Purple Magazine
— Travel F/W 2014 issue 1

Cameron Smith and Kat Hessen _ On the road again

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photography and text by CAMERON SMITH

 

You gotta lose some weight to get ready for the road, so we’ve sold or given away nearly everything we own. We have become material anorexics. I traded my iPad to an alcoholic couple living in a barn in Ventura for a Honda XL600. My love, Kat, buys a cheap Yamaha — another old racehorse ready for the glue factory.

We have almost begun to travel, even without leaving; we are already living on the road. We bought an old ambulance and have been sleeping in it, parked next to our friend Mark Engle’s San Diego engine shop. Teddy Roosevelt once said, “I have a motorcycle and a sleeping bag, what more do I need?” and that’s enough for Kat and me. Nothing tastes as good as
being light feels.

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It turns out it takes a lot of work to polish, weld, and wrench a turd before it can become a well-oiled machine. Still, I would recommend it to everybody, as you will learn a whole lot about your ride if you build it piece-by-piece. You’ll learn other things, too. That’s the fortuitous side effect of the creative process. Using the lathe and mill, I turn raw metal into useful shapes, like suspension components and engine parts. I weld on the frame, strengthening it, and I make racks and brackets. I sew waterproof saddlebags from cheap surplus army satchels, and turn tent poles on the lathe. Working with one’s hands is the closest a man can get to conception: turning nothing into something.

We choose to ride on motorcycles, for they belong halfway between the world of the hitchhiker and the pilot. Fast, but close to the earth. Immersed in reality, without screens of any kind. Sights and smells hit us at 70 miles per hour, and unlike train-hopping, we can derail anywhere we please. We’d learned this a couple of years before, when one day we bought a dirt bike in London and the next day drove it as far south as our bike and bodies would allow —which, as it turned out, was Nigeria.

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Now, we’re planning the same improvised escape, starting this time from Southern California. I wonder where we could end up and what to expect. How will we cross The Darién Gap in Panama, where there is just forest and no roads? What is the Amazon like? Is it true, as Frank Black says, that there’s a Los Angeles in Chilean Patagonia? Who knows how far we will go and how many miles we will travel.

[Table of contents]

  • Cameron Smith and Kat Hessen _ On the road  again
  • Two girls in Shikoku and the Seto Inland Sea _ Japan
    Two girls in Shikoku and the Seto Inland Sea _ Japan

    STORY

    Two girls in Shikoku and the Seto Inland Sea _ Japan
    by Erika Kurihara

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  • Carsten Höller in Kinshasa _ Democratic Republic of the Congo
    Carsten Höller in Kinshasa _ Democratic Republic of the Congo

    NIGHTLIFE

    Carsten Höller in Kinshasa _ Democratic Republic of the Congo
    by Carsten Höller

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  • Robert  MacFarlane _ Walking and the Wilderness
    Robert  MacFarlane _ Walking and the Wilderness

    INTERVIEW

    Robert MacFarlane _ Walking and the Wilderness
    by Xerxes Cook

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  • A day in Beirut with Charbel Haber from Scrambled Eggs _ Lebanon
    A day in Beirut with Charbel Haber from Scrambled Eggs _ Lebanon

    CITY GUIDE

    A day in Beirut with Charbel Haber from Scrambled Eggs _ Lebanon
    by Negar Azimi

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  • Two-Way  Mirror / Hedge Arabesque  by Dan Graham _  Fondazione Zegna _ Trivero _  Italy
    Two-Way  Mirror / Hedge Arabesque  by Dan Graham _  Fondazione Zegna _ Trivero _  Italy

    ART DESTINATION

    Two-Way Mirror / Hedge Arabesque by Dan Graham _ Fondazione Zegna _ Trivero _ Italy
    by Xerxes Cook

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  • Eileen Gray’s e.1027 house, 1929 _ (before renovation) _ Roquebrune- Cap-Martin _ France
    Eileen Gray’s e.1027 house, 1929 _ (before renovation) _ Roquebrune- Cap-Martin _ France

    ARCHITECTURE

    Eileen Gray’s e.1027 house, 1929 _ (before renovation) _ Roquebrune- Cap-Martin _ France
    by Peter Lyle

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  • Shiraz to Esfahan (and back again) _ Iran
    Shiraz to Esfahan (and back again) _ Iran

    STORY

    Shiraz to Esfahan (and back again) _ Iran
    by Xerxes Cook

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  • Bordallo Pinheiro  Garden _ Lisbon _ Portugal
    Bordallo Pinheiro  Garden _ Lisbon _ Portugal

    OBSCURA

    Bordallo Pinheiro Garden _ Lisbon _ Portugal
    by João Basto

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  • Terry Richardson x Jack Pierson _  Ready-made poems _ United States
    Terry Richardson x Jack Pierson _  Ready-made poems _ United States

    OBSESSIONS

    Terry Richardson x Jack Pierson _ Ready-made poems _ United States
    by Terry Richardson and Jack Pierson

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  • Christmas  in Patagonia _ Argentina
    Christmas  in Patagonia _ Argentina

    RETREAT

    Christmas in Patagonia _ Argentina
    by Max Farago

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  • Cameron Smith and Kat Hessen _ On the road  again
    Cameron Smith and Kat Hessen _ On the road  again

    MOTORCYCLES

    Cameron Smith and Kat Hessen _ On the road again
    by Cameron Smith

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  • Just back  from Havana  by Gary Indiana _ Cuba
    Just back  from Havana  by Gary Indiana _ Cuba

    OPINION EDITORIAL

    Just back from Havana by Gary Indiana _ Cuba
    by Gary Indiana

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  • Victoire  de Castellane _ Seychelles 2003 and Île de Ré  2013
    Victoire  de Castellane _ Seychelles 2003 and Île de Ré  2013

    SOUVENIRS

    Victoire de Castellane _ Seychelles 2003 and Île de Ré 2013
    Victoire de Castellane

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