RYAN SELLMEYER: @POSEIDONSBEARD
By Paul Strubell of Dirt Orca’s – 3/26/18
For the sixty ninth installment in our ongoing interview series here at Dirt Orca’s, we are very pleased to be speaking with Ryan Sellmeyer. You may know him as @PoseidonsBeard.
I have been interested in speaking with Ryan since I began this interview series. In addition to his enjoyable family friendly adventures in their VW Vanagons, he is also the founder of Descend on Bend. Descend is an overlanding-based communal gathering in the forest of the PNW where people come together to share a love of the outdoors and the machines that take them there. There is more information about the event and a video from last year at the bottom of this interview.
You can view Ryan’s personal website, www.poseidonsbeard.com/ to check out additional press about them, Descend, and maybe buy a T-shirt.
You find his Instagram account @PoseidonsBeard here. Where you’ll get a great look at the intricacies of the day to day life of the Sellmeyers and their van. While it’s easy to splash around #vanlife these days, this is far more than that, I assure you. There is a softness to Ryan’s photography that is hard to overlook. A family focused lifestyle, that also includes some pretty excellent vans. Ryan’s photo’s are more than just capturing his families activities for others to see. He has an eye for the moment. Whether that moment is a wholesome breakfast cooked over a fire or racing his van through a river.
If Twitter is your thing you can also follow them here.
Like many of the people who we have interviewed for this series, Ryan’s social media presence comes across as genuine. The results are great but he isn’t trying to share something that isn’t naturally there. That is no surprise considering how authentic his actions have been. He created the community he loves in real life. A great example for many of us trying to do the same.
Check out our interview below.
What do you consider to be your place of work?
I’ve been a “stay at roam” dad for five years. So I suppose my work is wherever the family is. I also really hate the term stay at home dad!
Tell me about your vehicle. What do you call it?
Our rig is a 1985 VW Westfalia. It is our eighth Vanagon so we are pretty entrenched in the culture and community which means there never really was another rig for us to consider, and we like things slow so Kona just fits right into our little family.
What other vehicles did you consider and what made you ultimately pull the trigger on the one you bought?
Have you made any upgrades or changes to it?
It’s seen quite a few changes over the years. The suspension is a Sort of cobbled together mess that works very well for us, 1997 Chevy S-10 springs up front with stock Syncro springs in the rear with Bilsteins all around. We took off the old pop top and installed a high top off a van found in a junkyard up on Vancouver Island. This was the greatest thing we’ve done. Makes the soggy Pacific Northwest winters much more bearable! Otherwise it’s mostly stock with the original Westfalia interior intact plus an ARB fridge.
What is your favorite part about it living/working out of your vehicle? What is your least favorite part about it?
My favorite part of rolling in these old vans is the community that surrounds them. We’ve found friends everywhere that we certainly never would have without the vans to spark up conversation, or more honestly, commiseration. Which certainly ties into one of my least favorite parts about it, ceaseless breakdowns.
What is the best place you have taken it?
As far as locations go, I find that my favorite places tend to be seasonal. No place would I rather be than the PNW in the summer and few things pull my mind away from Baja in the winters.
Favorite road you’ve driven?
Favorite roads are any that exist in National Forests and are void of pavement. If I have to have one though I’ll take the WABDR.
In one word, what describes your approach to life?
If you could give a person one piece of advice when thinking about living from a vehicle, what would you tell them?
If people want to live out of a vehicle I feel that advice is hard to give because every space is so unique to the individual. For example, we don’t ever use the kitchen inside the van because of my love for cooking on fire but it’s nice to have for freezing days or sideways rain! The one thing I hate to see is when a “build” becomes an eventual excuse to never actually leave on the trip you started out dreaming of or God forbid it becomes a means of chasing some kind of fame on social media. I’ll stop there.
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?
I believe recognizing that the journey is the point is the easy part, remembering it becomes difficult though.
You have found a strong place in the community of travelers. What values do you think your home or family instilled in you, that you take on the road?
We met a man named Mike in Baja a couple years back with an old F350 and a lance camper on the back, one side of the camper looked like it had seen a fight with a pack of velociraptors. He proceeded to tell us the story of how he was passing through Malibu on his way south when he was sideswiped by a tourist in an RV, rather than call the trip off because his “overland” rig had been ruined he drove to The Home Depot and patched it with some plywood sheets and kept on trucking. I want to be like Mike.
I admire your outside the box approach to career and home. Do you see yourself as someone who took a leap of faith to live in an unconventional way or do you think it kind of just happened?
If our way of living is perceived as unconventional it was born out of necessity. Ma always knew what she wanted out of life as far as a career was concerned and I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. It has served us well though with wanting to raise a family and have plenty of freedom to travel. I’ve had ample time to be with the kids and she has had the time for pursuing education. We have settled on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington and I feel without being willing to leave what’s comfortable we would never have been able to find a place that feels quite so fitting to call home.
Where do you want to go next?
As far as future plans go for travel and work I’m just going to keep saying yes to whatever comes my way and forget the growing up part. Happy to be headed north for the summer to fish for salmon in Alaska with our friends Nelly and Micheal Hand (@driftersfish) two of many of those lifelong friends that have come from the road.
If you are interested in learning more about Descend on Bend or joining the fun you can view the site here or check out the video below.
This years event will take place September 27th – 30th.