A Tiny House Trip

A few weeks ago Airbnb posted a photo of a snowy, tiny-house on their Instagram feed. I loved it, but loved it even more when I saw that it was in Maine.

Tiny Instagram for a tiny house.

Tiny Instagram for a tiny house.

After watching “Tiny: A Story About Small Living” I have been going through an intense tiny-space phase. I’ve been whittling down my collection of “things” (which is mostly pencil skirts and hair bands) so that everything I own will fit in my car. While that may not ever happen (where would I put my large, 1940s era, pull-down educational map?!) it feels good to get rid of stuff. After traveling through SE Asia I’ve realized that I really don’t need at least 75% of the things I once felt were non-negotiable as a part of my life. An example might include the 784 feet of coaxial cable that Time Warner left in my college apartment and that I have been toting around with me ever since. JUST IN CASE.

This is coaxial cable. Mine was just like this except I had twice as much.

This is coaxial cable. Mine was just like this except I had about twice as much. And it was white.

Despite having no real building skills aside from door stops,* I would like to think that one day I will build a tiny house. Or a tree house. Or a tiny tree house. I spend more time than you can imagine looking at other peoples photos of tree houses and van living and small homes with compost toilets and room for only one knife and no spoons.

*In a 7th grade wood shop class I built a giant door stop in the shape of a cow. The teacher operated the saw that cut out the meaty cow pieces, but I traced them with my own two hands. I was also allowed to draw on the eyes that I would later paint. My own two hands weren’t as steady as anticipated and the eyes were nowhere near each other. I got a B, which seems a little bullshit to me considering it was art and I am an artist and it was more Picasso than anything else that was produced in that class. Later, I was the lookout for the badass chick that put sawdust in the teacher’s diet coke, which I will never forgive myself for as long as I live. The next day the whole class got a severe yelling-at and he told us that he almost choked to death and I’m sure he thinks it was me because I was the one in the back of the room stifling sniffles. It’s not easy to keep it together when you realize that you’re nothing but an attempted murder accomplice. I try to remember that I was just the lookout. I should mention that I succumbed to peer pressure not because I am a villainous murderer, but because this chick was more popular than me.

A Bit about Tiny Houses

I know you’re all simply peeing your pants with the anticipation of hearing about my use of a compost toilet, so I’ll keep the explanation of the tiny house movement as brief as possible. In summary: It’s all about living simply. You’ll find small spaces with efficient layouts – lofted beds, drawers hidden within stairs, chairs that double as storage bins – and lots of good green vibes. They come as small as the 96 square foot version designed and built by Jay Shafer, owner of Four Lights Tiny House Company, and as large as the size of a very (very) small New York City studio apartment.

You can build your own from scratch or from existing structures like horse-trailers or school buses. I will probably do this pretty soon using my cross-eyed bovine door stop skills.

This is a school bus. It was created by the couple behind the Teeny Tiny Living blog.

This is a school bus. It was created by the couple behind the Teeny Tiny Living blog. They wrote a nice little piece over at the Tiny House Blog that you should check out.

You can also get yourself a pre-fab version. They can be built on permanent plots of land, but due to wacky zoning laws in many states some are built on trailers preventing them from being seen as actual homes.

Because I am more of a door-stop artist and not a tiny home blogger, I’m going to send you to someone who seems to have much more information about all things little. Check out Small House Style for a hearty list of sites that can provide you with plans or places to get pre-made homes.

When I’m in need of a small-living dose of dreaming I check out these guys:

There are tons more. Go explore.

OKAY! Onto the Crooked River Tiny House!

I didn’t have my actual camera, so these are straight from the iPhone. Sorry about the quality. The ones taken at night look like they subjects are part of an intense police interrogation. Ignore that.

Before you jump in, here’s a time-lapse video of the drive from Portland to Waterford to set the scene. Don’t forget to click “stop” once it’s over or else you’ll be forced to watch a video of three Khmer men trying to get my rickety boat on the Tonle Sap River un-stuck from some rocks. I’m working on my technical skills.

This is actually the guest house of the Crooked River Tiny House. This is where the compost toilet is. I didn't use it.

This is actually the guest house of the Crooked River Tiny House. This is where the compost toilet is. I didn’t use it.

We left Portland sometime around noon and about three hours later arrived in Waterford.

Important info!

Important info!

Intrepid Mr. Pants in a Subaru. The Subaru is named Four Wheel Dave.

Intrepid Mr. Pants in a Subaru. The Subaru is named Four Wheel Dave.

The tiny house is situated about a quarter of a mile down the road which is only accessible if you’ve got a key card to open the gate. So, we parked and started walking. It had recently snowed which made for a bit of a slippery journey.

Jugs of water attached to some part of Keith's clothing?

Jugs of water attached to some part of Keith’s clothing?

Trekkin'

Trekkin’

Pants wasn't into the Christmas tree.

Pants wasn’t into the Christmas tree.

It was almost warm enough for this, but not quite.

It was almost warm enough for this, but not quite. In the summer I imagine this is the absolute best.

Fun things!

Fun things!

The house is heated with a wood stove and Keith took great pride in being able to not only start it, but keep the place heated above 60-something.

Just a pioneer heating the wood stove for the coming winter.

Just a pioneer and his shih-tzu heating the wood stove for the coming winter.

It’s also full of tiny, cozy little details. Inside the bright red cabinets are jars full of every type of grain you can imagine, along with tons of already prepared mixes for things like pancakes and muffins.

The birds must have left the owner a post-it that something like, "tell the Airbnb guests to stop feeding us your weird oatmeal."

This photo should be smaller because it looks like it was taken on a blackberry during a blackout in 2004. Again, sorry about the quality folks. Anyway, the birds must have left the owner a post-it that said something like, “tell the Airbnb guests to stop feeding us your weird oatmeal.”

There was even a family-sized bag of Skittles.

Family size! ALL FOR THE FAMILY THAT IS ME AND MY MOUTH.

Family size! ALL FOR THE FAMILY THAT IS ME AND MY MOUTH.

Pancakes for pioneers.

Pancakes for pioneers.

Lots of fun was had drinking beers and playing cards. The house has everything – games, books, cards – and everything is hidden away perfectly. So much care has gone into re-purposing things – the chairs are made of crates and the counter is a piece of bowling alley floor. At night, there’s a perfect view of the moon and stars.

Don't mind if we do.

Don’t mind if we do.

Chairs with hidden fun!

Chairs with hidden fun!

We made the place look like Ted Kaczynski's hideout and then cooked dinner.

We made the place look like Ted Kaczynski’s hideout and then cooked dinner.

The next morning we woke up to new snow. We prolonged the snowy walk back to the car by reading books and drawing birds. I did the reading. Keith did the drawing. I highly recommend the book I found tucked into the bookshelf in the sleeping loft. It’s called “Hope for the Flowers” by Tina Paulus and if you’re wondering what life is all about this might answer all of your questions.

I also highly recommend reading the guest book. It’s a complete history of the Crooked River Tiny House – beginning when Lon, the owner, purchased the land and then came to build with his dog, through visits with friends and girlfriends. He should publish it. Lon, my new tiny house friend, if you’re reading this, you should publish that guest book!

When you’re there, check out the awesome recipe for stove top apple crumble that’s been left in the guest book. All the ingredients can be found in the house.

The author engrossed in a book about curious caterpillars that like to hug. Pants is engrossed in wondering why we're not outside. The stairs above my head lead to the sleeping loft.

The author engrossed in a book about curious caterpillars that like to hug. Pants is engrossed in doing his best duck boot impersonation. The stairs above my head lead to the sleeping loft. See that little hinge and latch above my head? That piece of wood comes down to become a table!

The artist.

Caterpillar-book-eye-view of a drawing session.

TinyHouseTranq50-5

I can’t recommend the Crooked River Tiny House enough. In addition to the house itself being cozy and great, it’s clear that Lon has put so much of himself into its creation. He’s included an entry in the guest book where he talks about wondering what the house is doing when he’s not there. He mentions how thankful he is for its existence and wonders what type of car it would be if it were a car. He loves it so much and it makes the tiny house even more special.

It was built with so much love and care and hard work and there’s nothing better than those three things.

So! Book yourself some time there!

Below is the official Airbnb description:

“This 200 sq ft tiny house has a finished, fully-insulated interior with pickled pine v-match walls and various finds from resale stores and internet sites. For those who are not afraid to “rough it” without electricity and fend for themselves, desire respite, exploration, and an eco-friendly simplistic retreat, this is definitely your kind of place. A stay at the tiny house is somewhere between pitching a tent and glamping, but with lots of personal character and space maximization. There is–without a doubt–no other place like it.

The woodstove is user-friendly, and it usually takes under 30 minutes for the house to be comfortable. Summers are generally breezy, hot, and the windows have screens to keep the bugs out. Great winter sledding and rock hunts in the gravel pits down the road, and exceptional summer river floating when the water is running high–a 20 minute walk will bring you to a stretch of the river that will have you spending just over an hour drifting on back to the house. The river itself is great for fly fishing and exploration, and is full of small swimming holes to skinny dip or bathe, pending guests’ seasonal timing and their ability to withstand the sheer clean and cold refreshment that is the Crooked River.

A hand pump operated outdoor shower is available. With the closest neighbor about a half mile (as the crow flies), it is easy to rest quietly or see the night sky. While the house can accommodate 4 (a full-sized pullout couch downstairs and queen-sized bed upstairs), the house is perfectly cozy for 2 to share. If 4 people were looking for a place to crash after skiing all day in Bethel (for instance), this would work out nicely. In the late spring, summer, and early fall, there is an unheated, insulated guest house (8 x 10) with a full-sized futon/bed accommodation. Kitchen has a cooler box, sink basin, propane cooktop, and is stocked with pots, pans, self serve dry-goods (including teas, cocoa, & coffees), and spices. Dog-friendly with lots of space to romp freely. Fire pit outside.”

Comments

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  1. harveystarin says

    Well written and entertaining, as usual. I applaud your growing move toward minimalism. Had a room mate once who swore he’d never own more than would fit in his car, “in case he had to leave in a hurry.” Hope this is not your motivation. Especially liked the captions as much as the text. Missed seeing those pithy comments on the last several pics. Although Pants imitating a duck boot did partially make up for it.

  2. harveystarin says

    Tried three times to post a comment. Boo to WordPress for making it difficult.

    Got to go. More later. Daddy

    Harvey Starin 561-665-0900 Broker Associate Realty Associates FLA Properties Hstarin@aol.com

    >

  3. Lon Ornament says

    Holy smokes! You folks are my most favorite Crooked River Tiny House guests…like, pretty much ever. Knowing Pants is a shih-tzu that imitates duck boots makes your whole family even more perfect. My most favorite thing about arriving at the house each time is reading what people have posted in the log book; but THIS…seeing how other people enjoy and use the place is even more friggen priceless. Thanks for thinking so highly of my little slice of heaven, and for filling it with your own warmth and fun energy, and for not being judgmental of my multitude of girlfriends. Love you guys! Come back again.