We are a family of minimalists in an Airstream searching for the American Dream.
We are a young family seeking adventure on the road with our Airstream. Letting books, our values and spirit guide the way, we are seeking a different kind of American Dream, one that isn’t about material goods, but instead embraces experience, adventure, and volunteerism.
Meet the Family
The Environmentalist & Former Restaurateur
My name is Justin Vrany, and I was the owner of a restaurant called Sandwich Me In (SMI). Ever since I was a young child I had always wanted to be a chef and restaurateur. Now that I have my own children, I am making decisions that will help our communities grow toward a sustainable future.
In the past 15 years, working in establishments such as Hot Chocolate, Ritz Carlton, Nick’s Fish Market, and Cantigny Club House, I had developed a keen knowledge of how food should taste and how products should be purchased. When developing the restaurant, I came to the conclusion that we had no other choice than to start teaching our friends, families, and neighbors on what our current food, energy, and waste systems were/are doing to our health and environment.
All of SMI’s waste was composted or recycled, and in the 3 years we were open, we sent no garbage to the dump. Throughout the season, the raw vegetable and fruit compost were given to family farms to be used as compost for the next season’s fertilizer. Our electrical energy was completely powered by renewable energy, and all of our used oil was recycled in bio-diesel engines. All of the furniture and equipment in the restaurant was purchased used or refurbished. In a typical 1400 sqft build-out, 2 dumpsters of garbage go to the dump and we used only a ¼ of a dumpster.
All of our delicious food was made in house from scratch and sourced from local farms such as Gunthorp Farms, Quarter Circle Seven Ranch, and Local Folks Farm. We had a dynamite pulled pork sandwich that was smoked for 13 hours, lathered in our homemade BBQ and placed on a fresh baked black strap molasses wheat roll. Another delight was our vegan black bean and brown rice burger with whole grain mustard. And I almost forgot, all of our drinks were made in house too.
We estimate that we had lowered our carbon foot print by about 90% of what a typical quick service restaurant would have used in one day.
In July of 2015, I sold the restaurant to spend much-needed time with my family. It is 3 years later, and the next chapter of SMI will be with my family as we discover all that makes up this melting pot of a great country.
I’ll be serving up twice a week with sustainable practices and cooking on the road. Tuesdays and Thursdays get your fill of sustainable practices and cooking while on the road.
Planner Extraordinaire & Former Corporate Serf
My name is Amanda Vrany, and for thirteen years, I worked at one of the most highly respected consulting firms, The Boston Consulting Group. I was a Practice Area Coordinator for the Consumer Practice which really meant that I was an administrative jack of all trades. Event planning, financial analysis, marketing and communications expert, creative thinker…. these were all part of my every day work life. But I craved so much more. I craved more time with my family. I craved more time to do the things we love. We love to travel, explore, and expose ourselves to new experiences, so we decided to embark on a different journey.
My husband and I are both passionate about food and protecting the environment. We live values that are a bit different from the mainstream. As home environmentalists, we are trying our best to raise a family with the smallest environmental footprint possible. To us, that is so much more than just driving a Prius. It’s about embracing minimalism, being conscious of everything we buy, and managing our waste. We are a zero-garbage family. We are conscious consumers. We understand our power lies in the choices we make about how we spend, or do not spend, our money.
We are passionate about the environment for purely selfish reasons….. we love nature. We love nothing more than a long hike in the woods, a contempletive walk along the lake or eating something directly from our garden. Living in the city of Chicago, we are finding it harder and harder to stay connected to nature. We are finding it harder to protect our natural resources. We want to spend time away from the cars and chaos of city life.
Check out my blog posts on Wednesdays and Fridays to learn more about the trip planning process, our budget, and the every day logistical questions you might have regarding living with three other people in a small tin can while tooling all around the country.
Tabatha & Micah
The Kids, The Heart & Soul
Tabatha and Micah are very creative kids. Tabatha is eight and she’s our creative questioner. Micah is five and he is the imaginative animal lover. Here’s what they have to say about themselves.
I am Tabatha, and I am in 2nd grade and have great handwriting. I love listening to music (Taylor Swift, The Beatles, High School Musical), eating cookies, reading books (Roald Dahl books, Disney Descendants, Katie DiCamillo) and dressing up in fancy clothes. For our trip, I am most excited about becoming a Junior Ranger at the National Parks, camping at Disney World, and spending Christmas at my grandma and grandpa’s house. I will be writing each week about all the things I see and learn on our trip. So stop on by to read my silly, fun-facts page. Bye bye.
I am Micah, and I am in preschool. I have a BIG imagination, and I love to play Star Wars, Peter Pan and Pirates, Ninjago and swordfighting with my dad. I am a good swimmer and a good kicker. I love animals, especially prairie dogs, and I’m trying to learn their language, so I can talk to them. I hope to see a lot of cool animals on our trip and maybe I could become like Mowgli in The Jungle Book and live among the animals. Since I don’t know how to read or write yet (my mom is typing this for me), I will be taking photos and videos, so you can experience our trip through my eyes. Be on the lookout for my videos, as well as snakes. They are scary, and they are everywhere! You’ve been warned.
Get to Know Us…
Come follow us on our adventures exploring the United States.