The Wanderful Wives
Why do you call yourselves the “Wandering Wives?”
Well since literally the day we met, we’d had this plan that after we got married (which didn’t take long) we would start traveling full time. So in fall 2019 we sold 80% of our belongings, packed the rest in our truck, and headed off for Sam’s first travel nurse assignment. Justine works remotely in tech, so really as long as there’s a nursing gig available, we can drive there, get temporary housing, and explore to our hearts content! And obviously we love to travel abroad whenever we can. But as the pandemic has taught us and many others – there’s plenty of wandering to do right here at home! We both really lucked out finding a partner with such similar dreams for making travel and adventure a priority in our lives, and then together turning it all into a reality!
What is one of your favorite places that you have traveled to?
Ahh, it’s so hard to pick just one! Our favorite places are definitely the ones where the outdoors is the most untouched and pristine. Up in Alaska this past year we’ve been on some incredible wilderness adventures, so if you haven’t added that one to your bucket list yet – put it at the top. But our honeymoon in off-the-beaten-path Greece was just to die for. All the beaches were different colors of sand and rock; it felt like we were on another planet. Being so close to the ocean everyday was cleansing for the soul, and those sunsets were unforgettable. And the food, oh the food! So fresh and flavorful. Not to mention the locals were so friendly. But gotta say, Thailand is a very close second!
What is your favorite natural environment to be in? Forest? Ocean?
One of our favorite quotes is:
“There is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” -Christopher McCandless
Our favorite part of Nature is its vastness, it’s diversity, it’s ever-changing beauty. In the mountains we feel strong and a sense of wonder, in the forest we feel peace and serenity, in the ocean we feel rejuvenated and relaxed, in the desert we feel wild and untamed. Every place we’ve traveled, each adventure we’ve been on has given us so much perspective and joy. On bikes or skis or climbing rocks or just one foot in front of the other, anywhere outside is our happy place.
What are your favorite animals?
Easy question! Our dog, Willow, and our cat, Seuss! When we move and all our belongings are stuffed in the car, these guys do take up an obscene amount of room, but somehow they always make the cut.
Outside of our own fur babies, we’ve really grown quite fond of moose up here in Alaska. They’re giant and sometimes quite terrifying, but also so cute and dopey looking. We love waving to them as they stroll around the neighborhood and patrol the local parks, or as we zoom past them on the ski trails while they munch on their dinner. It’s a friendly reminder that the land doesn’t “belong” to us humans – we share it with so many species, and it’s their home too. They demand & deserve food/shelter/privacy/respect just like we do.
How do you put the beauty of the things that you see into words?
Honestly we both get super emotional when we even think about Nature. There are real happy/inspired/grateful tears shed on so many of our adventures in the outdoors, and again when we’re writing about it too. When we’re out there together, that’s where we feel the most alive and the most connected. It’s an incredibly grounding feeling, to have everything else stripped away, and to be able to just soak in all the beauty that surrounds you. So when you’re passionate about something, and you really *feel* it deep in your soul, I guess that just translates into our words!
Explain your relationship with nature.
We both grew up loving to be outside – barefoot, covered in mud, playing in the ocean, discovering all the shells and rocks and bugs we possibly could. But as we got older I think that connection faded a bit, and it wasn’t until we were adults that Nature came back into our lives in a much more profound way – as a place of healing.
Justine: I experienced trauma as a teen and as a result, struggled with depression and self-harm that had both my family and myself wondering if I would live to see my 16th birthday. In a last ditch effort to try and save my life, my parents sent me to a wilderness therapy program. It was there that I sat, present with nature. No outside distractions, cell phones, superficial things – just me and the trees (and bugs.) This built the foundation of my connection with the outdoors. I lost it somewhere along the way through college but reconnected tenfold in Colorado after going through another traumatic chapter in my life.
Sam: I struggled with a chronic illness that left me in periods of serious pain and weakness. Going on runs and hikes became a chance for me to feel strong again. And in that process I realized how much perspective, inward & outward connection, and just pure joy that can come from being in the outdoors. It took me right back to my childhood where I was climbing up every tree and skipping down trails. Life isn’t all about serious things – jobs, money, the latest trends – is that what really makes us feel ALIVE? We should get our feet on the ground, breathe fresh air, and play a little!
Do you believe in climate change? Tell us your views.
Yes, absolutely. We’re no scientists, but we sure believe in science, and the science is clear. The climate is changing, and there’s no doubt that human actions are accelerating it.
Up in Alaska we are seeing the effects firsthand – from glaciers receding, more bears coming out of hibernation early, harsher winters, wildfires in the summer.
Even if you take the concept of greenhouse gases off the table, a lot of it is just common sense – there is a finite amount of space on the planet for trash, cities with more cars have poorer air quality, non-renewable resources are… non-renewable, deforestation leaves wildlife with no homes, melting ice caps raises the sea level… It all adds up. This Earth, as resilient as she is, is struggling.
And unfortunately and unfairly, it’s the countries in Latin America and SE Asia that are disproportionately affected by this with more natural disasters, decreasing food supply, devastated infrastructure, overstretched economies. Those who can afford to do something – governments but also individuals – must act.
How do you try and make the world a better place?
We love the idea of “Only Human” because we feel so strongly that for all people on Earth, we should focus less on the things that separate us and invest more in what connects us. And equally as important: lead that charge with love, compassion, humility, and inclusivity.
Our world – our countries, communities, and systems – are set up in such a fragmented way, where cooperation is rare, and not everyone is thinking about the bigger picture.
We wholeheartedly believe: what’s best for my neighbors, my community, my loved ones – is what we should continuously aim for. And what lifts up those who are most in need, elevates us all. Even if something doesn’t directly affect us, it still matters.
One thing that affects the entire world is the state of our climate. That’s something we all must tackle together.
We may be just two people, but once you internalize: ‘I can and do make a difference’ – that’s an empowering place to start.
What are some ways that people can show that they love the Earth?
As much as we wish we could live on a farm in Costa Rica and be 100% zero waste, we haven’t quite gotten that far along yet (but never say never). But we’ve been surprised at how easy it’s been to make a series of small changes in our day to day lives, which ultimately add up to make a big impact!
Here’s some easy ways you can show Mother Natch some love:
•Focus on reducing and reusing, then recycle what you can! Challenge yourself to see how little trash you can accumulate each week. Make investments in things like reusable ziplocks, silicone baking mats, mesh produce bags, and beeswax wrap. Bring your own utensils, straws, and mugs to places.
•Start a compost bin!
•Find your local bulk foods store, or at least buy what you can in bulk or with minimal packaging.
•Try eating a more plant-based diet, even if you just start with a couple days a week – research shows that reducing your meat intake is the single most influential action an individual can take to protect the climate. Otherwise, source your proteins ethically and sustainably. Support local farmers.
•Walk or bike or take public transport when you can.
•Try taking a shorter, slightly cooler shower.
•Recreate responsibly – stay on the trail, pick up trash & your dog’s poo, don’t pick wildflowers, remind others to do the same.
•Talk about it! Encourage your friends & family & coworkers to show the Earth some love, too!