The Dirty Darlings – Where it all Began

#Vanlife, What’s that?

Before I even met Matt in person we started bantering back and forth about Vanna White – his 22’ converted adventure vehicle that sounded oddly like girlfriend competition. But she only intrigued me and left me wanting to know more.
On our first date, Matt sat across from me at Etcetera wine bar in San Francisco and told me that he had developed his own tag line. He had branded himself… “just a chill guy looking for adventure”. Every time he said it he slowly waved his hand in the air like he was writing the banner in the sky. He also showed up to our first date a little tipsy (which he pulled off well because I had no idea until he told me later) and spent hours yelling to me from about 4 inches away telling me that he was a natural introvert. It all could not have been more endearing.
Want to see our first interaction…
Screenshot from our first interaction via the dating app world
Yes, we met on a dating app. We both hated them – but it’s hard to argue with something that seems to have worked?
After we were a few dates in, Matt shared with me that he unleashed all the “crazy” on our first date with the intention of scaring off anyone that couldn’t handle it. But somehow the lack of vocal control, the self branding, the gross misinterpretation of the differences between introversion and extroversion, and the early warning signs of alcoholism didn’t scare me off…turns out this is my brand of crazy. So I leaned in.
Sitting there at the wine bar in San Francisco, he also told me about his dream of going on a road trip around the US visiting all 50 states and taking epic sunrise and sunset photos in every one.
Side note: This is when I started doing stalker-like searches on social media of #vanlife (which I now know is a real thing)
Matt & Vanna at Christas 2016
After our first 2 dates, it was Christmas/NYE and we were both headed out of town for the holidays. This is one of the first photos Matt sent me of Vanna & his adventures.
It all sounded awesome but also resembled a little bit of a pipe dream – a lot of people talk about dreams but never act on them. The more time we spent together, the more the idea of leaving San Francisco in a van headed to nowhere started to come up in regular conversation. It was starting to sound like this might not be just a pipe dream for the crazy guy I was seeing.  It was early on and I didn’t know where this relationship was headed and I was already starting to feel like Vanna was going to steal away this amazing new human that I was quickly growing really fond of.  At this point (circa January 2017), I never would have thought that when you fast forward just a couple months I would become a part of this pipe dream.
The Dirty Darling road selfies are some of the only photos we have with both of us in the same frame.
The Dirty Darling road selfies are some of the only photos we have with both of us in the same frame.

We eat pipe dreams for breakfast

I went from telling my friends and family – “I’m dating this really great new guy, he has a camper van, I hope we get to getaway for a weekend camp trip sometime…” to “I’m moving out of San Francisco at the end August in a van headed across the US of A”.  I continued to be amazed that my friends were not more shocked by this news I started spreading around. Apparently, they don’t think that I was born to swim in financial reports and spreadsheets for the rest of my life either.  I can’t say my parents were exactly thrilled when I told them about my approaching adventures but they’re finally coming around to the idea (hi mom!).  I still have moments where I think that I may be crazy – but I’ve decided to embrace it.
My priorities, desires and what I want out of life at this moment are changing. And I’m not saying that I have changed but I did make a really big change. Going forward does not mean that I can never go back (Matt would probably disagree as he hates moving backwards, but this is not the same thing!). I have made a decision to spend some time focusing on the simpler (and unknown) things in life and see where it leads – this could last 5 minutes or it could last 5 years. And either option is ok with me as long as I learn something along the way.

Megan & Vanna with the DIY curtains
We were about 4 months in and had already made the decision to do the darn thing (year long #vanlife road trip) before I ever even got the chance to spend the night in Vanna!
(Matt must be a good salesman)
Matt & Vanna
The Dirty Darling road selfies are some of the only photos we have with both of us in the same frame.

What’s next?

I’ve always been fascinated by people’s stories of what brings them to this moment, that decision or to a certain way of thinking. How do we judge so quickly without knowing anything about another? We all have different things that motivate us or things that we value – and what’s really incredible is that all of that can start change at any moment.  Change can be hard but I also think it’s ultimately what drives us to grow, learn and take action. We make crazy decisions that lead to new adventures, drive new struggles, open new paths and maybe close a few old ones. Sometimes we have control over those decisions and sometimes they are forced upon us. Regardless, it is up to each one of us to make the best out of all of it.
On the road. Exploring the central coast near Big Sur.
Pladra hat on the road
Camping at Limekiln SP in Big Sur, CA

Trip Mantras:

Experience fully.
Adventure more.
Be Active.
Put down the screen.
Say hi to your neighbor.
Show kindness to a stranger.
Don’t judge what you do not know.
Struggle for something you care about.
Learn something new. And do it again.
Don’t take the easy road.
Camping at Limekiln SP in Big Sur, CA
Sunset party at Big Sur
Exploring Yosemite, Spring 2017
Vanna White, our home on wheels.
By | 2017-10-03T16:19:12+00:00 August 8th, 2017|#vanlife, All, California|11 Comments


  1. Shannon August 11, 2017 at 12:54 am - Reply

    Nailed it. Can’t wait to read more :).

    • Megan August 17, 2017 at 5:31 pm - Reply

      Thanks Shannon! Can’t wait for all our Canadian recommendations 😉

  2. Mom August 14, 2017 at 2:16 am - Reply

    Speaking as a Mom, you have won me over…. I’m excited to see where this adventure leads you. And I think you and Matt make a great team!

  3. Margo August 14, 2017 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    This is so fun to read! I am excited for you both!!

  4. Margie Stolsig August 15, 2017 at 2:13 am - Reply

    Love it.

  5. Carolyn Fries August 15, 2017 at 2:47 am - Reply

    I think you may have met your calling Meg–adventurist and writer!!! You have a special flair for sharing your thoughts and life. Can’t wait to read the next chapter and meet this cute young man you have hooked up with!!! You two are going to have such great adventures!!! It will be fun to live vicariously through you!! Lots of Hugs!!!

    • Megan August 17, 2017 at 5:29 pm - Reply

      Thanks Aunt Carolyn! I’m excited for you to follow along with us

  6. Michelle Donahoe August 15, 2017 at 2:53 am - Reply

    Can’t wait to follow your adventures!

    • Megan August 17, 2017 at 5:30 pm - Reply

      Don’t forget to also participate by sending us some recommendations for the North East!

Leave A Comment

Sign up to get trip highlights delivered straight to your inbox!

* indicates required