A chapter from the VanNess Vagabonds RTW trip

For those of you that have known me for at least 5 years or more, you know this little part of my life already. For those of you who don’t, I hope this inspires you in more than just one way…

My wife Jessica and I took a “RTW trip” back in 2009. This means a “round the world” trip. Knowing that one day (like the ones we are living at this moment) our lives would be filled with owning a business, having a child and just getting older, we decided to sell all of our possessions… house, cars, metal shop, etc plus save just about all that we made for about 5 years to take an opportunity to let go and see how truly small and wonderful this world is. We embarked on a 17 month journey that took us to 6 continents and over 24 countries. It was one of the most beautiful and rewarding times of our lives. We have no regrets, except that we should have stayed longer. hahahaha

A lot of the times people ask, “What did you do with all that time?” My response is, “I worked a little and we played a lot.” I spent my free time drawing or painting with my little box of limited watercolors. Truthfully if I didn’t do something tattoo related at least once every couple of weeks I started to get a little anxious or cranky. To be honest I would probably be really lost if I didn’t have tattooing in my life. Or I would be a professional MotoGP racer.


I made this little sketch in my book while I was on a train going crossing the Moroccan Sahara. I was thinking about our time in Mexico and Guatemala in the previous months and was just day doodling.

Needless to say once we returned to the states I had a lot of catching up to do. I would share stories, pictures, and my drawings with folks. One day I had a good friend Kelly say, “Can I look through this book?” Of course, I replied. A couple of minutes passed by and she got stuck on this page…she asked if I would be willing to tattoo something out of my book. She pointed to one part of the drawing that she liked. I said I would be honored to do so, but only if I could dress it up to make it more personalized.


So this was the image she liked and this is what I turned it into for her. I was thrilled to give her a custom tattoo based off a very special period in my life.


We have so little time on this rock called Earth we have to make the most of our time here. We can not afford to burn the days. I hope you enjoy this. Thank you Kelly for wanting one of my life long memories for your life long art.

“It’s not the destination, but the journey. We can’t change the wind, but we can trim our sails.”

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