Monthly Archives: October 2012

Oh My! Is that my mattress?

Today I celebrated another milestone in my car.  This afternoon I drove to Berkeley to pick up my new mattress from the Essentia store.

I am hopeful that this will make a significant improvement in the comfort.  Until now, I have been sleeping on some camping mats.  I was sleeping reasonably well, but the camping mats are narrow and not particularly soft.  I think this is going to be a major improvement.

Essentia is a manufacturer of organic mattresses.  They agreed to build me a custom mattress, designed to be very low profile.  I need a low profile mattress in the Prius, because I don’t have very much head-room in the back of the car–a standard height mattress just wouldn’t leave enough space.  I also needed something that doesn’t smell up the car.  Initially I tried a cheap memory foam mattress “topper”, but the smell was so horrendous I couldn’t have it in the car with me.  I am hoping the organic mattress won’t have a horrific chemical stench.  So far the Essentia mattress hasn’t been bad.  There is a slight smell and I’m not sure if it’s the mattress itself, or just the plastic it came wrapped in.  I hope it dissipates quickly.
Other than being low-profile, it’s a standard full-sized mattress.  I initially thought about customizing it further to cut around the wheel wells.  As I thought about this further though, I decided it would be nicer to roll over at night and bump up against a nicely padded wheel well with the mattress curving up over it.  You can see in the picture above, how the wheel wells are covered by the mattress, and the mattress contours to fit them.  Am I crazy for thinking this looks remarkably roomy?  …  Don’t answer that!

Behind the wheel well is a nice spot to keep my “library” of books that I’m reading or plan to read in the near future.  Here’s a quick shout-out to Stacey Martin, whose debut book finally arrived from Amazon.  Congratulations on getting your first book published, Stacey!  Your book just went to the top of my stack.

Here’s the mattress all made up with standard full-sized sheets, a pillow, and a toasty warm down comforter.  I’m ready for winter now.  Bring it on!

By the way, Dad, if you’re still reading this…  …it’s NOT looking good for your bet.

Finally, it wouldn’t be right to end this post without a shot of the Essentia store in Berkeley.  Once again, I would like to thank all the good people at Essentia for going way above and beyond the call of duty in building a custom mattress for my Prius!

EDIT:  Adding a link to the Essentia blog, which now features a post about little ol’ me….


One Week In.

I’m now at the one week point, living in the Prius.  It is going very well.  I’m learning to be comfortable sleeping in the car.  I’m adjusting.  I’m figuring out a routine, for surviving during the work week and taking care of necessities such as laundry on a schedule.  It’s important for me to stay extremely organized, because there’s no extra space for clutter.  After a week at this, I really think it’s going to work.  It was a difficult decision, but I still think it was the right one.  I had a good week, and an extraordinary weekend.  Dad, if you’re reading this, you better get ready to cover your bets!

I celebrated a week in the car, by taking a long weekend off work and shooting some pictures around the Bay area.  I spent the weekend wandering and walking about a number of areas in the Bay area.  I’ll post a few of my favorite shots.

This is probably my favorite shot, as it really shows off the fine detail that the D800 can capture.  Also, I just have a huge amount of respect for honey bees and the work they do.  This picture was captured on some flowers (rosemary?) at the little park on the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge.  A really pretty spot to stop and take in the view.

The bridge, with fog blowing over it and a blimp flying overhead, admiring the view.  One of these days I will have to go for a ride in that blimp!

View of the downtown area.

An old crumbling barn, south of the Bay.

I’m not exactly sure where the firehose is here.  But I thought the tiny shed looked interesting with its paint all peeling off.

I was really straining the resolution of the D800 to get this shot, as the birds wouldn’t cooperate by flying up close.  I believe this is some sort of woodpecker.

A long string of locks, hanging from an open park gate.  I’m not sure what system was in play here, but it sure seemed like an interesting and rather excessive number of locks for a single gate.

View point, overlooking Monterey Bay.  It’s a bit too hazy to see the bay very well, but still I thought the view was beautiful.  Truly a magical place!

A relaxing stroll down a little trail through the oak strewn hillside above Monterey Bay.

Moonrise over the oak trees.

Again, straining the limits of the D800 and 300mm lens.

Sleep is for Sissies!

I wish I could claim ownership for that title but I can’t.  I saw it on a bumpersticker today–something advertising the Robert Ferguson Observatory I believe–a good tagline for astronomers as well as for people who are in the middle of a move.  If you google that title it will also lead to an interesting facebook page (again not mine).

I finished up the moving last night.  Well, finished as best I could.  I’m pretty sure I got everything important into my storage shed, and that was my goal.  Many trips in the Prius were involved, but it’s done now.  I finished and left the house at about 3 AM.  It was a little scary, saying goodbye to the house and moving into the car.  Towards the end I realized I had gotten everything important and I was dragging my feet.  That’s when I decided it was time to go.  Once I left the house though, the “scary” wore off and it felt quite liberating.

I parked next to a like-minded RV driver in a Walmart parking lot.  That seems to be a community parking area for people who are living on the road.  My first night (or really just 1/3 of a night) in the car didn’t involve much sleeping.  My brain was still churning quite a bit.  It usually takes me a few nights to grow accustomed to new sleeping quarters, even under the best of circumstances.  But I did manage to sleep.

It was raining and cold, and I was concerned that I would freeze so I planned ahead and bought two warm down comforters.  That turned out to be overkill.  I was roasting hot, and had to kick off the comforters to avoid cooking!

Down sides…  I couldn’t open the windows very much, because of the rain.  I did crack one open slightly and got a tiny bit of rain in the car as a result.  But it really fogged up inside the car.  I must get some side window deflectors, so I can open the windows a little, even when it’s raining.

I have one more item on the way, which I hope will make a HUGE improvement in the sleeping arrangements.  But that’s a story for another day.

Hello, you sexy BEAST!!!

My new D800 showed up this afternoon.  Wow!  It is magnificent.  I just got it all put together and have started fiddling with it, trying to figure things out.  The autofocus seems to be greatly improved over the D70.  Even indoors at night, where the D70 really struggled, the D800 seems to focus with no problem.

I have my work cut out for me, learning to use it!  Everything has moved.  Everything works a little differently.  There’s definitely going to be some frustration at first.  But it seems pretty clear, that the hard work will be richly rewarded.

The D800 doesn’t feel as comfortable in my hands as the D70, probably  because my hands are so accustomed to the D70.  The D800 is much bigger than the D70.  The D800 is dramatically heavier.  But I think I’m in love!  And I don’t care that my new love is sporting a few extra pounds.  Just more of you to love, Baby!


I decided to buy myself a present, to coincide with moving out and re-focusing on photography and my other hobbies.  I’ve ordered a new Nikon D800, which should arrive within a day or two.

This is my ancient Nikon D70, which I still love.  It has a been a trusted and faithful companion for many years–so many years, sometimes it seems as though it’s been with me my whole life.  I’ve been through a lot with my D70 and it has rarely disappointed me.  I know technology has greatly improved, and I have considered replacing it for years.  I am looking forward to the arrival of the D800 with tremendous excitement.  Still, I know I will miss the D70 more than I care to admit.  After so many years together, my hands just know, instinctively, where to go without my brain even thinking it.  My hands know just where all of the buttons are, and how to use them.  What buttons to push and precisely how to push them.  What buttons to stay away from.

Changing to the D800 will be a real struggle.  I will have to re-learn practically everything I thought I knew.  It won’t work the same way as I’m accustomed.  Buttons which might seem similar, will have a completely different effect from what I am expecting.  At times it will be massively frustrating.  Part of me doesn’t want to make the switch, even though I know it will be a tremendous improvement.  But I know it’s time to say goodbye to the D70.


I find myself at an interesting turning point in my life.  Four days from now I will move out of my house and live out of my Prius.  I am not broke or unemployed.  I can afford a house, but I no longer want one.

I’ve always been an adventurer.  When I was younger I would go on road trips; rock climbing and mountain climbing mostly.  I love to travel, I love to drive, and I love photography.  I’m not an expert at any of these.  Not by any stretch.  And I have set all those hobbies aside, for many years.  Suddenly I find there’s nothing standing between me and those hobbies any longer.  And I am looking forward to wholeheartedly embracing them again.

I find myself, every night, coming home from work to an enormous empty house.  Part of me expects, every time I open the door, to see the family I love inside.  I know they will never be there, but some part of me simply won’t accept that.  I’m developing a real phobia associated with opening the door to my house.  I am looking forward to having doors with huge glass windows, so I can see what’s inside before I open the door.

My father tells me there is a pool going within my family on how long this will last.  He’s down for two weeks.  I told him I would bet on the long end of that pool.  Our running joke is “two.”  For him it means two weeks.  For me it means two years.  I’m not sure which will be more accurate.

Four days from now I will move out of my house.  I won’t be homeless, but my home will have wheels.  I will travel.  I will explore.  I will wander.  I will photograph.  This blog will document my journey.  I don’t know where that journey will take me.  I just know I am compelled to take it.