For 3 years my husband and I traveled around the country, without a home and everything we owned in our very small car. We camped in a lot of great places, met many wonderful folks and were invited to stay in many homes. It was an amazing spiritual journey.
We crossed the USA about 4 times driving through all the states at least once except Alaska and Hawaii. Spent a little time in Canada and Mexico too. Our very favorite place was anywhere in the redwood trees. The photo above left is our home in the majestic redwood forest. Cool, crisp and filled with critters. We had owls, deer and fox come for a visit. The photo right is our home on the beach in Mexico. It was beautifully steamy by the Sea of Cortez. The photo below is our home by a rushing stream in Utah. The stream was singing its' song of creation so loudly, we finally succumb to earplugs. Snigger! We've had thousands of homes. Everywhere we stopped to lay our heads was home. The saying, 'Home is where the heart is' was our life.
It's an interesting experience living without running water or electricity. We loved it. We didn't label it as green or eco-friendly or even low impact. Though I suppose it was. Our car often got 45 to 50mpg. Maybe we were hypermiling, we called ourselves blessed. We had all the comforts of home including an air mattress with feather bed and down pillows. Solar shower bags with hot water for bathing and doing dishes. Once in a while for fun we bathed in cold streams or waterfalls. Burrr... refreshing! Had 2 cook stoves and complete kitchen gear. We bought local produce at roadside stands because it was convenient, tasted better and was usually cheaper then grocery stores. Then dined on simple homemade meals in the fresh air. Ever notice how food tastes better outdoors? We woke up in forests, by lakes or oceans, in fields or deserts. What scenery, what beauty, what majesty!
I won't lie to you, this lifestyle was harder. Packing and unpacking the car. Really conserving precious water. Everything we carried had to serve several useful purposes. Space was very limited, we couldn't acquire. When we did something else had to go. Living simply was natural. Sometimes what seems to be less is actually more. When we finally decided to set down in Arizona and moved into a small 400 sq. ft. efficiency apartment we felt like we were living in a palace. Everything is perspective it seems.
I loved life on the road, but decided I enjoy nesting and going out for adventures now. I've owned and lived in large homes, but prefer them small and cozy or using today's buzz words low impact, green living, sustainable homes.
Here are a few more small low impact homes I love...
Cabin Dream - 1800s beautifully renovated guest cabin
Located in Tennessee. 1800s log cabin, dis-assembled, numbered, moved and rebuilt in its' existing location by the owner. With added space for kitchen and bathroom. 700 sq. ft. including loft bedroom. 3 acres of rolling grassy land with organic flower and vegetable gardens and a large pond.
During our road journey we had the privilege to stay in this guest home several times. The photo above is all of us gathered on the deck of the cabin. I'm the one on the far left, my late husband is standing in the middle.
How to build a log home Information about building log homes.
A Hobbit House - lovely, creative, imaginative living
Located in Austin, TX, just up the hill from Lake Travis. 900-square-foot Leichtlehmbau modified cob (straw and clay) energy efficient home on 2 acres of wooded land. 3 people - 3 yrs. to build including 1 yr. to dry. Built by owner Gary Zuker who wanted to build a low-maintenance weekend get-a-way home for $10,000. Finished house, well, appliances and septic estimated cost $40,000 not including Gary's labor. Photo right is a model of the house before it was built.
Features: Rock foundation and chimney. 18"- 24" inch thick walls made of Leichtlehmbau cob-type material (more straw and only clay) increases insulation. Wood framing embedded in Leichtlehmbau. Dries to a strong, dense mass, 25-40 Lb/cu.ft. Post and beam frame. Finish, exterior: white lime and sand with fibers, then whitewash (white lime, water, rocksalt, alum). Interior: Gypsum Plaster. Salvaged pine floors, floor joists, granite, windows, soap stone and cabinets.
Extremely Tiny House - home to go
Located on planet earth, but resides mostly in Sebastopol, CA. In 1997 Jay Shafer built his first 96 sq. ft. house on wheels himself for around $10,000. Today Jay owns Tumblewheed Tiny House Company which offers plans, books and truly tiny homes for sale. The Epu shown left is 88 sq. ft. and weighs only 4700 lbs. It comes with a tiny fireplace, living room, kitchen with tiny refrigerator and 2 burner stove, wet bath and sleeping loft. Pull away price $42,997.
Features: Designed with thoughts of light, warmth, energy efficiency, and proportion. Propane cost to heat and cook about $5 per month according to one owner of a tiny house. 16 Tiny house plans available for homes from 65 to 774 sq. ft.
Learn how to build a truly tiny home workshops available.
Some more interesting links about low impact housing...
Low Impact Housing Listing of low impact housing resources Cusato Cottages Plans for inexpensive small cottage style homes Resources for Life and Small House Society Low impact ideas Sustainable House Plans Links to sites which offer building plans