The Cinder Cone

 Throughout my travels, I reference the area I grew up in, the Columbia River Gorge, as a yardstick to measure a place's charm and beauty.  After three years of living out of my camper, I've decided to set up a seasonal home base a stone's throw from my childhood stomping ground.  Informed by my time living in the modest space of my VW and Toyota camper, and inspired by the work of friends like Jay Nelson, Tucker Gorman,  Trevor Gordon and Lloyd Khan, I decided to follow up on a lifelong dream and build a tree house.

I started working on ideas and plans with my long time friend, Tucker Gorman, in January for a cabin on piece of property owned by my family in the Columbia River Gorge.  The plans developed from a lone 200 square foot cabin to multitree house and finally settled on a studio suspended between two Douglas Firs connected via suspension bridge to an octagonal cabin,  35 feet off of the ground. Although competent working with wood and design, we needed help with the logistics and engineering behind tree house building and turned to family friends, Michael Garnier.  Michael is a pioneer in the world of structures in trees and came up with the Garnier Limb, a large metal bolt that a tree grows around and strengthens over time.  He told us what was possible given the trees we have,  large second-growth Douglas Firs, and plans were finalized.

The idea of building tree houses in the rain didn't appeal to any of us,  so we decided to wait until summer to break ground.  One month ago, a crew of tree house pros installed the platforms and handed the project off to Tucker, myself and a group of friends.  We've been hard at work for the last month and are shooting for completion during September.  I've been documenting the build on my Instagram and on The Cinder Cone's site and hope to put up a zine with photos of the build from myself and others that stop by and work on the project.

The Grateful Goats.  Two Soay sheep and three goats have been munching blackberries all summer.

Taco time after a long day of working on the the tree houses.

Looking west towards Portland, the night after work started on the trees.

Dean cleaning out the wood-burning hot tub.

Locally grown and milled 3x12's for the foundation of the hot tub and the staircase stringers.

Rigging equipment and supplies.

Tucker lowering a limb and making way for the 16-foot octagon.

Stacking wood in the locust-framed shed.


Firing up the twin turbo tub.

Burning out a Douglas Fir log for a bath tub/dunk dank.

Trimming a 4x4 for a timber framed bunk bed.

Setting the glulams for the 28x16 foot platform.


Ian Weedman and his mobile tree-house building shop.

Organizing supplies for the summer.

The last month has passed in a blur as days of waking up balled in a sleeping bag, drinking coffee and climbing into the trees to work turn in to weeks. After long days, I fall asleep thinking about the day's work and curious what will come the next.

Here are some more links,

The Cinder Cone,

Michael Garnier Treehouse Equipement,

Perspective Design Build,




Home Is Where You Park It!

Months before I left New York and moved into my van,  I spent idle time scouring the Internet and books stores for photos of vans and other campers.  These day dreaming sessions gave way to contemplation and the eventual purchasing of an 1987 VW Vanagon.   More so than any object in my life,  with maybe the exception of a camera,  this van changed my life.  Once on the road,  I became fixated with vans like my own, and other people's campers and started documenting them.  This gave birth to the Vanlife tag on Instagram and a slew of posts here on A Restless Transplant.

A year and a half or so into my time on the road,  I decided to turn these photos of vans and campers into a book.  Unlike the The Burning House Book, I wanted to publish this myself and decided to use Kickstarter to fund it.  Doing it all myself would be a lot more responsibility but also the freedom to make the book exactly to my specifications.  To help with the design and logistics, I teamed up with some friends from New York that work at Doubleday & Cartwright.   I envisioned an over sized photo book with a focus on producing a beautiful book, more so than a sale-able item.  After six months of design, development and printing, four pallets of books showed up to a warehouse in Bingen Washington and I started signing books and sending them out with the help of my mom and friends.

Out of the 2000 first edition books,  250 are still around.  I'm thrilled at people's responses to the book and all the support people have given the project,  both during the Kickstarter and after.  It's surpassed even my best hopes for how the project would work out. I've focused primarily on direct sales through my webstore, but a handful of stores will be carrying the book.  I'll put a list together of stores and locations and post it on my Facebook in the next week or two.

I'm proud of this book and hope that looking at it will get people excited about getting out on the road and traveling.  Order your signed first edition copy here before they are gonzo!

Here are some more links,

Home is Where You Park It (Web Store),

Home is Where You Park It (Kickstarter).


I'm going to Jackson

Google showed two ways to get from the Columbia River Gorge to Jackson Wyoming.  The first, suggested that I take 84 all the way through Oregon and get off at Twin Falls to head over the pass in to Wyoming.   The other, route, had me go down through Madras and then  cut through central and eastern Oregon, eventually crossing in to Idaho near Ontario.  This route added a few hours of total travel but saved countless tedious hours slogging with trucks at 55 MPH in a 75 MPG zone.  I was in no rush and opted for the long route. Leaving on a Monday morning,  I took the familiar route over Mt Hood and dropped in to Central Oregon.  The April weathered oscillated between mid winter and spring as I head east.  Over the passes,  the occasional rain showers turned to snow, giving the feeling that the seasons were changing from winter to spring every half an hour so.

The days were getting longer, with sunrise happening shortly after 5 and setting around 7:30,  traipsing around mountains late in the afternoon felt out of season.  These photos are from 10 days spent chasing snow and hot springs during the last half of April.


Following Alex Yoder's camper into National Forest for a night of camping.

Lucy, Alex's constant companion.

Kale waking up in Eastern Oregon.

Warming up at a hot springs.

A view west from Jackson Hole.



Letting the flames die down to start cooking on a cow pie fire.

Lucy Guarding my snowshoes.

The start of mud season in Idaho.

A meet up of fellow travelers in the Jackson Hole parking lot.

The Tetons at sunset.

Hunkered down waiting for the storm to pass.

Sleeping under the stars.

Ala Ansel.

This marks the end of my third winter living in a camper,  I'm ready to dry out and enjoy the longer days.

Here are some more links,

Square State (Tumblr).

Jackson (Johnny Cash).


Dean and Marie's Bluebird Bus

I first met Dean two and half years ago in Portland.  Driving up 42nd street, I noticed a handful of Vanagons and old Volvo's parked in front of garage.  Pulling a U turn,  I came back around to check out the vans.  I had just started the Vanlife project and left no potential van undocumented.   Pulling to a stop just past the garage,  I jumped out with my camera in hand to take photos of a beige Vanagon with Volvo badges.

"What does that have in it?" a bearded and ponytailed man wearing a mechanics suit asked, motioning towards my Syncro.

"An Audi 2 liter," I answered turning around, still brandishing my camera.  "Its called a TICO conversion."

"In-line 4,  on its side?"

"Sure is,  35 degrees I believe... Whats with that Vanagon over there with the Volvo badges?"

"It has a Volvo engine from a 240 in it."

"I gotta see that."

After twenty minutes of looking at each other's vans, Dean had to get back to work.  I took his card and went on my way towards California. After winter spent surfing in Southern California and Mexico,  I was back in Portland and needed an oil change.  Retracing my steps back to the garage off of 42nd in North East. Dean had an opening and I sat around as they changed the oil. In addition to a slew of Volvos and miscellaneous VW's, a Bluebird bus with a Vanagon attached to the roof sat in the driveway.

"Whats up with that Bus? Its epic."

"It's my girlfriends, we are getting it set up to live in."

"No way,  What year is it?"

"2002 bus and an 86 Vanagon."


When I sold my Syncro to my mom a year ago,  Dean kept working on it and, they too became friends.  Dean and his girlfriend, Marie, had since moved into their bus in South East Portland.  They wanted more space for a garden and animals and asked my Mom if they could park their bus on some property she owns in the Columbia River Gorge.   Six months ago, they moved out of a driveway in Southeast and into the Columbia River Gorge.  They are setting up a greenhouse, extensive garden,  rabbits, pigs, outdoor shower and 400watt solar set up.    This summer, Marie's honey CSA will be up and running and selling honey from bee's that live in the area.  It's called the Bluebird Apiary.

Wood floors.

Wood storage

Animals of low moral standing.

Wood storage and wires running from the solar panels to the battery bank.

The buses heater and cooking stove.

The chimney comes off a above at the window level of the Vanagon when its time to drive.  The bus gets 8 mpg on the highway. The Vanagon, or penthouse as Dean and Marie call it, is where the bed is.

The sink with running water.

Making tea on the trash burner stove.   They don't actually burn the trash but this style of stove is called that.

It's been very inspiring to see Dean and Marie's bus take shape.  They've done all of the work themselves and found most stuff on Craigslist.  It's built for function and theres a beauty that goes along with that.  I'll update more as their place comes along.

Here are some more links,

Dean's Car Care (Yelp).