North America, in photographs

1.31.2014

The (many) remaining photographs from last year's Scooter Diaries (finally): click here for the full set or scroll through for a random few.

Bodie, California
Badlands National Park, South Dakota

























Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona



Arches National Park, Utah





Taos, New Mexico



Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado










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"In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life—no disgrace, no calamity (leaving me my eyes)—which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball: I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the [universe] circulate through me ... The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances, master or servant, is then a trifle and a disturbance. I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature." — Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature

Mini-house mini-update

1.30.2014

Progress on the Matchbox has obviously slowed since my return from the road, and our recent cold snap has certainly delayed a few parts of the build. That said, autumn and the start of winter have brought many changes to the tiny house.



Kitchen

Two (induction) burners, a working sink with triple-filtered rainwater, shelf room for 25+ spices and 70+ jars, built-in compost and recycling pails, a (mini-)mini-fridge, ample counterspace for chopping and food processing, two full cabinets for bulk food storage, and a floating fireside dining table with seating for four all make for a pretty decent kitchen in such a tiny space. Beyond a few small finishing touches here and there, the kitchen is the first true realm of the Matchbox to be considered complete, and with its five-foot windows letting in both cool breezes and natural light, it's an absolute pleasure to cook and eat in.

Bathroom

Arguably the most important part of the house has also been the slowest to materialize, but thanks to some great work from Robin and Tony, the 2' x 4' bathroom now has a custom concrete showerpan, four enclosed walls all sealed up with caulk and exterior paint, and a fully-operational low-flow showerhead that offers heated rainwater (nearly) on demand. The bathroom's outside walls—which will be covered in a floor-to-ceiling world map—still need work, and the toilet is far from complete, but I'm proud to say that the bathroom is making great strides toward, well, full functionality.

Loft

Not much has changed up here beyond the linens. The solar-powered skylight blind has done a terrific job of keeping heat in (or out, depending on season), and a few built-in boxes around the mattress are on their way. I've also built a frame for the atrociously-large flat-screen, around which the very talented Katherine Tucker will be painting a canvas that will hide the television's dull fa├žade with something (a lot) more beautiful for those many hours and days when it's not in use.

Living area

Having finished work on the Minim House several months back, Dave has graciously been helping piece together some seating and storage furniture: a full couch and bench, along with a coffee table and a few other items. Though it acts as little more than bike storage now, the living area will soon be able to comfortably seat up to seven for casual dining, games, or lounging.

Closet space

The back-right corner of the Matchbox formerly served as a mini-office with a full-sized desk and 23" computer, but having recently upgraded to a much more portable 15" laptop—and subsequently removing the desk—that precious corner has been repurposed as daily wall storage, with two brushed aluminum pegboards on the way to keep clothing, camping and climbing gear, photography equipment, and assorted odds and ends all within arm's reach.

Elsewhere on the Boneyard, we recently said goodbye to the Lusby (and have been exploring other options for that space), congratulated Lee for making fantastic progress on the Pera House's interior, and began planning for a new studio shed to replace our trusty shipping container, while otherwise doing our best to stay warm during this frigid January.

(I recognize this post is a bit short on photos, but rather than delay an overdue update any longer, I'll just aim to get those added soon.)

Riding the rails

1.13.2014


Travel is never simply about the destination, but always the journey. How one gets from point A to point B (or point Z, as the case may be) is every bit as important as what those points are.

Circling North America by scooter was a magnificent way to do it, but one 15,000-mile struggle against high winds, heavy rains, biting cold, and bumpy roads is enough for me, at least for the next few years. So despite the utter romance of taking Rousseau abroad for another lengthy jaunt, I decided to go about my European sabbatical with a calmer mode of transportation.

Enter the Eurail. It's no great secret that Europe has a fantastic train network: affordable, high-speed, hundreds of stops across the continent, but it was only recently—after the goading of a few well-traveled friends—that I gave much thought to the Eurail's Global Pass, which affords virtually limitless travel along the tracks of Europe. At about $1,500 (youth pricing I'll be eligible for only for another year), the pass is no light investment, but for the three months of bundled travel it'd afford while skipping about from corner to continental corner, it seems a monumentally worthy purchase.

Europe and its marvelous rail network.
Obviously, this decision makes travel planning far simpler: I don't need a route, I don't need a vehicle, I just need a map and a timetable to plan my next stop and a good book to keep me company while riding the rails. I imagine the overall trajectory of my travels will follow my prior course to a point—hugging the Mediterranean coastline, skipping from Greece to Turkey and then working my way up toward Scandinavia, then back down through Europe's center before curving up toward England, Ireland, Iceland, home.

I'll be leaving May 2, I think, and definitely packing light, and definitely around to meet up with whomever may be contemplating a summer adventure of their own somewhere across the pond.

More (including a long-overdue update on the Matchbox) soon.

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