Street Rods in the hills of West Virginia

On a road trip for my American Mosaic project in coal country, West Virginia, I stopped at this Saturday car show and talked with the owners. A lot of cool street rods hiding in the area. An American Mosaic on the road.


This project is growing... An American Mosaic!

I have been busy traveling and documenting people around the country. This is in Gary Hollow, West Virginia. The heart of Coal Country. My PEPONI.COM web site is updated with a lot of the images. I shoot video conversations and environments for this big project.


Listen to a new Podcast Series: Di-a-logue, An American Mosaic

I have launched DIALOGUE, AN AMERICAN MOSAIC, a Podcast with conversations on the road in America. These are ordinary and extraordinary people talking about life today in a changing America. All walks of life from around the country saying what's on their minds. Available on Apple Podcasts, RadioPublic, and other platforms. You can find links here: http://anchor.fm/john-van-dyke 


Going back to creative roots with Peponi

Back at Peponi doing creative work for "An American Mosaic" a project of video journalism talking with and recording the American People, a conversation about being an American today. This is huge project covering the major parts of the United States. You can follow this at: 
http://american-mosaic.com and peponi.com.


Closing a chapter, new beginnings 2018

Designing Chachalaka and Casa J was an amazing experience. I was honored to have Casa J selected as Architectural Record Magazine International house of the month for February 2016. It is now time to move on to other projects. Time to say goodbye. I created this video as a farewell. My new project is very exciting. Photographing and filming conversations with people across the U.S. An American Mosaic.


A kitchen conversation, An American Mosaic on the road

New Years morning 2018 in the kitchen with David, innkeeper for 40 years on the southwest corner of Washington's coast, near the Oregon border. Talking about life in the rural communities in this area. An American Mosaic will be gathering stories from across the country in 2018.


An American Mosaic is on the road!

My project An American Mosaic is underway. I am capturing video conversations with people around the U.S. There are many stories. This is a historic time we are in and it is important to spend some time getting to know one another. This is a very short trailer of things to come when I have the content for a final documentary. So far over 30 conversations have been captured on video.


Road Tripping in the American Heartland... An American Mosaic

An American Mosaic is on the road, talking and listening to people in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri this September. A heartland trip to discover our country and what people are thinking. Follow this journey with me. http://american-mosaic.com


An American Mosaic is gathering supporters... a project worth doing

“You are describing a mosaic of broken connectivity, perhaps not broken in terms of use of artificial intelligence, data sharing, or any other emerging technology, but broken in human terms of face to face communication, listening and courtesy. I wish you much success in your endeavor to gain a better understanding of how we can better engage and understand one another in a modern century with modern tools.”
‘If you are in anyway engaged with recent events, and the need for change that was so overwhelmingly voiced, you understand that a lot of people feel that their country has failed them.’ – “You're talking about me John. Fantastic project - please let me know if I can be of any assistance. I'm anxious to see your results!”
“Bravo! I think we all need to do this! We don't know each other like we should. We have more in common than not, I feel sure. I'll be eager to see your project unfold!”
“As part of the 'rest of the world,' I will be watching and listening as well. Canadians want to understand America as well. . .”
“Sounds incredible, what a great undertaking.”
“We're listening, John. Signed, the choir.”
“Love, Love, Love this project! What are your plans and what support do you need? I’d love to help you!”

What is this project? Are you part of the American Dream? Add to the conversation at:


An American Mosaic, a project starting in the summer of 2017

An American Mosaic, an important project. Sometimes events change the course of your life. That happened to me and set me on a journey to discover who the American People are. It is a far cry from hanging out in paradise on a somewhat remote beach on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. The noise just got too loud and I could not ignore it. I have created a project that I am calling "An American Mosaic". It is journey to photograph, video, and tell the stories of the American People. Starting in the summer of 2017. You can find me on LinkedIn.


Casa J, a design influenced by light and shadow

Light and shadow are constantly in play during the day at Casa J. The simple geometry and open spaces allow light to wash through and echo shadows on surfaces. The effect amplifies the time of day and the position of the sun. A place to feel close to beach and ocean from almost any place in the house. Casa J is more than a house, it is an experience.


Casa J Chachalaka... a magical place on the Costalegre of Mexico

Chachalaka on the Costalegre of Mexico is a place where inspiration and imagination are fueled by sunsets, long beach walks, a plunge in the ocean or pool, watching birds and listening to the surf. Some call it a magical place.


A rare find... discovering a road less traveled

"A blissfully underdeveloped swath of Mexico's Pacific coastline" - Travel + Leisure magazine.

It was hard to imagine an area so beautiful and untouched still existed when Chachalaka was discovered almost ten years ago.

Six acres fronting on a beach that seems to go forever, and expansive views of the Pacific Ocean, all seemed to good to be true, it was a dream place discovered.

Now the property has infrastructure, water, power underground, utility buildings, a guest house, and a contemporary main house that has been recognized for its architectural design. There are two additional building sites for houses, each with a guesthouse. One of the sites is ideal for a multiple unit structure. Green features have been incorporated into the plan. Solar, thermal hot water, water capture, smart water treatment systems, and all LED lighting are all part of Chachalaka.

The topography is what really makes Chachalaka so special. A first walk on the property revealed six building sites... all with amazing views. The plan now combines these into three compounds with space, privacy and view. Casa J, the main house, a guest house, and a palapa with plans for an additional pool and two guest quarters make up the first established compound.

Two real estate cycles later, the Costalegre of Mexico is being discovered. The serious developers have announced major projects and a major new airport is near completion. This is last stretch of undeveloped beach on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, it has been waiting for this moment.

It is now time to share the vision and the timing seems to be perfect. Chachalaka is a place without comparison for savvy individuals who like privacy and don't follow the crowds.

It is rare to find a place of pristine endless beach with few people in today's world.
Chachalaka is a one-of-a-kind property fronting on the Pacific Ocean on the coast of Mexico


a world class hideaway on Mexico's Costalegre

Just a 50 mile drive southwest of Puerto Vallarta Mexico, there is a place of pristine endless beaches, few people and fewer tourists. This is the Costalegre along the Pacific Coast of Mexico. It has been described as under the radar, off grid, luxury, and for jet setters. Ten years ago, when I first discovered Chachalaka, I envisioned something special for our six acres of amazing ocean front. Today much is in place and some big names are coming into the neighborhood. Projects announced include Four Seasons, Louis Vuitton Cheval Blanc, One and Only resorts, and a new major airport is nearing completion. This seems like a good time to share the vision.


imagine... your own beach, as far as the eye can see

Chachalaka is a very special place. Imagine a secluded hideaway set on 6 acres of beachfront. A beach that goes as far as the eye can see, and hardly a person in sight. It is a rare find in today's crowded busy world. A place to disconnect for a moment and recharge.


photo shoots at Casa J and Chachalaka... a perfect location

The architecture, location, light and shadow, amazing beach and views make Casa J and Chachalaka the perfect place to shoot photos, and film. A recent shoot has been published in VOGUE ITALIA. Plans for a swim suit session in the works. A rare find today... beach with no people, and amazing architecture that is ideal for background.


a private and exclusive setting on six acres... Chachalaka and Casa J

It is hard to find a better setting than this. Chachalaka is private and overlooks a beach that seems to go forever. Casa J was positioned and designed to take advantage of the amazing views. This is the Costalegre of Mexico, one of the best areas of pristine beaches with exclusive and private development in the state of Jalisco, Mexico.


Casa J at Chachalaka... noteworthy architecture in paradise

Casa J at Chachalaka is a surprising house in a remote yet accessible area on the Costalegre of Jalisco Mexico. The contemporary and minimalist design is getting a lot of attention for it's architecture. I designed this house to be a surprise and unexpected in this special place. It is truly a hideaway with style, sitting on six acres of park like setting on the ocean.


a view of paradise... Chachalaka in the morning

This is what I call paradise in the morning. This is Casa J at Chachalaka. Sun rising and first rays shining on the terrace and pool. Light and shadow playing on the architecture. And, of course a refreshing dip in the pool that sits at the edge of the beach overlooking the ocean. It does not get better than this.


When less is more

There is an old saying in the design world that could to apply to a broad range of things today. Less is more. It is a way of getting to the point. A visual point. An experience point. A talking point. A message point.

Less is harder, because it requires the ability to edit and refine and be clear about what you present or create, not a something for everyone approach, but execution with great care and skill, and focus.

I am going to stay with design on this, because it is what I do. I was inspired to write this because an architect friend has labeled me minimalist. It is reflected in my Chachalaka project, and the house I designed and built in Mexico.

I was not always minimalist, I did not understand the power of its simplicity.  It takes maturity, and a level of personal experience to reach a point, of just getting what simple is about – a point when you can execute something extremely complex with a simple broad stroke.

A single impactful experience leaves so much more, than a cluster of random distractions.


summer is ending... winter nights at Chachalaka are amazing!

Impossible starry skies and the sound of the surf on a warm winter evening... part of the Chachalaka experience. Indoors and outdoors are seamlessly blended together in the living areas at Casa J.


Chachalaka... as exceptionally refined, as it is secluded

Chachalaka is a place for those who really want to escape and catch up with themselves. It is one of those hard to reach special places that is as exceptionally refined, as it is secluded. A singular opportunity to get off the grid and get in touch with nature, without compromising style or comfort. View chachalaka.com to learn more.


a favorite photo of Casa J from the beach

This is one of our favorite photos of Casa J. It is from the beach at Chachalaka. The architecture and colors compliment the surroundings in all the seasons. A truly spectacular setting.


Escape from the crowds... the allure of Jalisco's south coast

The Pacific Coast of Mexico along the state of Jalisco, is a richly diverse coastline with large and small bays – beaches, and a variety of sparsely populated communities between the larger towns and cities. Cabo Corrientes just south of Puerto Vallarta is where the Costalegre actually begins. Costalegre means “happy coast”, and it is indeed that. It will put a smile on your face when you see some of the remote and pristine beaches it has to offer. There are isolated little coves of sand and grand expanses of beach that stretch for as far as the eye can see. There is a diversity of flora and fauna that ranges from tropical to dry and arid, and high bank oceanfront with rocky cliffs at waters edge, to flat almost dune-like no bank beachfront. There are lagoons that form where rivers outlet against the beach and find a place to break through to the ocean during the rainy season. Birds of many varieties populate the coast, and some are unique to only this area of Mexico. Marine life is still abundant off the coast from Cabo Corrientes and to the south of Jalisco. Much of this remote area is also home to nesting sea turtles that return annually to lay their eggs on the beaches.

All of this is why this area is so special and why it appeals to those who want to escape the usual convenient tourist destinations. Imagine sitting on a beach that seems to go forever, watching the sunset into the ocean, and no one else is around. Perhaps a morning walk, as the first rays of sun warm the sand under your feet. Add a little creature comfort. Perhaps some fresh fish for lunch or dinner, maybe something that you caught. Find a setting with the ambiance that suits your style, and you might not want to go back to whatever you do in real world time. When you do, you will feel refreshed, inspired, and probably planning your return.

Access to some of the best is just now improving with the surfacing of what once was a seasonal dirt road from the town of El Tuito to the Mayto area. The Mayto area affords access to beaches to the north of Cabo Corrientes as well as south to Tehuamixtle and Villa del Mar and beyond to La Cruz de Loreto.

At Chachalaka we are fortunate to have one of the best beaches at our doorstep.


time to talk about the architecture of Casa J

It was a busy year finishing details, designing furniture, and furnishing Casa J. In the new year, it is time to talk about Casa J and the architecture. The first question or comment from visitors... when will it be in a publication? I will be working on that. In the meantime, the vision for Chachalaka has come into focus for those who have been following along with me on this journey.


location, location, location... Casa J

From almost any view, Casa J is an exceptional house. It seems to fit with the setting. They say location is everything in the real estate business. I would say this is an amazing location. Less than a two hour drive south of Puerto Vallarta Mexico. Just far enough away from the usual tourists.


it's about details at this amazing beach house

Casa J Chachalaka on the Pacific Coast of Mexico is a minimalist contemporary that blends seamlessly with environment, beach, and ocean. Located south of Puerto Vallarta it is the perfect hideaway with unspoiled beaches and few tourists.


I made lifestyle my business

We all have a dream. Some of us achieve that dream, and some experience it through others. And some just continue to dream. In business, dreams become ideas, and ideas become a business. It can start small and grow as we follow our idea, learning along the way and following our passion – if we are fortunate enough to be passionate about what we are doing.  I have been fortunate. Design is something that I realized was my passion a long time ago. All things design. A friend once said to me, when I got up in the morning, the design process began. That passion for design set me on a journey that became a lifestyle.  As I matured, I began to realize and recognize design on many levels. Travel broadened my experience and introduced me to design from different perspectives. I would introduce these ideas in my work. I became a collector of furniture, photography, fashion, and a consumer of anything showcasing good design. Design was my work and design was integrated into my life.

As I began exploring cool places to escape in warmer climates, I was drawn to amazing beaches and developed a user experience checklist. How did the walk on that pristine virgin beach affect me? Did I totally forget everything the moment I took in that breathtaking view? Was I mesmerized by the awesome sunset? Am I appreciating the carefully designed architecture around me? Have I noticed the selected and curated furnishings and d├ęcor surrounding me? Am I inspired to do something, to create something? Do I feel like I have experienced something so special, I do not want to tell anyone about it? Am I totally relaxed? Do I want to stay or leave.

If I never wanted to leave, I knew I would return. And I did return frequently to many different places and some extremely special favorites. It is about life. We all need to fuel our inner self with rewards. I realized for me it was ocean, beach, architecture, and, a beautiful setting that had not been overly changed by the hand of man.  This became a part of me, a lifestyle, something that fueled me with enormous energy and creativity. When my tank was low, I knew I could go someplace amazing and fuel up.

As the world shrank and the truly special places were becoming overcrowded, I decided to create a place. A place that drew on all my experiences discovering amazing beaches, and very cool places. A place that embodies lifestyle and involves design and architecture, things that I am passionate about. I have been blessed with having the time it took to plan and create the place I call Chachalaka. A lifestyle experience that soon will be available for those looking for beauty, intimacy, tranquility, and privacy.


life on your own terms... Chachalaka living

The whole idea of life at Chachalaka is about spending time in a very special place... an escape from the ordinary. A little adventure, a little bit remote, close to nature, the ocean and an amazing beach. Just being with yourself, friends or special guests in a private exclusive setting. Add a cool design aesthetic where you would least expect it and that is Chachalaka.


generating power at Casa J

At Chachalaka, we care about things like power and water and our environment. Our installation of twelve 255 watt solar panels at Casa J generates more power than we use. We are a little power station. That is being smart in today's world.


establishing a style at Casa J

The house Casa J is designed, and built. It's architecture stands by itself, so the furnishing and decorating must carefully work in harmony with the bold and minimalist design of the house. A preference for eclectic and interesting things, both contemporary and rustic antique are on our shopping list. It is a process of curating, some things found, some things we design and have made.


the undiscovered costalegre... a paradise

In the state of Jalisco on the Pacific Coast of Mexico, there is a magical place that is waiting to be discovered. It is known as the Costalegre aka the happy coast. The northern part of this coastline is virtually undiscovered. We have found it, and created Chachalaka.


Designing a place where stress just melts away

Transforming a piece of paradise into a place that feels like home is a delicate balance between nature and lifestyle. After a lot of planning and thought, ultimately the land tells you what to do. And, you design something that is as special as the place.

About a one hour drive from the town of El Tuito, south of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, is an area of pristine, virgin beaches. It is a place that surprised us, as it does all who discover it. It is unexpected. That became the overriding criteria for the design of the house I call Casa J. Create something that is equally as unexpected. The nature part of the plan was obvious, keep things as natural as possible, leave the beautiful trees, and use nature’s resources in the architectural design. The lifestyle part, for me, was to baffle expectations for a house in this undeveloped area by creating a unique high-end house. In contrast with the usual stereotype grand, high-color and tiled homes associated with high-end Mexican coastal living, Casa J is a contemporary, minimalist style, influenced by mid-century modern architecture. It is open in its design and incorporates the setting, and amazing views seamlessly into the design. The house is as visually interesting as the setting without distracting your attention from the ocean, beach, and landscape.

In a place like this you also want to be smart about the environment and your consumption of water, energy, and fuel. A modern house today should be eco-smart. Casa J does not wear a lot of environmental features as a badge - it is just quietly smart. Hot water is from a thermal solar system. Rainwater is captured and used. Our water comes from our own well and water system. Grey water is recycled and used for landscape. Black water is treated in a Biodigestor system. Our fuel is from a single source, propane, fueling our stove, clothes dryer, and a backup generator. A leading technology, multigate micro inverter solar system, ties us to the power grid. We generate more power than we use. The 70 LED lights at Casa J, consume a total of only 315 watts. In addition, the design considers thermal mass, and natural air convection.

A great deal of thought went into making this a house that just quietly does what it is supposed to do. It lets you relax in a creative and visually stimulating environment, and enjoy this amazing paradise that I call Chachalaka.


a passion for design and architecture

Creature comforts are arriving at Chachalaka. My design for a custom sofa completes the architecture of the "great room" area of Casa J. It is totally about lounging and relaxing while being amazed by the views, in this open concept house.


Chachalaka 2014... realizing a dream

Some have said I am living the dream. Building an amazing house in a place that many would call paradise. It has been a journey of almost seven years since first discovering what I think is one of Mexico’s secret places. The journey began with a chance conversation with an old friend in Puerto Vallarta, who told me about the area known as Mayto. The area is one hour down a dirt road from the town of El Tuito, an hour south of Vallarta. Drive time is actually less than two hours now that the dirt road is partially surfaced. You get the idea, this is off the beaten path and that is why it is so special. Imagine a pristine virgin beach that stretches as far as the eye can see. Better yet, imagine six acres of oceanfront land on this beach.

That is how it all started. I did not hesitate when I found the parcel of land I call Chachalaka. Purchasing and getting real papers for the land is a story in itself. A very important step, that took almost three years.  The last three plus years, has been spent putting in infrastructure to support my vision for multiple homes on the property, and the design and building of the first house – Casa J.

People are surprised by the caliber of the design and quality of the house. I think many assume that if you are in a rural undeveloped area that you build something funky and rustic. To the contrary, Casa J is a contemporary house influenced by classic architectural modernists, such as Wright, Barragan, and Nuetra. I also, strongly believe any house built today should be eco-smart. Casa J was designed to consider thermal mass, natural air convection, rainwater capture, gray water recycle, thermal hot water, and solar panels for power, with a grid-tie system. High quality Italian tiles are used, made of 75% recycled material. This is modern sophisticated architecture that supports sustainable living.

This is a new idea for developing oceanfront homes on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. I think it makes sense and is the way of the future. As more people discover these virgin areas, controlling density, and requiring eco-smart features, should be part of any plan. This is an amazing area that should require smart thoughtful development. Casa J is a good start, a beach house with style.


the amazing journey of the sea turtle

The sea turtle is an amazing creature. They can live for over a hundred years. A female must reach ten years of age before she can lay eggs, and then she returns to the beach where she was born. It is normal for her to lay up to a hundred eggs. Out of that a few survive. In addition to natures dangers, the turtle is faced with poachers who take eggs from nests on the beaches... considered a delicacy by some. The trip out to sea may be met with fishing nets, and their long journey across the ocean from the beaches of Mexico and elsewhere, is full of hazards and pollution. Only the fortunate and hardy survive to return year after year to lay their eggs. This is why I support the effort of those on our beach who protect the newly hatched for release into the ocean as they begin their new shot at life.


recycling is part of the design at Casa J

Recycling is finding its way into mainstream architecture. I designed Casa J incorporating tiles of 75% recycled material, rain water capture, and gray water reuse.
Wood at Casa J is Mexican Parota, which is highly insect resistent. The application is designed for function and style, with a high grade furniture finish for durability.


It is all about details.... at Casa J

It is the details that separate the special from the ordinary. Nature has told us where to build at Chachalaka. And what we build, we carefully design. Casa J style.