vanlife (10)

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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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?


Read More …

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What to Know About Nomadland and the Real-Life Community Behind the Movie

Some interesting insight relating to our new book Rolling Homes. (Due in bookstores in July.) In the introduction, I point out that we don’t have many nomadlanders (people that are “houseless, not homeless”), nor do we have many of the #vanlife crowd that make a living as influencers.

Article in Time Magazine by Annabel Gutterman, February 15, 2021

In a recent interview with The Guardian, Bob Wells discussed the community of modern nomads, and why people are increasingly drawn to the movement. “If the Great Recession was a crack in the system, Covid and climate change will be the chasm,” he said. This lifestyle is not to be confused with “#vanlife” — a hashtag that populates Instagram feeds and accompanies photos of largely younger people traveling in vans. Bruder (author of Nomadland) believes #vanlife is more of a brand than a movement. “There are people of all ages who are living in vans and then there are people doing #vanlife,” Bruder says. “For everybody who can actually make a living or enough to eat and put gas in the tank on the road as an influencer, there are thousands of people who would probably like to be doing that and cannot.

www.time.com/5938982/nomadland-true-story

Shameless Commerce Dept.: Rolling Homes is available for pre-order with a 20% discount: www.shelterpub.com/building/rolling-homes

We will ship as soon as we receive books, hopefully mid-July.

Please note: other books can’t be combined with pre-orders.

This is our best book in years!

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GIMME SHELTER – October 2021

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.


This is my first newsletter in 6 months, no less. Boy, how time has flown. So I’m afraid it’s gonna be a long one.

Rolling Homes

Rick and I have been working on this book for maybe 4 months. Our modus operandi: I write (or edit) text, print out photos, use a color copy machine (a workhorse Brother MFC-371DCW) to resize photos, then paste down text and photos with removable Scotch Tape. These then go to Rick, who uses Photoshop and InDesign to prepare files for printers. As we go along, he makes PDFs so I can print out pages to see how they look. An analog/digital process. We’ve got about 150 (out of 256) pages done.

I never know what a book will be like until we are well underway in production. We start with a theme — here, homes on wheels — and put it together 2 pages at a time, and the book reveals itself as we proceed.

And this one — good golly Miss Molly! — is turning out to be amazing. I’m sure you’re aware of the explosion of nomadic vehicles in recent years. Our book is composed of primarily do-it-yourselfers — the theme running through all our building books — and the designs, ingenuity, and craftsmanship are stunning.

One thing I just realized: there are a lot of surfers in this book — female and male. Below is Yasha Hetzel, who went 120,000 miles in Australia in a Citroën Berlingo van, here surfing at South Point:

BTW, we don’t seem to have any of the so-called “vanlife” rigs here — the young attractive couples with photos of sunsets and the minutiae of their daily lives. It wasn’t a conscious decision; it’s just is turning out that our rigs and people are more real, more hands-on than the “influencers.”

Shelter Books Exhibited at the Biennale Architettura in Venice

This is the big news around here right now. According to Wikipedia, the Biennale Architettura is “…an International exhibition held every other year in Venice, Italy, in which architecture from nations around the world is presented.”

The two architects responsible for the exhibit, Leopold Banchini and Lukas Feireiss, visited here last year, interviewed me, shot photos, and in conjunction with the exhibit, produced a book titled Shelter Cookbook. They have arranged for my flights to and from Venice, and a place to stay there, and after three flight cancellations and rescheduling and Covid preparations, I’m set to leave here on October 6th. I am excited!

The Shelter part of the exhibit consists of three of our books: Domebook One, Domebook 2, and Shelter, which are on display, as well as stick models of buildings shown in these books.

Stick models of buildings in Shelter and Domebook 2. A lot of work went into making these!

The exhibit is in the Arsenale di Venezia, a huge complex of shipyards and buildings built in the 1100s and used for building Venice’s ships.

I’ll be in Venice October 9–11; and on the 13th, I’ll be doing a slide presentation called “60 Years of Natural Building” at the Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio, a school of architecture in Italian-speaking Switzerland. Then to Florence, then (maybe train ride) to Sicily where I’ll spend a week exploring (and swimming). Back home and back to book production end of October.

I’m really excited to be going back to Italy (and seeing Venice and Sicily for the first time). I love the people, the sea, the countryside, the food, the gardens — the Italian way of life — my cup of tea — er, espresso.

I’m going as lightweight as possible this trip, with a Cotopaxi Allpa 35 travel pack with compression bags (fits easily into overhead bin) and my regular daily Dakine backpack for MacBook Air, glasses, pens, etc. Trying something new this trip: the only camera — my iPhone 11 Pro Max. Not taking my Olympus OM-D EM-1 camera and lenses saves a lot of weight, and the iPhone is pretty darn capable.
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The Luggable Loo

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Picked up one of these at REI last week, 5 gal. Bucket, about $20. Looks to me like much better solution than the typical campers’ shitting in plastic bags, which end up in landfill. Ugh!

I would use either peat moss, sawdust, or rice hulls to cover each deposit. Ward Hensill makes an upgraded model of this and uses a plunger to compress everything.

No urine. Have 2 of these so when close to full, you let one sit while you fill the other. Then back into soil. Circle (cycle) completed.

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On the Road Again

Headed up the coast to hang out with my pal Louie in Pt. Arena yesterday. Was gonna leave at 7 or 8 AM, didn’t get extricated from office biz until noon.

But once rolling, I got the familiar burst of energy. Something about moving wakes my brain up from staying home. The different scenery, the people, the excitement from once again being a traveling photographer. It’s like hunting, whether its scanning the changing landscape for barns and the occasional bit of good architecture or walking down a crowded street in NYC.

I swear, the world is a a place of never-ceasing wonder to me. Photographing, talking to people, letting serendipity run the show, my chi kicks into overdrive.

I’m just gonna write a bit here because I can’t seem to download the 180 or so photos I took yesterday. Hey Instagrammers, remember writing?

At some point in my life I’d like to take trips and communicate (blog and Instagram) as I go, like Charles Kuralt used to do. Come along and ride shotgun with me.

Only problem: how to get paid for doing so?

I stopped at Hog Island Oyster farm yesterday, got a dozen, and left a copy of Driftwood Shacks for Terry and the crew. The woman at the counter said “I love your books.”

Also, along the self-aggrandizement lines, a woman came up to me a few weeks ago at Andytown Coffee in SFO, and said “My daughter still has that mini-book you gave her and she still looks at it.” I had given it to her 4-year old daughter Maggie maybe a year ago, and Maggie had looked through all the pages carefully, asking me which tiny house was mine.

The feedback on our books is off the charts. Everyday, no kidding. The people shown in our building books inspire others to build, or create — something. The idea of using hands to provide (at least part of) their own shelter and food.

On the Skateboard Again
I found a perfect place to ride my skateboard yesterday. Breaking my arm a few years ago was a trauma (first broken bone in 84 years). I’ve felt awkward, cautious, but for the first time yesterday, I felt into the flow. I need to find the right downslope, smooth pavement, feathering out at bottom. No more pushing the speed limit, but rather trying to turn gracefully, like longboard surfing. No slash and burn. For that, I’ll take up skating at age 3 (like my skate hero Jeremy) in my next life, rather than at age 65.

My Mercedes 320E
This is an as-yet undiscovered gem of a car. I bought a ’99 320E with 180K a few years ago, for $4k. Might be up to $7k now with new tires, repairs, tuneups, and I can’t believe not only the design and construction, but the luxury. I would never have thought of myself driving a “Cedes, but this fell in my lap and instead of buying a new Crosstrek (was about to do), I’m gonna stick with this as long as it runs. My first non stick shift ever and I love it. Especially going over the mountain. Gets 22-23 mpg. I read about a couple of 320 E’s with a million miles on motors.

ROLLING HOMES
I’m maybe 3/5 through laying out pages. It changes every day. It’s a book creating itself. I’m not gonna take time to go into specifics, but, in spite of the plethora of books on vans and nomadic living out there these days, this one will be unique, I kid you not. Now working on a couple’s 7-month, 20,000 mile trip through the Sahara desert in 1971 in a Citroen 2CV (Doo-sha-vo) van they bought for $1200 in Paris. Two cylinders, 36 horsepower…

Time to go skating. Sun shining, I love this part of the world. The farther north, the less lameness…

I’ll be putting photos up at: instagram.com/lloyd.kahn by tomorrow (Friday, Aug 27).

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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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