Where in the World is Tiny House Giant Journey?

As some of you may know, Guillaume and I have been building a modified Cypress since last September. The build experience has been more of a marathon than a sprint, but I can finally say we are on our last lap! Here's the interior as it stands now - with an unfinished bathroom, kitchen, etc.

As we prepare to cross the finish line, we decided to move our tiny house from Los Angeles to my home town in central Illinois. It's going to be an exciting summer spent building and catching up with family and old friends!

Guillaume and I were nervous to tow the house, but also eager to become comfortable with taking it on long road trips. We drove slow, bumping down the interstate at 45 mph and traveling only 250-300 miles a day. We could have easily gone 65 mph, but at 45 mph we were getting just over 10 miles per gallon (at 55 mph we were getting 8.5 mpg, etc). Going slow saved us approximately $150 in gas over the course of the trip. Ultimately it took us about a week to cross the 2,000 miles, but we did it without incident!

Interstates are required to have at least 14 feet of vertical clearance, which is necessary for our 13’ 4” house. For our trek, we stayed mostly on I-40, traveling through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. Once we hit Oklahoma City, we turned north east onto I-44 toward St. Louis and onward to my small hometown in central Illinois.

Here are a few highlights of "Tiny House Giant Journey's" trip:

 THGJ @ Painted Desert

 THGJ @ Petrified Forest

 THGJ @ "Breaking Bad "House in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Moments after taking the above photo, that ominous sky began to alternate between hail and rain! It was the first substantial bath our tiny California abode ever received. We were worried how the reclaimed wood would hold up, but it dried out just fine. Although the back of the house (front of the trailer) tolerated the unintended power-wash from us driving down the road during the downpour, the vigorous shower did remove some of our beloved patina. Next time, we will pull over and wait out the storm.

New Mexico is also home to a quirky campground that we stumbled upon - Kiva RV Park, right on Route 66. Check out the tiny trailers built by the owner! 

 

THGJ next to "Betty Boop travel trailer" at Kiva RV Park 

Teardrop Trailer Designed and Built by Kiva RV Park Owner on Display

 THGJ @ Cadillac Ranch in Texas

The horse towing our precious wagon was our 2006 Ford F-250 Diesel 4x4. The last time we weighed our house it was creeping up on 8,000 pounds, and that was without our belongings! Luckily we built on a Tumbleweed trailer, so we knew we were within the weight limit and that our axels were specifically designed to handle towing. That being said, we still made sure to evenly pack and disperse our belongings inside the house for travel. We also bought a no sway weight distribution system from Andersen Hitches - which was extremely helpful. We highly recommend it!

 

Our Weight Distribution System

We had no trouble finding places to stay along the trip. Every campground was excited to welcome our curious cabin. Setting up was easy with pull-through campsites with electric and water hookups. The scissor jacks on the trailer supplied us with stability, and we leveled-out easily using a camper leveler, tuff pads, and rapid jack. By the end of the trip, we could setup or teardown in less than 15 minutes!

Guillaume & Our Dog Relaxing in THGJ's Almost Finished Loft

It was a lot of fun to see people react to our home. On the road, travelers would often give us a thumbs-up or snap photos. Many times we answered questions and gave impromptu tours. Only once were we pulled over by a police officer - for going 43 mph in a 45 minimum - did I mention we were being cautious? The officer gave us a verbal warning mixed with praise for the tiny house. Secretly, we think he just wanted a closer look!

When we finally pulled into our new build site, it was bitter-sweet. We loved our mini-adventure and can’t wait to continue traveling when our house is complete. I think we caught the tiny-traveling-fever!

Our New Build Spot in Central Illinois!
*Build updates from Tiny House Giant Journey here. Like them on facebook here.
*All photos taken by Guillaume Dutilh. Check out his photography here.

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Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

Written by Jenna Spesard — June 16, 2014

Filed under: Build it yourself   builders   Downsizing   Jenna Spesard   Rv Parks   See a Tiny House   small house   Tiny House Giant Journey   Travel   Tumbleweed   Weight Distribution  

Little House on the Ferry

Once upon a time, Arianne and Sean lived in two separate houses in Las Vegas. Between the two dwellings, the couple had over 4,000 square feet combined. So how did they end up spending “happily ever after” in an Alaskan abode surmounting to no more than 150 square feet? Well, it all started with a newspaper clipping… 

Arianne had always considered downsizing and living tiny, but it wasn’t until her mother sent her a crinkled photograph of a Tumbleweed featured in the Denver Post that she truly fell in love. “I used to dream about it.” Arianne admitted. “Sean and I wanted to live a greener lifestyle.” Her partner is an engineer in sustainable and renewable energy. Minimizing would help open other doors for the couple as well, including a big move to a certain beautiful and adventurous state. 

With an Alaskan tiny house on the menu, Arianne and Sean teamed up with Tumbleweed’s Meg Stephens to design their perfect abode - a modified Elm. The couple knew the main course of this particular tundra was best served cold, which meant a higher R-value insulation and electric heating in the floors. They also customized their house to have a galley kitchen, four skylights, and two lofts!

But once the house was complete, Arianne and Sean faced another challenge – getting their house from the Tumbleweed build site in Colorado to Anchorage. Their journey began with a cross-country road trip, including a stroll up the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway.

Next the couple took to the sea, as they boarded the Alaskan Marine Highway Ferry.“Most people were boarding cars, but we pulled up towing a house!

The workers were surprised to say the least.” Arianne chuckled, remembering. “They said it was the first house they ever loaded onto the ferry, and it barely fit!” She recalls seeing numerous whales along the swaying careen up the west coast of Canada and Alaska. Finally, they docked in Anchorage, and set out to begin their new life.

Now, half a year later, Arianne works locally for the Air Force piloting C-17s – a plane that could fit six Tumbleweeds inside! She and Sean are enjoying their new house, new location, and new neighbors – most recently a curious moose greeted them one morning, resting his head on their front porch!

Who knows, maybe he is interested in a tiny house with a little extra antler-room?

*All photos provided by Arianne and Sean

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Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

Written by Jenna Spesard — June 11, 2014

Filed under: alaska   Elm   green building   green living   Jenna Spesard   See a Tiny House   small house   Tiny House   travel   Tumbleweed  

TINY: A Story About Living Small

This inspirational documentary follows Christopher Smith and Merete Mueller as they endeavor to build a 130-square foot home in the Colorado mountains. The film is a wonderful representation of the construction experience from the point of view of the dreamer and novice. As some of you may know, I am currently building a modified Cypress, so TINY hit close to home (quite literally) for me.  My heart reached out to the couple as they struggled and cheered when they overcame defeat. Last week I was even lucky enough to chat with Merete about her build - the good and the bad.

Photo Credit: Kevin Hoth

“We made so many mistakes.” Merete recalled with a chuckle. “We bought windows that we thought were vertical, and proceeded to design the house around them, only to learn six months later that they were actually horizontal windows!”

When I asked how her and Christopher coped with the mishaps, she responded with ease: “One of the great things about building it together is that we could be each others cheerleaders.” Merete says her and Christopher will never get rid of their tiny abode. The difficulty in the experience only strengthened their connection to the home. “It's almost like having a child - a really large child,” Merete joked. 

Photo credit: Merete Mueller

TINY is also a wonderful visual documentation of the growing tiny house community. With Christopher and Merete’s build serving as the backbone, the film periodically cuts away to tour small shelters all across the country or to interview several builders and families who have chosen to downsize. Even a few tiny house legends make an appearance to share their stories. 

“Christopher and I were originally introduced to tiny houses from a magazine article about Dee Williams. It was really cool to meet her in person. When we interviewed her for the film, we were in the middle of our build, and she acknowledged that and encouraged us to keep going.” Dee is now currently on tour for her new book: The Big Tiny.

Merete also remembers getting a lot of blank stares three years ago when her and Christopher began construction,“We all hear the word "home" but we don't always know what that is, or how to get there. Tiny houses, for me, served as a lens on how to explore the question: What really makes a house a home?“ 

 

Photo credit: Merete Mueller

After watching the film and chatting with Merete, I certainly feel inspired to continue my build. I want to laugh at my mistakes one day. I want to feel that pride and exhaustion when my home is finally complete. And most of all, I want to answer the question that Merete and Christopher have posed: What is home? And, if you’re reading this, I bet you do too!

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FILM UPDATES:

Download the full film on iTunes here.

Own it on DVD  *with special features including: full length 12 minute interview with Dee Williams, extra build footage, and interviews with building code enforcers.

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Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

Written by Jenna Spesard — June 05, 2014

Filed under: Build it yourself   Dee Williams   movie   See a Tiny House   small house   Tiny homes   Tiny house movie   video  

Zee’s Tiny Classroom On Wheels

Tiny homes are versatile. While many use them as permanent minimal dwellings, others convert small shelters into gorgeous guest homes, lucrative vacation rentals, backyard offices, or tiny traveling solitudes. So, how about a tiny mobile classroom?

Zee Kesler is an artist and educator-in-training residing in Vancouver - a city known for having the second MOST expensive housing in the world according to a recent U.S. Think-Tank survey. She found it hard to find a permanent residence while attending school, and so last summer Zee attended Tumbleweed’s 2-day Tiny House Workshop with Derek “Deek” Diedricksen presenting. “I had so many questions,” said Zee. “And I really loved hearing Deek talk about salvaging, because I’ve always been good at resourcing materials.” From that moment on, Zee was hooked. She bought plans to build her own Cypress, not for a permanent dwelling, but instead this education-lover intends to construct a mobile community classroom.

Unique, you betcha! But this isn’t Zee’s first experience in portable education. She is also co-founder of MakerMobile:Workshop on Wheels, a traveling classroom/hackspace/art studio in the back of a converted cube van. Her tiny house will be an appendage to this idea, but with more amenities and better insulation.

Zee hopes to fit 8-10 foldout desks inside her future modified Cypress, with classes available for payment-in-trade (meaning you can pay with cookies, a t-shirt, or anything deemed worthy)! Some example subjects offered in the tiny classroom include: sewing, cooking, yoga, meditation, sculpting, origami, foreign languages, etc. All classes will have a qualified instructor, and Zee will organize and manage the entire operation.

That’s the goal, but this tiny houser is just getting started. Zee purchased a trailer this week and is currently resourcing salvaged materials. The build begins soon, but she just can’t help it - Zee wants to makes her Cypress’s construction an educational experience as well! “I hope to hire carpenters, roofers, plumbers, and electricians that will lecture as they build the house. “ Zee explains. She might even have the students build a miniature Cypress for some hands-on experience. That’s right: a miniature tiny house! “When I was at the Tumbleweed workshop I know a lot of people left wanting to build a tiny house, but didn’t have the resources. I want to share my build to help the tiny house community. This way, we can all learn together.”

Zee's build will begin in July and August. If you are in or around Vancouver area and would like to stay in the loop, join the mailing list found on her blog and/or support her here.

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Top Artwork by Brian Archer

Center Photo & Bottom Layout Artwork by Zee Kesler

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Jenna Spesard is a writer by trade. She is currently building a Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume, who is a professional photographer and Tumbleweed Workshop Host. After the build is complete, they plan to travel around North America in their tiny house blogging and photographing their adventure. More on their tiny house and giant journey here

Written by Jenna Spesard — May 27, 2014

Filed under: Build it yourself   classroom   diy   Events   See a Tiny House   small house   Tumbleweed  

The Tiny House Movement: From Washington State to Washington D.C.

Here is a great piece posted by The Daily on YouTube. You'll see inside Dee and Brittany's houses. The video also shows the group over at Boneyard Studios and how they promote sustainable living.

Written by Adam Gurzenski — December 31, 2012

Filed under: See a tiny house   video  
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