A NOTE FROM THE EDITOR

There are, of course, many reasons why we travel: families that seem to get further and further apart even as technology brings us closer, needing to escape the grind of urban life and the frustrations that periodically come with it (I see you bomb cyclone), to chase the things that drive our passions in life whether they be food or photography or music or, for our featured writers, that thing of when you can’t  not  travel. This first issue of Cabin Service honors that innate, insatiable and perpetual lust for traveling: the Wanderlust we can’t shake.

We’re dedicating our first ever editorial cycle to this theme starting with some beautifully personal written and photographic essays. In the coming weeks we'll load you up with some extra baggage: raves about some Wanderlusty things we can’t stop thinking about (our current travel obsessions), the low on a neighborhood we fell in love with recently, an introduction to one of the most stylish travelers we know and a chat wtih one of our favorite chef babes about her hometown and exactly what to do there on an extra long layover. -SB


FEATURES

I. MY GRANDFATHER'S KODACHROME

Words: Sarah Boisjoli, Photographs: Jean Boisjoly + Kind Strangers | Her Grandmother's Apartment

II. BOOTLEG HAM

Words: Joel Elmore | Spain + JFK

III. RUNAWAY

Words: Madalyn Summers | Her Mom's House

IV. ALL THE WHYS

Words: Ellen Elmore | Vietnam

V. EVERYWHERE I WENT FOR A YEAR

Words + Photographs: Josh Hamlet | Everywhere He Went (for a year)


my grandfather's kodachrome

Words: Sarah Boisjoli, Photographs: Jean Boisjoly | Her Grandmother's Apartment 

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They give us those nice bright colors

They give us the greens of summers

Makes you think all the world's a sunny day

I got a Nikon camera

I love to take photographs

So mama don't take my Kodachrome away

-Paul Simon, lyrics from “Kodachrome”

 

I was very young when my grandfather died. My grandmother, whether out of stubbornness or heartbreak, nostalgia or a combination of these maintained her home much in the way that it had always been maintained even after his death: full of artifacts, art and music, plants and rugs, old books and equally old but clean if not creaky furniture. The small office in the front of their apartment seemed the most untouched, felt shrine like and off-limits to all of our ruinous little fingers as children. In it was a tweed office chair. Even with my limited memories of him that were my own and not shadows or ghosts of stories and photographs, I always felt as though this brownish, tweed, oversized but minimal and serious relic of the 70’s was somehow an embodiment of him, like a piece of spirit furniture rather than an animal.

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In moments where I needed to materialize my lone-wolf tendencies, I’d sneak in, open the closet, take out a carousel of slides a box of prints labeled "Venise 1975” or “Gaspesie” in my grandmothers unmistakable and barely legible scrawl. I’d sit on his chair and reverently inhale the lingering and barely perceptible smells of photo chemicals on the prints and hold the slides up one by one to the light coming from the window rubbing my thumbs against the tiny engraved logos at the bottoms of them: “Kodachrome”, the once-official film of National Geographic which was at that time like a monthly bible to me.  I’d make out my grandmother most easily in them as she dressed almost exclusively in white or light colors and always a wide brimmed hat, posing candidly and naturally against backdrops of beaches and ruins. My grandfather, who was an avid photographer, was rarely pictured and when he was you can detect a bit of awkwardness at finding himself suddenly in front of rather than behind the camera. I recognize the same reaction still in myself.

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I’d emerge from that small room needing more. I wanted to know all the stories behind the photographs. I needed to feel like I was there: What did the water smell like on the gondola ride in Venice and how did the grass feel under their feet in the south of France and is the sand hot and are the rocks sharp at this beach on the northern coast of Quebec? I’d seek out my grandmother and we would sit at the dining room table or on her big ivory water bed swaying just a little bit as she’d match photographs with a pair of earrings I’d seen a million times, or the brown leather sandals she bought in Morocco that have seen no wear or tear in the 40 plus years she’s worn them. We’d get interrupted eventually and usually by my sister and she’d turn it into a game. We’d pull rugs and blankets out of closets and bowls and small sculptures of of her shelves or mantles and invite tourists (anyone over the age of 15) to our makeshift souk in the guest bedroom.

I didn’t have a word for that feeling, the needing to get as close to possible to their experiences outside of the world I knew even while keeping my feet on the ground. I do know that the conviction of the existence of a bigger, broader and fuller life of adventure and of discovery, what some might call wanderlust, started in those moments at my grandmother’s apartment leafing through my grandfather’s Kodachrome. 

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BOOTLEG HAM

Words: Joel Elmore | Spain + JFK

I don’t typically, consciously, return to the U.S. from overseas with contraband. Nor have I often tried to mule foreign merchandise past U.S. Customs agents while their K-9 units stand by. But one time I did.

I was coming back from Spain with a smorgasbord of dry-packaged jamón serrano, pato fumé, and aged manchego for my wife. The stockpile represented my adherence to a precondition for the trip, which I’d taken alone and had eaten up precious time and money in the name of research for my next novel: I was obliged to bring her back some definitive piece of Spain.

But on the six-hour flight back I’d fallen asleep, deep and hard, and in those days it was my habit to tune out the flight attendants when they went around with claims forms, droning on about customs rules. What could have changed in ten days? What could possibly be new under the sun between Europe and the U.S.? The answer was plenty: somehow (this was 2010), while I’d been in Spain, the rules had changed from no soft cheeses or raw meat to no animal products whatsoever. And I was none the wiser.

We landed, and I passed ignorantly through U.S. Immigration. Then at Customs I saw the contraband sign and stood reading it in a bleary, post-sleep haze, hesitating at the end of the line. It had to mean everyone else—it couldn’t mean me, and it couldn’t possibly be referring to the precious meats and cheeses I’d procured for the love of my life.

I got in line, ready to play it cool, to play it off, to play dumb if I had to. Then I saw another sign mentioning the punishment for attempting to pass through customs with unclaimed items, and the mandatory x-ray luggage inspection table ahead, and I froze. The bounty of forbidden food was in my carry-on, suspiciously absent from my customs form, and here I was in the throes of stone cold international bootlegging—busted.

A trashcan stood beneath this sign—there was time, and just enough space to dump the goods discreetly—but my marriage (and, I must admit, some warped sense of traveler’s entitlement) was on the line. I couldn’t return empty-handed. I imagined a trash-digging pack of hungry U.S. Customs agents devouring my pricy cache of tapas after shift, laughing with full mouths at their imperial luck. It violated some core personal principle of travel. It robbed me of the very experience I’d fashioned out of ten busy days and too much money. I hadn’t voyaged one-third of the way around the world and returned only to surrender my spoils. But what had I really voyaged for? Research? Wanderlust? Packaged experience? In that moment I could only say: meat.

I must admit that what I did then was more than mere primitive impulse: I slipped my stash one package at a time from my bag into the pockets of my cargo pants and continued on down the line—ready to go the distance, to put it all on the line.

The line moved forward. I was up next, but now I could hardly hear around my own heartbeat—in part, admittedly, because it felt wonderful. I was getting away with more than murder. Here was real travel, at its climax: smuggling back something no one else had, landing at home with priceless booty. I was Magellan, I was Marco Polo reincarnate.

Then another customs agent appeared at the end of the luggage inspection with a German Shepard, and my stomach seized. The dog leered at me. I considered running. But it was my turn at the luggage check.

My heart stomped frantically in my chest. I put my bag on the belt and stood at the entrance to America—an American, harboring maybe a kilo of European smoked meat and cheese, sweating like a third-rate spy. The uniformed woman running the x-ray machine seemed irritated, impatient, eager to lead one or all of us off to some nether interrogation room, some remote detention center, and teach us why we should never to leave home again. As I approached she looked straight at me, as if she’d just made me—as if she could see through me to all the half-cocked, inexplicable things I do when I leave my country and wander among strangers. And at once she stood.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” she announced. “There are absolutely no animal products, fruit, or vegetables permitted past this point.”

I looked at the other agent and his dog. The latter licked its chops. Then from out of nowhere I remembered that I had an apple in my carryon—something I’d bought on my way to the airport in Madrid and had forgotten all about. And just as my bag was about to go under the rubber flaps, I reached in, snatched out the apple, and handed it over to the agent like the Holy Grail of diversions.

“Sorry,” I said. “I totally forgot I had this.”

The agent pitched it into the trashcan behind her, and nervously I glanced at the other agent. But by now he and his dog were hurrying down the corridor, in hot pursuit of some less crafty traveler.

“Thank you,” the woman agent muttered, waving me on.

But in my ringing ears, the words sounded more like: “Welcome home.”

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RUNAWAY

Words: Madalyn Summers | Her Mom's House

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Running away from home. The concept was a reoccurring theme throughout my childhood. For the most part, I had everything I needed; a roof, a bed, parents (who were still married), a little brother to beat up on, a few pets, some toys, and a minimal amount of responsibility. Looking back, these were times I should have cherished; no rent, no job, no debt, and dinner always at the ready. But when I was eight or nine, my relationship with my mother started to strain. We had very different ideas on how I should be spending my time. She suggested homework and not drawing on my walls with Crayola markers. I wanted a job in the local luncheonette. I wanted my independence. She just wanted me to keep my bedroom clean. The slightest scent of a disagreement, and I was off.

“I’m leaving, Mom. I can’t be here with you anymore. If you want my bedroom clean, it’s going to be empty as well.”

She would cackle and embody the crazed witch woman that she had become to me.

“Go ahead, please! See how easy it is. You realize that no one will do your laundry for you if you’re living in the woods, right?”

She would egg me on. Dare me. As if I was completely incapable of supporting myself throwing in snarky comments on how I wouldn't be able to feed myself or how I’d probably wind up sleeping in a pile of poison ivy. I’m her blood. I’m leaving her. And she had the nerve to bring up my dirty laundry? She didn’t understand how serious I was at the time. And little did we both know, these fights were just training exercises for something much bigger brewing beneath the surface.

My mother was born and raised in the same small lake town where she birthed and brought up her children. She grew up in a home that was built by her father and uncle. A home she inherited on her wedding day, and then expanded her family within the same walls. She never left her nest, and she was then trying to tame a wild bird.

I’d run to my room, grab a Mickey Mouse messenger bag, and pack up everything I thought I needed to survive on my own:

2 T-Shirts (One oversized, to be used as a dress if it got fancy out there, one plain, probably black)

1 Hoodie (also Mickey Mouse)

1 Jeans (Levi’s, naturally)

4 Socks (Because 2 is never enough)

4 Underwear (Ditto to the above)

Bed Sheet (Little Mermaid)

Notebook (college lined, spiral bound)

Pen (purple ink)

Swiss Army Knife (stolen via physical force from little brother)

I had learned, from reading (and re-reading and re-re-reading) My Side of the Mountain, that minimalism was key. I never once thought to pack a stuffed animal or toys. Anything that wasn’t going to serve a dual purpose was completely off the table. I’d build a lean-to with sticks and insulate my new abode with oak leaves and moss. I’d use the sheet as a blanket at night, but also as a canopy from the sun during the day. The Mickey Mouse bag full of clothes would be my pillow. I’d use a T-Shirt stretched over two sticks as a net to catch trout from the brook. I’d collect acorns and raspberries in an empty sock. I had a notebook and pen to document my adventures, but also, in case I got lonely, I could draw a map to my campsite and drop it through my brother’s bedroom window.

I must have packed this same bag ten or twelve times over the course of my childhood and all the while my mother watched and mocked me. Folding clothes, taking stock of all my provisions brought on such an adrenaline rush that my heart would pound in my ears.  My brother would creep around the corner and watch the drama unfold with tears in his eyes. I’d extend the invitation to him (because who doesn’t need a lackey?), but he never took me up on the offer. Instead, he’d convince me that I should stick around just a little longer, at least until Dad got home, so that I could defend myself when the day’s drama was shared at the dinner table.

I’d reluctantly abide, and then the next week the same fire drill would start all over again; mother reigns terror on household, daughter goes into flight mode, brother speaks reason, father calls for order. This went on for years, and I never actually got the chance to put all my survival skills to good use. Just an empty threat, exercised over and over again.

Twenty years and seventeen countries later, I pack that same bag. The Mickey Mouse duffel is long gone, replaced by a 46-liter Osprey. All that practice in my youth has made me an incredibly efficient traveler, always with the lightest bag amongst my peers in hostels and on trains. I get that same adrenaline rush when I fold up my clothes, and lay out my belongings, taking stock of what I have verses what I need. My heart beats in my ears, but my mother’s criticism is gone. My Mother follows my travels via social media, gawking and squawking comfortably from her nest. In lieu of letters, I send her stones and shells that I find on my adventures, perpetuating the reality that words were never useful between us. My brother is still at home as well, and when I’m on the road I write him postcards on the regular. I sign with ‘Wish you were here,’ and I mean it more than most things I write down.

All along, what I thought was an empty threat turned out to be a promise.

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ALL THE WHYS

Words: Ellen Elmore | Vietnam

The rain had just let up and Joel and I were on our way back from an outing on our rented motorcycle. We began to head back towards our hotel through the bright green, glistening rice paddies. The air felt nearly like morning, though it was deep into the afternoon in southern Vietnam. The day had been magical.

With not much farther to go, we passed through a small village, the last before Tuy Hoa where we were staying, and like so many times before, the villagers in view waved as we passed through. Right as we were passing the last house, the motorcycle slowed down instead of picking up speed. Looking down, Joel saw the chain had fallen off, but where? We had no idea. The evening was quickly approaching and we were still over a 1/2 hour drive from Tuy Hoa. We could go no further.

We pulled to the side of the road and hopped off the bike. We scoured the road for the chain, hoping to find it as the fear of being stranded began to creep into the pit of my stomach. Joel seemed fairly confident.  I wasn’t so sure.

This is where the traveler transitions to the brink of discomfort: fearful of the possibility of a worst case scenario yet eager to see how it all plays out. Joel and I are innovative folks and as we were about to lose hope, we found the chain and the pin that keeps it together.

By this time the entire town had taken notice. How could they not? Here were two Anglos, (one over 6ft tall) both with bright blond hair having just spent a couple months island hopping in Indonesia and Thailand, walking up and down the middle of the road, staring at the ground, through the center of the village. We were halfway through a 5-month journey and by that point, despite my personal desire to blend in as a traveler, I had accepted that impossibility months ago. I had also accepted that Vietnamese was a language that would take a lifetime to master. The language class that we had taken in Ho Chi Minh was of no use to us. And it was going to take a lot more than the Vietnamese/all other languages of S.E. Asia phrasebook to get us the help we needed.

More and more people flowed out of their homes to see what was going on and before we really were even aware of what was happening a crew of ten shirtless men walked up to Joel and motioned him to bring the motorcycle over to someone’s front lawn and got to work. I was guided toward the yard by the women and children of the community. I was completely encircled by an upwards of twenty villagers of every age.

Initially, I didn’t know how we would be received. Knowing the precarious position that Americans hold in Vietnamese history and the deep seeded feelings many Americans bring to that time as well, I felt pressure to be the best representative I could be.

Soon my concern for our safety began to melt away. I was a curiosity. I was petted, and discussed, and sized up and down. With nothing but hand gestures and facial expressions, we communicated. They wanted me to hold their babies, shake their hands, show them my hair out of the ponytail, see how tall I was. While I’m sure I wasn’t the first Anglo that they had ever seen, perhaps I was the first that they could view close up. And they did get close up—right in my face.

When I was a child I was always very self-conscious about the part of my face that they now considered the most fascinating part of my body. More than anything, they wanted to touch the bridge of my nose. The old ladies wanted to touch it to feel the bone and see how firm it was. They tried to wiggle it and compared the bridge of my nose to the minuscule bridges of their own, measuring the size of my nose with their fingers and placing their fingers on their own faces. Everyone wanted a turn.  For a while I was uncomfortable.  I was stuck there. There was nowhere else I could have gone. I waited, occasionally glancing at Joel to see how he was doing and the progress that they were making on the motorcycle. All I could do was sit in the surrealness of my discomfort. I’m not sure how long this went on. At times it seemed endless and then it would feel like just a moment. Eventually I accepted my situation, and returned their curiosity. The kindness in their eyes and smiles were interrupted by laughter as we were discussing the oddities and differences between us through gestures and hand signals.

Just as it was nearly dusk, the bike was ready. Joel and the others wiped the grease off their hands, and we said our thank yous (the only thing I managed to learn in Vietnamese) and goodbyes. I longed to capture this moment forever. I wanted to take a photo of the people that had helped us, the elderly lady that was obsessed with the bridge of my nose, the baby and her mother, the men who had tirelessly worked to help us get back on the road; but I didn’t. Not one photo. All the while my camera was in my bag.

As travelers, we long for that unique or odd experience. It is something that can’t be forced. It is one of the reasons why we are drawn to travel and to wander. As I sat on a concrete cinder block surrounded by this tiny village, I knew that this had been one of those moments. I am not certain why I didn’t ask to take a photo, but perhaps I felt like it might change the authenticity of the experience. I remember thinking while looking at all the faces around me that I wanted to carve this moment into my memory forever and be as present as I possibly could.

Riding off towards Tuy Hoa, both Joel and I knew that we had just experienced something amazing and irreplaceable. This is the “why”. The “why” leads you through villages and into parts of life that wouldn’t happen otherwise. The “why” greets you with surprise and amazement in a world that is often uncertain and cruel. The “why” guides the traveler into unknown territory. We could have been harmed, terrible things could always happen, but so can incredible moments—the why nots of travel.

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EVERYWHERE I WENT FOR A YEAR

Words + Photographs: Josh Hamlet | Everywhere He Went (for a year)

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JANUARY | CHICAGO 

 

FEBRUARY | HUNTER

Scribner's is an incredible lodge in Hunter, New York, on the west side of the Hudson in the Catskills. Although not too far from home, it felt like halfway around the world when I went in February. I went with my then-man-friend(I don't think we ever had the talk) as our first (and only) trip together. We scurried around small towns, checked out general stores and ate at the restaurant at Scribner's. It was an anxiety-inducing time, but also one that helped me grow. I'm not super fond of this time, but I adore this picture, and Scribner's. 

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MARCH |

LOS ANGELES

 

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APRIL | MIAMI 

My good friend Natalie and I had been talking about going to Miami for at least three years. We always found a way to not have the same weekends free or some project due or oops, I was actually going to be in Sydney. When we finally got down there, I was shocked not only because it was my first time there and I had heard so much about it (read: Will Smith's Welcome to Miami), but also because I was immediately relaxed on those beaches.

MAY | BOQUILLA

 

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MAY | MEXICO CITY

 

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JUNE | COLD SPRING 

In late summer,a good friend from Australia was in town. He made the trip to see me and I am forever thankful that he did because it was one of those "see the city through new eyes" moments. We palled around the city, went up the One World Trade building, ate at my favorite restaurants and did what any reasonable New Yorker's do: got out of the city. We drove North to my friend's spot in Hudson and stopped in Cold Springs for a quick hike along the way. I didn't realize that this hike was ACTUALLY a scramble up the side of a mountain and we definitely were NOT fully prepared. But, god damn that view was worth it.

 

JULY | CHARLESTON

Something like three or five years ago -- honestly I can't remember and that detail doesn't really matter -- my Mom and Nancy moved from Upstate New York to Charleston and I haven't been mad at the decision once. Every trip home now is a trip to a beach, a warmer climate and an iconic little house in downtown Charleston. 

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AUGUST | AMSTERDAM

 

 

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AUGUST | LE LOT 

 

 
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SEPTEMBER | BACK TO L.A. 

 

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SEPTEMBER | NEW ORLEANS

Originally, Sarah and I booked tickets to Martha's Vineyard to go shoot a project with Lexie Roth for Counter Service but, thanks to Hurricane Jose barreling down on the North East, Jet Blue kindly changed our flights to NoLa. Even though we tried our damndest to eat at the restaurants  and do the not touristy things I have to say my favorite moments were those tried and true staples -- ghost tours and food on Frenchmen's Street and a martini in the backyard at Commander's Palace. 

OCTOBER | BERLIN

I remember being on a run with Lyz Pfister of Eat Me. Drink Me. and looking up at the changing foliage plastered to the side of a building and saying "god DAMN that's beautiful" and she seemed surprised. Berlin is not a pretty city. Honestly it's kind of ugly. But in October, my third time there, I was looking passed the "must see touristy spots" and appreciating this place for what it was: actually gorgeous. 

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OCTOBER | ICELAND 

This was a part of a whirlwind work trip. I was testing a 7 day travel itinerary but had to complete it in 3 days. It was a hit and quit kinda pace: "Hi this the Golden Waterfall k bye". But when we were in Husafel, tucked away from a lot of the hustle and bustle of Reykjavik, I experienced this sense of calm. During dinner, when the steak was about to drop, the server came over and said "just to let you know, the Northern lights are starting." I got up, threw on my coat that was way too thin for how cold it actually was, and headed out to watch something that still brings me chills. The next day we piled onto an old Army Truck with six foot wheels and cruised up the adjacent Glacier. I scurried away from everyone else to just stare at the vast landscape. I adore Iceland. 

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NOVEMBER | LONDON

The one thing I said most in London wasn't Cheers but was instead, Where can I find a husband?  I. Adore. London. Sarah and I took this trip as part of a whole European adventure for Counter Service and pre-cursor to Cabin Service (you gotta test the waters a bit... right?) and I fell immediately in love with this city. From the experimental architecture, to my second favorite wine bar in the world, the FOOD,  the fashion and the damn Tube putting New York's MTA to shame, I need to get back there immediately. It's just too gorgeous.  

 

DECEMBER | NEW YORK CITY