Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Woke up to a beautiful, very tropical feeling morning. Usually I head straight for the beach to make coffee but this particular morning I just sat up, brewed the coffee where I spent the night, along the bike path next to the harbor entrance. Watching the rowers glide silently by while I have coffee and muffins.


Sublime morning at the harbor

Pretty peaceful. Several interesting people come by and I have interesting conversations, sharing my life and theirs. I've been painting some miniatures that I put on little display easels and got an order for eleven of them. I went off to my local art supply store and bought some hardboard to cut up to size and some more display easels and went back to the beach....sat in the caravan and worked on my panels while watching some bikini girls do their soccer practice. I just thought I should make sure none of them went "offsides"...actually I'm not really sure if there is such a thing as "offsides" in soccer, but I was keeping my eye on them just in case. The phone rang and it was someone who had just bought a small painting from me a few days ago along the Playa del Rey bike path. She called to commission two larger paintings for a room she's redoing. After a very nice talk, I went back to sanding my panels and monitoring the bikini soccer chicks and thinking...."yeh, this is how life should be..."


Beachfront Office


Monday, August 26, 2013


It's been a busy 24 hours...all started when I tried to get to an enticing spot with the caravan over a grassy, sandy spot and got stuck. The caravan doesn't do well in sand, so in the process of trying to get unstuck, the caravan tipped backward on the axle and pulled the bicycle off the ground. I finally got out of the sand trap, and went off to bed. Next day, while I was at the Venice Beach art show, I discovered that the hitch arm had a crack in it and the brace for it had pulled it's screws loose, making the whole thing very vulnerable to breaking in half.

Emergency lashings hold it together.

All I could do at the moment was lash the whole thing together and gently ride and walk it to my camp spot. Next morning, I very gently rode/walked it the short distance to where I make coffee and where I intended to make some repairs. As I was slowly riding a smooth section of bike path I suddenly felt the caravan disconnect from the bike. My immediate thought was that the hitch arm had broken. The safety strap held and the caravan tipped forward, then hit the back wheel of the bike and rode up on it, dumping me and the bike into the sand. No serious injuries to me, or the bike, but the caravan had some damage. One of the stabilizer legs on the rear corner got bent, a panel on the front got pushed in slightly but fortunately the caravan stayed on it's wheels...if it had gone over, I'm sure there would have been a lot more damage than there was. What happened was totally unrelated to the hitch arm I was worried about. The quick release fitting that connects the bike to the caravan failed. Grooves had been worn into the ridge on the male end that the bearings in the female end hold onto. It finally just didn't have anything to hold onto anymore and separated. The following day I took the bus to Culver City where the hardware store is and bought an assortment of things that I could re-enforce the hitch arm with.


I had a replacement for the part that failed on the hitch connection, so that was an easy fix. The hitch-arm was a bit more work....mostly because I have no access to electricity so no power tools. But today I managed to get the whole thing back together and I think it's stronger than it was originally. Then I discovered that I had lost my phone.....


Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Remember when you were about two or three years old and someone would sit you on their lap and read those picture books to you where everyone lived in a neighborhood like Mr. Rodgers' ? Everybody was always happy and friendly as they went about their day and...."oh look, look! There goes happy Mr. Milkman, delivering bottles of milk to all the people in the neighborhood. Hi happy Mr. Milkman!" That's kinda how I'm feeling these days....people are getting to know me and recognize me as that Traveling Artist that lives in the gypsy caravan. Often times when I'm riding in the morning, heading out for where I make coffee on the beach, people I've met will smile and wave and say "Look!, There's the Traveling Artist!" and wave, and I wave back and say "Good Morning."

Painting at Venice Beach

Then I make my coffee and breakfast and head off to Venice Beach or some other spot and set up and paint for the day. Many times other people I have met will stop and talk. It's almost like being a character in a kid's book. One part Dr. Suess and one part Wind in the Willows. At the end of the day I pedal the caravan to my quiet little place at the lagoon to make dinner.

Settled in for the night

Then when night falls, I cruise over to the spot I sleep at and snuggle up before a cozy fire, (actually it's just a candle in a little glass thing,) and settle in for a peaceful night's sleep in dreamland.


Friday, August 16, 2013


I probably cover about 30 miles a day or more just doing my daily routine....going from the place I park at night to the beach where I usually have coffee and breakfast, then to where I set up to paint, and then some days I have to go to do laundry or some other errand. Things are fairly spread out but I never mind the ride. Some days I just feel like riding to watch the scenery go by....kinda reminds me of when Rose and I had the trimaran and sailed it down the west coast of Florida...endless hours of lying in the nets and watching the coastline move slowly by, with only the sound of the ripples of water against the hull. Riding is like that sometimes...following the bike path that winds through the sand and just taking in the view....watching the beach move slowly past.

Nighttime can be especially sublime...there is a place where the bike path crosses a bridge over the river and then runs along the levee with the river on one side and the harbor entrance on the other....lights reflecting off the water everywhere. During the morning the fog creates a cool mist on my face. Travel by bicycle is kind of the perfect mode in some ways....fast enough to actually make some distance, but slow enough to really see the sights you are moving through. Pulling the gypsy caravan behind me, I get ongoing greetings and thumbs up from passers by. It's a bike friendly community and some of the friendliest people I've met anywhere...maybe its the warm weather.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Cruisin toward Santa Monica

One of the cool things about living in the micro caravan is that when my shade is pulled down, I can see out, but nobody can see in...and people tend to assume that it's empty, so I get to hear all the interesting and candid comments. Before I put on the signage I had a lot of passersby saying things like, "what is that?" and "I think it's a popcorn machine" or, "It's a puppet show" or "is there a monkey in there?"

Now I hear most of them read the traveling artist sign but still, some don't bother to read it and continue to guess what it is. Overall, though, I get nearly unanimously positive comments. People seem to love that someone is doing something different in life, and when I say I live in it, often a look of disbelief comes over them and then they smile....home, art studio and gallery in 12 square feet. As I settle into my routines of making the caravan my home I am pretty pleased at how well it works out. I set up my kitchen in the morning on the little table that hangs on the side and make coffee and english muffins, then breakfast is usually oatmeal with bananas and dried cranberries, then a simple clean up, put away the stove and I'm ready to go set up and paint somewhere. Today I am trying out Santa Monica down by the boardwalk. My paintings are set up and the day started slowly so I decided to sit in the caravan and work on my blog for this week.....one nice feature of this area is there is wifi here in the park. Two lovely girls from Scotland just bought a miniature from me and that makes the day even nicer. Lots of cool people are beginning to stop by...some to comment on the art and some to look at the caravan. I think I'm gonna like Santa Monica.


Friday, August 9, 2013


Well, I am getting to know some of the officers with the LAPD just by virtue of the fact that I live in a micro gypsy caravan. Late last night, actually I guess it was technically early this morning, like, 3:15, I was once again suddenly awakened by bright lights flashing through the caravan's windows.

"LAPD! .....How do you open this thing up?" So I rolled up my shade and was greeted by two serious looking police officers.

"Two questions, " said one,...."Did you build this yourself?"

"yes," I replied....I did."

"And you travel up and down the coast and paint?"

"yes I do, " I said. And from there they simply asked a lot of questions about the caravan...I think really they woke me up just because they were curious about it. In the end, they said I was fine where I was and to have a nice night. Amazed again.... Though my beauty sleep, (which I need desperately,) was interrupted, I was glad to have been treated so courteously.


Back to painting at last!

In the morning I pedaled off and found a spot to set up and paint...felt really good to get back to the easel after a rather long break from painting. A great day with interesting people coming by to chat all day. A nice woman named Helen stopped and bought a small seascape. Finally I packed up and headed for the shade of the lagoon for dinner.




I spent most of the day along the beach in an area I refer to as the "quiet side". From the place where I like to park at night, along the bike path, I can either go north in the morning, toward Starbucks and Venice Beach or I can go South along the broad quiet beaches of Playa Del Rey and the little string of beach towns that the bike path meanders through. Venice is where all the action is, and sometimes it's a bit too much action for me, so I opt for the peaceful beaches to the south, as I did today. I had quite a productive day, getting the caravan organized and outfitted more as a working art studio than it has been. I fixed my easel so I can set it up most anywhere, even inside the caravan, and made a way to hang it on the wall when I'm done for the day. I got all my brushes in holders so they are always close at hand, paints and mediums all ready to go. Even though it's quieter on the south end, I still attract lots of attention and end up having really interesting conversations with people who stop by...and unlike Venice, I am meeting more local people here.
Stopped for lunch at the Playa del Rey lagoon
One lovely woman told me about the lagoon that is only two blocks away from the beach. She said that people love the lagoon and that there are lots of cool things to paint. So, having had plenty of sun and feeling ready to shift gears and make some dinner somewhere shady and sheltered from the afternoon wind, I pedaled inland and found the promised lagoon. I parked the caravan under an overhanging tree and explored around a bit....lots of stuff to paint and just a very tranquil and quiet place with people out and about enjoying the beauty. I made some dinner on my little stove and watched the egrets and squirrels and felt grateful to have discovered this little spot.

Monday, August 5, 2013

BUSTED.....SORT OF......(but not really...)

Living in a micro gypsy bicycle caravan is, in part, an exercise in urban stealth camping. Parking out along the beaches is a bust, for certain, so we bicycle caravan dwellers must find secluded secret little spots where we can spend our evenings in peaceful surroundings where we will not be accosted by the local law enforcement because, after all, it is illegal to live the way I live. I am use to that...I've lived an illegal lifestyle for much of my life, dwelling as I have in housebusses, housetrucks, and minivans. It is an aspect of my preferred way of life that I don't especially like, but it kinda comes with the deal. So I have been parking the caravan along a section of the bike path that is away from houses, buildings, and streets...it's quite a nice spot and I can lie in bed at night and watch the lights of the boats as they come and go from the harbor entrance. It's very peaceful and the only traffic is the occasional bicyclist.
a photo my new friend Eric took, which has nothing to do with this story.
So last night I was all tucked into my cozy little bed and had drifted off into dreamland when I suddenly was roused from sleep by flashing red lights outside my windows. Not a good sign. Then a heavy hand knocked on the caravan and told me to come out....."shit", I thought...I knew what came next. I was not unfamiliar with getting rousted in the middle of the night by the local constable. Generally how it goes is, they ask you some questions to establish who you are and what you are about and then inform you that it is illegal to sleep there and you will have to move on, and that there is, in fact, nowhere you can legally park and sleep for the night. That's pretty much how this scenario I was facing always plays out....and I was bummed...I really was enjoying this spot and the alternative was pedaling my tired butt into town and looking for some other spot to stealth camp...which can be daunting. I pulled on some clothes and opened up the roll down shade and was met by two LAPD officers. I had always heard horror stories about LAPD but having spent most of my west coast time in Northern California, I had never had the pleasure to experience it first hand. The first guy asked me how long I had been there, and I replied, "since about 10 pm." Then the other guy asked if I had been screaming out there a little while ago and I looked really puzzled and said, "No, not at all...I usually try to be more low key than that." They asked me if I had heard anyone screaming and I said "No, I think I would have heard something like that, I think I'm a fairly light sleeper"...
"Well," the first guy asked, "did you hear the helicopter that was buzzing over your head a few minutes ago?".....
"Uh, no....maybe I'm not as light a sleeper as I think I am."
Well, apparently several unrelated people reported someone screaming for help, and with the way the water is around there it's hard to tell where sound is coming from...they had been searching for about the last 15 minutes. Then.....(and this is the really bizarre part,) they said, "well we apologize for coming on like that, and sorry to interrupt your sleep....seems like a nice little spot you have here....have a nice night.".....AND THEY LEFT!!!!! Never in the entire history of my illegal lifestyle has that happened. I was shocked and stunned and in fact, still find it hard to believe. Apparently, the LAPD has bigger fish to fry that rousting micro-gypsy-caravan bicycle dwellers who are parking in out of the way locations. I drifted off into a lovely sleep, still disbelieving what had just happened.