photo by BEN FULLERTON/CAVEMAN COLLECTIVE
While many of us dream about selling everything, putting our bikes in the rack and just living in our car, Sam Salwei and Raquel Hernandez-Cruz have been making that dream come true for over two years. Loaded with gear, gas cans and wireless electronics, they live in their Peace Love Car (PLC). But last year, they got some bad news—this mobile adventure vehicle was only going to last another year.
To say goodbye, the yoga and slackline teachers decided to drive the PLC to every state in the U.S. (plus driving through Canada). Inspired by the way the couple embrace life and the saga of the car, Colorado filmmaker Ben Fullerton of The Caveman Collective created “The Road to Wanderlust” (watch the trailer here: youtu.be/HvvhdJ55Jz4), a movie that premieres at MountainFilm and will play at Wanderlust festivals throughout the summer. We caught up with Sam and Raquel in Hawaii (the one state the PLC did not reach) and asked them about what they learned from life on the road.
What exactly is the Peace Love Car?
The Peace Love Car or PLC was originally a $400 salvaged-title 1988 Ford Festiva Sam acquired in 2003 with under 100,000 miles. Over the past 12 years, it has been heavily modified to become the ultimate cross-country roadtrip machine. It’s on its 10th set of wheel bearings, sixth transmission and third engine—but that’s not too bad for 469,000 miles on the odometer (and countless others not recorded when the odometer was broken). It has a custom 4.5-inch rear lift kit and the whole suspension, steering system and brakes come from a 1996 Ford Aspire, which allow us to handle the added weight of all our toys. Thanks to our Yakima boxes and racks we can transport two Ellsworth mountain bikes, two Alpaca packrafts, one Hala SUP, two 12-meter ozone kites, a kite board, a mountainboard, two snowboards, a pair of skis, two tents, six backpacks, multiple cameras, climbing equipment and countless other bits and pieces. But PLC is much more than a car or a house, it’s the ultimate smile-maker. If you ever find yourself in a funk driving PLC all you have to do is look out the window. Everyone who sees the car reacts to it, most of the time with a beaming smile. There is something about the car that puts people at ease.
photo by BEN FULLERTON/CAVEMAN COLLECTIVE
Why is it dying?
The PLC has a unibody, meaning the frame is integrated into the body. There is unstoppable rust weakening the pivot points in the rear end. When we got news of its terminal illness, Raquel came up with the idea for a road trip to end all road trips: We were not just going to let the PLC die off. We were on a mission to kill it.
What were some moments on your 50-state voyage that made you feel connected to the people you met along the way?
We got a nice surprise almost daily with the PLC. Everywhere we go people approach us with questions or to share stories. One of the best times was when we got fresh smoked salmon from a hunter filling up gas next to us in Alaska.
And on the flip side, what moments were tough?
One of the most challenging things for a trip like this is dealing with all of the event planning and organizing. We did the entire schedule on our own—two of us contacting friends and studios to plan a year of traveling and teaching. Our goal was to stay three months ahead of schedule. That meant that, once the trip started, we were living a crazy schedule sometimes teaching in seven states in one week while traveling over 1,000 miles.
What is different about the way the two of you teach yoga?
Our yoga practice and teaching is strongly influenced by our AcroYoga, slacklining and conditioning practice. It’s a blend of the traditional and non-traditional styles. We seldom practice yoga on a mat. Our practice and teaching are mainly on a person or on the slackline. And when we do teach yoga on a mat, we make sure to replicate movements similar to our outdoor practices.
What’s special about the Wanderlust Festival?
Wanderlust appeals to our desire to travel while staying connected to our passions. It’s a yoga, movement and music festival that calls upon the traditional and non-traditional styles of yoga. Every year we join the festival to meet and share our knowledge with thousands of students.
You strap your bikes to the PLC. Did you stumble upon any surprisingly good mountain biking along the way?
There are some awesome hidden trails all across this continent. A few years ago, we found a pretty useful app called Single Tracks. It helps us find mountain biking everywhere we go. Sometimes we find trails that even our local friends are unaware of. Most of the time, we simply search on the apps, check the ratings and head there.
Our country seems so polarized and angry politically. Does traveling make you understand people better? Does it reach across those divides?
Everywhere we go we find amazing people. The one thing that traveling makes you hyper-aware of is that there are good people everywhere, absolutely everywhere. We are all struggling with the same issues and we all have similar concerns. There is disconnect and disinformation between communities and that’s where most of the issues develop. The world would be a better place if more people travelled. You see and experience the similarities and stop focusing on the differences. Once you leave the comforts of your home—where you feel everything is correct—you start seeing how others interact. This allows you to make more informed choices. Sometimes, what you used to do is truly the best way of doing something, but most of the time, you realize someone out there has a better solution. By integrating the knowledge of the larger community, we grow like we couldn’t on our own. •