A few months ago I announced my intentions to go from Tiny to Tinier, giving my little house to my nephew Jonathan and moving into my 56 square foot Don Vardo, Jolene. In the time since, I not only had to downsize (again!) and move, but also prepare my old house for a 1,500 mile road trip to the Tiny House Jamboree. At a special “hand-me-down” event, the house would officially become Jonathan’s.
It’s not cheap to haul a tiny house around – just ask Jenna and Guillarme from Tiny House Giant Journey. And it’s a little scary – blowing a tire would be a real threat to the security of the house. So here’s my wrap up of the whole experience – preparing for the trip, taking friends and family along with me, and handing off the house at the Jam.
Getting Road Ready
The trip really started a month before we crammed into our truck and started driving to Colorado. My friend Kelly arrived at the end of June and helped me jack up the house to install new tires. Without geeking out about the full details, we needed to replace all the tires since they’d been on the house for 12 years, and hadn’t done much but sit around for the last three years. It was time for new tread, and Kelly made it happen. He also made a watermelon look like a scientist as he explained how lug nuts are properly installed.
Kelly was one helping hand among many that made the trip possible for Jonathan and I. We also had several great sponsors who rode shotgun with us in more ways than one:
- Velux Skylights, who made the Kozy Kabin skylights that have never leaked in 12 years of Pacific Northwest rainy seasons.
- Wholesale Solar, who got me outfitted with a custom solar electric system for my new house.
- Iron Eagle Trailers, who have an even more advanced, energy-efficient trailer for tiny houses on wheels coming your way, which we’ll tell you about soon…
- Simpson Strongtie, who made the tension ties and hurricane clips that I used in my original tiny house, and the fasteners that I recommend for tiny houses worldwide. I’ve dragged their fasteners to Japan and back.
- Holy Lamb Organics who made the wool topper that I used as a bed for nearly a decade, who donated wool pillows that Jonathan and I use today, and donated one that was raffled off at the Jamboree!
- Shelter Wise, who donated Derin Williams’ time and expertise to the road trip. We never would have made it through that wheat field without his help – but I’m getting ahead of myself. We had an epic road trip, and yes, a wheat field was involved.
I also recommend preparing your house for a towing journey of any length by boarding up and/or removing any windows that face the front or sides of the road. All it takes is one rogue pebble to smash a window when you’re going 50 miles per hour. We covered ours with some cool signs to rep our sponsors.
My road trip buddies were tiny house towing expert Derin from Shelter Wise, my cheeky niece Samantha, new tiny-home-owner Jonathan, and a full cooler of food and beer. It was great to have a team so we could take care of and celebrate each other. My mom had died the week before, and being with my family at that moment – laughing one minute and crying the next — was so very sweet. Derin’s birthday was during the trip, so we got Japanese food, drank sake and shouted ‘kanpai’ (Japanese cheers!) into the roof rafters.
We also had an epic backcountry jag through a wheat field. Derin spotted an old farmhouse, alone in the middle of a field and suddenly we were off the interstate tarmac, off the gravel side roads, and into the middle of a long lumpy road made out of wheat and weeds. I was worried. Jon was worried. Sam and Derin were laughing like they were on the ride of their lives.
When we “arrived,” there was nothing but the Utah big sky above, stick grass below and the tiny house standing tall near a farmhouse older than my dad. After a brief moment of dragging dry brush out from under the truck manifold (where there may have been a small fire), we had a chance to simply stand in the middle of nowhere. It was simple and beautiful. It was perfect and a bit rough around the edges… just like our trip.
The Jamboree was fascinating – so many tiny houses and so many people – an estimated 60,000! It was amazing to see how folks are building, and to also hear why people are interested in tiny houses. Both are captured in Turning Tiny, a book of collected essays about the tiny house movement from over 50 active members of the movement. The book came out at the Jamboree and I encourage people to check it out. It was quite an honor to meet so many of the authors, and to reconnect with my friends like Kent Griswold, Andrew Odom, Andrew and Gabriella Morrison, and Guillaume, who knows how to have some fun shenanigans.
I had two talks to give at the Jamboree – a keynote I’ll write about later in the week, and an event where I handed the house off to Jonathan. His mom, Alecia, led our celebration in front of the audience. She talked about how challenging and awkward transitions can be, and how that can keep many people from choosing to move forward. But there we were, Jonathan and I, ready to leap forward into whatever came next.
Alecia asked Jonathan to walk into the house at the same moment I walked out, forcing us to meet in the threshold and show-casing the funny ‘all thumbs’ motions that come along with any transition. We giggled along with our friends, and then high-fived at having made it across country, over two mountain passes, into unknown territory, and still happy with our decisions.