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Life on the Road in a Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

 

“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.

 

The Sawtooth Range. Idaho. Photo by Carl Zoch. www.carlzoch.com

 

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 moved out of my house and into this Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

I took this the day I moved out of the green house and into the Toaster. Hood River, Oregon. 

Making adjustments to the custom platform bed in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

Making adjustments to the platform bed. Yes, that’s a tripod holding my door open.

Laundry Day with the Honda Element in the Sawtooth Mountains. Idaho. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

Laundry day in the Sawtooth Range. Idaho.

Nightlife in the Sawtooth Range. Idaho. Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

Nightlife in the mountains.

Rooftop Jams in Bishop, California on the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

Rooftop Jams in Bishop, California.

Evening chores in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

Evening chores.

Waking up in the Honda Element in Bellingham, Washington. Photo by Carl Zoch. www.carlzoch.com

The Pacific Northwest delivering again in the sleeping spot department.

The best part of waking up. Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

The best part of waking up.

Cooking in the Honda Element on a rainy day while living on the road. Sriracha. Photo by Carl Zoch. www.carlzoch.com

Cooking options are limited on rainy days. The Sriracha helps. And so does the sling shot, obviously.

Driving through the desert in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch. www.carlzoch.com

Desert life.

Evening rituals in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch. www.carlzoch.com

Evening rituals. #nom

Banff, Canada in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch. www.carlzoch.com

Sleeping spot near Banff, Canada.

Honda Element Party! A rest day from climbing at Mammoth Hotsprings. Photo by Carl Zoch. www.carlzoch.com

Climbing rest day at Mammoth Hot Springs. California.

Gearing up! Honda Element and Tuolumne. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

Gearing up. Yosemite, California.

The endless I-70. Honda Element Style. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

The endless I-70. Somewhere, Kansas.

Campsite Views on the Honda Element Rooftop. Photo by Carl Zoch. Big Agnes. www.carlzoch.com

Rooftop (dent making) views of Brett cooking dinner in the desert.

A lot of this. Everywhere in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

A lot of this welcomed. Everywhere.

Living in the Honda Element. Making coffee from where you wake up! Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

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 St Helens through the Honda Element. www.carlzoch.com

Mt Saint Helens through the suicide doors. Sarah making dinner on the tailgate.

Honda Element platform bed. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

Practicing my architectural photography from inside my house.

Top of the Morning to you! Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

Top of the morning to you from the Mobile Gas Station hotel!

Morning coffee from the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

Morning nectar of the gods. Washington.

Charging the gear off the grid in the desert on the Honda Element. Goal Zero solar panels. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

Charging gear off the grid somewhere in the desert.

Tailgate dinner on the Honda Element. Cast iron style. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

Another tailgating night. Cast iron style on the bike rack.

Honda Element meets the Buffalo River. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

The Toaster meets the Buffalo River. Arkansas.

Working from home in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch. Goal Zero products. www.carlzoch.com

With the right tools in your arsenal, you can work from “home” pretty much anywhere. Yosemite, California.

Desert Life in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

Nowhere Utah. La Sal Mountains in the distance.

Camping in Oregon. Honda Element Living. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

Nightlife in Post Canyon. Hood River, Oregon.

Surfing the Oregon Coast while living out of the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

The awesomeness known as the Oregon Coast.

Photo by Carl Zoch. Honda Element Rooftop Jam Session. www.carlzoch.com

2am Mobile Gas Station Jams. Steven rocking it out from the Element’s rooftop.

Honda Element Surfing. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

What life looks like when your key doesn’t work in any lock but the rear. Bend, Oregon.

Home in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

Home for the night.

Honda Element Living. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

Hashtag selfie. Canada.

Searching for home for the night in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.com

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.

 

5 Point Film Festival
 

See more of life on the road at instagram.com/carlzoch
Check out 5 Point Film Festival at 5pointfilm.org

  • Garnold - Love it. A life well lived :) RIP to your rig, but I’m certain it won’t stop ya from livin’ the dream. Keep going brotha.ReplyCancel

  • Peter amend - Such fun images and memories, reminds me of road trips in my scion (which I called ‘the toaster’ as well!)

    Hope you find a suitable replacement!!ReplyCancel

  • Darren - I can’t tell how inspiring your photos and stories are. Keep on man.ReplyCancel

  • Randy Braley - Carl: Loved all of it. Oh yeah, Honda called and they are ready to campaign this :-)ReplyCancel

  • alisha - Awesome post and amazing photos, as always :)ReplyCancel

  • Jeff Hester - Honda should donate a new Element to your next epic road trip. GREAT photos!ReplyCancel

  • josh - so many grand adventures! bummer it finally gave out on ya.ReplyCancel

  • Ravyn - Love this post, Carl! Good for you for following your heart all over the road. Inspiring for sure!!ReplyCancel

  • Austin - Great story! It is always amazing how many memories can become attached to a car.ReplyCancel

  • Nueva camiseta barcelona 2014 - Nice…thanks for this.ReplyCancel

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Mat called me and asked if I would be up for doing part of their engagement session under water. Honestly, I didn’t think twice. I was in. Mat got his suit for pennies to the dollar at an estate sale and Kenzie picked her dress up at a local thrift store. Things could only go up from there!

Underwater housing has been added to the arsenal! I’m excited for all that is to come with this new family member! That being said, if you’re down for spending some time under water for your session then I’ll be there! Seriously. I dare you.


 

  • Daniel Chesnut - Wow. These are amazing.
    ReplyCancel

  • Samaria - ummmm my mind is blown. these are hauntingly beautiful.
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  • Chris Fox - Carl they’re amazing. The shot of them diving together is just stunning. The bubbles are really cool and almost a leading line kind of composition element. Ha. It’s just awesome.
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  • Tanner M. Bergman - Carl. I love your work. These are some of the coolest pictures I have seen. I am happy these are of one of my best friends. Thanks for being you dude. Let’s longboard soon.
    ReplyCancel

  • Anda - sweeeeeeeeet!! so so fantastic, carl!
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  • George M. - OMG! Beautiful couple…..know the bride. Beautiful Photography…not just a bunch of snap shots. Looking forward to more. WTG!!!!!!!
    ReplyCancel

  • Aaron Snow - Really great! Very unique. So wet!
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  • matt porteous - Loving the water shots, great use of the housing, you style again has blown me away. that last shot so deeply stunning
    ReplyCancel

  • michelle b - so it helps i love these two, but seriously carl….could these be any better?! i love both land and water shots. incredible work!
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  • tim tab - ooooooooooh snap… I’v been wanting to do a shoot just like this!!! you ROCKED. THIS. OUT! slightly mind blowing and life changing. :) haha.
    ReplyCancel

  • alex - OoOOooo, soo fun. These look incredible, such good colors too. Especially love the last three. Thoroughly impressed and totally jealous.
    ReplyCancel

  • Alyssa - These are amazing. I love them all.
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  • Ryan Ray - INSANE!
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  • josh solar - Rad. That’s all I have to say.
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  • Marcia Feisal - Awesome! I’ve NEVER seen underwater engagement shots. I think they’re award-winning. Gene wants to know if Cirque de Solei will be at the wedding! lol
    Great idea, great shots, precious couple.:)
    ReplyCancel

  • Sarah Hodzic - Yep, you’re ever fabulousness is totally shining through there.
    What a hoot! The images are just badass… what else it there to say.
    ReplyCancel

  • christian traina - kind of makes the purchase for that underwater housing entirely worth it doesnt it? you killed man
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  • Anonymous - the ones with their eyes closed in the water I do not like!
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  • Aura - Why are you so amazing?
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  • Otto Haring - Great photos!
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  • Natalie - Truly inspirational!!!!
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  • Candace Snyder - OMG!!! seriously, AAAAA-FREAKING-MAZING Carl!! i mean, WOW!!
    ReplyCancel

  • Mark Sass | Hochzeitsfotograf - Damn it, Carl! I think, I need to buy an underwater housing for my camera now… :)ReplyCancel

  • Jill - LoveReplyCancel

  • Nöhammer Wolfgang - Brilliant series. I love the color and feelings in your pictures. Great workReplyCancel

  • Kat - YEEEEAAAH!ReplyCancel

  • Jason Ding - Thank you for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

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Daniel + Brit in Fairview, Oklahoma… Where the wind blows.

























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  • Sarah Rhoads - dude you killed this. kickin’ ass and takin’ names I see ;)
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  • mary - wowwweeee wow wa! speechless.
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  • Aaron Snow - Come On!!!
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  • Christian Traina - Masterfully shot, also in some of these shots we can see how crazy tall you are. Well done Carl, this one is truly amazing!
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  • josh solar - LOVE IT! F’IN LOVE IT!!!!!
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  • Chaucee - Love love love this. Gorgeous dress and I love the yellow. Awesome shots.
    ReplyCancel

  • Beth Jansen - wow, carl, just love love love this…amazing work, man
    ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Dunham - Love this wedding! Beautiful images. Vintage rocks!
    ReplyCancel

  • Jessica Massey - beautiful. beautiful. I have no idea how your brides pick their favorites.
    ReplyCancel

  • Ryan Klos - This was GREAT! Creative and inspiring work. The bride and groom have got to be thrilled with these images.
    ReplyCancel

  • Courtney - Love this wedding! Beautiful shots! I hope you don’t mind a put up a post with a few of them.
    ReplyCancel

  • Joel Flory - loving this wedding. Great work bro. So glad I came across your stuff on Green Wedding Shoes!
    ReplyCancel

  • Emily - GORGEOUS PHOTOS and fabulous location! What a lovely couple!
    ReplyCancel

  • Jenny - I really like your style!
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  • Lana - WOW is all I have to say about this wedding and your photography! I stumbbled upon your beauty randomly and I am now officially jealous! Thanks for spreading the amazing talent you posses!
    ReplyCancel

  • Laura M - awesome! love all the elements~ thanks for the inspiration!
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  • Nina - gorgeous photography! love the details of the wedding party attire and the bride is so pretty.
    ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin Hill - Carl…you are amazing. I love your wedding photos. Makes me wish I was at each wedding!
    ReplyCancel

  • Christine -SimplyBloom - totally lovely! so glad to have stumbled across your work over at GWS!
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  • Janneke - You’re not planning a trip to Australia in March by any chance?? Amazing photos!
    ReplyCancel

  • terra - amazing photos. i loooove this dress, does anyone know where it’s from?
    ReplyCancel

  • enna - we are loving your work!
    ReplyCancel

  • Crystal Rose - I’m addicted to your work and blog! You rocked this wedding up, down and back.
    ReplyCancel

  • Abigail Smith - Don’t know how I missed this one but as always, you did a radical and awesome job!!!
    ReplyCancel

  • Janessa Moore - hey i was wondering if you know where she got her shoes!? i am IN LOVE with them
    ReplyCancel

  • Tobiah Tayo Photography - Amazing! Simple as that. Wish you’d come to the uk to photography my wedding one day! The style here is immense!
    ReplyCancel

  • Jeanette - WOW. I have been looking your site over ALL day and I am blown away. And somehow you seem to take photos of really awesome ppl. I especially love this wedding, any chance you can tell me where it was held?
    ReplyCancel

  • Keith McAvoy - absolutely stunning photographs! I love the warm colours.
    ReplyCancel

  • Alyssa Henry - Booyah!! This is perfect!ReplyCancel

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