In 2014 Richard East was feeling restless and very dissatisfied with life. The corporate world had disenchanted his life. So he formulated an idea for freedom. He started remodeling a van to make it something he could live in while traveling. He sold everything that wouldn't fit into his van life. He quit his job. That left him with one last decision to make -- what to do with the little black rescue cat he had adopted.
It was a heart-wrenching thing to face and he realized that he couldn't leave her behind. So East, who goes by Rich, started an experiment. First he took Willow with him on weekend trips. And then weeks. She took to the traveling life far more than he had even hoped.
She didn't just cope with the journeys, she even seemed to thrive on them. It turned out that Willow was not an ordinary house cat, she was a van cat who loved going on adventures. Finally the entire plan was complete and in place.
In May of 2015 they left their home in Hobart, Tasmania, and drove onto a ferry to take them to the Australian mainland. Ten hours later they were i n Melbourne and the entire country lay before them, along with the journey of a lifetime. The plan was to travel the continent together -- the man, his van, and his cat. No time schedules, no appointments, no rules.
Living together 24/7 has made them incredibly close. So close that you can tell that they are totally in love with each other. Willow spends her time between napping in, under, or on the van and exploring the environs wherever they are. She is a curious cat, as they all are, but she is cautious about a new location and doesn't go exploring until she feels comfortable with an area.
She is usually off-leash under close supervision when she is out of the van. Rich is no fool and knows that their cohabitation agreement is not written in stone. Sot she also wears a tracking collar so that Rich can find her if need be. So far she has not roamed farther than about 100 meters from the van when exploring.
Willow has also been trained to the leash so that they can do things like go hiking together. I suppose they would call it going "walk about" together.
Rich is very concerned for Willow's safety and happiness and is also concerned for the environment so they don't travel to places where pets are not allowed, such as National Parks. Cats are a rather controversial subject in Australia due to their heavy impact on wildlife as hunters.
Even in the vagabond life on the road the usual life events will take place. In 2016, while in Perth on Australia's western coast, Rich met Steph, the lady who was to become another love of his life. Since them they have become engaged and Steph now travels with them.
Now Willow has a dad and a mom to look after her and that makes twice as many people to love and pet her. In fact Willow and Steph now get together early in the morning for "breakfast pats."
The severe wildfires in Australia have not been cramping their style since they have been back home in Hobart while they have been putting together a new van. They are looking forward to traveling again, but are devastated by what has been happening for so many.
You may be wondering how they have not run out of funds after nearly five years on the road. Naturally people have become fans of the little black van cat and so that has opened a number of opportunities. The book Van Cat Meow leads the list of products about Willow. For other products, click here.
The adventure continues for this adventurous cat and her family. You can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube. You can also check out the blog on their website by clicking here.Life in the new van has begun and there is a a blog post about that trip. There is also a lot more of Australia to explore.
Images by Richard East, via Facebook