bear. We would like to thank you for visiting our platform to share our continually evolving knowledge of subjects such as:
  • how to live a healthy, invigorating minimalist lifestyle
  • how to prepare for long distance hiking and other adventures
  • how to build out a fully liveable and affordable camper van, adventure vehicle, and mobile tiny home
  • how to embrace plant-based living and prepare deliciously easy recipes
  • how to forage, survive in the wilderness, and live totally self sufficiently
  • how to become fit and active
  • how to reverse & prevent disease and chronic depression
  • how to be the happiest, healthiest, strongest, most powerful, and most alive version of yourself
How do we possess the above knowledge? Because Baby Bear and I have achieved/are continuously achieving all of these life dreams and we’re now equipped and thrilled to share them with YOU!
On March 21st of 2020, we departed Florida on a journey from Springer Mountain in Suches, Georgia to the furthest point north of the Appalachian Trail at Mount Katahdin in Millinocket, Maine. We have been living, hiking, and exploring in the woods on the wildest journey we could have ever imagined for 182.5 days, exactly half a year. Throughout those days, we hiked a total of 2,483 miles, 2,193 of which were on the AT. 

other miles were spent hiking in and out of towns to resupply, adventuring off the trail, or getting lost in the woods. Some days (and nights) were spent hiking, some days were spent foraging, some days were spent hunkered down in the tent due to inclement weather, and some days were spent simply living in the woods by a peaceful stream, a warm fire, or a breathtaking mountain view. On the days we hiked, we averaged 15-20 miles/day, with our longest day being 47.5 miles.

Baby Bear and I had our first date on January 10th, 2016. We met each other through recognizing that we were both wearing the same brand of climbing shoes at our local rock climbing gym, and we then bonded through hours of talking about our shared desire to hike the Appalachian Trail. We were best friends since the moment we met. On our third date, he invited me to stay over his house to avoid driving late at night and after Baby Bear insisted several times, I finally agreed. I never expected that staying one night would mark the first day of living in my new home with Baby 

Bear…because he wasn’t able to kick me out. Just kidding (but seriously)–we ended up becoming amazing friends and roommates and our relationship developed over time. Over the years, we’ve dreamed of hiking together and adopting a liberating life in a van to travel the country and immerse ourselves in being advocates and educators for a healthy, compassionate, and environmentally regenerative world. For 4.5 years, we planned to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. We wished to build out a van to become our home, so that when we finished the trail, we could slowly integrate ourselves back into a social life without being overwhelmed by society. But for 4.5 years, most of our plans seemed like they were only unrealistic dreams, far away from being tangible.

A couple months after Baby Bear and I moved in together, we became unitedly passionate about educating people about becoming a part of the world’s solutions. We decided our most effective method of advocacy for social justice, animal rights, and environmental protection was through coordinating large community festivals & events to bring people together 

who were interesting in learning life changing information. In the past 4 years, we coordinated over 30 festivals along with other fellow solutionary volunteers, directly reaching over half a million people throughout the state of Florida. Coordinating festivals and changing lives was incredibly rewarding volunteer work. But it was also incredibly stressful and overwhelming volunteer work, on top of having to both work full-time jobs to survive financially. We were far beyond burnt out. By the summer of 2019, we made each other a promise that somehow, we would find a way to make our dream of hiking the AT become a reality no later than March of 2020.

On September 28th, 2019, we decided to become official partners in life by inviting our family and friends to a marriage celebration at Cedar Lakes Woods & Gardens, a botanical garden where Baby Bear and I had coordinated our first festival together (and where I used to work). We knew the gardens would always hold a special place in our hearts, especially since the Cedar Lakes team had become like family to both of us. We

were overwhelmed by the love, support, and encouragement we received and following our marriage celebration, we were successful in purchasing and building a fully liveable adventure vehicle.

We then embarked on the trail as a symbol of the beginning of our new lives together, taking on our hiking names of J. Bird and Baby Bear. Our journey was nothing short of epic. We have survived hurricanes, tornados, and winds of over 100 mph on the precipitous ridgelines of mountains over 6,000 feet high. We have run from raging river rapids during a flash flood. We have stood face to face with large mother black bears

and their cubs, locked eyes with a mountain lion in the glow of the moonlight, had close calls with brilliantly camouflaged venomous snakes, and woken up to the majestic echos of moose calling out during twilight. We have formed friendships with toads, mice, squirrels, porcupines, and chipmunks (welcomed and unwelcomed), and have observed a vast variety of wildlife and plant life, including many rare and endangered species. We have seen the worst in people and we have also seen the best in people. And karma has become so incredibly real.

Because of coronavirus, many of the services that are normally available to hikers were shut down. As a result, there were very few people on the trail compared to a normal year and we were told that our experience this year could be compared to that of someone’s experience hiking the trail in the 1970’s. Normally, an average of 1,500 hikers will complete the trail each year. This year, there were less than 200 who would complete the trail
from North to South. Many times, we did feel as though we had taken a step back in time. We have camped in our tent every evening, with the exception of a couple extenuating circumstances (which we will explain in greater detail in our book) and when visiting with friends and family, who we can’t thank enough for their immense hospitality, as we made our way through New York.
Due to encountering a major financial obstacle a couple months into our journey (this will also be explained in our book), we were faced with a decision—to cancel the trip we spent the last 4.5 years planning or learn to forage to supplement our food costs…we chose the latter. Though it was an extremely challenging experience at first, we have become proficient in being totally self sufficient in surviving in the wilderness. We
have consumed 17 different species of mushrooms, 28 different species of berries, and over 50 different plant species. We have discovered what it means to be truly hungry, to be truly in pain, to be truly desperate, to be truly tired, to be truly challenged, and most importantly, to be truly alive, happy, and free.
We are THRILLED to begin sharing the details of our stories, along with instructional and time-lapsed videos on van building (along with other informational topics). We look forward to also documenting these stories in the book we plan to write together.
Thank you for reading and we look forward to connecting with you on our social media platforms for 2 Vegans and a Van, where we will be sharing photos, videos, and “how tos” on living the most wholesome, epic life you could imagine!