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).

32 Comments



  • September 2 , 2013

    Hi,

    Just curious as to whether you’ve received any commentary regarding your journey being possible in huge part to your white male privilege – in that you had a well paying gig and can do what you are doing for a myriad of reasons, not least of which is that you made good money and saved good money.

    Please note, this is a sincere inquiry not any attempt at argument *which is different from discourse – rather because white privilege is something that is not always brought up around a situation such as yours and yet i think not discussing it would be remiss of applying context.

    Also, curious as to how you would answer a declaration of: you do realize your white male privilege affords you this adventure?

    Please feel free to point out any posts, addressing this, which i may have missed.

    Safe Travels


  • Nath
    September 2 , 2013

    Hi Foster

    Some super nice photos, makes me want to head out and explore! Wonder if its possible to be nosey and ask a quick question about your lens set up?

    Are you a man of many lenses or do you stick to one good ‘un and if so what’s your lense of choice?
    I guess thats actually two questions but am curious as you get some ace shallow depth of field images.

    Thanks and keep up the adventures, always inspiring.


  • September 2 , 2013

    Loved the ending dude, you know how to tell a story, especially the way you make the words and photos interact.

    J


  • September 3 , 2013

    Laura,
    I am not a trust funder. I have student loans and until recently, my mom lived in a doublewide trailer. I certainly see advantages of being a 6’3 male and living the way that i live. I don’t get messed with or harassed the way i certainly would if I was a women. I acknowledge that, but I’ve also met women just over 5 feet tall that are living a life similar to mine.

    I think its easy for someone to like yourself to make broad claims of white privilege about my situation without knowing me because it makes it easier for you to not taking chances with your own life. I don’t talk about what i do to make a living because I dont think its important. What is important is that I took a chance, left a comfortable life in search of something more and that its worked out.

    Nath,
    I have two cameras, three including my iphone, and have one lens per camera. each is about the equivalent of what the human eye sees, so a 50mm. I have a janky nikon SLR from the 80s that cost me less than a 100 for the body and lens. My bad boy rig is a mamiya 6 medium format that has a 75mm lens. hope that helps,

    James,
    thanks for the kind words man.

    foster


  • September 3 , 2013

    I really like your respond to Laura’s comment.

    You have no idea how inspiring you are, Foster.
    Keep doing what you love.


  • September 3 , 2013

    Thanks Ula. its easy for people to look for excuses are reasons not to do things they are afraid of. Im flattered that you’d say that about me.

    foster


  • September 3 , 2013

    Foster, great story once again. It’s funny, I met Dan I think just a couple of days before this story took place around Salt Point. My wife and I were traveling out of our truck for the month and he gave great suggestions of a route through Petrolia to the lost coast. We were leaving the beach one day and honked at his van, seeing you guys walking on the beach, but too windy to hear us. That’s an amazing area…can’t wait to see it again. Your pictures brought back some good memories. Thanks for sharing man.


  • September 3 , 2013

    Eric,
    what a small world. i hope you guys had a fun time on the lost coast. its one of my favorite places to hang. I remember it being super windy. Hope to make it back soon myself. the fall is great there.

    foster


  • September 3 , 2013

    I found your blog a little while back, and I cannot get enough of it. I always get a little jolt of happiness when a post of yours shows up on my blogfeed =] Keep doin’ what you’re doin’.


  • September 3 , 2013

    Just a response to your response: “I don’t talk about what i do to make a living because I dont think its important. What is important is that I took a chance, left a comfortable life in search of something more and that its worked out.”

    I love that. I think a lot of times we get so caught up on “making a living” where money becomes the most important thing we talk about and think about, that we forget to actually live. Making a living isn’t important, living your life is. Go for the gusto brother.


  • September 3 , 2013

    Foster,

    Been following your blog and posts on FB for quite awhile, now. I just wanted to say thank you for making the choice to leave that comfortable life and search for something more. It’s plainly obvious that it was the right decision for you as your artistic expression of this new life is without fault. Your writing; your photos. All speak clearly of the joy you’re experiencing in this new life. You’re an inspiration to the rest of us who haven’t jumped off the proverbial cliff, yet. Keep it up, my friend, and ignore the detractors. They fear that which they don’t, or choose not to, understand.

    Hope I see you out on the road one day. T-minus 7 months for me. :)

    All the best,
    ~Michael


  • Keith
    September 4 , 2013

    This is awesome. Your photos and stories are inspiring, so thanks!

    Keep on truckin’


  • Enoch
    September 4 , 2013

    Awesome, man! I’m enrolled in college, and I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do with my life. Seems like I found something that makes me pumped for the future!

    One quick question about your setup–do you shoot digital, or just film?


  • September 4 , 2013

    Thanks for the kind words guys.
    foster


  • Andrew
    September 6 , 2013

    Foster you have tons of class and maturity beyond your years, I commend you.
    I had a quick question about how you developed your film on the road. I’m in the process of getting ready for a trip and my trusty Konica and t2 are coming with and I wanted to know from an experienced vanlifer what is the easiest way you go about getting your film developed. Do you mail out or just look for the nearest 1 hour? If you had any tips I’d appreciate the help.
    Keep on, your work is a great inspiration.


  • September 7 , 2013

    i want to preface by saying i never comment. but this time i had to. here goes.

    because it looks like you’ve stumbled into the vortex.

    the longer you live this gypsy life, the smaller the world will start to feel.

    i left a design career seven years ago when i was 23 and wandered around for quite a while. i still do. but mostly i stay here. i had a couple photo blogs for that first part of the trip (the first is now disabled and the later called rampant meandering) and i am starting a new one now. i’m writing you because, oddly enough, i think i took a photo of your van driving the road here to post on the new blog. unfortunately i erased it because i was driving and it was blurry. bad. i know. but you’ve seen how few cars are out here! i have a thing for those vans.

    okay… before i start to sound like a creepy stalker or something… let me explain.

    i was led to your site because your photo of strawberry rock crossed the oceans with lightning speed to end up on a tumblr called cosmic that a friend of mine follows and they emailed me the tumblr link because they were so shocked to see that location on that blog (the tumblr’s from europe i think?). when i went to the source it surprised me. your van that is. because i just saw it in the real world and there it was in the digital.

    just remember… in the digital era, there are two types of people: those who go online to reblog pictures and those who go out into the world and take the pictures that get reblogged. (and that definitely doesn’t have anything to do with being a white male. there are many of us gypsies that don’t fall into that category at all. it has nothing to do with privilege and everything to do with bravery. i was broke when i started.) always strive to be the later. there’s a whole world out here that you can’t experience in a computer. but you can give a window and inspire others to go out and search for it. ‘wes’ up there said it best, “making a living isn’t important, living your life is.”

    keep taking chances. seek out the serendipitous. fear is only a feeling.


  • September 8 , 2013

    Andrew,
    I send my film to a place called pro photo supply in PDX. they send out to a lab that does dip and dunk and then scan and email them to me. it works out quite well. thanks for the kind words,

    Q.Bee,
    you sure live in an amazing place. Im drawn to that part of the coast in a serious way. You must likely saw my friend dan’s van. His girlfriend lives in cabin near you and is often in the neighborhood.

    Thanks for the support on the privilege/white male debate. I’ll never deny the advantages of being a white male. With that said, think those advantages were a lot more present in my life in new york than in my camper on the road somewhere.

    send me a link when your blog is up,
    foster


  • Emma
    September 8 , 2013

    I adore all of your posts, and I am trying to gather the courage to do something similar myself (at least part of the time). For now, I will continue to live through your photos. Thank you for that. My blog is in the works, but I need a name :) Any suggestions?


  • September 9 , 2013

    Such amazing photos, and then, the ending. Hilarious! Total win, sir.


  • September 13 , 2013

    beautiful pictures. good for you for seizing the world when you can.


  • TUCKER
    September 13 , 2013

    posion oak suuuuuucks


  • September 15 , 2013

    In response to Laura, I’m a 27 yr old gay, black male and have been touring America for a year and a half. I’ve found that a lot of women (regardless of ethnicity) think they can’t live their lives the way they want because of this or that. But really, the this or that is their own internal voices. I know this because I had the same voice saying “it’s not safe, you’re gonna get hurt, who are you to do this, have you lost your mind.” A lot of my girl friends have parents who tell they can’t because they’re women and because they don’t want to disrespect their parents AND because they’re scared, they don’t take the risk. Dangers *are* out there (excuse me, they’re out here) but great experiences are too.


  • carlo
    September 16 , 2013

    hey Foster i got thru your blog by the desillusion’s “chambres avec vues” column.
    your pics are so dreamy. i’d just like to have balls to leave and do the same. you have smart words and a greate sense for beauty i think. i love the answer you had here in the comment section.
    keep doin and keep this positive vibe all around man.
    world isn’t such a bad place to be when i come to your blog


  • September 17 , 2013

    Those are some wise words Treavor. Hope youre having fun out there.

    Cario,
    Thanks for the support man.

    Tucker,
    poison oak does suck.

    foster


  • September 17 , 2013

    it’s up!
    http://anirrevocablecondition.blogspot.com

    now i have to know… by PDX do you mean you send film off to the airport in portland?! really?

    cheers.


  • emma s
    September 17 , 2013

    hey man,
    totally got sucked in to reading many many posts, eesh – and had a grand time. as you like ken kesey, have you read/listened to, “Sailor Song”,? it’s set up in Alaska, and like his other books is pretty darn good.
    cheers, and thanks for having such an adventurous spirit.


  • September 18 , 2013

    I am in search of myself at this instance. I found your blog inspiring! Thanks!


  • September 18 , 2013

    Q.bee,
    i send them to pro photo supply in portland oregon, not the airport haha.

    Emma s,
    i havent read sailor song, i’ll get after it. Kesey is one of my favorite authors.

    Thank you Anyelina.

    foster


  • emma s. **twice on the merrygoround**
    September 18 , 2013

    i don’t mean to carry on an author’s existential conundrum or whatevs… but have you checked out Kerouac’s “Dharma Bums”? he sometimes gets into wishy/wallowy stuff in i must say not too many paragraphs, but his intention is sublime and therefore transcends editorial what-whats. (& his haiku is pretty fab also – which must be searched out.)
    so. sorry to comment twice. toad.ally out of my comfort realm, but you’re worth it. cheers.


  • September 19 , 2013

    Hey Foster,

    Greetings. Hope this message finds you well. I’ve been trying to find a good way to message you directly and ended up here.

    I’m a copyeditor and creative type, and a fellow van lifer (part-time). I saw the great news about your Kickstarter campaign for the Van Life book and want to to offer my services as an editor, pro bono.

    I’d be happy to line edit any text/copy, help organize the content, and provide editorial feedback–really anything you might need to help the book become polished and ready for print. I see you’re working with Doubleday & Cartwright, so I’d be happy to get in touch with them, too.

    It’s a shot in the dark, but I thought it’d be worth it so just say hello.

    My email is sarahtiedemangallagher at gmail dot com.

    Hope to hear from you, Foster.

    Sarah


  • matt
    September 21 , 2013

    currently in college but my heart isn’t here. how hard is it to leap? do you regret not starting earlier?


  • September 21 , 2013

    Matt,
    i hated college. i have bad dreams to this day where i think i still have credits i need to finish in order to graduate. With that said im really glad that i finished. regardless of what happens, i’ll always have that.

    foster