One day they were out on a bike ride and Emmy asked Clayton “What do you want to do with your life?” She did not mean his career or what they were supposed to do but what he dreamt about – travel.

Their Normal Life

After landing her dream job in 2015, Emmy, Clayton, Riley and their dog Jack relocated to Colorado Springs, CO to start their stable life as a typical middle class family. She was working as a Medical Social Worker with geriatric patients and had realized 90 percent of her goals but still something was missing. At work she was miserable and at home she was stressed because she was miserable, then the signs started to come through. First, she was hearing about stories everyday from other coworkers and her patients about their lives and the regrets they held on to. Second, she was faced with her mortality often because of the nature of her work. Third, the house that they were renting was being foreclosed on and so there was the out they’d been waiting for without even knowing. The doubts she’d been feeding herself for so long didn’t feel so real anymore but the need to get out and live while they could became too much to ignore.

And so it went, they started to plan. They decided to sell all of their stuff and use the trailer Clayton just happened to be renovating as a moving shelter for their travels. This trailer, who they fondly named Bear, would be their home for the next 286 days.

The Trip

Going through the exciting possiblities from heading to Southeast Asia or Mexico or to Alaska finally they decided to stay local. “We live in such a beautiful country” says Emmy and they hadn’t seen nearly enough of it. They elected one year as their time frame and set off.

They started in Moab, UT which Emmy says is her favorite stop of the trip. Whether it be because it was the first stop or because Moab is just that gorgeous she does not know but she still talks about it. They continued on through to California where they have a cabin near Yosemite that they decided to spend the Winter in. After Christmas they felt a pull to venture on but it was too early to head to Alaska as was their original plan. So, sitting in a random Panda Express one day they decided to head to Arizona. As they made their way down the California coast they also stopped in Slab City, an area that boasts it’s the “last free place on earth.” There they learned about work-camping and needing funds to continue along their journey decided to later end up in Kentucky for that opportunity. After spending a bit of their time in Arizona they traveled to Kentucky to spend the summer at the work-camp.

Towards the end of their stay in Kentucky Emmy and Clayton decided it felt like their trip was up even though it was only 9 months in. The trek felt like it had come to a close and they were homesick for Colorado, who can blame them, and thus they made their way back and settled in Summit Valley, CO.

What’s Next for Them?

Since the trip ended Emmy says they have enjoyed being in one place and right now she doesn’t miss being on the road but does bug Clayton to drive out to Moab so she can “see the arches.” I asked Emmy if she felt like they would go another trip and she happily said “yes!” They plan to live abroad for a while after buying a place in Colorado. I can only imagine that their next adventures will be just as inspiring as this one has been.

Emmy, Clayton, and Riley have lived a portion of their lives in a way many of us only dream of and that’s what Emmy says she wants to leave with others. She went into social work because she wanted to make people happy and inspire them. She “never in a million years thought that she would be able to do that by traveling” and just living her life. She wants other people to know that life really is so short and they should pursue their dreams right now instead of planning for someday. I can attest to her bright nature and I enjoyed so much speaking with her about all they were able to accomplish. I don’t think this will be the last we see of The Valiant Life.

If you want to know more about Emmy, Clayton, Riley and their fur friend Jack check out their blog!