In 2020 my brother Trevor and I were living in Hawaii—working, living as minimally as possible and saving up money—with a 5-10 year goal to buy a plot of land and build a couple of small cabin-style dwellings.
The pandemic shut down Oahu and we flew home to San Diego. We had savings, energy and way too much free time to ruminate on ideas of things to do. The strange and unexpected series of events was the perfect storm to bring the Motorcabin to life.
We took inspiration from modern, minimalist, Scandinavian-Style cabins and built our own cabin on a truck chassis.
The completion of the Motorcabin lead to the prompt trek across country to the east coast. We went from temperate and beautiful San Diego and placed ourselves out East—to see what winter could do to us.
Living in our home-built camper on the east coast, we froze our asses off and ran in to every imaginable problem—for the glorious reward of experiencing better beach-break barrels than we could have imagined. Conversations with locals in frozen line ups, yelling to hear each other through hoods, constantly led to tales of perfect, uncrowded point breaks north of the border in The Maritimes. A pit stop in Nova Scotia became a non-negotiable for us when it came time to leave the East Coast and travel back West.
The Canadian border in Maine is a one lane road that goes over a bridge, crosses a train track and ends at a booth and small office station.
We wait in line behind four other cars to drive our cabin on wheels into Canada for the week, and I feel very on edge. The feeling of having to act cool while you smuggle cocaine, liquid hashish and marijuana across a border, even though you don’t have any drugs and present no threat to Canada.
Trevor and I get to the booth and the gal goes through the list of screening questions.
Her heavy Canadian accent automatically begins to calm my nerves and I feel more confident about getting quickly waved through.
When she speaks, the vowels are pronounced slightly different, in a way that makes her voice sound friendlier. And the last word of the sentence always seems to be drawn out and deeper.
“And what brought you’s from California all the way to Nova Scotiaaa?”
“And definitely no cannabis products on yaaa?”
“And how bout firearmsss?”
Right as I thought she was going to send us on our way, she tells us to park and get out so they can search the truck.
We agree, and I anxiously wait for her and the senior officer to find the drugs and weapons that we don’t have.
I talk myself out of it and imagine what’s really going on...
The two border patrol officers are sitting on our couch looking around at the place. They’re talking quietly—just small talk stuff. The senior looks down at his watch every few minutes, before finally getting bored enough to start wandering around our tiny abode. He slides open the only door we have inside where he is surprised to see black marble in our bathroom. He starts to climb the ladder into the attic, but gives up quickly because there’s a bunch of shit up there and the opening is pretty tight. Jr. asks him if they can go yet. He walks back in, tosses the pillows around, opens a few drawers and they’re out.
The border patrol officers tell us that everything seems alright and then spend the next 15 minutes giving us tips on where to go and what to do during our trip. Sr. boosts our egos by telling us that our vehicle is the best homebuilt camper that he has searched in twenty years. He then tells us about a town halfway to Nova Scotia where there’s a tidal bore that people surf.
Sitting in the car, driving into the country, we were quiet for a minute, both trying to reconcile the experience of bureaucratic workers treating us with respect and kindness rather than being rude, condescending assholes. The illusive goal of feeling something novel through visiting a new place seemed to be achieved. In ten minutes, we had already learned that the people are outrageously nice, and in ten more, we discovered that the country is extraordinarily beautiful.