Purveyor of RAD #0003 Greg Mills - Salt Roots
After countless double taps on his instagram feed, we had to get ahold of @greg_mills. Upon closer examination, we found a lifestyle project that was all sorts of RAD. Enter @saltroots. The story of a passionate couple from the state of New York with a knack for travel and adventure. Greg Mills and Michelle Romero are embarking on a journey across the United States in their VW Van 'Arabella'. We had the opportunity to speak with Greg and dig into their inspiration behind the project. Check it out and follow along here: http://saltroots.com/
Greg, Can you give us a brief description on your current adventures with Salt Roots ?
Currently we are making some final upgrades to our 1982 VW Vanagon before leaving our home state of New York for a life lived on the road. While making these repairs we have been taking brief trips all around the state exploring and documenting the places that made us who we are today. From the Adorandak Mountains to Long Island’s Montauk Point, we wanted to catalogue our roots here at home before heading off to places we have never experienced before.
How has the surf culture in Long Island inspired you?
Long Island (along with most of the East Coast) is usually pretty fickle regarding size and quality of surf. When we get swell, there is usually a very small window where one can score perfect conditions – this (along with the frigid winters) makes having a proper surf-vehicle critical for finding waves. After spending years watching, talking, and surfing with the more seasoned locals, I realized that you needed much more than a board and a wetsuit to score good waves with your buddies in this environment. The need for a vehicle that can fit multiple boards, friends, and supplies all while keeping everyone warm and comfortable inspired me to purchase my first VW van. Without the culture of surfing on Long Island, I would not be who I am today and would most certainly not be doing what I do now. I am incredibly lucky to be a part of this tightly knit community of surfers and watermen.
Where did the inspiration come from to travel across the country with your girlfriend in a van?
Two years ago Michelle and I moved into a tiny apartment with a few friends just steps away from the ocean in Long Beach, NY. After a year of living, working, surfing, and paying far too much in rent, we decided that there had to be a more economical way to increase our time in the water. We were spending all our earnings on rent and had nothing left to spend on traveling – which was a huge bummer. We knew living in a small space was no issue, so we decided to buy another VW van and began to plan our great escape based on the travel of people like @fosterhunting and @whereismyofficenow. Michelle and I have always been a team. Our artwork, photography, and surfing would not be the same without one another. We inspired each other to step outside the box, and try something new – we have never looked back.
When and where did this Journey Salt Roots begin and what is the final destination?
Our journey into this kind of lifestyle began back in March when we pulled the trigger and purchased our new home, “Arabella”, a 1982 turbo-diesel VW (camper) Vanagon off a guy in Brooklyn, NY. Where it will end, we honestly don’t have a clue! But after this 6 month trip around the US, we would like to begin driving to places outside the states - such as heading North into Canada/Alaska as well as South into mainland Mexico and South America. We think that would be rad.
Can you share a few people and places you have met or visited along the way that have inspired you?
One of the most inspirational people we have met thus far has to be Dave Krugman (@dave_krugman) a professional photographer living in Brooklyn, NY. Michelle and I met Dave through Instagram and he has become a great friend. His work behind the lens is stunning and we are sure his images will keep us plenty home sick while we are on the road. Now the most interesting person we have met is a fisherman named Matt who drives a beat up 1969 Chevy camper van. We met Matt on a secluded beach on Long Island while fishing, and oh man did he have some epic stories of Vanlife’s past. Surfing, fishing, living out of his van – Matt was our kinda guy … a little far out … but a solid dude non-the less.
What is the best part about being on the road?
Not knowing what or where we are going to end up next.
What is the hardest part about being on the road?
The toughest thing to cope with are breakdowns and mechanical issues with Arabella. VW’s are great adventure mobiles, but damn do they like to give you trouble.
Best surf you scored on the Salt Roots journey?
New Jersey, the day before Thanksgiving – hands down. Then again, we haven’t gotten to the West coast yet so I expect that answer to change pretty quick once we get out there.
How has this trip inspired your illustrations?
The more we see, the more we like to draw. Each experience we have affects our work immensely. Michelle and I have been increasingly inspired by the different vehicles we see on the road – whether it be another VW, a do it yourself van build, or a mobile home we just can’t help but to draw these different freedom vessels.
What’s next for Greg, Michelle, Arabella & Rivi?
Our ultimate goal is to not to just explore the world, but to explore it for a cause. The dream is to have every mile we drive add up to something more than just a number on our odometer. We would like to put together a pledge list, where people can sign up at any time and choose to donate money for each mile we drive on our adventures. The money raised would then be given to whichever charitable organization we choose for that year’s trip.
Will you guys be making it to the West Coast?
That is our next goal. We hope to make it to Southern California by the end of February then head up the coast from there. We simply cannot wait!
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