Driving a Turnip Across the Country

Costume designer Christian Joy on a van named Turnip, tranquility in Tokyo, and a helpful phrase in Indonesian.



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Most ridiculous travel purchase?

I’m currently driving through Northern California on the way back to NYC in my husband’s and my most ridiculous travel purchase, a gold 2000 GMC Safari van named Turnip. (Our 5-year-old neighbor gave the van its beloved name.) We bought it last summer to drive cross-country to check on our families in both Iowa and the Bay Area in California. When my husband took Turnip on a preliminary test drive, she worked perfectly — the air conditioner was ice-cold and she wasn’t making any strange noises. But as soon as we drove her off the lot all hell broke loose and we had to invest a lot to get her in shape. We chose a Safari van after a friend told us about people kitting them out for travel. We found a bed and put it in the back. We usually just pull into KOAs (Kampgrounds of America) for the night, which are mostly just glorified truck stops packed with enormous RVs. There is one in West Wendover, Nevada, that is just a giant gravel lot across the street from a brightly lit casino and fenced off from a row of apartment buildings. This is our third time cross-country since we bought her in July! My husband drives, since I haven’t driven in 27 years. I do all of the maps and bookings. Anyway, we’ve dumped a lot of money into Turnip, which makes her our most extravagant but best travel purchase.

Favorite word or phrase in a language not your own?

Tidak susu in Indonesian. My husband can’t digest dairy and so a friend of ours told us to say tidak susu when we ordered food in Bali, which translates to “no milk.” It’s an easy phrase to remember because it sounds so great!

Where’s the quietest place you’ve been?

I guess it’s not necessarily the quietest but more like uniquely quiet. In Tokyo there is a neighborhood not far outside of Shibuya where it suddenly becomes very quiet except for jazz music that is being played on low volume from speakers on telephone poles. It makes everything feel very tranquil and magical.



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Our Contributors

Christian Joy Designer & Artist

Christian Joy is a costume designer and artist living and working in New York City. Joy has created performance looks for artists such as Karen O, Brittany Howard, and Childish Gambino, and her designs have appeared onstage at the Oscars and the Grammy Awards. Joy’s work has been exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Modemuseum in Hasselt, Belgium, in addition to galleries worldwide.

Mike McQuade Illustrator

Mike McQuade is an illustrator and artist living and working in Richmond, Virginia. His clients include the New York Times, the New Yorker, Criterion Collection, Nike, Apple, HarperCollins, Penguin Books, Pentagram, NPR, and the Atlantic. His work focuses largely on finding concepts through collage, and always aims for unexpected outcomes.


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