In today’s post we would like to introduce you to Ardun Ward and his latest travel book Boon Dockers: A journey through America one Walmart at a time. Ardun is an Aussie photography passionate, worldwide traveler, inspiring writer and what’s most important –a fellow blogger and our dear friend.
Together with his wife Jen, he gave in to his travel desires in 2010 and decided to pack up their home and set off on a 6 month drive through Canada and the US. They travelled in an ’83 Dodge Ram camper in which they parked for free through most of the US in beach car parks and Walmart supermarkets. During this epic journey, they both realised how much they love nature and the freedom of travel and once they got back home, Ardun decided to share those moments with others and wrote a book.
You can read the first four chapters on Amazon and download it here: Boon Dockers Book.
About the book
“Boon Dockers is the tale of an epic road trip two adventurous young Aussies embark upon through the ‘real’ America, one Walmart at a time. Discovering and perfecting the art of ‘boon docking’ in their mobile home, a 1983 Dodge camper van affectionately known as Rammy, these travellers find out what makes America tick and bump in to characters you won’t even find on reality TV”.
Interview with Ardun
Ardun talked to us about his memories of the journey, what he has learned from it and why his book is worth reading.
What was the main reason of leaving your comfort zone and going into the wild? Didn’t you enjoy your life back in Australia?
I loved my life back home in Australia but I had always had this niggling feeling there was more to life than simply getting a job, a house and accumulating material possessions. I had always dreamed of exploring the world and following in the path of great explorers and after getting married it seemed like the right time to do so.
Why the ’83 Dodge Ram camper, not a backpack, bike, scooter, chopper or jeep ?
A chopper would have been nice but we were on a budget and since we knew we wanted to cover as much of Canada and the US as possible it just seemed logical to get our own vehicle. The best thing about Rammy was it was our own mobile home where we could cook and sleep and move on when we felt like it. The van certainly helped us stick to our budget and gave us a feeling of a home away from home.
Was your trip fully planned or did you rely on spontaneity?
The only aspect of our trip which was planned was the destination and the time frame we wanted to travel for. Once we arrived in Vancouver and found the van we planned a rough route as we went. I think spontaneity when travelling is a good thing provided you have time. The times you are flexible in your plans are usually when the best travel moments usually occur, whether driving, backpacking or otherwise.
What did you learn about yourself and your wife during this journey?
I learnt a lot on that trip as is the case still when travelling now, but I think one of the big things travel teaches us is that there is always more room to grow as a person and that most people around the world are largely the same, we all have common goals, we want to do the best for ourselves and our friends and family. I think I learnt that world is a beautiful place full of more good people than bad people and that pushing through your fears is a good thing. As for my wife, I guess I learned another side of her, the confident, adventurous and compassionate side and there was a whole new attraction. Travelling with your partner is a great idea to reinforce the reasons you love each other.
Have you had any difficult moments on the road?
There are always some difficult moments on the road and usually they are the things that push you out of your comfort zone. Whether you are being threatened by a shoe shiner in New Orleans or hanging helplessly in a hot air balloon over Egypt which has just hit a building, things are going to get tough and at the end of the day they will make for great stories. Usually the most difficult thing we come across on the road is deciding what to see and what to leave out.
Much of the journey was in the countryside, but you also made stops in big cities. Which ones would you recommend for a visit?
We fell in love with America’s national parks but we also visited many of the coastal cities too. My 3 favourites would have to be: New Orleans for the music, the accent and the food. San Francisco for the beach, the hills and the overall vibe. New York for everything! Broadway, Brooklyn Bridge, Central Park and the hundreds of other things this city offers.
How did Americans welcome you?
The American’s often get a bad wrap I think but in all honesty I have not met more warm welcoming people. The American’s are genuinely friendly and proud people. They want to tell you about their town and they want to know what you think. We met fabulous people on our travels and dispelled the many myths they are arrogant, ignorant or full of themselves.
How would you describe your journey in one word?
Words can’t describe it so I’ll cheat and say: Life-changing
This is your first book. Tell us about the decision to write it and what it took to complete it.
I discovered my passion for writing while blogging about the journey for friends and family. When we returned home I felt compelled to share my story and began writing, usually an hour or two per night after work. A year later I had the first draft and after a few challenges found an editor and worked with them for another 6 months until it was completed. From there Jen (my wife) helped me design the cover and I started my own publishing company and uploaded the book on Amazon. When I return from my current travels I will look at publishing the first paperback print run.
What message do you want send to your readers through this book?
The main message is that travel is possible at any stage of your life and the effects of travelling, especially longer term will change you for the better. There is more to life than the daily grind if you have the courage to get out there and experience it. I think we tend to make our life too comfortable at home and then forget it is supposed to be a wild adventure where we get to have amazing experiences.
How would your book help those who are planning a trip to the North America and looking to put together an itinerary?
The US has so much to offer and while I didn’t go everywhere, I do believe we covered a large amount of it (30 states in fact), both the nature side and the cities. Boon Dockers is my take on America in a humorous way which can give the reader some quirky insights to all parts of America even if you don’t plan to drive around. Whether you like big city life or the grandeur of nature, there is something for every traveller in my book.
You are now, once again, travelling the world. Are you preparing to write another book?
Of course! Finding your passion is a great feeling and I am piecing together some chapters for a couple of books, one through the Middle East and another through South America where I’m currently travelling.
Tell us more about your current journey!
Jen and I have been back on the road again for about 3 months now. This time we began in Jordan and travelled through Israel, Turkey and Greece. Then we headed to Peru where we hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with my mum and aunty. Now we are in Bolivia learning Spanish and plan to spend the rest of the year in South and Central America before going home and putting the next books together.
Ardun is one of our inspirations to go further, regardless of the circumstances. He took us for an amazing adventure through Canada and the US, while we were reading his book on the buses in China. Thank you, Ardun, for inspiring us and answering our questions.