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.
Maddie and Trevor in the Los Padres.
Shades on shades.
Morning in the Mission.
Stoked Grove in Meiners Oak.
Bryan, Trevor and Cal having dinner.
Ryan Lovelace working on his 1948 Bus.
Marissa stretching in the morning.
Mobile changing room.
Ian Durkin on the West Coast.
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),
July 30, 2013
Fort Collins to Carpinteria
I leaned forward and stuck my head out of the Jeep Comanches fiberglass canopy. Resting on my elbows, I looked around the Valley in the Eastern Sierra that we were camped. The nearest big city, Fresno, was a few hundred miles to the southwest, leaving the night’s sky unmolested by light pollution. There wasn’t a could in site and the stars shined bright, casting just enough light to see the beaver pond that we had backed up to just before dark the night before. Despite being early summer, the air was still cold, and by my best guess, in the low 40s. Retreating back into the truck Canopy, I rearranged my pillows, checked the valve on my thermarest to make sure it was tight, laid down and pulled my sleeping bag up around my face.
I couldn’t sleep. Rolling over on to my stomach and propping up on my elbows, I took a swig from my water bottle and stashed it under my pillow. Twenty minutes passed, maybe thirty and I wasn’t any closer to falling asleep. Frustrated, I kicked off my sleeping bag and crawled out of the Canopy. Finding my flip flops in the dark, I walked twenty feet away form the truck and took a piss. The night was quite, save for the constant hissing of wind running down the aspen trees in the valley floor off towards the basin some three thousand feet bellow. I was forcing it. I didn’t really need to pee but was searching for anything possible barrier between me and waking up next to a stream in the Sierras. Finally, after swaying with the trees for a few moments, I heard the familiar sound of pee splattering off river rocks.
Five days before, Trevor and I flew to Denver to pick up a Jeep Comanche he found on Craigslist. After spending the night at my college roommates place in Denver, the truck checked out as promised and we were off. Taking the 14 through northern Colorado into Utah, we camped by night in BLM land. The Comanche ran like a dream.
Pellet gun target practice.
Sunrise in the high Sierra.
Hot springs changing room.
Along the way, I shot a look book for Patagonia’s upcoming 40th Anniversary Collection.
Flicking the fly.
“People still use that shit?” referring to an atlas.
Chili, Avocado and a tortilla. Dinner
Fifteen miles off the 50 on a one track road, somewhere in Nevada.
The last remnants of winter.
Trevor’s 1991 Jeep Comanche.
Wake up in Utah.
Evening entertainment curtsy of Bureau of Land Management.
Staring up at the sky, I searched for a satellite. After a few seconds, I spotted one and followed its slow track across the sky. It was just before 3:30, and I had been awake for an hour and a half. Memories of sleepless nights laying in my apartment in New York listening to sound of sirens and the occasional subway getting increasingly anxious for a meeting the next morning brought me back to reality. Walking back to the truck, I reached for my sleeping bag and pad and pulled it out of the bed.
After finding a level place, I kicked out a half covered rock and set my pad down. Obstructed by the valley walls and a few aspen trees, I yawned and resumed my search for satellites.
Here are some more links,
40th Anniversary Collection (Patagonia),
Trevor Gordon ARTS (Facebook).
July 17, 2013
Big Sur Con Todos
Our caravan of three trucks pulled off the 1 and into the small parking lot. The marine layer masked the sun’s orientation in the sky, giving the vague feeling that it could be anytime from 8am to 8pm. The parking lot was relatively empty, save for a GMC van with South Dakota plates. In the world of road trippers, the South Dakota, or SoDAk, licenses plates are a dead give away that the owner resides full time in their camper. Pulling up to an open spot, I left my door unlocked and walked towards the rocks overlooking Big Sur’s rocky coast line.
The south swell that filled the beaches of Southern California like a Slim Aarons photo was marching north along the coast. The waves weren’t as good, but that didn’t matter. It was well worth avoiding the crowds.
“Oooh that looks, fun…Look at that left!” Trevor said pointing to a mediocre, waist high wave breaking off of a few rocks and then crumbling left for 25 yards before closing out on a shore break.
“Frickin’ Teahupoo out there right now…”
“If we don’t surf now, what are we going to do all day. It’s…. 11:32,” I said pausing to check my phone.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m out there…” Trevor said, turning and walking back to his truck, leaving Spencer (Trevor’s younger brother) and Alex Yoder to deliberate about the wave.
“The lulls are pretty long.”
“So we will just wait…Didn’t Lopez say, “you can wait on the beach or you can wait in the ocean?”
“Something like that.”
With a hoot, Trevor ran past, holding his fish in one hand. “You guys are blowing it.”
Alex’s rolling home.
Alex and his travel companion, Lucy.
Big Sur backroads.
The inside of Chris’ Econoline Van.
Running back to the parking lot, I grabbed my wet wetsuit and pulled the legs and arms through. No time for a towel, I reasoned, kicking off my jeans. Just then, a bleached white mini van pulled into the lot, stopping awkwardly in handicap parking spot. A family of European tourist piled out, brandishing DSLR’s and iPads. Caught with my pants down, I wrenched the suit over my heal and wiggled up to my waste line. Well seasoned to similar acts of liberated self expression on their native beaches, the Germans (by now I had overheard a few harsh-sounding sentences), didn’t bat an eye and were gone within seconds after snapping a photo of the coastline. With the dregs of a bar of wax, I added to the dirty wax job on my Mini Simmons and headed towards the trail.
“Give the tourists a view of the natural wildlife?”
“Sure did. Unfortunately they were more psyched on photographing the bridge.”
Chuckles were exchanged at my expense and we headed down the beach to join Trevor.
Here are some more links,
Square State (Alex Yoder’s Tumblr),
Tearevor (Trevor Gordon’s Tumlbr).