I am making my way in loops around the country and around the world, creating ALL THE THINGS. Art, Music, Images, Performances, Stories, Words, Connection, Inspiration, Recovery, and a bunch of other shit. In-depth updates, pictures, behind the scenes commentary, vlogs, performance/art development notes and campfire stories are on my patreon. $5 a month gets you everything.
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How I came to live on the road
People generally have a very skewed idea of the realities of #vanlife. If you want a fairy tale, keep following those rich people on instagram. Here’s mine:
I stopped being able to afford to live in Seattle as a small business owner around 2010. I stuck around the city for another 5 years from the generosity of friends and by being in dual-incomed relationships.
In 2014, my triad imploded. Shortly after that financial impact, remaining in or even near the city long-term became impossible. This was the timeframe in which I replaced my former band members with an RC-300 and began really filling out my solo sound.
I also chose, given my circumstances and lack of emotional capacity to continue pursuing conventional romantic relationships (which I believe are toxic as fuck for a lot of people) or going back into corporate slavery, to spend most of my savings buying a 2002 Chevy Express 3500 with 180k miles on it from a friend. I figured, if I was going to be houseless, I might as well be able to go wherever the fuck I want. It was not, however, exactly a joyous decision to make.
Before then, I had been saving to build a tiny house on a trailer, but need for shelter came faster than the money did. After a couple years I had 1/3 of what I needed to build a box on wheels with no amenities and no way to haul it, and had to do something else. At this point, I am glad for that. The van is a big enough responsibility, and I’d be able to accomplish much less if I’d taken on more.
My first year
In may of 2015, after recording Keep Going in the backyard shed I had been living in since the winter, I left Seattle hissing and angry in search of some other place on the continent that felt like the home. During this first tour, I rolled into towns with a loose schedule, hit up open mics and familiarized myself with the venues in each city, laying down groundwork for later trips. I expanded as a musician and performer, busking for the first time and having many rich experiences. I also made exceptionally little money, and after doing my postmortem tour numbers was suicidal for two weeks.
I was gone nearly a year, including an internship at The Bosque Village a permaculture pine forest in Mexico, and releasing Decatur with Mark Bingham after he was sent a video of my busking in New Orleans. I never found another home base, but I have found pockets and a few choice people around the country to frequent in my travels, and learned a thing — (or two). I also met my tour buddies, Doc Otis, who then helped me round out my next musical tour the following year.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat
After spending the summer contracting in environmental restoration in Seattle to save up a couple grand, and pouring a bunch of cash into tuning up the van, I did a small photography tour of the west (ORANGE). Much of this trip was back country single lane mountain dirt, until my alternator crapped out on me suddenly not 10 minutes after I’d hit pavement again for the first time in three days, 80 miles away from the nearest shop. After two days camping in a parking lot on labor day weekend and a $600 bill, I’ve been much less inclined to do those types of project tours with this van.
After being gifted a month-long Christmas in Sweden sleeping many long dark days and recovering from this shithouse election, in January of 2016 I hit the road again for Cold Front Tour (AQUA), returning to many of my favorite spots from the year before, going in a folded back line route rather than a loop this time.
My time with Doc Otis during this trip was magnificent, filling me with hope and ideas. I wrote a lot of the songs on Cold Front during this time, and the van made it through the tour, thankfully, before it had its two major brakedowns and lost two of its 8 cylinders on the drive back (RED).
What comes next?
I am currently limping back on emergency credit to Seattle to finish writing and producing Cold Front in that same shed I made Keep Going in, and figure out what to do next in regards to transport and my housing.
I hope to be on the road again in September for my third musical tour, focusing on the Midwest, though this time it is entirely possible I’ll be doing it in a rental. I’m actually looking a bit forward to trying that, since clearly this lifestyle is expensive either way and my confidence in Bella Stinkbutt is all but used up.
I think this life is worth it, and I also think this life is hard as fuck, and I think it’s important that we talk about the realities of our failing economic system contributing to the classwashed tiny house and van life movements. What’s happening there isn’t all just fun cutesy games for well-off white people. For me at least, this life was a necessity, and it was come to with at least as much duress as it was excitement.
While I keep my tour date information quite accessible on my free mailing list, I frequently post road updates and behind the scenes stories on the road to my Patrons, without whom my life would be impossible. Join us!