Chris Clemens would make a splendid case study in the liberating influence of decluttering. In recent years, he has gone from sharing a five-bedroom house with roommates to living out of an 80-square-foot Volkswagen van. The freelance marketing professional and web designer now has taken downsizing a step further by spending much of the year backpacking around the globe. Untethered, but rooted in Rotary (at age 29, he was elected president of the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara, Calif., its youngest ever), Clemens, 32, maintains contact with club members over the internet, typically from Wi-Fihotspots in hostels. Checking in from Ecuador, where he had just spent a week hiking and snorkeling in the Galápagos Islands, he jokes, “I might be one of the first homeless Rotary club presidents.” But to borrow from T.S. Eliot, home is simply where one starts from.
Living in a house, while comfortable, can use a lot of energy and produce a lot of pollution. One way to reduce your carbon footprint, is to downsize. In tonight’s Going Green report I speak to one person who downsized to about 80 square feet. The van in the background looks like a standard mode of transportation. For Chris Clemens, it’s actually his home.
In the past few years, Chris “Tarzan” Clemens thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail on a whim, discovered his love for MUT running, got a divorce, moved into his Honda Element, ran his first hundred, competed with a horse in an ultra, and is now living at the beach or trailhead in beautiful Santa Barbara…still in his car. I talk to Chris about scaling back and getting down to the essentials (in both life and running.) We talk about how he chooses races, what he’s learned, and what he wants to run in the next few years. I’m tempted to drive down to Santa Barbara today just to have a beer with him.
Whether it’s waking up in his 1985 VW Westfalia camper or along the Appalachian Trail Chris ‘Tarzan’ Clemens knows how to find adventure. Chris is someone that I have been following for awhile now and have always been fascinated by his ability to seemingly live so simply and yet have so many awesome adventures. Chris lives out of his camper van, he is an ultrarunner, a thru-hiker, an adventurer, a world traveler, a freelancer and someone who has forged their truest life. Chris has driven all around the US and Canada, bike toured through Chile and Argentina, backpacked in Ecuador and Peru, ran ultras, hiked the AT, and so much more. But, regardless of how much I regale you with his exploits you need to hear about them from the man himself. That very same man gets out into our world and understands that if you go through life completely comfortable you’re never going to grow, which breeds his idea of AntiComfortable. This episode is about getting rid of the junk, of simplifying, of seeing the beauty in the basics. Everyday Chris lives the basics in his camper and lives in the present, not hindered by superfluous possessions. Listen in as we discuss how to be minimal, how to live truly, how to endure, how to get out of your comfort zone, and how to find yourself. Enjoy. – Jarod Contreras
What would you think if I told you that today’s post was about someone who lives in his car? Would the word “homeless” rise up in your mind? Would you conjure an image of someone who had failed badly, or been down on his luck? Someone to pity, perhaps, because they couldn’t possibly be living in such a way by choice? Well, get ready, because I am—or, rather, Chris is—about to shatter all of those preconceived ideas about what makes a house (or, in this case, a car) a home and what makes a man homeless.
Although for most of us it’s hard to imagine running 100 miles, the feat has become a reality for local ultra-runner Chris Clemens. His conditioning regime consisted of a marathon a month, hiking the Appalachian Trail, and some seriously hardcore motivation–motivation created by highs and lows, community and individuality, and adventure and simplicity.
The past two months, my training partner and running coach Rob DeCou has written about minimalist training for the “Are You Tough Enough?” ultramarathon. Yeah, that means I am the poor schmuck that got talked into running a 65-mile foot race through the mountains behind Santa Barbara. No, I’m not exactly sure what I have gotten myself into. And yes, I do know that we are crazy.
A toothbrush weighs 0.4 ounces. If you break that toothbrush in half, it weighs 0.3 ounces. How do I know this? I’ve done it. Why? Because I needed to carry said toothbrush 2,184 miles along the Appalachian Trail, and on a journey like that, every 0.1 ounce counts. While these minimalist measures may seem a bit obsessive to most, it’s what fuels a growing number of folks who fastpack.