We needed our 24′ tiny house on wheels to support our outdoor lifestyle and that meant sacrificing almost 24 precious square feet during our design and construction for a “gear room” so that we could fit…all of THIS!
I met Samantha at a college that I chose because it was near the mountains and the formative years of our relationship were spent getting outside. Back in 2005 We would catch a sunset by the ponds behind my house and seek out waterfalls on day trips in NYS. We once spent two days driving the entire circumference of Lake Ontario, stopping sporadically to explore the nooks and inlets and beaches and tiny towns. We named our cat after a particularly quaint little town discovered on a spontaneous trip up the unexpectedly stunning Bruce Peninsula that stretches along the Caribbean like water (in crystal clear appearance only, NOT in temperature) of the Georgian Bay. We began to explore the East coast more frequently and maxed out our long weekend travels on 14 hour drives to get to places like Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia National Park) and the Blue Ridge mountains in North Carolina.
Inspired by Chris McCandless’s adventures in Jon Krakaur’s “Into The Wild” and fueled by an Ansel Adams photograph of Half Dome, we turned our eagerness to learn more about our beautiful country and about ourselves into dreams of something larger. Our relationship and love of the left coast was solidified when we acted on that dream in July 2008 and pointed Samantha’s little Honda Civic West. We embarked on a massive road trip that stretched over 10,000 miles and lasted nearly 30 splendid days and nights, sometimes sleeping in the car, other times in a tent.
A return to academia was in order for the fall semester of our arrival back in Buffalo, NY and we both launched head first into our graduate studies. Weeks and months passed as we continued basking in the afterglow of that road trip as it subconsciously shaped our lives and future interests. We tried to fulfill the wanderlust with long weekend trips into the Adirondacks but found ourselves longing for another extended experience. One that would have the potential to further shape us and push us out of our comfort zone. My impending degree in architecture combined with an interest in backpacking and hopping trains sparked a discussion about a month long departure to Europe in May of 2010. We booked the tickets and bought our cherished 50+15 liter Ospreys that would hold all of our necessary belongings and one very small ring. I asked Samantha to marry me on the Italian coastal rocks of Cinque Terre and we returned to the States official partners in…everything.
We wed on top of a mountain and celebrated in a ski lodge. One final party with friends and family on the heels of a colossal life change; we were relocating to the Pacific North West to satisfy that wanderlust at the epicenter of one of the most diverse and beautiful regions of the United States.
As was the case in our previous extended adventures, we exploited the upcoming shift in jobs to carve out 6 full weeks for an epic journey through Patagonia. Our ‘honeymoon’ [I guess?] was spent trekking, hitch hiking, bus hopping and container ship floating South through the rural Patagonia landscape to the end of the world; as far as you can get from warm lazy beaches of low number latitude locations. Seriously, our trip ended in Ushuaia, the main departure point for all things and ships heading to Antarctica…
We returned to the states with a heightened appreciation for harsh yet beautiful environments and a yearning for that temporary solitude that accompanies these experiments with nature and set our sights squarely on the Pacific North West. It took three days to drive the 16’ box truck full of our belongings and Honda civic in tow across the country before arriving in a place called Yakima, Washington.
We hit the ground running and spent 75% or our weekends OUT and ABOUT, like kids with free access to a giant candy store. We went out prepared but inexperienced and got our asses kicked, returning at the end of each weekend with a new found respect and a new set of lessons, learned in natures classroom. Our gear hadn’t even fully dried from the weekend prior and we would already be drawing lines on topo maps and plotting our next move.
We found what we were looking for in abundance here in the PNW and we have now developed a home that functions as our own personal base camp. Instead of taking wanderlust vacations to temporarily escape real life we have taken steps to integrate those things we seek on vacations into our everyday lives; our yearning has evolved to wanderLOVE.
GEAR ROOM SPECS:
Our gear room is an average of 3′ deep, 7′-9″ wide and 7′ tall. That is around 162 cubic feet of space which is a more appropriate way to talk about a space that has floor to ceiling storage. It holds everything we need with room to spare but also has two other important functions. This additional non-living space provides a perfect location for mechanical equipment that many would rather not see or have inside their living spaces, including our electrical panel and propane water heater. Also, this additional space on the tongue end of our trailer allows the addition or subtraction of items prior to travel to allow us to hone in on the preferred +/- 12% tongue weight.
Collect experiences, not things:
I am sure that everyone has their different reasons for venturing into the wild. For me, it is a yearning for unique and monumental moments; the kind that last only minutes but are remembered forever. Moments that are re-told and therefore re-lived over and over throughout our lifetimes. Moments so worthwhile that we are often willing and even eager to endure a copious amount of discomfort, fatigue and fear just to give ourselves the opportunity to be present at that very moment.
Those moments wont come to you, and often times you cant simply drive to them. So for us, those 24 semi-unfinished square feet that we had to forfeit for our ‘stuff’ are actually the most important square feet of our home. And the things that are stored in that gear room are not just stuff; they are tools that open up incredible opportunities and experiences. Our relationship was built on, and our happiness and health flourishes from our ability to be outside and explore, and THAT is why we gave up 1/8 of our tiny house to a gear room.
“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a [wo]man than a secure future. The very basic core of a [wo]man’s living spirit is his/her passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
— Chris McCandless
We keep track of, and invite you to check out our outdoor adventures under the ‘wanderLOVE’ menu tab on the top of this blog or click the gallery links below, or follow us on instagram at @expedition_pnw :
And if you want to see more pictures and videos of our base camp on wheels we invite you to check out our very comprehensive visual gallery that documents the design, construction and habitation of SHED since day one.
See you out there!