“If you could live anywhere, wouldn’t you want to live everywhere?” This is one of my favorite lines from my buddy Brendan’s book. It’s also a statement I deeply identify with as I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, “home” is nothing short of a mosaic of people and place.
I’m not the type of person that becomes deeply attached to my belongings. But when I sold my things and moved into my Honda Element, the rig naturally grew on me. After all, it was home. Fast forward years later with many adventures and shenanigans in between, the Element was eventually totaled out with beyond-needed repairs. It was time to bid farewell.
I was swapping life on the road stories with a friend of mine recently and had some good laughs. I decided to share a few of those stories and images here. It seemed fitting as my chapter with the Toaster (Honda Element) recently came to a close.
Here’s to following your dreams and opening yourself up to the journey.
Banff, Canada - I was parked on the street a few blocks from Banff Ave. It was 4am when I was woken up by some drunk dude trying to steal my bike. He was on top of my hitch-rack violently shaking my bike back and forth. Unknown to him, I was sleeping just a few inches away. I subconsciously woke myself up by making some sort of disturbing growling noise from the back of the car. He freaked out, fell off the back and did the drunken run across the street. I laughed, rolled over and caught a few more hours of sleep before continuing my journey.
Point Reyes, California - One of many times I made dinner in the driver seat. There was a crazy rainstorm so I was left to my limited indoor options of preparing onions, peppers and avocados on my dashboard. I then migrated the veggies to my camp stove, which sat between my feet near the gas and break pedals. It was laughable, a bit claustrophobic yet not a bad case scenario. After all, my car smelled like stir fry for the next week. Better than the scent of Corn Nuts, right?
Lee Vining, California – A late night jam session at the Mobile Gas Station near Yosemite. We were under the stars with 30 other people and my buddy Steven was rocking out on the Element rooftop with a guitar.
Nevada City, California – The driver side door was jammed and wouldn’t close. It quickly turned into a laughable situation which required me to hold the door with my left hand and drive with my right. This proved to be difficult (and hilarious) when making right hand turns, where the door naturally wanted to fly open. It’s one of those things you kind of get used to. Kind of.
The evolution of the keyhole breakdown. It went something like this:
In short, all of my locks but one stopped working. It started with my passenger door lock, moved to the driver side and ended with the ignition.
Any time I wanted to lock my vehicle, the only way back in was through the back door of the Element. It was annoying but definitely worth doing instead of paying the $1500 I was quoted to fix all of the locks, including the ignition.
THE IGNITION! Eventually, if you pulled the key out of the ignition it took at least 20 minutes to wiggle it back in. The internals were failing. It was a scary situation in terms of being stranded somewhere. So the equation looked like this: never, ever, EVER remove the key. Ever. Seriously. At any point, anyone could open the door to my car, turn the key in the ignition and drive away with everything I owned. Luckily, that never happened. A big high-five and chest bump to you, Karma.
Yosemite, California – On a crisp morning I woke up in a parking lot of a gas station just outside of Yosemite. I heard a little kid ask his father, “daddy is that a man sleeping in his car?” Dad responds while slightly shielding his innocent child’s eyes, “No son, there’ isn’t anybody in there.” BE CAREFUL KID WHEN THEY TELL YOU TO FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS! I’m still following them and get to wake up in awesome places like gas stations! But seriously, I hope your eyes are shielded less often than more. And by that I mean I hope you land a sweet rig to live on the road one day.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – My hope for the Toaster’s life to continue was gone. It needed to be sold for whatever it was worth so that I wasn’t buried more into a situation than I already was. A dealership told me that there was too much hail damage on the roof so they wouldn’t be able to give me nearly what I was asking for it. I laughed inside and thought “Hail damage” was actually “Carl walking around on the roof of his car to get a good angle for a campsite-photograph.” It was worth the rooftop gallivanting as the image ended up being licensed to an outdoor company. But seriously, who cares about a roof that is just as functional as a non-dented one? I don’t see dents anyway, I see opportunity.
Carbondale, Colorado – Finally, that time I drove the Toaster to 5 Point Film Festival last April. I came to the festival to meet a buddy of mine, not really knowing what I was getting into. In short, my drive into Carbondale, Colorado would proceed to connect me to lifelong friendships, my partner in crime and a place that I’m psyched to forever add to my mosaic of what “home” means to me.
I took this the day I moved out of the green house and into the Toaster. Hood River, Oregon.
Making adjustments to the platform bed. Yes, that’s a tripod holding my door open.
Laundry day in the Sawtooth Range. Idaho.
Nightlife in the mountains.
Rooftop Jams in Bishop, California.
The Pacific Northwest delivering again in the sleeping spot department.
The best part of waking up.
Cooking options are limited on rainy days. The Sriracha helps. And so does the sling shot, obviously.
Sleeping spot near Banff, Canada.
Climbing rest day at Mammoth Hot Springs. California.
Gearing up. Yosemite, California.
The endless I-70. Somewhere, Kansas.
Rooftop (dent making) views of Brett cooking dinner in the desert.
A lot of this welcomed. Everywhere.
My little brother took this shot. I was so psyched that I could reach everything to make coffee without getting out of bed. Winning in the Cascades!
Mt Saint Helens through the suicide doors. Sarah making dinner on the tailgate.
Practicing my architectural photography from inside my house.
Top of the morning to you from the Mobile Gas Station hotel!
Morning nectar of the gods. Washington.
Charging gear off the grid somewhere in the desert.
Another tailgating night. Cast iron style on the bike rack.
The Toaster meets the Buffalo River. Arkansas.
With the right tools in your arsenal, you can work from “home” pretty much anywhere. Yosemite, California.
Nowhere Utah. La Sal Mountains in the distance.
Nightlife in Post Canyon. Hood River, Oregon.
The awesomeness known as the Oregon Coast.
2am Mobile Gas Station Jams. Steven rocking it out from the Element’s rooftop.
What life looks like when your key doesn’t work in any lock but the rear. Bend, Oregon.
Galavanting along those dirt roads. Searching for home for the night in the Sawtooth Range.
All good things must end… or at least become immortalized as a film festival’s poster child. RIP Toaster, you were good to me.
See more of life on the road at instagram.com/carlzoch
Check out 5 Point Film Festival at 5pointfilm.org