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Travels in my van. Meet Kevin

Kevin walks into Melvin Brewing in Alpine, mountain air clinging to his clothes, energized by a 24-hour running or biking event in the surrounding mountains as a support volunteer to the athletes. He sat down beside me. I guessed he was in his early forties. It was mid-August 2023. We soon get chatting as we sip beer, order burgers, and swap stories. 

Kevin spent 16 years in the US military, qualifying as a sniper and further promoted to military intelligence officer. After his final tour of duty, he enrolled in school and studied to become an industrial designer. At the time we met, he had a successful career and planned to take a lengthy trip to visit friends in Australia and skip the brutal cold of a Wyoming winter.

After a few beers, his face darkened as he described the post-traumatic stress he experienced after an honourable discharge from the army. Seeking peace, he did a guided psychedelic medicine journey in South America. He feels free of the trauma demons now. “What I do know is that I never killed anyone who wasn’t bad or evil,” he tells me. ‘There are some very bad people out there.”

I am digging deep to understand what he has just said. The beer is softening the edges of the hot night. I wonder whose sons, brothers, fathers, and friends these people were. Kevin tells me he would love to return as a tourist to the countries where he did military duty just to enjoy the sights, beauty, and local people as a civilian. 

I groped around for a change of topic, and we started talking about Trump and Biden—not necessarily a good choice of conversation in the USA, but I’m happy to listen. Kevin leans towards Republican ideology but cannot bring himself to vote for Trump. He fears the Trump swagger does not bode well for an international statesman representing the US. Having spent 16 years in the military, he has seen firsthand the repercussions of political decisions.

“The thing is,” he says, “I am just so sick of voting for one person because there isn’t a better option.” We sadly contemplate this statement, and I feel for this young man—so eager for adventure. 

We finished our burger and stepped outside to a magnificent view of tall grasslands sloping down to the Snake River, purple mountains fading into the twilight. My van waits patiently for me on the river banks. Kevin shows me his truck, proud of his “garage” and tools, superduper technology set-up, and industrial kitchen rig. The bedroom is a fold-out roof-top tent. I chuckled at his pride. There are no soft furnishings in this vehicle. He’s a guy—a practical man, an industrial designer.

I admire his ingenuity and say good night. He politely holds out his hand and thanks me for a lovely evening. 

Melvin Brewing #harvesthost Alpine, Wyoming

*Alpine is a small town in Lincoln County, Wyoming, known for boating on the Palisades Reservoir, kayaking or rafting down the Snake River Canyon, hunting, hiking, fly-fishing, horseback riding, skiing, and snowmobiling.

Morning view from my bedroom. Melvin Brewing #harvesthost Alpine, Wyoming

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