Well, our first week of travels is over, and it’s been quite an adventure. We are learning a lot, making mistakes, fixing mistakes, and trying to look on the bright side. The sun is finally out after a week of rain, clouds and cold.
Buttoning up the tiny house every morning before we move on involves several steps:
Inside, everything on the counters goes in the sink tucked in nicely with a towel. The water filter goes on the shower floor (and anything else too big for the sink). The dish drainer is emptied. The shelf-guards go across the shelves to hold in the dishes and food. The water pail (that catches sink water) is emptied, along with the pee jar. The drawers are latched shut. The mirror and the artwork, along with the thermometers and the crystal, are taken down. The water pump is turned off. The windows are latched (we discovered that they will work themselves open as we travel…. double hungs and gliders).
Outside, the propane is turned off, and the solar panels are secured in the back of the pickup truck (along with the outside folding table and chairs, the hose, the shopping cart, and the gas for the generator). The top of the stovepipe and the vent pipe for the propane hot water heater are removed, and the openings are duct-taped. Then the ladder comes into the house, along with the wood box and the kindling box.
As for places to stay, we’ve stayed at an interstate rest area (very nice, actually, but only some states allow this), several Wal-Marts (as long as you ask the manager for permission), a wildlife management area, and a couple of friends. Tomorrow we plan to stay at an actual campground where you have to pay — the other places were all free. There’s a great website that tells you free places to stay (for a $25/year fee). It seems to be mostly Wal-Marts and Cracker Barrel restaurants, but hey, why not? Parking lots are not that much fun, especially during the holiday shopping season, but you get to watch how America lives.
Another challenge with traveling with the tiny house is manipulating it in various places — gas stations, parking lots, friends’ houses — we don’t turn on a dime, so you have to plan ahead! We’ve managed to get in and out of several tight squeezes, but not without some tense moments. Practice makes perfect.
The biggest challenge, however, is the amount of fuel it’s taking to pull the tiny house down the highway. We’ve managed to get to between 8 and 9 MPG. (In Vermont, with all the hills, it was 6 MPG!) It’s still way too much gas, but we’re working on balancing it all out. We go 50 MPH on the highway — it helps with gas mileage and the tiny house likes it better (less swaying….). I did some research about “traditional” RV gas mileage values, and we’re not far off — they run between 6 and 10 MPG. So, here we are…. playing disc golf, talking to people who are curious about the tiny house, and soon to be volunteering! Will keep you posted…. especially about how two people can get along so well in such a tiny space.