Sacked by the "downturn", an unemployed architect touring the country in a bus...

I used to live in New York City. I designed homes for the tycoons of Wall Street; Park Avenue, Scarsdale, Greenwich. It was great fun. And, after years of saving up for a down payment, I was just about to buy my own little place in Fleetwood, half an hour north of the city, when the economy fell apart. Architects are like canaries in a coal mine when the economy slows, and true to form, there were massive layoffs in firms all over the country. Devastation of the profession. So, I decided to try to find something else to do for a while. I bought a 23' school bus and I'm on the road to see if I can figure out what that might be.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Taking off...

I have been staying these last two weeks with Margareta, my brother in law's father's widow, and we have become good friends.  And I have eaten some of the most wonderful meals.  Margareta has a way of cooking that extends over time.  She has a repertoire of lovely and healthy recipes on which she riffs and improvises as her mood and opportunity move her.  New ingredients and leftovers cascade and merge through the week, with yesterday's main course cooking juices becoming today's sauces, and today's veggies becoming tomorrows soups.  I am spoiled.  I asked for a list of spices that I might experiment with; cumin, turmeric, and coriander, which three she said I could mix, but to be sparing with turmeric.  And marjoram, basil, thyme, and oregano, any or all with lime or ginger.

Tomorrow, I'll head for Charlotte, where there is, among other attractions, an IKEA...
  But I realize that I've spent almost two weeks in Durham and I never set foot in Chapel hill.  That's possibly because the locals here seem to regard it with some contempt.  Nevertheless, if only to avoid the scorn of architect fiends who revere Chapel Hill as a great college town in which to live, if time allows I'll try to take a peek at it before I leave Durham.  Then its on to Charlotte, then Columbia, Savannah, and Tallahassee, where I'll start my westward meander along the Gulf.

Tomorrow, then, is the day I break contact with people I know and start sleeping in the bus.  People who do this a lot swear that between destinations, the two best places to stay are the National Parks camp grounds, and the Walmart parking lots which are intentionally friendly to overnighting RV'rs .  There are five Walmarts in and around Charlotte.  And there is a camp ground at the McDowell Nature Preserve which sounds nice and is close to the city.  I'll make a point of ariving before dark to assess these options.

There is always Holiday Inn :-)


  1. Roy:

    Read your latest posts. You're an early bird apparently...

    I do not see you in any way, shape or form as a homeless person. You've chosen to go out on the Road as have so many other Americans -whether out of necessity, literary ambition or simply to discover various unknowns about themselves and this crazy Country with its amazing landscape, people and culture(s).

    Your piece on finding something true to yourself resonated. It is an issue for many of us, I would think. What have we accomplished in all our 'projects' that were really an expression of who we are vs. the Client, the Project Director, etc.? For myself, I took my satisfaction in the 'Team' (taken in its broadest sense) and hopefully steering the project 'ship' (as it were)into safe harbor. I have no doubt that you'll find the place that resonates for you somewhere in this vast country.

    Awesome interior design!! Carpeting, blinds, etc. You will be the envy of the Wall-Mart parking lot crowd.

    If you happen to be trucking around downtown Columbia, SC, you will probably happen upon the State House. Check out the big bronze stars on the exterior walls. Each one memorializes a hit from a Yankee cannonball during the Civil War. Across the street is Trinity Cathedral - a historic church. In the rear yard is a Chapel and office buildings linked by an arcade and forming a small courtyard. That's an old Robert Lamb Hart project that Albrecht and I worked on many years ago.

    Good luck...looking forward to the latest updates.

    Jim McRobert

  2. Hi Jim,

    !!! I just happened to look back here, and found your comment. Thanks so much for the encouraging words and good insights. I miss you, man. Hope all is going ok back there.

    Finding myself,.. the recent events are unbelievable! If your following, fantastic. If this reply triggers an e-mail to you, get ready to catch up. Lot's of adventures so far, and tomorrow, the biggest yet will start. I'll send you an e-mail in case this doesn't trigger one automatically.

    Thanks again :-)