on the road (286)

Ranchera in Baja California Sur

In 1988, I bought my first 4 × 4 Tacoma pickup truck and headed for Baja California. This was shot on the Naranjas road, which goes from north of San José Del Cabo across the Sierra La Laguna mountain range to the Pacific Ocean near Pescadero. It’s a dirt road, rough in spots, and at times closed due to rock slides or washouts. This was at an immaculate rancho about halfway along the road. The ranchera told me she had six kids and that her husband was in the hospital. A beautiful home, built of (obviously) all local materials. These ranches, many of which are in almost inaccessible spots in Baja California, usually run dairy animals: cows or goats, or beef cattle. She took off her hat and posed proudly in front of her home.

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I Wish I Still Had Time to Do Blog Posts Like This

I just ran across this post (below), done in 2006. What a difference 14 years can make! Our books were selling way better in those days, so I had the time to do blog posts.

These days — right now — I’m swamped with the business side of publishing: reprints, marketing, sales, publicity, foreign translations, interviews, podcasts, metadata as well as social media, and I’m getting very little time to work on new books.

My plan is to get as much of this stuff done as possible right now and, as well, farm out as much of it as I can in the future, and free up time to get going on the next book (which I’m really excited about): Rolling Homes.

I ran across the below post while doing a search on my blog for Godfrey and Bruno — this post came up first. If you’re interested further in these two amazing guys, scroll on down.

Note: When Godfrey first told me about Bruno (who I hadn’t met), he said: “He’s the ultimate guy.”

www.lloydkahn.com/?s=godfrey+bruno

Note: If you want to get on my GIMME SHELTER email newsletter list (goes out every month or two to about 4000 people), go to: shltr.net/gimme-signup

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Cowboy Cathedral in Oregon

I’m delving around in the photo files from our book Home Work, published in 2004. This is the so-called round barn, built by cattleman Peter French and what is now the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in southeast Oregon. In 1872, French set out for Oregon from Sacramento, California with 1200 head of select shorthorn cattle, six Mexican vaqueros, and a Chinese cook. He drove the cattle across the Sacramento River and then then northward up into Eastern Oregon, where he settled on the west side of Steens Mountain. Over the years, his ranching Empire grew to encompass 200,000 acres and 45,000 head of cattle, one of the largest cattle empires west of the Rockies.

In the late ’70s or early ’80s, French built three round barns for breaking horses in the winter months. This one is 100 feet in diameter, the conical roof framed with a 35-foot center pole of Juniper (about 40 inches at the bottom, tapering to maybe 28 inches at the top), 14 surrounding Juniper posts and then a third wall of posts at the perimeter about 8 feet high. It’s a breathtaking building; I spent a couple of hours there in Spring, 2003, shooting photos.

It’s a great story, with 7 more photos, told on pages 206 to 207 of Home Work.

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Surfers’ Hotel in Costa Rica: “Classic, Eh?”

In 1985, I took my Haut 7′6″ surfboard, and flew to San Jose, Costa Rica. Rented a car and headed out to Limon. A friend had told me it was a dangerous town, and — well…

It was a somehow charming tropical town, with a rusty and decaying port. There were sloths in high trees in the park down by the Caribbean.

I hooked up with a local guy (a lawyer, nonetheless) and his girlfriend, and he showed me where to eat, and where to stay.

Something about Límon is bittersweet. It’s tropically warm, relaxed, somehow mature.

He also showed me how to make a cuba libre (rum and coke) with hi-octane pure alcohol (bought in am unmarked bottle in liquor store), an appropriately named limon (a big orange, but tart) and — Coca Cola. In hotel room, squeeze limon, add alcohol and coke.

The next day I headed out to Puerto Viejo, to visit Curt Van Dyke, son of my long-time dear friend from Santa Cruz, Betty Van Dyke.

On the way I stopped at a black sand beach where there was a bar on the beach playing reggae music. Un piña colada, por favor, and then some bodysurfing. (The sand was black!)

When I got to Puerto Viejo, I went to see Curt. He had maybe a dozen rooms, kept adding on, and a restaurant, and it was walking distance to Salsa Brava, a high-speed kick-ass surf spot.

This pic is Curt out on the deck, with his wife at the time. When he saw me looking the place, he said: “Classic, eh?”

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Our Next Book: Rolling Homes

My Baja Bug* from the ’90s. A “pre-runner,” used back then to run the Baja 1000 race course before the race. Fiberglass fenders and hood, shocks came up and tied into roll bar, 15-gal. gas tank behind rear seat. Rocket Box on roof, with solar panel that charged 2nd battery. There was a 12′ by 14′ flea market tarp inside box that I would set up for shade.

I kept it at La Mañana Hotel in San José del Cabo, would fly down, pick it up, and drive 15 miles on dirt roads out to an arroyo, then let air out of tires and go about 2 miles on the sand to a spot called “Roosterfish Cove.” I’d set up the tarp (shade is critical in Baja camping), and spend 3-4 days solo on the beach, surfing at “Destilladeras,” a short paddle from my camping spot. Since I was still a competitive runner, I’d run along the beach when it was cool enough.

It was my camping vehicle until it ended up under water in a flood from Hurricane Henriette in Los Cabos in 1995 (26″ rain in 24 hours).

The idea of a sequel to our book Tiny Homes on the Move has been kicking around here for a while. There are some really good books on nomadics out there now, such as Van Life, by Foster Huntington (who coined the term/hashtag #vanlife), Van Life Diaries by Morton, Dustow and Melrose, and Hit the Road by Robert Klanten and Maximilian Funk.

But after talking to Foster, who encouraged me to go ahead, and starting to gather material, I’m excited. We’ve discovered a lot of different and new rigs; this book will be different. The Sprinter vans are super, true, but there are a lot more lower-cost and/or homemade options to the +100K van.

If you know of any such vehicles, please contact me at lloyd@shelterpub.com

*How ironic that the “people’s car,” or “folks’ wagon,” developed in Germany by Ferdinand Porsche on orders from Adolf Hitler in 1938, would go on to become not only the most popular car in history, but the go-to car for desert rats.

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