RICHARD AND ASHLEY: DESK TO GLORY
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orcas – 5/8/17
For the thirty first installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orcas, we are very excited to speak with Richard and Ashley from the humble but legendary Desk to Glory team. These two have carved out quite the online presence by leaving their 9 to 5’s and taking on South America in an older Toyota 4×4.
Desk to Glory’s completed trip is an accomplishment in itself, but they also seem to hit many highlight destinations along the way. Creating wonderful photo’s and experiences for their followers to share even just the smallest part in.
Their journey is both a humbling and inspiring experience. Richard and Ashley seem to have a quite greatness about them. They achieved some big things and tackled wild places. All in a way that makes you feel like they bring nothing but gratitude to their experience. Their endearing mode of vintage(y) transport might be a reflection of their personalities or simply a beautiful partnership. Either way, the adventure captured in their photos is so rich, I keep waiting for condensation to gather and drip off the screen .
They even have some ties to other members of the Dirt Orcas family, Ernesto and Taisa of Overland the Americas.
I first discovered The Desk to Glory travels through Instagram. They have built a beautiful gallery there that really captures their travels and more specifically their relationship with the places and the road. You can also give them a follow on Facebook or YouTube to learn more and stay in touch with their whereabouts.
Of course their personal website, desktoglory.com, is also a wonderful page to spend a few minutes. Our interview is mostly about their recently completed trip to the bottom of South America and back to British Colombia, but they are already working on a new vehicle to blaze trails in. You can keep up with the latest developments and show your support.
Desk to Glory has also been a benchmark for people who long to shake things up and start living a life filled with experience and adventure. A way to shrug off the rust of the cubicle lifestyle. Richard and Ashley are great reminders that fortune favors the bold. Making things happen is just a matter of deciding to go and then having the confidence to leave.
What do you consider to be your place of work?
Currently, Richard is working at a Mechanical Contracting company as a project manager and I (Ashley) have just returned to school studying Western Phytotherapy, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture. Our place of work has definitely changed in the past few months! While we were on the road I would say our place of work encompassed many different locations, including campsites, coffee shops and in the great outdoors. Updating the blog and social media accounts may not have paid any money, but it was work nonetheless and something we really enjoyed doing.
Tell me about your vehicle. Did you name your vehicle? What do you call it?
1990 Toyota Pickup.
Yes! A fellow traveler coined the name, which is “Little Red”.
When and how did you get it?
We had decided to leave on our trip to Panama (at that time we hadn’t considered South America) and knew that this truck was sitting in Richard’s Dad’s backyard, left for dead. It was essentially rust-free, but needed a new engine, suspension, wheels, tires, interior, etc. Since nobody was using it, we asked nicely if we could, you know, take it to Central America. Although we received a couple of questioning looks, nobody had any objections so we went straight to work on it.
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the one you bought?
None. This one was sitting in the backyard and it was free… right smack dab in our budget!
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
We started off by replacing the engine with a rebuilt unit from Disturbed Industries in Abbotsford, BC and a header/exhaust from LC Engineering was installed to help it breathe better. The entire suspension was replaced with an Old Man Emu suspension system, we added a Samlex solar kit and dual Optima batteries, CVT roof top tent, ARB fridge/freezer, and plenty of other goodies to make the truck reliable and keep us comfortable. The entire build is detailed in our Expedition Portal build thread here: http://forum.expeditionportal.com/threads/110280-3rd-Gen-ToyotaPickup-Budget-Expo-Build
What is your favorite part about it living out of your vehicle?
It gives us the freedom to stay somewhere if we want to, or leave immediately.
What is your least favorite part about it?
The absence of indoor living space ranks high on that list… but only when the rain is falling hard and the wind is howling.
How many miles have you put on your truck?
Since leaving on our trip in October 2013 we have accumulated 80,000km on our little pickup. The odometer currently reads just under 400,000km overall.
What is the best place you have taken it?
South America. Sorry about the broad stroke, but it’s the truth.
Favorite road you’ve driven?
There have been many roads we enjoyed, but the Lagunas Route through Bolivia and into Chile felt like the cherry on top of our South America experience. https://expeditionportal.com/desk-to-glory-the-lagunas-route/
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living out of a vehicle what would you tell them?
Give it a test run before committing… or don’t. We left without thinking about it and never really considered that we were going to live in our vehicle. It felt more like we were preparing to go car camping for a year. The first night that we spent in our roof top tent was the first night of our trip and we didn’t look back.
You have found a strong place in the community of travel. What values do you think your home instilled in you, that you take on the road?
Keep it simple. Spend time outdoors. Be flexible enough to adapt to constantly changing situations.
I admire your outside the box approach to career and home. Do you see yourself as somebody who took a leap of faith to live in an unconventional way or do you think it kind of just happened?
We definitely took a leap of faith to live in an unconventional way, but amongst our new peers it seems to be more conventional than you would think. If you spend much time on Instagram following the #vanlife #digitalnomad #overland trend you’ll see many people who are now ditching their normal desk jobs and condos for an ever changing views from their office space/vehicle. For us, we didn’t have an opportunity to work on the road so we saved some money, left on a trip, and then came back devoid of money and with a little bit of debt. As far as we’re concerned it was well worth it and was quickly paid off (since we learned how to budget properly during a total of two years of travel).
Where do you want to go next?
To the mountains, always.