Shelter and The Whole Earth Catalog in Abandoned Baja Hacienda

Hello there, Mr. Lloyd Kahn,

I hope that you and your loved ones are doing okay during these turbulent times!

I am a big fan of your books and have been poring over them for years for inspiration, joy, hope, and encouragement. I feel the pull to go on and on here and tell you about myself but I don’t want to take up your precious time.…

We fell in love with Baja on our travels as many do, and I know you can relate. We especially loved the oasis town of Mulege. We made good friends while we were there and had to go back. This past January we drove back there in our truck without the travel trailer this time. We rented a house from a friend that was in a hilltop neighborhood (Loma Azul) with the desert for its backyard with hikes through that magic desert to quiet beaches. We put our 10- and 7-year-olds in the local school; (they had been in Spanish immersion in the past but this was a new level). We had planned to be there for three months but sadly as we saw the news begin to break about the coronavirus, we decided to head back home to NC to get a garden started and help our families prepare to get hunkered down, and I am glad we did.

While we were in Mulege on a walk through the desert, we stumbled on an abandoned dwelling with a view of the ocean. It had a few little buildings and some outdoor patio spaces. Such a beautiful and dreamy spot.

It clearly had been abandoned years ago and was in a state of decomposition. The buildings were filled with stuff! It seems someone had just up and moved away and then a big storm hit. Dishes, clothes, books, on and on!

This was a dream for me, I am a huge lover of old treasures and thrifting. I didn’t want to go through it without permission, so with some asking around we were able to locate the neighbors of the place who own that little dive shop in town. I asked them about the place and they said that a couple had lived there years ago and the wife had died. The husband moved up to Northern Mexico to be with his family and he did not want anything that was left there.

I was amazed to find a book there that you may recognize! I had been looking in thrift stores and yard sales for years for a copy of The Whole Earth Catalog and here amongst this seemingly random rubble I found a copy of The Last Whole Earth Catalog AND a copy of Shelter! 

I was recently thumbing through Home Work again and reread the pages about Baja — I hadn’t looked at that part of the book since we had traveled there. Then I had this crazy idea: What if these books traveled and found a home in Mulege by way of Lloyd Kahn? It is just that those books didn’t really fit in with the rest of the stuff we found in the “abandoned hacienda” (as we started to call it).

I thought I would send this story along to you in case you found it interesting. I also wanted the opportunity to thank you for your work and what you put out in the world.

–Bren Boseman Seed

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

5 Responses to Shelter and The Whole Earth Catalog in Abandoned Baja Hacienda

  1. What a wonderful story! Mr. Lloyd Kahn, you have inspired so many people during the course of life.
    Let me join in by also thanking you.
    Even if people don’t jump off and go the whole route you took, you should know of the awareness so many hold about doing what they can for themselves, keeping eyes open to the constant chipping away at their freedom to be truly independent in practice and not just in theory.
    So thanks

  2. I too was inspired to finally make it to Baja thanks to Lloyd and Muleje was my favorite town also. I was camping on the bay just down the road when epidemic rumors started flying so I cut my trip short to make it back across the border while I still could. Broke the hub on my woody teardrop trailer but somehow got it transported to San Felipe and repaired with virtually no English involved. What great people! When I left I gave the mechanic my pocket English/Spanish dictionary– the smile on his face was a highlight of the trip.

  3. I live on Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada. Our corona virus infection rate is currently 0.02% of the population. I agree,as do millions of Canadians, that Trump is the downfall of America . Anyway, politics aside, I want to build a cordwood house…I’ start practicing on a 10 ‘x10 ‘shed.where did you build yours and why do you no longer build that way? Incidentally ,I am 71 and very active. MyMom is 97 and stopped mowing her own lawn 5 years ago. You look familiar. Did you ever live on Saltspring Island? I lived on SSI for 15 years.

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