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Amanda and Justin in the Shangri-La Valley, Las Trancas, Chile (Photo by Justin Silver)
Where we met: On an airplane from Atlanta to San Francisco
Relationship status: Cohabiting
(As told by Amanda)
Justin and I met on a plane from Atlanta to San Francisco. I was coming home from a family trip and he from a wedding. I was sitting at the window, and about halfway through the flight I needed to use the restroom. I am nimble and Justin, who was sitting in the middle, looked pretty harmless, so I asked if he minded if I climbed over him to get out. He waved me on and I went for it. I climbed over him, no problem, but as I was almost out of the seat, the man on the aisle, who was fast asleep, woke up, confused as to why there was a woman hovering above him. I jumped out and scurried down the aisle. Upon my return, I awkwardly apologized and sat down.
The situation turned out to be a good icebreaker. As soon as the man on the end fell asleep again, Justin and I started laughing about it. We talked the rest of the way home, eventually sharing a cab from the airport back to the city. We talked about snowboarding and travel, two things we both love to do, and exchanged contact information.
Amanda and Justin on a hiking trip on the California coast. (Photo: Amanda Denz)
Fast-forward several months. It was the end of the snowboarding season in Tahoe, and there was an uncharacteristically large late-spring storm. We had been snowboarding together a few times with groups of friends, but no one else was able to make the trip midweek for this last hurrah of the season. We climbed into the car together and headed up to the mountains. It was an amazing day — light fluffy snow and an empty mountain. We had such a good time. By the end of the day, I knew I needed to make out with him.
Hiking at Alpine Meadows, North Lake Tahoe, California (Photo: Justin Silver)
A year later we moved in together, but not into an apartment. We moved into a van together for a six-month road trip around beautiful Patagonia. We named the van Bertha and drove her 12,000 miles through Chile on that trip, all the way from Antofagasta to Tierra del Fuego and back — crossing back and forth over the Andes the whole way down. There were a few bumps in the road, mostly in the form of flat tires and exploding transmissions, but those always led to an adventure and gave a good story to tell later. Patagonia is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Bertha on the Carretera Austral, Chile (Photo by Amanda Denz)
We’ve since made several road-trip loops of the northwestern U.S., gone on hiking and camping adventures, and spent a month traveling around Europe. We’ve both designed our lives so that we can work from anywhere. All we need is a solid Internet connection, and we can keep the adventures going.
For both of us, a lifestyle of continued adventure is what keeps us happy and engaged. Justin always says that when he was traveling solo, he wondered how he would ever meet someone and start a relationship. It was hard because he was always on the move — going from one place to the next, exploring. Turns out an airplane is the perfect place to meet a partner on that same path. When you meet someone who has a similarly unconventional vision for what they want their life to be and is willing to take similar risks to make that life a reality, it is a very special thing.
Right now we’re brewing up our next experience — trying our hands at homesteading. We recently acquired a piece of raw land in the Sierra, bought a tractor, and have great plans to build an off-grid retreat that will also serve as an inexpensive home base so we can continue traveling the world. As with all of our adventures, I’m sure this one will be filled with ups and downs, successes and setbacks. Together we always figure it out, and come away with a good story and a great experience.