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King and Smith left Nicaragua for Costa Rica, but the idea of the van stuck with them.King, a telegenic former business student, had quit her job at a Sotheby’s branch when she realized that she was unhappy.“It’s men in their thirties with huge beards, and they’re pretty much all stay-at-home dads,” he said.“Their wives work office jobs and they work on the vans so the family can go out and vanlife on the weekend.”Part of the fun of vanlife, Sitner theorized, is the old-fashioned, analog pleasure of tinkering.“My inspiration,” went a typical comment on one of his posts.“God I wish my life was that free and easy and amazing.” Huntington tagged his posts with phrases like #homeiswhereyouparkit and #livesimply, but the tag he used most often was #vanlife.While still in Central America, King and Smith came up with a name for their project: Where’s My Office Now, a reference to their goal of fusing travel and work.“We wanted to see if it was possible to combine this nomadic hippie life with a nine-to-five job,” Smith explained.
One afternoon, Huntington listened to the couple have a small argument.
Lucas Valdes, the owner of the California-based company Go Westy, a prominent seller of Volkswagen-van parts, compared vanlife today to surfing a couple of decades ago.
“So many people identify with the culture, the attire, the mind-set of surfers, but probably only about ten per cent of them surf,” he said.
Something about their fond irritation made him think that they’d be suited to spending long periods of time together in a confined space. The year before, Huntington had given up his apartment in New York and his job as a designer at Ralph Lauren, and moved into a 1987 Volkswagen Syncro.
He spent his days surfing, exploring, and taking pictures of his van parked in picturesque locations along the California coast.
It was the early days of Instagram, and, over time, Huntington accumulated more than a million followers.