Tag Archives: vanlife

Surfing the East Coast – Myrtle Beach, Wilmington, and the Outer Banks

Now it feels like a surfing trip and it’s good. Chasing waves is probably the motivation for this whole damn trip, so I guess we’re doing it right, right? Well, it’s also hard work. Moving most days, the endless packing and setting up, never having anything booked accommodation-wise means we can be free but we also spend a lot of time looking at our phones wondering where we can sleep.

Myrtle Beach

We drove around looking for waves but came up with nothing. It is incredibly time consuming looking for waves, we make a decision to only look for waves in places we expect them to be, good plan. Myrtle Beach was a fairly obnoxious place, we drove a long highway that shadowed the ocean and marked our progress by the occasional reappearance of a WINGS beachwear store. I have no idea how this store is so popular. Click the audio below for more insights into this strange area of the Atlantic coast.



Passing through town we spend a little time inside the amazing home of Gaye-Adair, southern belle extraordinaire.

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We arrived in Buxton a day early, seemingly we couldn’t wait to get our stationary week underway. A storm was a’coming and on the Outer Banks that means waves. First a dispatch as we arrive on the Outer Banks, not having realized quite how large the islands are.

Our first night at the Frisco Campgrounds, a truly exceptional place to spend the evening. We spot a UFO, for reals.

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And…. we live in a house again. Although it’s tough to settle in after being on the road for a bunch of time.

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Life on a sandbar. Buxton is our kind of place, people are so keen to surf. I feel like to chill has returned. Listen to the audio below and I’ll tell you all about it.

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The weather! The weather! It really did rain an incredible amount.


Touring the Southwest: Trestles, Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, and Santa Fe.

Our journey actually begins, it’s not just an idea anymore. It’s important to set a good tone for a trip, habits developed in the initial stages echo throughout the journey.

San Mateo Campground

We take a couple of days to surf in San Clemente, about an hour south of our home in LA.

San Mateo CampgroundSan Mateo CampgroundSan Mateo Campground

Joshua Tree

We try to get zen in Joshua Tree.

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Grand Canyon

Arriving at night, we stay overnight at Mather Campground.

Grand Canyon Mather Campground Grand Canyon Grand Canyon Lodge at Grand Canyon

Santa Fe

After a few days on the road we find an area that’s easy to fall in love with.



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Where I’ve been sleeping

Today we celebrate 3 weeks on the road. Our plan to drive from Los Angeles to New York and then all the way down to Nicaragua was always going to involve a lot of driving and sleeping in strange places, locations we wouldn’t visit unless on our way to something else. Below is the journey so far in snap shots.

San Mateo Campground, San Clemente, California
Joshua Tree Inn, Joshua Tree, California
Mather Campground, Grand Canyon Village, Arizona
Llama Deara Ranch, Medanales, New Mexico
Llama Deara Ranch, Medanales, New Mexico
El Nogal, Taos, New Mexico
Parkers Crossroad RV Park, Yuma, Tennessee
Norwood Ave, Asheville, North Carolina
Norwood Ave, Asheville, North Carolina
Norwood Ave, Asheville, North Carolina
Cascade Lake, Pisgah Forrest, North Carolina
Cascade Lake, Pisgah Forrest, North Carolina
James Island County Park, Charleston, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach State Park, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Camper equipment check – The Box

Here is the solution to a year of hard thinking about how to best use the interior of our Honda Element. Inspired by a design I found on the Element Owners Club,  I cut, screwed, routed, and sanded The Box.

Vanlife camp kitchen

Why it’s genius is that it is both a platform bed and also gives clear daytime access to the space below the bed, this is achieved by piano hinged sections which stow neatly on the 42″ X 27″ box.






In hindsight, I’ve probably spent too much time thinking about the box. But, now it’s here, I’m seriously impressed with how well it’s working. We haven’t spent the night, so in theory, the box is untested, but it looks fairly solid.

Behind the tailgate is our kitchen. Our main concern for the journey is a decent cup of tea, with the stove set up I can make a cup of tea while still in bed. Civilized, no? I’ve gone to such length as sanding the handle of our kettle to make it fit. We’ve also made a draw for pots and pans, room for a esky, a cutlery-and-more draw, and space for the surf gear.





I took some old Ikea foam mattresses and had a custom mattress made by Paco’s Upholstery , it folds in three and covers the 73″ X 27″ platform. The platform is more stable than I thought it would feel, and it should feel firmer again once we shove all our clothes underneath.



I slaved away on this thing, routed all the sharp edges, accurately drilled pilot holes, put on three coats of waterproofing polyurethane, in short, I made it with care and attention. It’s design and construction have focused my enthusiasm for the trip, thinking about The Box has meant thinking about the trip. And now it’s here. We leave in two days.  The next time you see The Box it’ll be in it’s natural habitat.

Vanlife equipment check – Bikes.

We leave in one week. It’s getting exciting. In the lead-up to our departure I’m going to give you a little tour of the items we have deemed necessary for our 8-month trip. As this site began as a document of a bicycle journey across America it’s appropriate to begin with our bikes.

Before I make an introduction, I just want to say how much planning to have bikes with us on our vanlife journey has opened up what is possible, it also means we’re taking an important aspect of our “normal” lives. It’s critical to our happiness that we roll around on two wheels whenever possible.

On our last trip we had a folding bicycle, it didn’t work so well on Mexico’s bumpy streets and, of course, it was only one bike when there are two of us. I’m sure you can see the problem. I’ve fixed that with these modern day heroes:

Jo-Roxy’s ’89 Bianchi Tangent

The story goes that Bianchi’s USA product manager, Sky Yeager, had a hard-on for cyclocross bikes and had this model built for a couple of years.

The idea is to have a bike that is suited to as many purposes as possible. The tangent would make an excellent tourer, it should fly in the dirt, and it won’t be sluggish on the streets of Mexico City. We added Origin 8 mustache bars to further enhance the bikes versatility, and they look cool. Jo-Roxy has always loved celeste Bianchi’s, I’m glad she finally has one of her own.


vanlife with bikes




Scott’s ’92 Schwinn Paramount PDG90

My first serious bike was a purple Schwinn Dave Mirra BMX. I loved that bike. I think I begged my parents for months to get me that bike. As my years and as my love of bikes grew I became aware of the mythic Paramount, a Schwinn offshoot of premium handmade bicycles using the most cutting edge technology of the time. Unfortunately, for me, they’re collectible and expensive. So you can imagine how excited I was to find this fairly original PDG90 on Craigslist for $40. Someone had changed out the original forks and added suspension, but this bike was made before suspension was a big thing. When built, the PDG90 was a top of the line downhill mountain bike in ’92. Notice how the chain stay is bent because they hadn’t come up with a sensible solution to chain slap. Incredible to think how far bicycle technology has progressed since.

Other than replacing the suspension forks, I also added cruiser tires, and a Carver surfrack. I built this bike with forest trails in mind, it’ll be sluggish on the streets, but I don’t want to miss out on opportunities to ride wherever I want because I didn’t bring a capable bike. FREEDOM BABY!



vanlife with bikes


We love talking bikes, so if you have questions about the bikes drop us a comment below.