January 7, 2014

Lot Lizards at Mt. Bachelor

The forced air furnace kicked on with a whir, blasting hot air into my camper. It was still dark.  Another hour or two until sunrise.  Laying back down I grabbed a pillow and covered my eyes.  Predawn light lit the camper and I pulled my upper body out of my mummy bag.  The high pitched chug of  two stroke engines bounced off a distant hillside as a crew of snowmobilers headed out into the backcountry.  Rolling over,  I opened the Velcro window and peered out.  It was clear, and probably in the low 20′s.  Turning up the thermostat,  I slid into a sitting position on my bed and reached for my rubber boots.

Cracking the side door, I poked my head out and looked around.  Swinging the door the rest of the way open, I stepped down on to the hard packed combination of snow and ice.  A line of campers in various forms parked north to south against the snowbank.  Walking around the back of my camper,  I noticed a layer of ice underneath the curtain. “Must have been cold.. I haven’t seen ice there before,” I thought to myself.  In a few hours,  the Mt. Bachelor parking lot would be full of its fair share of Subarus and Volvos, but for now, it was empty.

Looking over at the back of Tim Eddy’s camper, a Ford ranger wearing a Four Wheel Camper parked next to mine, I noticed the same ice on his windows. Tim is a professional snowboarder that lives in a 200 square foot cabin he made with his girlfriend in Truckee, California and often snowboards with crazy fleece hats.  Here’s a photo of him in action.  Pulling my ungloved hand from my pocket, I rapped on the gold glass window.

“Tim,  you awake man?”

“Carpe CARVE Brother!  Carpe CARVE,” Tim bellowed with his signature exuberance.

I broke in to laughs. “I’m going to get some hot water going in a few.  Want some coffee?

“I’m already working on my matte. Thanks though, I’ll come over in a few.”

Suited and booted.

Bryan Box and Austin Smith chewing the fat.  Check out their Drink Water project here.

Scotty warming up in the front seat.

Whitney built this camper out her self and has spent the better part of three years living in it.  It has a marine stove, bed for one and a 4×4 conversion.

The way to Mt. Bachelor.

For mote photos,  checkout Start of Winter on Adobe Revel.

Defrosting.

Shred sleds.

Kyle Shwartz and his Toyota Tundra with a Four Wheel Camper.

Alex Yoder and his Toyota Tundra with a Hallmark Camper.

Tim Eddy and his Ford Ranger with a Four Wheel Camper.

Scotty Wittlake and his Toyota Tacoma camper with an ARE top.

Whitney Bell and her converted Ford Camper Van.

The propane stove hissed on and with a flick of the lighter, the small blue flame illuminating the still dark camper.  Reaching for faucet, I filled the kettle and placed it on the burner.  The heat from the stove warmed the air.  Looking down at my watch to check the time, I noticed the date,  December 14th.  Today was my 750th morning on the road since August of 2011.  Time Flies. I thought to myself as I sifted through the a cabinet looking for my Aeropress.

“Rap rap rap,”  The side door of my camper vibrated.

“You in there Foster?”  Scotty asked.

“Yah man.  Come in and grab some coffee.”

Here are some more links,

Start of Winter (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). 

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.

Snackfood.

Flicking the fly.

Shakas, Bra

“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.

No AC.

Trevor’s 1991 Jeep Comanche.

Beaver damns.

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).