January 23, 2014

The Guarantee

“Sir, very fresh food.  Please come.  American?”

I looked forward and kept walking through the crowd in Marrakech’s central square. If I acknowledged them in anyway, they would leave the security of their shop and follow me for thirty feet or so, carrying on about their products, value and track record.   They also tended to hassle a single person less than one walking in pairs so I walked a few strides ahead of Edge, my childhood friend and former roommate in NYC.

“Parlez-vous Francais.  English?  Very good Tajine.  Best in Marrakech.”

I kept walking.

The square was pandemonium.  Swap out tourists and Moroccans with men and women clad in business casual attire and the scene resembled Bryant Park subway station circa 8:30 am on a Tuesday.   The combination of tourists taking photos of snake charmers with iPads and locals getting across town had me confused as to weather I was witnessing a tourist spectacle or a legitimate place of commerce.   Giving a group of middle age women walking around with syringes full of what I later learned was henna, a wide birth I kept on bearing towards a group of restaurants.  Edge was thirty feet behind me.

A group of men,  mostly locals, congregated in a circle.  Pausing, I stood on my tiptoes and looked over the four-deep wall of people to see two early teen boys with their shirts off wearing boxing gloves.  A referee/booky was collecting bets.  I stood and watched while the MC jabbered in a combination of Arabic and French.  This would be a twenty minute commitment, I thought to myself, and continued on.

As I approached the line of restaurants,  a group of salesmen came out and stopped five feet from their last picnic table as if limited by an invisible, electric fence.   My plan was to do a fly by and see which restaurant had the most non-tourist customers and go with that one.    Before I could finish, a man in his early thirties wearing a GAP Athletic T-shirt broke rank and came up to me.

“Guaranteed no diarrhea for the last two years.  Guarantee.  My word.”

I burst out laughing and stopped dead in my tracks.  “How can you guarantee something like that?”

The man smiled with a look of success.  “For you sir,  I make very good price.”

Regaining my composure,  I continued you on towards the last row.

Look behind him.

A brass bathtub.

So many dates.

Well Loved.

I’ve been using Adobe Revel to host and share my photos as part of their Ambassador Program.  Take a look at these photos from Morocco and more here.

Fishy.

Edge in Essaouira.

Cat power.

Loc’ dog in the Sahara.

A 400 year old Riad in Fes.

Camo.

4×4’s in Eastern Morocco.

“Your days are numbered”

Fully Loaded.

Hanging tough.

Marrakech.

As far as the eye can see.  Sand.

Threads.

OG BMX BIKE!

Nice marmot.

Essaouira.

Reaching the end of the row,  I stopped and waited for Edge.

“Did one of those dudes say something about no diarrhea for the last two years?”

“Yah…I died laughing.”

“How the fuck do you guarantee that?” I asked,  hoping  to get an answer for the question that the man from the restaurant left unanswered.

“No clue.  Pretty bold claim.”

“Certainly.  Which one of those spots do you want to eat at?”

Here are some more links,

Morocco (Adobe Revel).

October 29, 2013

Farewell to Summer

It always passes quickly. Waking up with the sun at six transitions into seven and then seven thirty. The days shorten on the other end too. Living in your car makes you aware of when the sun rises and sets.  Temperatures retreat below the acceptable level to sleep with just a wool blanket and I grab  a down sleeping bag. Condensation covers the single-pain window of my camper in the mornings.  Parks, that just a few weeks earlier buzzed with tourists in rental Mustangs, empty out. The first fall storms are on the way.  Here are some shots from this summer.

Beach daze in Malibu.

Camping with Jay in the Sierra.

Monsoon season in Arizona.

Options.

Maddie and Trevor in the Los Padres.

Shoe quiver.

Wild flowers.

Shades on shades.

Mexican peelers.

Morning in the Mission.

Stoked Grove in Meiners Oak.

Driftwood Fire.

Bryan, Trevor and Cal having dinner.

Ryan Lovelace working on his 1948 Bus.

Marissa stretching in the morning.

Mount Piños.

Lazy mornings.

Mobile changing room.

Ian Durkin on the West Coast.

Standing tough.

Club Med, Lake Tahoe addition with Tahoe Messi and Ian Durkin.

Collection of roadkill skulls at Lloyd Khan’s house in Bolinas.

Bryan making dinner.

I’m ready for winter.

Here are some more links,

Out of Reception (Tumblr).

September 23, 2013

Home Is Where You Park It: Kickstarter Project


I started taking photos of vans and other campers that I came across in my travels in the fall of  2011.   After rationalizing my interest in these campers,  I wrote a post and put together some photos on my blog for a post called Vanlife.  Here’s how it read:

“Not until experiencing something for myself can I really appreciate it.  Call me thick headed, but it’s been true about autumn in New England,  sex, and most recently, camper vehicles, or as I call it, van life.  I purchased my Syncro with no prior knowledge of van life.  Operating on the assumption that I liked the freedom and exploration offered by living out of a van, I committed to trying it out.  A handful of interesting people’s stories of the road reassured me that it was the right thing to do.  Ships of the open road are hard to understand when you’re not sailing them.  Now that I am sailing my own,  I have grown to appreciate the breed of adventurers they attract and the vehicles they drive.”

Two years later, I am just as excited to see a camper parked for the night or hanging out on the side of the highway.  The vanlife hash tag has around 50k tags and I’ve photographed hundreds of campers.   Some of the most inspiring and happiest people I’ve ever met live in there vehicles by choice.  To document their campers and celebrate the notion that living in your car is fun, I’m launching a Kickstarter today to publish a photo book and some other vanlife related swag.  To help with the design of the book, t-shirt and bumper stickers,  I enlisted the help of some friends from Doubleday & Cartwright, a creative studio in New York that makes tshirts, The Victory Journal  and works on special projects for brands like Nike, Puma and Samsung.

The  book is going to be an 11×11 inch square and will have around 125 pages.  We are still finalizing layout and I have to dial in the intro.  It will have an extended intro about my moving into a van, photos of my favorite campers and then a handful of anecdotes of my encounters with fellow travelers. The book is $65 shipped in the US and will be signed by yours truly.

A sample spread with @specialopz‘s Vanagon in Mexico and Ford Econoline Camper near Ventura, California.

A full bleed or two never hurt anyone.

Another sample spread with Nick Dirk’s Van and a VW T2 in Portland Oregon.

Inspired by the 70s art of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers Comics and R Crumb, we made a limited edition pocket T-shirt.  It’s available in sizes Extra Small to Extra Large and comes in heather grey or white. Shirts are $35 shipped in the US.

How do you dress up a t-shirt?  Put a Pocket and a Vanlife/Home Is Where You Park it Logo On It.

Riffing on the similar inspiration as the T-shirt,  we also made a handful of bumper stickers celebrating vehicular dwellers.  Use with discretion though, the square community might object to these. $10 for your choice of one large and one small. Sizes ranging from 13″ to 3″.

Home Is Where You Park It. 13 inches wide and 3 inches for the small one.

I know It Was Somewhere Around Here.  6.5 Inches Wide.

If You Lived In Your Car You’d Be Home Now. 10 Inches wide for the large one and 3 Inches for the small.

Vanlife: Home Is Where You Park It.  3 Inches Wide.

I’m super excited about this project and hope that you will spread the word and support it on Kickstarter.

Here are some more links,

Home Is Where You Park It (Kickstarter),

Vanlife (Tumblr),

Vanlife (ART). 

September 2, 2013

Solstice

“This seems pretty level,  don’t you think?” I asked Tucker as I shifted into neutral and let my foot off the break.  The truck rocked back and forth before settling.

“Feels like it,” Tucker said with a level of empathy brought about by a day of eating, drinking and smoking.  “I’m going to crash under the stars though. The stars are In-Sane.”

Nodding in approval, I pushed the stick into reverse,  and backed up over the knoll.  The truck leveled off  a bit but still favored the right side.  Looking over to the left, I watched Dan do the same thing in his Vanagon.

“That’s nowhere close to level.”

“What? Dan’s van?”

“Yah look at that.  Total newb parking job.” Turning off the truck,  I searched for my flip flops under my feet with my big toes.  Rotating to the left, I hung my feet out of the open door and looked west.  The last remnants of sunlight from the day before lined the horizon like the flames from a dying camp stove. It was 10:15.

I jumped down from my seat and landed on the field with a soft thud.  Some fifty feet off a gravel road,  we were parked on a hill overlooking the Lost Coast Trail and the Mouth of the Matole.  National news coverage of an escaped serial killer holed up in the area kept the local campsites empty, despite being the middle of summer.

“Where are you going to lay it down? I have an extra sleeping pad if you want to borrow it,” I asked Tucker as we walked back towards the truck.

“Sure.  I’m going to crash over there.  I found a flat spot.”

I groped the cup holder for a headlamp and found one tangled in a nest of coins, fin keys and iPhone headphone cords. Shoving it in my back pocket,  I walked over towards Dan’s van to say goodnight.  Tired from a day of looking for waves, cooking food and shooting the shit, I maybe had thirty minutes in me before I’d pass out.  That realistically meant that I had 10 minutes, I reasoned.  There’s no way I could make it to midnight.

Dan and Tucker checking waves.

Long days don’t last.

Drying off.

Dan’s Subaru powered Vanagon.

Tucker and Greg cooking dinner.

Jay Nelson’s OG quiver.

Death by powerslide.

Neil Young on repeat.

The road to Patrolia.

The propane stove in an off-grid cabin on the Lost Coast.

Windy.

Heater.

A rolling home on the 1.

 Turning on my headlamp, I inspected the ground around my truck.  All though very low to the ground, the oily leaves and small branches were unmistakable.

“Motherfucker. Do you guys see this?”  We are camping in a field of Poisson Oak,” I yelled.

Here are some more links,

Special Opz (Tumblr),

Lost (A Restless Transplant Post from 2 years ago).