An Ode to the Toaster (Honda Element)

Life on the Road in a Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

 

“If you could live anywhere, wouldn’t you want to live everywhere?” This is one of my favorite lines from my buddy Brendan’s book. It’s also a statement I deeply identify with as I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, “home” is nothing short of a mosaic of people and place.

I’m not the type of person that becomes deeply attached to my belongings. But when I sold my things and moved into my Honda Element, the rig naturally grew on me. After all, it was home. Fast forward years later with many adventures and shenanigans in between, the Element was eventually totaled out with beyond-needed repairs. It was time to bid farewell.

I was swapping life on the road stories with a friend of mine recently and had some good laughs. I decided to share a few of those stories and images here. It seemed fitting as my chapter with the Toaster (Honda Element) recently came to a close.

Here’s to following your dreams and opening yourself up to the journey.

 

The Sawtooth Range. Idaho. Photo by Carl Zoch. www.carlzoch.compinimage

 

Banff, Canada – I was parked on the street a few blocks from Banff Ave. It was 4am when I was woken up by some drunk dude trying to steal my bike. He was on top of my hitch-rack violently shaking my bike back and forth. Unknown to him, I was sleeping just a few inches away. I subconsciously woke myself up by making some sort of disturbing growling noise from the back of the car. He freaked out, fell off the back and did the drunken run across the street. I laughed, rolled over and caught a few more hours of sleep before continuing my journey.

Point Reyes, California – One of many times I made dinner in the driver seat. There was a crazy rainstorm so I was left to my limited indoor options of preparing onions, peppers and avocados on my dashboard. I then migrated the veggies to my camp stove, which sat between my feet near the gas and break pedals. It was laughable, a bit claustrophobic yet not a bad case scenario. After all, my car smelled like stir fry for the next week. Better than the scent of Corn Nuts, right?

Lee Vining, California – A late night jam session at the Mobile Gas Station near Yosemite. We were under the stars with 30 other people and my buddy Steven was rocking out on the Element rooftop with a guitar.

Nevada City, California – The driver side door was jammed and wouldn’t close. It quickly turned into a laughable situation which required me to hold the door with my left hand and drive with my right. This proved to be difficult (and hilarious) when making right hand turns, where the door naturally wanted to fly open. It’s one of those things you kind of get used to. Kind of.

The evolution of the keyhole breakdown. It went something like this:

In short, all of my locks but one stopped working. It started with my passenger door lock, moved to the driver side and ended with the ignition. 

Any time I wanted to lock my vehicle, the only way back in was through the back door of the Element. It was annoying but definitely worth doing instead of paying the $1500 I was quoted to fix all of the locks, including the ignition.

THE IGNITION! Eventually, if you pulled the key out of the ignition it took at least 20 minutes to wiggle it back in. The internals were failing. It was a scary situation in terms of being stranded somewhere. So the equation looked like this: never, ever, EVER remove the key. Ever. Seriously. At any point, anyone could open the door to my car, turn the key in the ignition and drive away with everything I owned. Luckily, that never happened. A big high-five and chest bump to you, Karma.

Yosemite, California – On a crisp morning I woke up in a parking lot of a gas station just outside of Yosemite. I heard a little kid ask his father, “daddy is that a man sleeping in his car?” Dad responds while slightly shielding his innocent child’s eyes, “No son, there’ isn’t anybody in there.” BE CAREFUL KID WHEN THEY TELL YOU TO FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS! I’m still following them and get to wake up in awesome places like gas stations! But seriously, I hope your eyes are shielded less often than more. And by that I mean I hope you land a sweet rig to live on the road one day.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – My hope for the Toaster’s life to continue was gone. It needed to be sold for whatever it was worth so that I wasn’t buried more into a situation than I already was. A dealership told me that there was too much hail damage on the roof so they wouldn’t be able to give me nearly what I was asking for it. I laughed inside and thought “Hail damage” was actually “Carl walking around on the roof of his car to get a good angle for a campsite-photograph.” It was worth the rooftop gallivanting as the image ended up being licensed to an outdoor company. But seriously, who cares about a roof that is just as functional as a non-dented one? I don’t see dents anyway, I see opportunity.

Carbondale, Colorado – Finally, that time I drove the Toaster to 5 Point Film Festival last April. I came to the festival to meet a buddy of mine, not really knowing what I was getting into. In short, my drive into Carbondale, Colorado would proceed to connect me to lifelong friendships, my partner in crime and a place that I’m psyched to forever add to my mosaic of what “home” means to me.

I moved out of my house and into this Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

I took this the day I moved out of the green house and into the Toaster. Hood River, Oregon. 

Making adjustments to the custom platform bed in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Making adjustments to the platform bed. Yes, that’s a tripod holding my door open.

Laundry Day with the Honda Element in the Sawtooth Mountains. Idaho. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Laundry day in the Sawtooth Range. Idaho.

Nightlife in the Sawtooth Range. Idaho. Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Nightlife in the mountains.

Rooftop Jams in Bishop, California on the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Rooftop Jams in Bishop, California.

Evening chores in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Evening chores.

Waking up in the Honda Element in Bellingham, Washington. Photo by Carl Zoch. www.carlzoch.compinimage

The Pacific Northwest delivering again in the sleeping spot department.

The best part of waking up. Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

The best part of waking up.

Cooking in the Honda Element on a rainy day while living on the road. Sriracha. Photo by Carl Zoch. www.carlzoch.compinimage

Cooking options are limited on rainy days. The Sriracha helps. And so does the sling shot, obviously.

Driving through the desert in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch. www.carlzoch.compinimage

Desert life.

Evening rituals in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch. www.carlzoch.compinimage

Evening rituals. #nom

Banff, Canada in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch. www.carlzoch.compinimage

Sleeping spot near Banff, Canada.

Honda Element Party! A rest day from climbing at Mammoth Hotsprings. Photo by Carl Zoch. www.carlzoch.compinimage

Climbing rest day at Mammoth Hot Springs. California.

Gearing up! Honda Element and Tuolumne. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Gearing up. Yosemite, California.

The endless I-70. Honda Element Style. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

The endless I-70. Somewhere, Kansas.

Campsite Views on the Honda Element Rooftop. Photo by Carl Zoch. Big Agnes. www.carlzoch.compinimage

Rooftop (dent making) views of Brett cooking dinner in the desert.

A lot of this. Everywhere in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

A lot of this welcomed. Everywhere.

Living in the Honda Element. Making coffee from where you wake up! Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

My little brother took this shot. I was so psyched that I could reach everything to make coffee without getting out of bed. Winning in the Cascades!

Mt St Helens through the Honda Element. www.carlzoch.compinimage

Mt Saint Helens through the suicide doors. Sarah making dinner on the tailgate.

Honda Element platform bed. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Practicing my architectural photography from inside my house.

Top of the Morning to you! Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Top of the morning to you from the Mobile Gas Station hotel!

Morning coffee from the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Morning nectar of the gods. Washington.

Charging the gear off the grid in the desert on the Honda Element. Goal Zero solar panels. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Charging gear off the grid somewhere in the desert.

Tailgate dinner on the Honda Element. Cast iron style. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Another tailgating night. Cast iron style on the bike rack.

Honda Element meets the Buffalo River. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

The Toaster meets the Buffalo River. Arkansas.

Working from home in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch. Goal Zero products. www.carlzoch.compinimage

With the right tools in your arsenal, you can work from “home” pretty much anywhere. Yosemite, California.

Desert Life in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Nowhere Utah. La Sal Mountains in the distance.

Camping in Oregon. Honda Element Living. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Nightlife in Post Canyon. Hood River, Oregon.

Surfing the Oregon Coast while living out of the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

The awesomeness known as the Oregon Coast.

Photo by Carl Zoch. Honda Element Rooftop Jam Session. www.carlzoch.compinimage

2am Mobile Gas Station Jams. Steven rocking it out from the Element’s rooftop.

Honda Element Surfing. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

What life looks like when your key doesn’t work in any lock but the rear. Bend, Oregon.

Home in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Home for the night.

Honda Element Living. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Hashtag selfie. Canada.

Searching for home for the night in the Honda Element. Photo by Carl Zoch www.carlzoch.compinimage

Galavanting along those dirt roads. Searching for home for the night in the Sawtooth Range.

 

All good things must end… or at least become immortalized as a film festival’s poster child. RIP Toaster, you were good to me.

 

5 Point Film Festivalpinimage
 

See more of life on the road at instagram.com/carlzoch
Check out 5 Point Film Festival at 5pointfilm.org

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  • April 18, 2014 - 9:42 am

    Garnold - Love it. A life well lived :) RIP to your rig, but I’m certain it won’t stop ya from livin’ the dream. Keep going brotha.ReplyCancel

  • April 18, 2014 - 10:22 am

    Peter amend - Such fun images and memories, reminds me of road trips in my scion (which I called ‘the toaster’ as well!)

    Hope you find a suitable replacement!!ReplyCancel

  • April 18, 2014 - 10:25 am

    Darren - I can’t tell how inspiring your photos and stories are. Keep on man.ReplyCancel

  • April 18, 2014 - 10:40 am

    Randy Braley - Carl: Loved all of it. Oh yeah, Honda called and they are ready to campaign this :-)ReplyCancel

  • April 18, 2014 - 12:53 pm

    alisha - Awesome post and amazing photos, as always :)ReplyCancel

  • April 18, 2014 - 11:05 pm

    Jeff Hester - Honda should donate a new Element to your next epic road trip. GREAT photos!ReplyCancel

  • April 20, 2014 - 7:44 pm

    josh - so many grand adventures! bummer it finally gave out on ya.ReplyCancel

  • April 22, 2014 - 10:12 pm

    Ravyn - Love this post, Carl! Good for you for following your heart all over the road. Inspiring for sure!!ReplyCancel

  • May 10, 2014 - 1:59 pm

    Austin - Great story! It is always amazing how many memories can become attached to a car.ReplyCancel

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