Lost In The Dream

For those that embark on journeys by themselves, the growth and learnings gained have a unique depth and richness. We caught up with friend of Passenger Mackenzie Duncan about travelling solo, the moments that matter and what escapism means to him.

Words & Photos by Mackenzie Duncan

A lone surfer rides the last wave of the day with a hazy dusk horizon in the background
A classic VW Westy sits by the water during blue hour with trees and ocean in the background.

I think there's something inside me that thrives on being slightly uncomfortable. A belief deep down that this is where I will find my opportunity to grow as a human.

I’ve always found myself seeking adventure, whether it was as a kid kayaking down our local river during the spring melt (which I’m so surprised my parents let me do!). Pushing my limits snowboarding, hitching and bussing from Central America back to Canada or driving a 70’s motorcycle from NYC to Vancouver and down to LA with nothing but a tiny backpack, no tent, one change of clothing... the usual.

Looking out the window of a classic VW Westy towards waves rolling in.
Silhoette of a single-fin longboard surfboard with a dusky sunset background.
A beach campfire burns on a Canadian shingle beach.

Over the years I’ve learned I have a hard time staying still; I crave freedom. I’ve learned that this can be challenging for people in my life to accept, and I totally understand why.

I’ve learned that I love nature and the ocean and to sleep in vans (who knew!) and tents and swimming in cold water. I’ve learned I’m very adept at meeting and connecting with strangers, turning them into friends around a warm fire.

Friends sit and stand around a warming beach fire.
A lone surfer paddles out towards the incoming swell, the sun has set with the silhouette of mountains in the background.

During one road trip down the west coast to Cali, I listened to ‘Lost in the Dream’ by War on Drugs the entire way, for 3 weeks... Luckily I was by myself.

“Now, every time I hear one of those songs it takes me back to lazy days puttering through redwoods in the van gazing at the ocean waiting for waves to roll in. It was a pretty lonely trip, but I also found a lot in those moments of solitude...".

The ocean still brings it all together for me. That moment right after you drop into a smooth wave and your rail engages... It sounds cliche but those are the moments I seek. I'm forced into the present, pausing my fast moving, creative mind from searching for a short while.

If I could do it all again, I’d choose to move more slowly through my travels. I look back and sometimes I didn’t take enough time to truly embrace the journey... I'd get caught in the destination or arriving someplace by a certain time.

A classic Pacific North West scene with dense trees overhanging waves in the ocean.
A pair of wet surf gloves sit ontop of a classic longboard surfboard

There’s this one moment that sticks with me on the morning of my 30th birthday. I woke around 4am and made the dark walk down to one of my favourite breaks in Nicaragua.

The sky was just beginning to show signs of light and I paddled out in the surging ocean. I was just able to see the peeling point break I love so much reeling down the line.

I surfed by myself for quite a while as the day slowly came to life. Those are definitely the types of moments I chase, and will continue to do so for a long time.

A dusky blue-hour sky reflects off the rear window of a classic VW Westy campervan

At the moment I’m really focused on my backyard, both literally and figuratively. There has been a lot of gardening going on, and I’m mid renovation on my place which is coming to a close and that feels nice.

I’ve been spending a lot of time at the local surf spots, lakes and just trying to really connect with my home and my community. It seems that after all these miles I’ve put behind me, for now it’s time to lay low and focus on what is right here, right now.

A portrait of Mackenzie Duncan, standing infront of his classic campervan
The sunset reflects off the windscreen and bonnet of the classic VW Westy
English