Angel Hess is traveling the world with his home in tow, looking for friends.
Hess and his purple 1953 bread truck rolled into Fort Mill last Wednesday evening. His new friends, members of The Cause ministry, welcomed him with a place to shower, the offer of a warm bed, and greeted him Thursday morning with a freshly made smoothie.
He graciously accepted the shower and the smoothie, but declined the bed. His truck, which he converted into a traveling apartment complete with full-sized bed, is his home, Hess said.
In 2006, Hess, who describes himself as an "artist," bought the truck for $2,500 off eBay. A New York-based photographer, Hess was tired of paying high rent prices and wanted to see his money go to good use. He bought the truck and set out to convert it into a place to live.
This is Hess' second cross-country journey in the truck. His first, in 2006, was made while he converted the interior of the truck into a home. He's installed bamboo flooring, a wood stove and a solar panel heater that give the truck - which has a top speed of 50 mph - many of the comforts of a typical home.
"The goal isn't to travel forever," Hess said. "Some of the goal is already finished, just making this into my home."
Now, Hess is beginning his journey back across the nation in search of new adventures. He started in New York and has already made stops in Virginia and North Carolina. He left Fort Mill on Sunday.
A member of The Cause read his ad looking for new friends on Craigslist.com and a place to park for a few days in South Carolina. Hess is a kindred spirit, said Deborah Meador, an administrative assistant for The Cause.
Members of The Cause travel the country on mission trips and they, like Hess, rely on the kindness of strangers.
"Different people take us in, so we're returning the favor," Meador said.
Working is difficult for Hess while he travels, but he hopes to pick up odd jobs along the way - "You have to live simply and small."
Hess also has a Web site, www.purple53.com, where people can follow his journey across the country.