Back in 2013, Kurt and I moved out of our apartment and into a beautiful 1967 Dodge Travco Motorhome, the same kind of motor home Johnny Cash used to tour in :)
It might have been a 46-year old motor home but it surpassed a lot of current RVs in quality and craftsmanship. We took our Travco on a cross-country road trip to Florida and lived in it for a total of 11 months.
Sadly, we encountered mechanical issues that would have required thousands of dollars to fix so we sold our beloved Travco to a friend who added it to his collection of vintage travel trailers.
We replaced the Travco with a 6-person REI Kingdom tent and lived out of the tent and our van for 5 months while we volunteered in the Southwest. In Joshua Tree National Park, our REI Kingdom 6 tent was set up so we could work, cook and get dressed. The low temperatures at night, occasional downpours and frequent high winds made it difficult to sleep in the tent, so we made the van our bedroom. We loved the entire tent experience and wanted to improve on it so when we returned to Minnesota, we purchased a sturdier straight-wall tent made by Barebones Living.
The Barebones tent has been used throughout the world to house victims of natural disasters so we were confident it would be durable enough to serve our needs. We set the tent up on pallets to keep ourselves and our gear dry in rain storms. We went through half a dozen severe thunderstorms with 50 mph wind gusts and we barely felt it. We have been cooking, sleeping and working out of our Barebones tent for the last 4 months. We outfitted the interior of our tent to be like a small cabin with small book shelf, full size air mattress, toaster oven, blender, small electric space heater and lamps.
It's liberating to live small. We have more time to focus on the things that matter to us, like photographing miniatures :)
Yesterday, a friend of ours stopped by to show off a couple of her new kittens. Of course I grabbed the camera and started firing away! It's dangerous holding them because you begin to rationalize... "You know, we could travel around with a cat. Yeah, they basically take care of themselves!". Reality sets in as soon they are out of sight... "How would a cat do in the desert heat, living in a van and/or a tent? We'd have to keep the litter box at the foot of our bed". Okay, that settles it... NO pets! "...but I want one..."
Kurt and I are currently in Joshua Tree National Park working as volunteers and in our down time Kurt is photographing for our Un Petit Monde project.
Joshua Tree NP is notorious for its climbing opportunities as well as its off-road driving, night skies and of course, Joshua Trees. It’s a good thing that the miniatures in Kurt’s bag are always ready for adventure and exploration.
While exploring a wash in the Southern end of the park, Kurt found a good spot for his 4x4 jeep convoy. The sand was smooth enough for their tires to be able to deal with it. Half hour earlier the sky had the most unique display of clouds, it would have been a perfect addition to the scene!
On a separate occasion, we scrambled up granite boulders so Kurt could document a miniature climber in action.
We finally got around to documenting our own city of Minneapolis. A few months ago our friend and framer (Steve) remodeled his shop and expressed the desire to hang Kurt's photography on his walls with one request: the scenes had to be featuring Minneapolis landmarks.
Kurt and I never formally researched and documented the city through photographs like we did other places. We figured that because we lived in the middle of it, we would take care of it another time. After we made the transition to a Travco motorhome, we started to spend A LOT less time in our own State. So, Steve gave us the incentive we needed and Minneapolis became our next Un Petit Monde project for this early fall.
We (especially Kurt, who spent the majority of his life in and around Minneapolis) had to see the city with new eyes and a new mind. I thought it was an exciting challenge! During the project I felt like a visitor in my own town, rediscovering old signage and going places we usual don't frequent (the Mississippi river bank, the bowling alley, the cherry on the spoon although that one didn't work).
Kurt's new work was added to the Twin Cities gallery and includes a scene of a worker doing construction at the site of the new Viking Stadium, downtown Minneapolis.
This year we were blessed to experience the fall colors on the North Shore of Minnesota. Kurt wanted to document the scenery with the miniatures. A couple weeks ago, Kurt used an HO scale log truck, he modified the front cab a bit and I researched a credible location to photograph it.
We learned about Heartbreak Ridge trail in the Superior National Forest. The grade in this forest road was so steep that it gave the loggers (and their horse) a heartache...
The Superior National Forest was full of opportunities, Kurt felt compelled to capture a lumberjack on a log covered with moss.
On another day, Kurt focused on capturing a hiker on exposed tree roots in Gooseberry Falls State Park.
A couple weeks ago we visited Iona's Beach north of Two Harbors where Kurt photographed a couple scenes. The first scene happened as we were walking on the path through the woods. Kurt noticed the beautiful light on the moss. It was the perfect spot for a hiker.
We reached the beach and it looked stunning with the pink stones and the deep blue water but according to Kurt the sun was too high and the light was casting harsh shadows. Instead, he turned to the small rocky cliff on the edge of the beach. The bright yellow lichen was standing out and there was some vegetation as well, it was a great environment for the miniature hiker to explore.
Over the past couple weeks we noticed bright mushrooms popping out under trees at the campground. We located a couple of them that looked cartoon-like and Kurt thought that his miniature farmer could harvest them. Yesterday, we learned that those good looking mushrooms were poisonous :) Kurt commented that if he had known this he would have brought his hazmat crew!
Kurt was commissioned to photograph a piece involving miniatures in New York City. He took the opportunity to photograph for our side project featuring larger figurines (more on this in a future post) and for Un Petit Monde, of course.
Although we were short on time, in most cases we walked instead of taking the subway. It allowed Kurt to explore other photographic opportunities for our projects. We're definitely planning to go back to New York sometime in the future to document more Un Petit Monde scenes.
We are currently working on a commission for an article on climate change. We are thrilled that the miniatures are being used to illustrate such an important issue, one that we are very passionate about!
Kurt has been creating/transforming most of the props and characters to fit the different scenes.
For one of the scenes, we needed access to solar panels. The owner of a solar company agreed to let us climb on the roof of a client's business in downtown St. Augustine.
To get to the roof we had to climb up a rickety ladder for the last few feet. I didn't want to make it a big deal because we were on a mission, but it was my first time climbing a ladder and I was a bit nervous!
It was around 2 p.m, hot and sunny. The shot turned out great!
We consider ourselves fortunate to be spending extra time in St. Augustine! Every other day, Kurt and I are in the Historic Old Town, photographing miniatures in the streets.