North Carolina couple Shari Galiardi and Dave “Hutch” Hutchison left their full-time jobs in higher education more than five years ago to hit the road in their vintage travel trailer in pursuit of a more sustainable and adventurous lifestyle.
The couple’s travels will bring them to Western Carolina University on Thursday, Feb. 22, to present “Freedom in a Can: Finding Sustainability in 72 Square Feet.” They will share what they’ve discovered during their journeys in a free program beginning at 7 p.m. in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center.
Galiardi was formerly director of service learning at Appalachian State University, and Hutchison was that university’s coordinator of outdoor programs. The husband and wife said goodbye to their careers and their three-bedroom, 2.5-bath house in 2012 in favor of a life on the road residing in their 1957 “canned ham” trailer with its solar-powered electrical system.
As outdoor enthusiasts and advocates for sustainability, the couple has traveled more than 75,000 miles across the U.S., passing through 49 states and more than 60 national parks and monuments, and also venturing into four other countries. “When we hit the road, we thought we might travel for a year, maybe a year-and-a-half, but we’re still loving it five years in, and haven’t looked back,” Galiardi said. “It’s a means for us to be outside and close to the natural wonders and wilderness we want to experience, while still having many of the comforts of home.”
In the past year, Galiardi and Hutchison have spent 18 days crossing the North Cascades ecosystem in Washington State under human power, volunteered for three months in a village in Kenya, and worked at a small vineyard and winery in northern Michigan. “Our ideal lifestyle is a balance of paid work, volunteering and travel – committing around a third of the year to each,” Galiardi said.
As part of the couple’s Feb. 22 visit at WCU, an open house will be held from noon until 1:30 p.m. to allow members of the university community to tour the “can,” which will be parked in the Central Plaza area.
The visit by Galiardi and Hutchison is sponsored by the WCU student programming organization Last Minute Productions and is part of the university’s Outdoor Adventure Speaker Series. More information about the couple and their new lifestyle can be found at freedominacan.com.
For more information about the program, contact WCU’s Department of Campus Activities at 828-227-3751.