DONNI REDDINGTON: @DONNIREDPHOTOS
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 1/29/18
For the sixty second installment in our ongoing interview series here at DirtOrcas.com, we are thrilled to speak with Donni Reddington about her life and adventures. You may know her as @donniredphotos.
I discovered Donni’s adventures through Instagram. Her gallery is a fantastic blend of action oriented motorcycle adventure and base-camp-style glamping; All set in the beautiful Cascade Mountains and America’s West. You can check out here gallery here and I highly recommend giving her a follow.
As part of her adventures she also works a part time photographer. Her personal website is aptly named www.donnireddington.com and has a full catalog of her professional work and information on purchasing from her.
Most importantly, Donni is an inspirational figure to riders and adventure nuts everywhere. She has tremendous energy to get out and ride impressive terrain. She does a beautiful job capturing the zest for adventure. That spirit it takes to intentionally put yourself through a little bit of discomfort, only to walk away rewarded. We all know that feeling. Pushing yourself passed your comfort zone, in a responsible way, to obtain that sense of accomplishment when you’re done. Donni’s photos have this DNA all over them.
Please check out our interview below.
What do you consider to be your place of work?
I currently work as a part-time recovery room RN and a part-time photographer. I have been a RN for 18 yrs now and this job has allowed me the flexibility to hit the road often & continue my photography business.I am the youngest of three girls and was raised on a farm. Yup, I was a little tomboy growing up and had a huge matchbox car collection. I have always been into motorized vehicles, particularly motorcycles and big trucks. My grandma, who was an army nurse, feared I was going to grow up and be a truck driver. She even left me a letter in her will about how happy she was when I chose to become a nurse & not a truck driver.
Tell me about your vehicles. Have you made any upgrades or changes to them?
Being on the road a lot and commuting out of town for work, I must have a vehicle to support my lifestyle. I have built out two vans in the past and through those experiences, and with my work requirements, & boyfriend’s requirements, I ended up going with a truck camper. It was more affordable at the time than purchasing a new 4×4 van and doing a custom build out. Don’t get me wrong, build outs are awesome and I will do another in the future. But at the time my boyfriend and I met, we both had Sprinter vans that we had built out and we were both building a house, so it was nice to take a break & buy a set up that was ready for glamping. So I ended up selling my sprinter van and bought a 2005 Dodge diesel Cummings 4×4 truck. It’s a quad cab with a short bed. We topped it with the smallest and lightest fully loaded 4 season Lance camper. I can’t stand exterior graphics and interior design of most new campers, so immediately I did some custom work. First thing to go were the exterior graphics. I had a company north of Seattle apply a custom wrap with one of my photos from the North Cascades, which is our backyard playground. Then I did some custom interior work. I had the upholstery re-fabricated and we also did a few extra changes to be beef up the insulation and increase the battery longevity. And where do we put all of our toys & gear??? Luckily the truck is a quad cab so we can load up the rear seats. But obviously that can’t haul all of our gear. So we ended up buying a small 6 x 10 lightweight aluminum cargo trailer. We fill this up on big road trips with our mountain bikes, climbing gear, two Husqvarna 501s and one Beta Evo trials bike.
What is your favorite part about it living from your vehicle?
My favorite part of living part-time & glamping in this set up is how cozy it is. I can hop up into the camper after a long day at work or day spent adventuring & everything I need is there. Grab a cold beer from the fridge, turn on my music and cook a nice meal.
What is your least favorite part about it?
My least favorite part is no crawl or walk through. I really struggle with this and it will be the reason why I will do a custom build out in the future. I am a big believer of the walk through. On long road trips when you are “hot seating”, the other can sleep. Or one person is free to make a meal, prepare snacks, use the bathroom, etc.. Ha, we once even made coffee while on the road. It just gives you so much more freedom to take care of business and get to your destination quicker. Plus when I travel on my own, I feel more secure being able to have access to the driver’s seat.
What is the best place you have taken it?
I don’t have any real special places that I have taken this set up but I can tell you that everywhere I have a taken it, I feel at home. We have many trips planned coming up this summer that I am looking forward to!
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living off of a bike, what would you tell them?
I would suggest to others that want to live a more balanced lifestyle to find what makes them truly happy. A lot of people may think you are selfish, but if you’re really not happy yourself, it will reflect on your relationship with other people. I believe happiness is the key to a successful balanced life.
It takes a special kind of person to recognize that the journey, not the destination, is the point of life. Travelers know this. Was there a point in your life where you became conscious that you were one of those people?
When I was in college, I knew I had the tendencies to roam. But I also knew I had to make it through college to be able to support that lifestyle. After I graduated from nursing school I started my 1st job in Fort Collins, CO. I didn’t have a standard routine like the rest of the world. I worked long hours, I worked holidays, & I worked overtime. And I still do. But this flexibility has allowed me to adapt to living part-time in my truck and traveling often so I can’t complain about not having routine because this has become my way of life. It makes life more exciting, you never know what’s around the corner!
You have found a strong place in the community of adventure riders. What values do you think your home or family instilled in you, that you take on the road?
I think as a Libra, I do try and balance my life. I feel like I have done a good job setting myself up to work hard but also to play hard. Luckily I have parents that raised me to have strong work ethics and they also taught me about the importance of respect & responsibility. My mom probably made the mistake of raising us girls to be too independent, but that has taken me to where I am today. My boyfriend has a lot of patience but understands and shares the same values as myself. This is important when you want to live the same lifestyle.
Where do you want to go next?
I will continue to work as a part-time RN and a part-time photographer. I will also continue to enjoy my glamper but plans are slowly evolving for the next build! This year, my truck camper will travel to Moab, it will take 2 trips to Mexico (as I continue to shoot for the Baja Rally), and it will probably make it up to Canada for a few trips. Oh, and several more trips to the hospital RV lot!