exploring (22)

Going Down the San Lorenzo River on Surfboards During the Great Flood of 1955

My Santa Cruz roommate George Kovalenko and I went down the San Lorenzo River on our surfboards in 1955, during the biggest flood in Santa Cruz history.

The water was up over the parking meters on the main street. It was a gray, drizzly day, and George and I put in by Paradise Park and got swept down the river, along with cars, uprooted trees, sections of houses, and refrigerators. Every bridge across the river had collapsed; it was pretty scary.


When we got out down by the ferris wheel at the river mouth, the cops said they were going to arrest us, but they got diverted by other emergencies and we slipped away.

These 67-year old photos were almost illegible. Rick Gordon performed some Photoshop magic to get this much out of them.

Note: I was interviewed by Jessica York, a reporter for the Santa Cruz Sentinel yesterday for an article on our adventure.

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Is This Cosmic or What?

Sunday morning I wanted to give Lukas a break, so set off on foot in search of coffee and adventure.

Wasn’t finding a cool coffee shop, when a guy walked up and said “Lloyd!” … in a city of 3½ million people.

Bernd Lützelberger was a carpenter, a fan of our books, and we went to very cool espresso bar and hung out for a while.

Then off on my own, It was a quiet Sunday morning, and the good city vibes were extraordinary.

There is somehow a feeling of freedom in Berlin. Go figure.

Lukas came along with his bike and 4-year-old high-energy daughter Luna and we walked along waterways and in parks; I totaled seven miles that day.

Brought to mind JFK’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” of 1963 in what was then West Berlin.

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Ich bin ein Berliner


I’m — pardon the expression — blown away by this city of 3½ million people, with its distinctly good vibes, say like Ojai, Calif., where you feel it as soon as you come into town. But here it’s on a huge scale, it’s pretty flat, trees in all streets, dozens of lakes with clear water that people swim in, multi-ethnic in food and everything else, somehow a feeling of creative freedom…

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Simple Van Setup


Brilliant simple van setup by Sam Ausden, who is pulling an equally brilliant trailer built with SIPs (structural insulated panels) with solar panels powering a big air conditioner and a 14kw 48-volt battery.

His units were on display at the TinyFest Festival last weekend.

There are 17 $8 milk crates holding everything. They are held snug with powerful magnets. Simple, cheap, practical, lightweight.

Quite a contrast with expensive, overbuilt, heavy Sprinter van conversions.



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On Top of the Golden Gate Bridge

21 years ago, I got to go up to the top of the southern tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. Three of us spent about 45 minutes up there, on a warm September night. It was one of the greatest thrills of my life, and also the first time I used a digital camera (a small Fujifilm model).

When I get some more time (if ever!), I’ll post the story, along with the photos.

And also, the story of my friend Jeff starting on the roadway of the north tower at dusk, going up along the cable (with carabiners attached to the handrail cables), climbing to the top of the northern tower, back down to the roadway, up to the top of the southern tower, and making it to the toll gate by dawn the next morning. Not for persons of the faint hearted persuasion.

Here’s what I wrote about it originally (the format is weird because this was when I was using Blogspot, and it’s not compatible with WordPress (or something like that):


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Bernie Harbert and His Mule Polly’s 2,500-mile Voyage Across America

Hi Lloyd and Lew,

I just wanted to let you know that Rocky Mountain PBS premiers the Lost Sea Expedition series January 4th. The series will also stream on Amazon and Vimeo. The story about this tiny wagon voyage across America featured in Tiny Homes (pp. 188–189). I think this info would really interest theshelterblog.com readers.

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Gimme Shelter — Late, Hot Summer 2017

I started writing GIMME SHELTER email newsletters about 15 years ago, maybe one every month or two. They were originally intended for sales reps (first at Random House, then Publishers Group West), to keep them apprised of our publishing activities, and then later, I added friends to the mailing list. As I got into blogging, the frequency of the newsletters dropped off.

Here’s the latest one. If you’d like to be on the list, sign up here.

Water tower near Prineville, Oregon, on my trip last week to see the eclipse

I’ve written less and less of these newsletters recently, as I’ve been blogging and now doing Instagram regularly. Made me think about all the different forms of communication I’ve employed over the years. My high school year book, running an Air Force newspaper in Germany for 2 years, then working the Whole Earth Catalog, and then — books.

Followed by, over the years: booklets, pamphlets, flyers, posters, 20-30 handmade books, mini-books, magazine and newspaper articles, videos, interviews … I’m a compulsive communicator.

These days I put up posts on my blog, but not as often, or as in-depth as a few years ago. I do Instagram almost daily and all these photos automatically go onto my blog, and to my Twitter and Facebook pages. You can check my Instagram account here; it’s a summary of posts: www.instagram.com/lloyd.kahn

Three New Books

The ’60s

I decided to do a book on the ‘60s, since there’s been so much attention given to the “Summer of Love” lately, and because as a person who grew up in San Francisco, went to high school in the Haight-Ashbury, and watched the ‘60s unfold first-hand, I don’t agree with what’s being presented all over the media; these accounts don’t coincide with what I saw happening at all.

“The Haight-Ashbury was a district. The ‘60s was a movement.”  –Ken Kesey

I started the book tentatively, to see if it was going to fly. I thought I’d give my background, what San Francisco was like in the ‘40s and ‘50s, and track my life — a kid growing up in San Francisco, college, Santa Cruz, Big Sur, the Monterey Pop Festival, building domes at Pacific High School, the Whole Earth Catalog — so readers would know where I was coming from. Rather than starting in 1960.

I started getting into it, recalling things that had been buried in my semi-consciousness. This was fun! And I realized that the ‘60s completely changed my life. In 1965, I quit my job as an insurance broker in San Francisco and went to work as a carpenter.

I’m going to illustrate it with black and white photos I took doing those years.

I’ll start posting parts of the book on my blog as I go, to get some feedback.

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