Drew Simms: Year on the Road

Categories: Jeep® Life 

By: Drew Simms

So, it’s been one year since I left Florida. One year since I packed up all my belongings into my four-door Jeep® Wrangler and headed west. A year spent exploring our national parks, forests and public lands. A year of waking up early to catch sunrise and staying up late to chase the Milky Way. One year and 30,000 miles of experiences I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams. My name is Drew Simms and I am a 24-year-old freelance photographer and videographer living on the road out of my 2013 Jeep® Wrangler Sport Unlimited.

Oregon Coast
Jasper National Park of Canada
Cape Kiwanda, OR

Now, a quick background on when this all first started. I got my Jeep® Wrangler about 6 years ago with a soft top and a few thousand miles. It wasn’t until spring 2017 that I first had the idea of converting the Wrangler. I was still in college, and a friend and I had planned a 10-day road trip through Utah for our spring break. At the time, I hadn’t really seen the west and, to be honest, I had never even set up a tent before. Two days before we were supposed to leave, he bailed. I spent the next week and a half, jaw-fully-dropped, solo camping and hiking through Utah. On my second to last night of the trip, I hiked up to Angels Landing in Zion National Park. There was a super moon rising an hour after sunset and I knew it would be the perfect way to finish off my first time in Utah. I stayed for the moon rise and watched as Zion Valley began to light up, moon and stars slowly moving across the sky. I spent the next few hours hiking back out to my car, with the entire park to myself, head pointed straight up at the enormous multi-colored rock walls, mesmerized that moments like this really existed. It was that experience that instantly hooked me and I realized I needed to figure out a way to spend more than a few weeks at a time on the road. A year later, I retired the soft top, gutted the inside, and put over 250 hours into redesigning the interior and exterior of my Jeep® Wrangler to make it what it is today, my home.  

Capitol Reef, UT
Trona Pinnacles, CA
Factory Butte, UT
Lake Powell, AZ and Alabama Hills, CA

I initially planned to be on the road for four months. I spent my first night after leaving Florida in Tennessee, where it was just above 90 degrees and the number of bugs was almost comical. I remember lying in the back of my Wrangler thinking “what did I just get myself into?” and “how I am supposed to do this for the next four months?” There have been plenty of moments like that on the road and don’t let my pictures fool you into thinking it’s always great. I’ve spent my fair share of restless nights in freezing temperatures and howling winds, gone much longer than I care to admit without a real shower, and eaten more instant packs of mash potatoes than anyone ever should. But if I’ve learned anything over the last year, it’s that those moments are necessary to make you appreciate the great ones. And I can say in full confidence that those low moments and sacrifices of living on the road have led to some absolutely great ones. In my head, four months initially seemed like more than enough time to see what the US had to offer. But the longer I spent on the road and the more I explored our national parks, forests and public lands, the more I realized there is enough adventure right here in our country’s backyard to last a lifetime. Four months quickly turned into six. Six turned into ten, and now I am coming up on a full year living out of my Jeep® Wrangler.

Lake Powell, AZ
Oregon Coast
Mt. Shasta, CA
Drew Simms

Base-wise, my Jeep® Wrangler is still stock. I have an in-depth video that goes into detail on all of the exterior modifications and add-ons, as well as how I transformed the interior to include a bed, pull-out kitchen, closet, pantry and multiple storage drawers. Everything done to the interior and exterior of the Wrangler was done by me, and I say that to stress the point that anyone can do what I am doing. Like I mentioned earlier, I had never even gone camping till I was 22. I knew nothing about cars or carpentry, back-country camping or where to even begin prepping for something like this prior to the last year. But I love to learn, and I love experiencing change first-hand. So, if you’re reading this, I encourage you to get out and make some experiences of your own. Moving forward, I’ll be posting blogs, vlogs and videos on JeepWave.com to show a look into my life on the road, as well as tips, tricks and advice from what I’ve learned over the last year. I am excited to share more from where I’ve been, as well as where I’m going, and I hope you’ll follow along!

Alabama, Hills, CA

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Living the dream! Inspiring to get out and try something similar.