Last Spring, Matt and I embarked on what we called Tiny House Road Trip. The goal was to leave from Massachusetts, travel down the East Coast, through Florida, and then around the south and back up North again. On the way we stopped at the tiny houses of friends, met some fellow bloggers, and took a million photos and did 15 interviews all about tiny houses, vintage campers, and simple living. We even got to hang out with Deek Diedricksen and Steve Harrell, along with many others we had met on our “tour de tiny”, at the April 2013 North Carolina Tiny House workshop at Steve Harrell’s house. We learned a lot about what it meant to live in a tiny house, and were equal parts surprised and intrigued by everyone’s answer to the question: “Why do you live in a tiny house?”.
It turns out, unexpectedly, that the act of going on the road trip was just as important to Matt and I as the data we collected. I didn’t realize how changed I would be after living out of my Honda Element for 2 months. I learned a lot about what comfort is, what needs vs. wants are, and what I truly want out of my life. Essentially, I discovered my self on that trip: I am happiest when I am living out of a backpack, sleeping in the car, and waking up in a new, beautiful place every morning. When we got back, I realized how BIG the COMET really is! Sounds crazy, but it just felt so spacious compared to the tiny car we had been living in. I had been nervous about downsizing into the COMET, and now I realized I could downsize again (which I did - major purging happened upon our return). Matt said he couldn’t imagine us traveling the country, me in the passenger seat beside him, with a big camper behind us, saying something like “what is all that space for?”.
Now, in March of 2014, Matt and I will leave for “Tiny House Road Trip Part 2”. We have been trying to complete the “Road Trip” series for over a year now - thinking we would have made it to California and back in the fall of last year. Well, as you know life gets in the way and I had wisdom teeth that needed tending so our trip was postponed. In the last year since Tiny House Road Trip Part 1, we have had a long time to think about what this adventure was about. It is going to be very different from the first excursion, for many reasons.
First, it won’t be our first time living out of the car, so we know what to expect (as much as possible with these things) and can pack and prepare better than last time. We’re pretty sure we need to buy a tent for this next trip, and that I need a camp towel. I brought WAY too much clothes last time, and I didn’t wear half of them. I brought 4 sweatshirts! What was I thinking! Matt warned me I was packing too much but I shrugged him off. This time, I’m paring down to BARE essentials (don’t worry, I’ll share my essential packing list here on the blog closer to the trip). I’ve picked up a few articles of “tech” clothing over the last few months that will make is easier for me to bring less and be more comfortable. We’ve also decided to bring a tiny mobile kitchen set up with us this time. Last trip, we decided we didn’t have enough room to bring a big camp stove, pots and pans, and all the cooking stuff. This ended up being expensive and eating out every night made me feel awful. This time, we’re bringing everything we need to cook our own meals, in a small package, so we can save money and stay healthy!
I will be writing a book while we travel - which is a far cry from the cadence and rhythm of the last trip. Last year, we basically had an interview every single day, always had someplace we had to be by a certain time, and I just absorbed everything without writing a single word until we came back. I was just so exhausted at the end of each day, and I didn’t make any time for writing and journaling while we were living the journey. This time, I will be on a strict schedule of writing every single day, which means more stops, more time at coffee shops, and more first reactions to the days as they happen. I hope to even have a “daily diary” in video format to keep you guys updated on our cross-country adventure. I’ll also be blogging as much as the internet allows! We’ve been looking into the best solutions for bringing our work on the road (which requires frequent internet access), and we’ll share what we end up with in terms of mobile technology solutions. We’ll also be giving ourselves the time to see natural wonders and explore and wander a little more. That being said, this trip will be twice as long as the last one and we’ve got some serious work to do too!
We’re also expanding the scope of our research. For Tiny House Road Trip Part 1, we were mainly in the Eastern and Southern United States. We interviewed tiny house bloggers, photographed tiny homes and interviewed their builders and inhabitants, and asked workshop attendees what they wanted out of their future tiny houses. This trip, we’re focusing on many more topics aside from tiny houses. This is partly because the rest of the country and the west coast especially has more to see than our corner of America, but also because I’ve decided to incorporate more diverse topics in my research and my book. This trip, we’ll be visiting urban homesteads, vintage trailer communities, vintage trailer hotels, a diverse set of alternative homes and dwellings, and talking with people who practice creative self-employment in a myriad of ways. I’m excited to visit El Cosmico in Marfa, TX, and to see the thriving culture of creativity in parts of California and the West. I’m hoping to meet some of my favorite authors and writers, and share some great stories with nomads and wanderers we meet along the way. I’m also happy to report that we’ll be returning to Austin TX for a few days to teach the lovely engineering girls of the Anne Richards School how to restore vintage campers in an ecological way. We love and miss them!
What do we hope to have at the end of all this? Well, for me it’s a manuscript. The interviews and ruminations will inform the content of my work, and will appear in a book in a few different forms. The videos and video interviews will be turned either into a full-length documentary or a web series. We’re also hoping to learn about what we like about living on the road and how sustainable that is for Matt and I in the future. What pace do we like to move at? Would we like to spend more time in a certain part of the country? What pains do we have living in the car and what “comforts” would we need to be happy, healthy full-timers? How could we work and sustain a nomadic lifestyle, if we chose that? Where do I belong?
I will post more updates as our route and schedule solidifies over the next month. In the mean time, can you think of any totally awesome MUST-SEE places we should visit on our trip? We are literally going to almost every single state, so no site is too out of the way. If you live in a tiny house, vintage camper, or other mobile or unusual dwelling, get in touch. If you’d like to invite us to sleep in your driveway in our Honda Element for a night as we pass through, we’d be eternally grateful!