Introducing the Scooter Diaries: mid-2013 cross-country adventure


Building a tiny home has never just been about building a tiny home. Yes, there's something wonderful about the pursuit of actually creating something, about having a minimalist dwelling that meets one's needs, about living in harmony with one's surroundings, but what's truly so terrific about living simply is the tremendous opportunities for experience and adventure that such a life offers.

Kymco S250 scooter.
Tiny homes are often touted as being a new form of affordable housing, and in some ways, this is true. They're relatively inexpensive to build—at $10,000 to $50,000, just a fraction of a "full-sized" house—but unlike conventional dwellings, tiny homes builders and buyers are generally not eligible for financing or mortgages, meaning that those wanting to live small typically have to pay out-of-pocket with personal savings, a luxury (that is, a sizable savings account) that many simply don't have.

Thus, tiny living isn't really a new form of affordable housing, but a different type of affordable housing. It's for those who have the means to save, indeed, but more importantly, it's for those looking to purchase more than a home with those savings. It's for those looking to use that money to achieve financial freedom: financial freedom from a thirty-year mortgage, financial freedom from interest and APRs, financial freedom from expensive household repairs and hefty utility bills. By building a small, affordable structure with (ideally) energy self-sufficiency in mind, one can quite realistically lower their cost of living to virtually nothing.

Yellowstone National Park, one of many planned stops on the journey.
And so, with construction on the Matchbox wrapping up early this spring, I intend to make the most of this newfound financial freedom, this general untetheredness, this opportunity for adventure, by embarking on a cross-country journey to see the nation, its people, and its landscape firsthand—camping and climbing and couchsurfing and chronicling my way to the California coast and back.

I'll be getting around aboard my trusty Kymco S250 scooter, heading north from DC to the Great Plains of the Midwest, reaching the northern border of the United States and dipping into Canada at Vancouver, then riding down the scenic Pacific coast. When I arrive in San Diego, I'll snake my way back east through the breathtaking scenery of the American Southwest, dip down along the Gulf Coast for a stop in New Orleans, and eventually return to the District with, I hope, most limbs still intact.

I've already identified a number of detours I'll be making and sights I'll be seeing—with a particular bias toward the wonders of our national parks and geological formations—on the map below, but it's a big country out there, and I could certainly use help making the most of the trip by getting some additional recommendations from, well, you. If there's a place in this vast nation you think is worth visiting (anything except the northeast, really, which is outside of my rather freeform route), let me know via email or comment or whatever, and I'll like, totally go check it out, no questions asked.

EDIT: Map updated to reflect full itinerary.

You may also notice that the blog has been undergoing a few changes, to reflect and prepare for this brave new post-Matchbox-construction world. Matchbox-specific posts can be accessed here or on the main blog (and of course, there will be many more of those to come), and for information on other upcoming adventures, visit the revised About page.


"At night, we would look out over the immense sea, full of white-flecked and green reflections, the two of us leaning side by side on the railing, each of us far away, flying in his own aircraft to the stratospheric regions of our own dreams. There we understood that our vocation, our true vocation, was to move for eternity along the roads and seas of the world. Always curious, looking into everything that came before our eyes, sniffing out each corner but only ever faintly—not setting down roots in any land or staying long enough to see the substratum of things; the outer limits would suffice." — Che Guevara, The Motorcycle Diaries


  1. Dude. Why is Los Angeles not on your map? Also, I hope you will be taking and reading Blue Highways as you roadtrip.

    1. los angeles? never heard of it.

      :) nah, i honestly just forgot to add it (given that it's already on the route), but certainly will. you'll be there may-ish, yeah?

      i had also never heard of "blue highways," but it seems like it'd be a great addition to my travel reading (which includes "adventures of a supertramp," "the motorcycle diaries," "into the wild," and other titles of a wildly-cliched journey-of-self-discovery nature). thanks for the recommendation!


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