survey says? where do you pee? what's inside? do you use drugs? that's not a house!
The Times Georgian

Purple Range

Angel Hess has found another
way to live life.
Traveling coast to coast in his '53
Ford bread truck.


By Meghann Ackerman
The Times-Georgian
March 14th, 2008

Angel Hess, originally of South Bend, Ind., has made this 1953 Ford truck his home on wheels. Hess is currently stopped in Bowdon at Jacque and Nancy Garry's farm. Hess said he found the Garry's using Craig's List online where he searches for families with farms who well let him park his truck while he travels through the United States. He looks for farms because they offer the most room to fit his truck.

     Like many people, Angel Hess wanted to own a house, but as a photographer living in New York City, he knew he couldn't afford it and started looking into alternative housing.
     "If you don't make a lot of money, you have to do with what you have," he said.
     Almost two years ago, Hess bought a large, purple 1953 Ford bread truck and began converting it into his home. He is now taking the truck on its second cross-country road trip the first was to get it from California to New York and stopping along the way to meet new people.
     For the truck's health, Hess is planning on staying in either Arizona or California.
     "The truck would do better in a drier climate and someplace warmer in the winter," he said.
Angel Hess uses a wood burning stove for cooking inside his 1953 Ford truck which he remodeled into a fully efficient home on wheels. Hess uses solar power for lighting after dark and built a skylight with a vent which can be switched to blow air in or pull air up.      This week Hess is staying with Nancy and Jacque Garry at their farm on Reavesville Road in Bowdon. Hess made arrangements to stay with the Garrys as he does with most people through postings on the Web site craigslist.org.
     "We just talked," Nancy Garry said. "It sounded like a good idea."
     The Garrys believe in conservation and organic farming, and Nancy said they admired how few resources Hess needs. They also liked that he's found a creative way to solve his desire for housing.
     "It's startling us into thinking about things outside the box," Nancy said. "I think he's very brave to do this. A creative person will open and unlock mental blocks."
     When looking for a place to park his truck, Hess said he only asks that his hosts provide him with a shower and a power source. Although the truck has a bed, toilet and storage, there is no traditional shower. While on the road, Hess stays clean using soap that does not need to be rinsed off. That, he said, was one of the biggest adjustments he had to make when he moved into the truck full time.
     "I thought it was kind of dirty at first," he said. "Not showering as much at first was strange."
     He also doesn't need much electricity. The only things that run on electricity are his laptop and heater. He's a vegan, so a refrigerator isn't necessary, and his lighting can go for a month without having to be recharged.
     After buying the truck, Hess said it took him about a month to get it ready for habitation. Since then, he's been making additions and remodeling.
Purple53 in Georgia at Garrys Farm      As for the vehicle itself, it took Hess awhile to get used to how it operates.
     "It doesn't run like a normal vehicle," he said. "Sometimes it will stop, but that doesn't mean it's broken down."
     This trip, Hess is taking his time and hoping to meet a lot of people. He is already on his fourth stop in three weeks on the road. Each one, he said, has been different. He's stayed with a church ministry group, on a farm and in the parking lot of a golf cart company.
     Since arriving in Bowdon on Tuesday, Hess has cared for newborn goats, helped to build bee boxes and planted crops.
     "Sometimes the places can be hard to leave," he said. "I take pictures of the places I'm at."
     Along with photos, Hess is writing a blog documenting his travels. Although it's not his goal to write a book, he may use the information he's recorded for another project.
Purple53 in Georgia at Garrys Farm      "Maybe I'll turn the blog into something one day, if I decide to read it again," he said. "There's a lot of information in there."
     Along with fulfilling his dream of owning a home, Hess wants to encourage others to think creatively when it comes to housing.
     "I always get e-mails from people in their 50s or 60s saying, I wish I could do this, but I'm too old,'" he said.
     For those who do want to follow in his footsteps, Hess has a few suggestions:
     Don't get an old bus they're dark and hard to renovate, and don't be afraid of older vehicles.
     One thing he has not come upon but worries about is parking.
     "It's supposed to be illegal to park overnight a lot of places," he said. "I'm always worried about that."
     To follow Hess's trip west or to find out more on making a mobile home, www.purple53.com