First Taste of Tiny House Living

Tiny House at Night

Tiny House at Night

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Three days ago, we returned from what I can only describe as an amazingly wonderful weekend in our tiny house at our property. Seriously, I don’t know if I can really do the weekend justice in a journal entry. Spending the first weekend ever in my tiny house at our property in Boulder Creek was unlike anything I have ever experienced and one of the best 48 hours I have had in a long time.

Unable to focus on anything other than getting out to the tiny house, I gave up trying to work at home on Friday and simply packed up the car and headed out to the property with Sheila as soon as we could, which end up being about 1:00 PM. We got to the property at about 2:00 PM and after we got there, I spent some time getting the solar panels and hot water heater hooked up.  I ran into a few snags doing that, but finally got it all done a little before 6:00 PM. While I was doing that, Sheila broke out the battery operated weed whacker and spent some time mowing the fire pit area and the upper clearing.

Propane Water Heater Hooked Up

Propane Water Heater Hooked Up

When we were finally done being productive, we cooked a really delicious dinner of baked beans, cheesy Bavarian sausages from Corralitos and skewered vegetables over the fire.  After that, we just sat around enjoying the campfire and roasting a few s’mores before retiring to the tiny house at about 9:00 PM.

Sleeping in the tiny house was awesome. It got down to about 55° outside, but even with the window open a crack, it stayed a perfect 68° in the loft where we were sleeping. The mattress and pillows were very comfortable and falling asleep with my wife was as always, one of my favorite parts of the day. I woke up well rested and was especially delighted when I didn’t have to go outside to use the restroom.

Bed in the Loft

Bed in the Loft

On Saturday morning, we decided to go for a bike ride to Big Basin and back on our tandem. We left at about 10:00 AM after enjoying a breakfast of cereal and fruit inside the tiny house away from the mosquitoes. What a delight the tandem ride turned out to be. The air was clear and the weather was perfect. It was sunny but not too hot. Our route took us through the town of Boulder Creek, all the way along Highway 236, down Highway 9 to Boulder Creek and back to the property. I found all of the roads to be so beautiful, especially the road through the giant redwood trees in Big Basin. Biking through that state park has always been one of my favorite things to do and being able to get there so quickly and easily from our property was a real treat.

When we got back, Sheila made a lunch of tuna fish sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls with sweet Maui onion kettle chips added to the sandwiches for a little bit of crunch.  We enjoyed those immensely while sitting on the floor of the tiny house and marveling at the incredible little structure around us that we had somehow transported to the middle of the forest.

After lunch, we changed into our work clothes and set about making a set of entry stairs for the tiny house. Rather than build something out of random wood from the lumberyard, we decided to make the steps out of something at the property. During our tandem ride in the morning, we thought it might be fun to try to carve some steps out of some of the giant rounds of tree trunk that were left over from a Douglas Fir that had fallen on our property a few months earlier. The rounds were about 22 inches in diameter and about 15 inches thick which seemed just about right to create some 8 inch wide steps. Plus, creating a staircase out of a fallen tree meant that I got to play with my new battery operated chainsaw. I had never used the chainsaw before, but it turned out to be surprisingly easy to carve away pieces of the tree trunk until I had something that resembled a staircase left behind. After we had the staircase carved, we carefully rolled it up the hill to the tiny house, did a small amount of trimming and a little bit of leveling of the ground and suddenly found ourselves with a perfect little staircase up to our tiny porch.

Carving Out Some Front Steps

Carving Out Some Front Steps

Front Steps Complete

Front Steps Complete

At about 5:00 PM, just as we were finishing up, our neighbor, Forest, stopped by to see if we were still on for dinner in Boulder Creek that evening. We had invited Forest and his girlfriend, Shelley, out to dinner as a way of saying thank you for dropping everything to tow our tiny house into the property with their dump truck on Thursday. It was wonderful to see Forest and when he arrived, we all took a break and sat around the now shaded campfire circle, enjoying a few beers and chatting about mountain life for a while before Forest left so we could all get cleaned up before dinner.

Getting cleaned up for dinner turned into another highlight of the weekend. It was our first chance to test the shower inside the tiny house and I’m happy to report that the shower enclosure, the outdoor water heater, the water lines and the gas lines all worked perfectly. I think we both had to agree that being able to take a hot shower in the middle of the woods in a house we built ourselves after a long day of bicycling and manual labor was a truly special experience.

It’s really amazing how many things that we totally take for granted in our regular house that seemed like an extra special gift when we were able to use them in our tiny house in the woods. Sleeping in a warm bed without a tent. Being able to go to the bathroom inside not having to put shoes and socks or even clothes on to do it. Being able to sit in a cool, shaded living room when it’s 90° outside. Being able to get away from the bugs. Having lights at night. Taking a warm shower. Making a pot of tea. Running water. Making a sandwich in a kitchen instead of at a picnic table. These are all things that I do every day in my own not so tiny house in Santa Clara, California. However, being able to do them in my tiny house in the middle of the woods in Boulder Creek, California seemed like an amazing and extravagant luxury.

Boiling Water for the First Time

Boiling Water for the First Time

After we were done enjoying our luxuriously warm showers, we put on our dressier camping clothes and headed into town for dinner at the local sushi restaurant. You wouldn’t think that it was possible to get a good sushi in Boulder Creek, California, but it is. This is one of the best sushi places I have ever been to in California and everything we got tasted amazing. Enjoying it all in the good company of friends like Forest and Shelley made it that much nicer. We got a table near the window overlooking the babbling brook below and savored our food while getting to know each other a little bit better. It was wonderful.

After dinner, we drove back to the tiny house and crawled into bed to enjoy a little bit of TV on Sheila’s computer before turning off the light in the loft and curling up in bed for a second night in a tiny house.

Somehow, I slept even better on Saturday night than I slept on Friday night. I even slept late, something I almost never do. I don’t think we got out of bed until nearly 8:00 AM.

For breakfast, we had cereal and milk on the floor of the tiny house again. My bowl of cereal was extra special because Sheila had gone out to pick some fresh blackberries from the property to put on top. They tasted so good.

Cereal with Blackberries Picked on the Property

Cereal with Blackberries Picked on the Property

After breakfast, we spent some time doing some minor improvements around the tiny house. We hung some hooks, a towel rod and a toilet paper holder in the bathroom and a hook in the closet for the dustpan and broom. Then, Sheila did some more weed whacking while I added a few more screws to make the tops of the porch railings a little bit more secure. By the time we were done with all of that, it was about 2:00 PM and it was getting pretty warm out.  Although the outdoor thermometer I had installed said 99°, it remained a cool 75° inside the insulated tiny house and it was wonderful to escape back inside whenever we needed to cool down.

At 3:00 PM, we thought it might be about time to head back to reality, but not before quick trip down to the stream to really cool off. We changed into our bathing suits and walked down to the lower clearing and then down the narrow path to our property’s entry point to Bear Creek. From there, we waded into the river and made our way down the creek to the waterfall in the middle of our property. At first, the cool water took our breaths away, but as we slowly immersed ourselves in deeper and deeper water we started to get used to it and the water began to feel amazingly refreshing.

Stream

Stream

By the time we got to the waterfall, I had already been into the water over my head and swimming around in the pool underneath the waterfall, something that has always seemed much too cold to do before, was almost tolerable, if not even a bit exciting and fun. That was when I decided to do something I have always wanted to do. I climbed the rope on the side of the cliff until I got to the top of the waterfall and then threw myself into the 12 foot deep pool below. It was so awesome. Jumping off of rocks into pools of water is one of my favorite things in the world. I’ve always wanted to do it at my property and never quite had the nerve.  But this weekend, I didn’t want to miss out on anything.

When we left the property after playing in the river, I felt unlike I have felt in a long, long time. I felt energized, happy, content, blessed and oh so lucky. This weekend was everything I always imagined it would be and more to live in the middle of the woods in the house I built myself. Like I said at the beginning, it’s one of those things I can only try to explain, but never really do it justice.  All I can say is that I now know for sure that my tiny house was worth every penny I spent on it and every minute of the last 2 1/2 years it took me to build it.

Waterfall Pool

Waterfall Pool

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9 Responses to First Taste of Tiny House Living

  1. Joan Freed says:

    Russ – and Sheila too – This is my FAVORITE post about your tiny house. Rich rich rewards that you described so well. From both your words and your photos I feel I get to experience a part of the thrill that was yours in your first taste of tiny house living. And your waterfall, jumping down and all! Wow – all of it is magical.

  2. Amazing. Truly amazing! YOU created this, from mere vision to fully manifested reality. Through all the obstacles and heartaches, all the blessings and help, you had to be open to receiving each an every experience to make this happen. You did it! I can tell the rewards were so sweet! Congratulations to you and to Sheila. May your tiny house give you many happy memories for many, many years!

  3. cinemaneah says:

    Oh man Russ, this sounds like heaven. I think reading this account is motivating me to not procrastinate finishing my house. I’m eager to begin sharing these kinds of experiences with you and Sheila. Taking your sagacious advice you shared with me
    last night, I won’t rush it, but I will work diligently.

  4. tinycasita says:

    Love your tiny house! Just saw it’s in boulder creek! We’re in the process of going tiny (blog at the tiny casita) and planning to park it in the bay area, probably coastside. We’ve seen possible spots in boulder creek but it’s a bit far from work for us. How are you liking it?

    • We love having our tiny house in Boulder Creek, mostly because Boulder Creek is so different from the Silicon Valley area. Just so you know, we don’t live in the tiny house full-time. We just go there on the weekends, so getting away from the valley is wonderful for us. It is possible to commute from Boulder Creek to the bay area for work. It takes us about 45 minutes to drive from Santa Clara to Boulder creek with no traffic. With traffic, it can take over an hour. However, if you want to feel like you have totally left the chaos of Silicon Valley behind, I think Boulder Creek is a nice choice. I also think Boulder Creek would be an easier commute than the coast.

      • tinycasita says:

        Thanks so much for your feedback! Out of curiosity, why do you think the commute would be easier than the coast? We’ve been leaning towards coastside (also because of slightly closer proximity to family and friends).

  5. My thinking was that the coast is further (35 miles) from Silicon Valley than Boulder creek (25 miles) and will probably involve taking highway 17, which is generally very congested during commute hours.

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