WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — When Ashley Kooijman was laid off from her job in May 2018, she never expected to stop for lunch in a small North Texas town. To be honest, she really didn’t have a plan at all.
However, on a warm Thursday in early December, Kooijman and her blue-eyed 12-year-old pup, Keeta May walked up to Gypsy Kit in downtown Wichita Falls on a recommendation.
Kooijman is living by her grandmother’s advice she received when she expected an angry voice on the other end of the line, after telling her grandma she went skydiving.
“Don’t ever wait to do things like that because you may never get the chance.”
The traveling duo
Much like the Johnny Cash song, Kooijman and Keeta May have been everywhere, man.
Originally from Nashville, the traveling duo visited Kooijman’s parents in Sevierville, Tenn. to get their 1985 U-Haul CT-13 Camper geared up for the long roads ahead. Then, they were off!
First stop–Kentucky, then a stay with friends in St. Louis, a local winery in Kansas, then on to Colorado and Moab before they “moseyed on over to Goblin Valley [State Park].”
When they made it to Arizona, Kooijman visited her grandmother’s memorial in Phoenix before heading to their favorite flea market in Mesa. She also had the chance to have her first Thanksgiving with her grandfather and made her first Thanksgiving meal too.
Then the camping duo showed up in the small, but grand north texas town of Wichita Falls after a stay at the Horseshoe Bend Cellars Vineyard & Winery in Iowa Park.
Why the trip?
“I didn’t know what I was doing with my life,” Kooijman said. “And I was like, ‘I want to live this life, if I can make it work before I retire and actually just do it, not dream about it.'”
Kooijman left her job of 16 years in the corporate industry after realizing it’s not what she wanted to do. After a failed stint at executive recruiting, she put on the apron and got a job waitressing in downtown Nashville, saving pennies before hitting the road. During her travels, Kooijman still has a safety net making money from using her Nashville home as an Airbnb.
Kooijman’s traveling partner
Following a fight with her boyfriend in the parking lot of a Walmart, Kooijman said she could feel them on the brink of breaking up. While hoping that adopting an animal would bring them closer together, she says her boyfriend turned down her request to visit an animal shelter. Yet, what happened as they walked out of the store was nothing short of a miracle.
“We were walking out to the parking lot, one spot from ours, on the back of this of pick up truck was “puppy $20″ on a little cardboard sign,” Kooijman recalled with a smile on her face. The rest as they say–is history.
The two traveled many miles before this road trip took place, from The Outer Banks in North Carolina to snowshoeing in Quebec and frolicking down the beaches in Florida. It’s safe to say Keeta May is enjoying this trip, too.
So what’s next?
The trip continues. Next stop is to see friends in Dallas and then back home to work for a month. After that, it’s back on the road with no plan, just wherever the wind takes Kooijman and Keeta May. Both of them living Kooijman’s grandmother’s advice and doing what they want to before the chance is gone.