off-road (41)

Review of Rolling Homes in Point Reyes Light

by Sam Mondros – October 10, 2022

Original article at ptreyeslight.com/news/rolling-homes-unpacked-in-new-lloyd-kahn-book


Gregory Watson's traveling carpentry rig carries his tools and blueprints, acting as both shelter and office.

Gregory Watson’s traveling carpentry rig carries his tools and blueprints, acting as both shelter and office.

One rainy day last fall, two men traveling on electric unicycles from New York’s Hudson Valley found themselves on the streets of Bolinas being photographed by Lloyd Kahn, author of over a dozen books on tiny homes. The unicycles were outfitted with dirt bike tires, tiger-print protective pads and various bags holding the belongings of their riders, Dylan Weidman and Tristan Schipa.

The unicycles became the most minimalist examples of 75 wheeled homes featured in Mr. Kahn’s new book, Rolling Homes: Shelter on Wheels. Mr. Kahn’s latest release is a follow-up to Tiny Homes on the Move, his first book on mobile homes. Some of its subjects are solar-powered, some double as saunas, some have gardens or pizza ovens and bars. One hauls 12 baby bison and others barely work well enough to get a person and their surfboard to the beach, but all are homes of one sort and the book explores them through photographs and stories about their many adventures.

“I think it’s my best book in a long time,” Mr. Kahn said. “It’s timely and speaks to people who are a part of a movement that isn’t specific to any age group.”

Mr. Kahn has spent over five decades publishing a wide spectrum of books on do-it-yourself design and carpentry that have influenced builders across the world. He took to building at age 12, helping with projects at his family’s weekend home in the Central Valley. After graduating from Stanford in 1957, he joined the Air Force and spent two years as the editor for a military newspaper. When he returned to California, he built his first home, in Mill Valley, developing his practical philosophy of building while working as an insurance broker. He soon exchanged his suit and tie for a hammer and measuring tape.

In Big Sur in the ’60s, Mr. Kahn explored a variety of housing design concepts and quickly became an authority on geodesic domes. Ultimately, he would rescind his two books on domes out of a belief that the structures, once representative of a brand of Northern California counterculture, were intrinsically flawed. “I have many reasons for why they don’t work,” Mr. Kahn said. “The whole building is exposed to weather, it’s hard to subdivide inside and they leak. I learned there’s beauty in rectangles, as far as housing goes,” he said.

In 1973, Mr. Kahn released his most popular book to date, Shelter, co-authored by architect Bob Easton. The colossal photo book celebrates varying forms of shelter built by humankind and showcases Mr. Kahn’s D.I.Y. ethic, offering blueprints and instructions “Shelter” sold over 300,000 copies and was re-released in 2013.
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Simple Van Setup

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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.

www.zerohouse.co

instagram.com/tallmaninavan

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Shelter Booth at Last Weekend’s TinyFest Festival in Pleasanton, Calif.

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Our booth at the TinyFest Festival at the Alameda Fairgrounds last weekend, where we sold books and had a great time meeting new friends.

At the booth, we introduced our just-published Rolling Homes book and we sold a lot of copies. Everyone seems to love it. For one thing, the timing — with all the new vans, trucks, trailers and other nomadic vehicles on the roads now.

Two of the contributors to the book showed up and parked their rigs next to our booth: Ben Bloom’s homemade redwood camper shell on his Toyota Tacoma truck and Paul Elkins’ bike-pulled solar- and wind-powered trailer. Both of these generated a lot of interest, with a steady stream of inquiring fair goers

On the first day, maybe 20 people came into the booth and thanked us for the books through the years. Really gratifying.

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Remote Living on High Altitude Lake on Xeni Gwet’in Land in Canada

Today I got an email from Jakub Amler in British Columbia, describing a 75-year-old man named Chendi, who has been living on the shores of the high altitude (4200 feet) 50-mile-long glacier-fed Chilco Lake in west central British Columbia for over 50 years. This is on the land of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nations tribe. From Jakub (edited):

“It’s hard to believe he has been here for such long period of time since he hasn’t cut down a single tree — for firewood or structures. He collects all his wood, mostly with his rowboat on the wild and windy Chilco lake.

It is totally off grid, no road access. His “truck” is a rowboat which he uses to carry all the logs from the lake. He doesn’t use any power tools (lover of japanese tools, of course), the craftsmanship is unique, his buildings are charming like most of the buildings in your publications.”

Chendi allows people to come stay there (one month minimum), and says:

“Volunteers sleep in simple and old log cabins, carry water, use an outhouse and rustic bath or sweat house. This is a very difficult and isolated lifestyle, requiring volunteers to be physically fit. You cannot function here if you are not up for the challenge. The wind is quite intense for much of the year. It is also as majestic a place as you ever will see.

Kayaks are available with access to pristine wilderness, hiking, rowboat, fishing from a kayak, gathering wild roots and hunting or snaring.

I also only want people who are serious about going forward from this experience to lead a different life. This is not just a place to have an adventure, but a place to learn a meditative lifestyle (yoga). I want people to come here with intention and mindfulness.”

www.workaway.info/en/host/438711758842

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GIMME SHELTER – Summer 2022

To anyone receiving this for the first time, I send these newsletters out every few months. They’re different from social media — old-school in a way — in that they go to a select audience (over 5,000 people now), rather than blasting out into the internetosphere.

If you’re not signed up on the list to receive it, you can sign up for email delivery of the Gimme Shelter newsletter here.


Homestead in Spring 2022. See our recent book,
The Half-Acre Homestead: 46 Years of Building and Gardening

Rolling Homes Is Done!

Back cover

Title spread

After a year and a half, dealing with maybe a hundred contributors, thousands (I kid you not!) of emails, many thousands of photos, the book has pieced itself together, as has been the fashion with our building books. The material provided the content, and the book organized itself as it was put together.

I just received (via expensive air mail from China) the first five copies of Rolling Homes: Shelter on Wheels. 7,000 copies of the book are now en route to the U.S.A. and we expect it to be available in mid-July.

Holding it in my hands, I’m seeing it for the first time. And yes, I am prone to over-enthusiasm, and yes, this is my baby — but I think this is our best building book in years. There’s energy, there’s joy, there’s cleverness and craftsmanship and the spirit of adventure. There’s solid information — and fun. The people shine through.

There are time-tested components recommended by these builders, sometimes in great detail. And there’s inspiration — to create, to build, to get out there, to do something different.

But best … check it out in this 50-page flipbook: shelterpub.com/rolling-homes-sample-flipbook

Attention, reviewers:

Want the full book in flipbook form for review? Write rollinghomes@shelterpub.com, telling us where your review might appear, and we’ll send a link (and send us your address if you’d like us to mail you a copy of the book once printed).

Seeking blurbs:

Can you help us publicize the book? We will send you the flipbook version and if you like it, could you give us a few lines we could use for publicity purposes?


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Camping in a Tacoma

Our truck, “The Greasy Devil,” all set up for a clear, but windy night’s sleep in Wyoming. We have an awning to add over the feet if the weather is raining/snowing or too cold.

Dear Lloyd,

I just wanna say thank you for putting out such great books over the years! I found Shelter Pub by way of picking up a Whole Earth Catalog in a thrift store while in high school about ten years ago and have been a fan ever since. Homework was my lockdown reading of choice last year!

I am writing because my husband and I are currently on a long road/camping trip and will be driving through Baja next month. Our rig is a 2018 6-cylinder manual Toyota Tacoma with a homemade sleeping platform and a Softopper (we jokingly call it ultralight overlanding since the softopper weighs about 40lbs). We just did about 5 weeks throughout Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Nevada, and Northern California. Next week we will leave our hometown of Boulder, CO to travel through New Mexico, Arizona, southern California, and Baja for the next 2 months.

I have gone over your blog posts about camping in Baja and was wondering if you have any tips or recommendations you would be willing to share. It will be our first time there, my first time in Mexico and we cannot wait! Our truck is pretty off-road equipped, with a 3″ lift, an air compressor, and recovery gear so we don’t mind going through tough terrain. We love mountain bikes and motorcycles (even though we are not planning on bringing any, maybe rent for a day or two?) and are beginner surfers with a love for the water (the one problem with living in Colorado!).

Anyways, thanks again for all of the wonderful work you put out. I have gone to multiple lectures while I lived in Oakland during college, always leaving inspired and hopeful. I actually had Marianne Rogoff as a writing teacher my freshman year, who told me she worked for you back in the day! I love following along your posts online, your trip to Rome looked simply amazing. I have always wanted to write to you to say thanks, but felt too shy, until now that I have an extra reason to say hi.

–Jessica Milavitz
SUNSHINE CANYON FURNITURE COMPANY
www.sunshinecanyonfurniture.com
instagram.com/ultralight_overland

Note: For lots of info on Baja from my travels there, see: lloydkahn.com/?s=baja

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Shepherd’s Hut in Southwest Scotland by John and Lewis Crosby

This all started by finding two rusty cast iron wheels in the nettles whilst on a lockdown ramble during the Covid pandemic in January 2021. I had workshops sitting empty since retirement as a woodworker and was looking for a project.

I decided on a ‘Shepherd’s hut’ seeing as I had a partial starter kit. These were originally moveable temporary night shelters for a shepherd during lambing time on the higher marginal land of Scotland and northern England. The modern incarnation appears to be a lucrative Airbnb rental in which I have no interest, although addressing the chronic housing shortage for local young people does.

Our youngest son, Lewis, was due to return from Canada in the autumn and needed a place to live. That crystallized it. It was now April.

I started with the notion of using locally sourced and second-hand materials but the realities of the world markets were there from the start. Steel for the chassis, plywood internal walls, pine T&G exterior cladding, galvanized sheet for the roof, plus components, fixings, finishes and most of the rest. Only the sheep’s wool insulation and timber framing were local … and the rusty wheels. Two matching rear wheels were specially cast in England at eye-watering expense.

The chassis, 420 kgs of steel channel, was the only detailed plan drawing. The rest was make-it–up-as–you-go according to the dictates of found or bought components.

After four months of working alone, Lewis turned up just as the interior was getting a start. He’s a competent carpenter, so the pace picked up and we were finished by the end of October, 7 months since the first weld on the chassis.

Lewis and his cat now live in it locally.

Location: SW Scotland
Internal footprint: 2m × 5.7m
Height: 2.2m
Power: 12-volt solar panel
Propane cooker. Cat flap. Water collection from the roof and an additional tap supplied by a refillable onboard tank for drinking water. 2 kW wood stove. Double folding ‘Murphy’ style bed, from the underside of which is a drop-down table. Seating on the wheel arches.

–Lewis Crosby

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